By Millie (AKA Keith Michael)
I’d like to set the record straight.
There’s a lot of backstory here. Let me tell you about a conspiracy of good fortune today. A package was delivered this morning and left unopened right near his desk. Perhaps the vibration of setting down the box (I think it was a case of wine) rippled through the precipitous piles of papers and books on his desk, since moments after he rushed out the door to go wherever he goes during the day, one of those jerry-rigged piles crashed to the floor beside his desk. Buried in that pile was a book titled Once Around the Block: A Birder’s Year in the West Village, apparently written by him, which fell open to a photograph of ME. This was surprising, and as I pawed through the pages, I came upon several more candid photos of me (at least those were cute) as well as mentions of my name, Millie, on nearly every other page.
I’m sensing your skepticism that a Pembroke Welsh Corgi named Millie can read. Did anyone ever ask me? Well, the more I read of his book, the more I felt that I was being maligned and that something had to be done about it! Luckily that box had been left at just the right angle near the chair to his desk so that I could hop up onto the box (not so easy with arthritis), then onto the chair, and by standing up on my back legs (ouch!), reach the keyboard of his computer to start hunting and pecking out this plea to the editor. It’s not easy hitting those little letter keys (and I’m ten years out of practice).
Again, you might be skeptical that any Pembroke Welsh Corgi, much less the one named Millie who has been so misrepresented month after month, can type. Again, did anyone ask me? I can hunt and peck “The quick brown fox jumps over the lazy dog” with my eyes closed. (Can we talk about that pangram? It could just as well be, “The quick brown dog jumps over the lazy fox.”) In ten years, has anyone thought to leave an opened laptop on the floor to amuse me when they left for the day, or drop even a single New Yorker so that I can stay au courant with, well, everything? Luckily, they turn the television on to TCM when they leave, thinking that I might get bored. Well, I AM bored.
After double-clicking my way through the layers of screensavers and birding websites and cyber photo albums on his computer—all photographs of birds (Starlings, Robins, Blue Jays, Cardinals, Mockingbirds, Hawks, Crows, Mourning Doves, birds I recognized from my walks around the block)—I got to work.
Lately, my impression is that he’s never home (which seems to happen every year around this time, when that damn Nutcracker music starts playing), so I ought to have the whole day to type this out before he gets back, and maybe even send it off to that paper where all of those unpleasant things about me have appeared! Maybe I can hit “Send” before he submits HIS article.
First of all, I see that he has veiled his bon mots towards me with a blathering on and on about birds. He seems to think that there is something funny about my indifference to birds. What is there to like? They’re small. They rarely stop long enough for me to really be able to look at them or bark at them (and the ones that I see are dull brown and black, maybe occasionally with a flash of red or blue). They’re noisy. They’re too fast to eat. Bother. And, what’s more, he stops dead on the street, presumably, to look up at them, or worse, talk to someone else about them, while paying no attention to me.
I’ve noticed multiple references to my, uh, rotundity. Who’s to blame? After the tedium of his “birds this” and “birds that” he tosses me those dull low-calorie treats with Lite nearly printed on them, and stands about looking around at who-knows-what winged thing while holding me back from picking up at least something interesting to eat squashed between the cobblestones. Looking up does NOT burn off any calories, and besides, any self-respecting corgi in her later years deserves some breadth to compensate for her diminished agility. Has he EVER provided me with a cow or sheep flock to herd? No! I think not.
And, while we’re talking about food (and who shouldn’t be), if you were offered kibble, kibble, kibble, day in, day out, for ten years, wouldn’t you CRAVE a rancid chicken bone, a smashed side of congealed French fries, a splattered kale salad, an accidentally dumped pepperoni pizza slice crammed up against the curb? I ask you, wouldn’t you? And, really, is it that impolite to chase away a battalion of gawky pigeons or noisy starlings to get a little bite of something tasty?
My barking seems to be referred to with particular amusement and derision. Imagine having read through the Oxford English Dictionary before I was housebroken (not to mention having then eaten every page, therefore, I literally am the English language), typing nearly five words a minute, comprehending everything, and yet not being able to speak in more than a few monosyllabic, mezzo-soprano tones? So what if my volume is loud to try to get my point across? He refers to the honking of a flock of geese flying south for the winter as “poetic,” or the braying of an errant murder of crows as “nevermoreish,” and yet MY utterances of frustration, protection, fascination, or well-deserved I’ll-take-you-down-a-notch-or-twos are, somehow, “bird-brained!” What gives?
Finally. How many of his oh-so-clever articles, after the white noise of birds birds birds, has he wrapped up with an excuse that “Millie” has to be walked home for her mid-morning, mid-afternoon, or mid-evening nap? What else do I have to do? Naps are the indulgence of life. Whether it’s a blistering hot summer day, a colorful fall Friday, a down vest by the fire inspired winter snuggle, or a rambunctious spring ramble—what better way to return home than to curl up in a spot of sunlight for a nap? I ask you.
With all due respect, he’s fairly easy to take care of. Walking him several times a day isn’t that strenuous and, thankfully, he’s a quiet sleeper, not taking up very much room on my bed. But really, could he curb his insults?
Dear editor, I hope that you’ll hear this cry for help!
Visit keithmichaelnyc.com to order your holiday gift copy of Once Around the Block: A Birder’s Year in the West Village and for the latest schedule of New York City WILD! urban-adventures-in-nature outings throughout the five boroughs. Visit his Instagram @newyorkcitywild for photos from around NYC.