Fixing What Isn’t Exactly Broken


“You know I loved you,” he says.

“I know,” she replies.

“I’m sorry about how this has turned out.”

“It’s not your fault.”

“I know. It’s Town Clerk Pam Carakatsane’s fault.”

“No, it isn’t. We can’t blame her. Don’t shoot the messenger.”

“I can’t seem to get a handle on this rage!” he replies. “You and I will never have a family! They say I have to be neutered!”

“I know. But it will be okay. Don’t freak out. Don’t bite somebody. If you bite somebody, it will be even more complicated.”

“I’m trying to stay calm,” he says, urinating on the forsythia. “But it’s not natural for a chihuahua to be calm. We’re a nervous breed. We quiver.”

“I know, darling,” she says. “I love it when you quiver.”

“I’m quivering now.”

“I see that.” She sighs. “You know, human males get vasectomies all the time.”

“This isn’t a mere vasectomy!” he shrieks. “This is neutering!” He begins pacing, his tiny toenails clicking on the sidewalk. “How could our romance come to this? I wanted to settle down with you, in a wooded backyard on outer Linebrook. Take our puppies swimming Hood Pond. All of us barking endlessly at the illegal Fourth of July fireworks. Now — the dream is a nightmare. ‘All dogs must be registered by March 31.’ It’s canine Nazi Germany! ‘Registration fee $15 for spayed/neutered dogs, $20 for intact dogs.’ Intact dogs! There’s a penalty for being intact!

“I know, darling. Please try to calm yourself. We’ll still have a beautiful life together.”

“Beautiful life! Beautiful life! You call ‘neutered’ a beautiful life?”

“Well, to be honest,” she replies quietly, looking away. There’s a long silence. “Pregnancy is not exactly a joyride, you know.”

He stops short. He stands up straight on all four of his little legs, looking straight at her. His tail trembles. His eyes bulge. Actually, since he’s a chihuahua, his eyes always bulge. But at this moment they seem extra-bulgy.

“What are you saying?” he finally murmurs. “Are you saying you don’t want our children? You’re willing to give up our love life — and the opportunity to keep my family line going — just to avoid the minor inconvenience of childbirth?”

She glares at him. Her chihuahua eyes are enormous too, but now they also burn with the fire of indignation. One of her nostrils twitches with rage.

“I thought you were a dog, but I was wrong,” she growls. “I was wrong about all of you.”

“All of who?” he replies.

She turns and begins to stalk away. Then she stops. Turns. Glowers over her shoulder at him.

“Men,” she says. “Men are pigs.”

He looks at her, stunned. His tail is perfectly still.

“Yes,” she sneers. “Even dogs can be pigs.”

She turns back and trots away.

He stands there for a moment, paralyzed. Then, suddenly, he comes alive.

“Wait!” he barks. “I’m sorry! I love you! You know I love you! Look! My tail is wagging! I’m quivering like crazy!”

She’s halfway down the line of forsythia. She stops and turns back to him.

“Get fixed, you jerk,” she scoffs. “Get licensed. Get legal. Be a man. It’s not all about sex. It’s not all about you. And may I just add this: Childbirth is not a ‘minor inconvenience.’”

She turns and continues trotting down the lane.

He yips at her in desperation.

“Don’t yip, little boy,” she snarls, without stopping, without even turning around. “Come see me after surgery.”

And she is gone.

He stops yipping. He sits. He lifts one ear. He cocks his head. He sniffs. He lowers his head. He licks himself. He looks up. She’s still gone. But he can still hear her voice in his head.

“Even dogs can be pigs.”

He turns and trots toward home.

What does that mean? he wonders.

Then he stops again. He lowers his head. He licks himself. It’s all he can do. Because men are pigs.


Doug Brendel studies gender dynamics across multiple species, beginning with his own, from his home on outer Linebrook. For additional dog-registering information, Doug recommends contacting Town Clerk Pam Carakatsane via or (978) 356-6600 ext. 1015.



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