Small Dog, Big Life: Memoirs of a Furry Genius

Small Dog, Big Life: Memoirs of a Furry Genius

by Dennis Fried


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They watch our every move, study our habits, judge our moods, and time our activities. They plot elaborate subterfuges to manipulate us into doing their bidding and trick us into participating in their nefarious schemes. They charm us into loving them. They are our dogs.

Genevieve, a brilliant seven-pound papillon who dares to break the canine code of silence, invites you into the inner sanctum of dogdom in this hilarious exposé about what dogs really think of their people. In her bitingly funny memoir, Genevieve reveals canine secrets never before shared with humans while also passing on her devious tricks-of-the-trade to her legions of furry pupils.

In Small Dog, Big Life, Genevieve sinks her teeth into such topics as driving tips for dogs, the tragedy of doorbells in TV commercials, measuring the intelligence of humans, finding a reason for cats, how prehistoric dogs saved the caveman's bacon, converting your house into an agility course, and productive kitchen behavior. Throughout, Genevieve unleashes a scathing analysis of human culture that will have sociologists all over the world looking for new jobs, while inspiring canines everywhere to rise up and assume their rightful places as heads of the household.

Insightful, entertaining, and peppered with sophistication, wit, and charm, Small Dog, Big Life is not only for animal lovers of all ages but for anyone who appreciates an ironic sense of humor. And, ultimately, through Genevieve's "words," it is a celebration of the wondrous and loving relationship between dogs and their people.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781451660401
Publisher: Gallery Books
Publication date: 06/25/2011
Edition description: Reprint
Pages: 240
Product dimensions: 5.00(w) x 7.00(h) x 0.70(d)

About the Author

Dennis Fried, Ph.D., has worked in college education, marketing, advertising, nightclub ownership, software development, and stand-up comedy. He holds advanced degrees in physics and philosophy, both of which he considers essential to successful dog ownership. He lives in Sarasota, Florida, with his wife, Katrina, and his “trainer,” Genevieve.

Read an Excerpt


Welcome to Me, World

You would think I'd remember the most important day in American history, December 19, 1997, but I don't. My earliest memory starts a couple of weeks later — that of being kept warm and well fed by a big, furry milk dispenser. I also remember getting banged around by two much smaller, smoother furbags. It took me two weeks to gather up the courage to open my eyes for the first time, and when I did I saw my mother, Chloe, my sister, Heidi, and my brother, Hunter. My name, I soon learned, was Hannah.

We three little ones were confined to a pen in the corner of a room. This arrangement suited me just fine because it gave me a feeling of power to know that I could pee all over my entire personal universe. Chloe was able to jump in and out of the pen whenever she wanted, and sometimes, when being a single parent became too much, she'd leave and take a short vacation. I didn't like it when she was gone, but she always came back because she loved us.

Two other big girls would appear from time to time and jump into our pen with us — my half sisters, Cecily and Emma. They were extremely interested in us babies, but they weren't very good sports because they had a fit whenever we tried to milk them. Sometimes they played a little too rough with us, and Chloe would have to ask them to leave us alone. When they wouldn't listen, Chloe nipped them on their butts to underline her point. This seemed to work extremely well, and it served as an early lesson for me in the art of social persuasion.

Another creature lurked around the house, too. I would have guessed it to be a dog, but even at that young age I knew that no dog could be that ugly. It turned out to be a cat. It didn't seem to have an identifiable purpose in life, since it spent most of its time vegetating on tables and windowsills, staring at things, including me. I found it amazing that a living thing could be inert for so long without belonging in a flowerpot.

I learned from Chloe that my daddy was named Calvin, although several times she tried to explain to us that she had never really "been with" Calvin at all. Whatever it was she meant by this, I didn't know whether I was supposed to be mad or glad. I would have asked Calvin about it myself, but he never came around to see us. Chloe said he was too busy running around town being a stud for all the pretty ladies. She didn't specify whether this activity was of the "been with" or the "not been with" kind.

My first human friend was Sharon, who was there from the beginning, helping Chloe take care of us all. She made sure Chloe always had plenty to eat and drink, and she kept putting nice clean newspapers down in our pen for us to read. That was the beginning of my desire to be a writer. She also brought us toys and played with us and cuddled us, giving poor Chloe quiet time to take much-needed naps.

When we were old enough to walk and run, Sharon would carry us all into the living room and let us play games with the big dogs. My favorite game of all was doggy football. The object was to grab a little football and try to score by running out of the room with it. The other dogs had to tackle you and force a fumble, then try to grab the ball and score themselves. We babies would sometimes get so excited that we'd have to go potty right in the middle of the playing field. Sharon watched us closely and, like a good coach, if she saw one of us start to cramp up, she would take us out of the game.

I loved it at Sharon's Home for Unwed Mothers. When we were big enough to go outside by ourselves, we had the run of a big, beautiful yard with trees and even a pond to splash around and get filthy in. Chloe taught us to chase squirrels and lizards and to bark at birds that would laugh at us from the trees. Birds aggravated me; I couldn't understand how they could jump so high. I tried it by running fast and hopping, but something must have been wrong with my technique. I thought, Maybe when I get older I'll figure it out and then those birds will be in for a nasty surprise. As the weeks passed, I became bigger and stronger. Smarter, too. I eventually tipped the scales at three whole pounds and felt like I could whip the world (as long as Chloe was close by).

Sharon had lots of human friends who came to visit us. Some of them had babies of their own. These baby humans were a lot older than I was, but some of them couldn't even walk yet! They just lay around and made gurgling noises from both ends. There was absolutely no chance of them playing doggy football with us. My early exposure to humans really got me wondering about them, and I decided then and there to devote my life to studying these strange beings. If I was going to have to live with humans, it would be to my advantage to thoroughly understand how they operated. Since they seemed much less developed than dogs, I didn't anticipate any difficulties.

One afternoon Sharon had another visitor, a human named Katrina. She told Sharon that people called her Kat for short, but she was a lot prettier than any cat I'd ever seen. She sat down on the floor and played with all of us babies for a long time, but she seemed to be watching me especially closely. I finally got tired of impressing her and tried to crawl under a chair to take a little dognap, but she pulled me out and made me play some more. She was also asking a lot of nosy questions about me.

"What is her personality like?" Excellent.

"How is her appetite?" Just ask poor Chloe.

"Does she seem to like people?" In controlled doses.

"Is she for sale?" Huh?

At last she left and that was just fine with me. I could hardly have known then how much my life was about to change. Copyright © 2000, 2009 by Dennis Fried

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