Man’s best retirement plan? Him? -

Man’s best retirement plan? Him?

You could have been my ticket to a lucrative literary niche, Squib. But you’re a tiny bit lazy.



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An open letter to a member of my family.

Dear S.—

This is difficult for me to write—although not as difficult as it will be for you to read, given that you are a) not especially bright, and b) a dog.

We’re letting you go, Squib. You’re fired.

Somewhere in that tiny dog brain of yours, you’re probably asking yourself: why? Why would a family cut ties with an adorable, eight-month-old chocolate Labrador puppy? Rest assured: it’s not us. It’s you.

Like 90 per cent of people who obtain dogs these days, I bought you for the express purpose of publishing a bestselling book about your incorrigible canine antics and the profound emotional bonds we forged on the path to your tragic, very painful death.

John Grogan did it with Marley &; Me. Dean Koontz did it with A Big Little Life. Now everyone and his scampish, terminally ill dog are trying to strike it rich. There are books about Merle and Sprite, Chance and Gracie. Books about deaf dogs and genius dogs and always the personal journeys filled with joy and anguish. It’s like the old saying goes: a dog truly is man’s best retirement plan.

I remember how excited we were when we picked you out, Squib. The kids saw in you an energetic playmate and loyal companion. I saw in you a potential for paperback residuals and ancillary merchandising rights. The first time we met, you came running toward us—tongue wagging, paws flailing—and smashed head-on into the chain-link fence. “An idiot,” I thought. “Perfect.” I started taking notes for Moron & Me.

Over the next few weeks, you showed flashes of potential. For instance, I very much enjoyed it when you urinated on that veterinary assistant. She was so unpleasant that, well, let’s just say you barely beat me to it. And eating our cordless phone? Bravo.

But then you got lazy. You found socks on the floor and had the gall to leave them intact. You stopped terrifying the elderly. And you became a slave to the same tired habits. Take my word for it, Squib: an author can only devote so many chapters to crotch sniffing and expect to be hailed as a major literary talent (Charles Bukowski excepted).

Alas, I no longer get the sense that you’re the kind of hilariously disobedient dog who’s going to a tragic end that I can then exploit by overwriting a cloying meditation on how your canine nobility empowered me to discover what it means to be <sniff> truly human.

Have you read Dean Koontz’s book, Squib? Probably not. You’re more of a Glenn Beck man, aren’t you?

Koontz is known as a bestselling novelist—but last fall he published the tale of how his noble golden retriever helped him discover the secret to affording another vacation home or whatever.

Koontz devotes his book to passages like, “I frequently saw in her eyes a yearning to make herself understood in a complex way that only speech could facilitate” and, “Lying on the floor, facing each other, Trixie panted and I stroked her luxurious golden coat as she caught her breath . . . ”

I know what you’re thinking: If he dims the lights to see where the mood takes them, I’m out of here. But no—instead Koontz gazes into the dog’s eyes for 20 minutes and then says: “You’re not just a dog. You can’t fool me. I know what you really are. You’re an angel.”

Squib, I lack both the technical ability and the hatred for my fellow human required to write like that. So I need lots of material. I need a dog that gets into mischief, turns that mischief into mayhem and that mayhem into a sobering metaphor for the human condition. Basically, I need a dog capable of hijacking a fraternity’s homecoming float. As I look at you now, staring out the back door and growling at a lawn chair, I can only doubt you are up to the task.

Despite all I’ve said here, Squib, this was a difficult decision for me. I’ve grown mildly attached to you. Plus, I’ve already pictured in my mind how my meeting with Megan Fox would go when she played my devoted wife in the movie:

Megan: Oh, hey, nice to meet you.
Me: My dog is adorable and dying.
Megan: Hold me.

Let’s remember the good times, okay? Like that morning when you appeared to be gravely ill, leading us to believe you were suffering from “the big C” when in fact you were suffering from the “ate a small plastic shovel.” With the power of hindsight, I see now that I was too hasty in bringing in the documentary film crew for the book/reality show tie-in.

The bottom line is this: it’s time for us to go in another direction as a family—to reinvent this literary niche by finding a dog that not only has an unpronounceable disease but also was complicit in the Wall Street chicanery that triggered the financial meltdown. Two birds, meet one stone.

You’re a good boy, Squib. And that’s the problem.


Man’s best retirement plan? Him?

  1. My oldest daughter got a "ragdoll" cat from her boyfriend, the cat, Natasha, almost killed me, had a terrible asthma attack, so I kept my distance, for some weird reason, she was crazy about me, followed me everywhere, when I got home, was always there to welcome me, slept outside my bedroom door, and as much as I fought it, I fell madly in love with her, for the last 3 years we have become best friends. Yes, I am the crazy lady who calls in the middle of the day to say hello, I am the classic single woman who much rather stay home and watch a girlie movie with Natasha and share some "chunky monkey". I have her picture on my desk and a whole section dedicated to her in my facebook pictures, and in those crazy bad days, she is always there and brings a smile to my face and like some miracle she doesn't cause my asthma to go crazy anymore. She has brought so much joy in my life and my kids too, but I am her favorite!

  2. We adopted a one year old lab called Otis,(hey he was black)
    Second night in, he ate my brand new hiking boots down to the soles,guess he didn,t care for crepe rubber, when banished to the mud room, he responded by chewing up the gyprock to the 18 inch level.We didn't see any novel in this,and I doubted the seductive value of owning a useless twit like this dog, so we sent him on. He's now doing picket duty at a mutton ranch down the road

  3. Buy him some bling. Tell him it’s from your publisher. He’ll forgive you and you can begin again.

  4. Introduce a cat into the household. The wall street meltdown tie-in + Cat-Dog dynamic may be what you need to pull off this literary masterpiece. Or not.

  5. Mr. Feschuk I believe that Macleans should strive to have some comedy in its weekly issues. Unfortunately your writings are not particularly funny. It seems that every week you merely search google for something remotely funny on its own and create a way to tie it into the Prime Minister. For example, your recent article on "Dear Abby" was very uncreative. You seemed to create a generic help question and then made a very VERY big stretch to tie it into something about Stephen Harper. This was not funny in the least bit. I suggest you return to serious journalism and I sincerely hope you are not paid nearly as much as anyone else at Macleans. I suggest to the editors to remove your column and give another page to Mark Steyn.

    • Give it up, Mark, it's not going to happen. Call Kory – he's hiring.

    • Now isn't that a big surprise that you want to turn over the humour column to a right wing puppet who produces unintentional humour! HAHAHA!
      It is the job of a satirist to lampoon those in charge. Just because it's "Your Boy" in the hotseat doesn't change the job description! Your kind make me giggle! Unintentionally!

  6. Fall in the pool and have Squib drag you to safety.

    Live dog hero stories are just as good as dying-angel-dog-helps-me-find-the-meaning-of-life stories. Does Rin Tin-Tin ring a bell, Feschuk? Buck up, Fella.

  7. Oh, yeah. Sargeant Preston and King, too. Pull it together for heaven's sake.

  8. How come you were not invited to join Jim and the rich guys like Coyne was? Everything you people have to say is fluff compared to what you don't say. Payola lives and doing a number on Canadian politics. You people don't even require cash to sing for your suppers.