My wife overheard me talking about Michael Vick this week. I made the mistake of mentioning how much I enjoyed his recent resurgence. In retrospect, I should have just said that women shouldn’t have the right to vote, or that men should be allowed to trade their wives in every six years like cars. She waited for me to hang up, then asked calmly, “What’s going on with Michael Vick?”
I explained that Vick had won the starting job in Philly, rejuvenated his career and emerged as the feel-good story of the 2010 NFL season. He’s been the most valuable player in the league. It looked like a transition year for the Eagles as recently as halftime of Week 1. Now they think they can win the NFC East. All because of him.
My wife processed this information the same way you would absorb a bad diagnosis from a doctor. She shook her head.
“The Dooze would be rolling around in her grave if we didn’t cremate her,” she said coldly.
My wife hates Michael Vick for the same reason most people hate him: She loves dogs. All animals, actually. Even after I explained that Vick rehabilitated his life, renounced dogfighting and became a spokesman for the Humane Society, she shook her head in disgust.
“I can’t believe you fell for that crap,” she said. “He’s just doing it for the PR and to save his career. Anyone who hurts animals like he did has a dark side to them. That side doesn’t go away. He can say all he wants. I know what he did. You’d care if you still loved dogs.”
Total dig. And partially justified. You might remember cancer claimed our first dog, the Dooze, in January of 2009. The next few weeks were brutal. The Dooze’s bastard half-brother, Rufus — best described as Marley after four cocktails — wandered around like a zombie and spent every night sleeping in Dooze’s spot near the front door. My wife cried five times a day and her eyes became perpetually puffy. Our daughter kept saying she missed Dooze, which only made my wife cry more. Only when we adopted a mutt named Olivia in April did things start to feel normal again. Puppies have a way of breathing new life into a family and making you forget that you just watched your last dog waste away.
I don’t love Rufus or Olivia as much as I loved the Dooze. I can’t help it. She was our first and our best. One of a kind. My wife derisively claims Dooze’s death turned me into a “dog liker” instead of a “dog lover.” I guess that’s fair. Maybe I should walk our dogs more. Maybe I shouldn’t scream “It should have been you!” at Rufus every time he craps on the rug or swipes a hot dog off the counter. Maybe I shouldn’t make fun of Olivia’s looks so relentlessly that my wife is convinced that I’m giving her a complex. (In my defense, she’s historically ugly. I don’t even want to include her in our family Christmas photo because her pea head and bulbous body will distract people from seeing our kids.) But considering I allow our two dogs to sleep on our bed every night, and considering I’ve had dogs my entire life, I certainly fit the profile of someone who should be carrying around a 16-gallon jug of haterade for Michael Vick.
But I can’t do it. And I can’t do it for four reasons …