An Open Letter To My Puppy

An apology for my dog-owning deficiencies
By Flannery Dean, April 2011, Updated June 2021

Alvy, I owe you an apology. I haven’t been the easiest person to live with over the past few months, and I want to tell you how much I appreciate your patience with me. I did so many dumb things when you first arrived, I don’t really know where to begin.


 I’m sorry that I named you Alvy Singer, which I’ve been told is pretentious. In my defense, “Roman Polanski” seemed too political.



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I’m ashamed to admit that a few days after you arrived, I fantasized about sending you back to the breeder with a sign around your neck that read: Rosemary’s Fur Baby. (I will always treasure the “devil’s pepper” amulet that you came with.)


I’m sorry I never finished that Temple Grandin book—all those Temple Grandin books, actually. I’m embarrassed to admit that I read the entire 66-page complaint filed by Al Gore’s masseuse instead—well, “skimmed” is probably more accurate. I’m even more ashamed of the fact that I listened to the Mel Gibson audiotapes. Three times. Each.


That Google search—“how to sedate + puppy”—was just me goofing around. I would never have done it for real. I didn’t “garrote + cat,” now did I?


I swear to god, I have no idea how Children’s Benadryl got into your water dish. I don’t even have children!


I’m sorry that I skipped so many important puppy-training classes, including the ones where the commands “Sit,” “Stay” and “Leave me alone, I’m eating” were taught. (I really regret missing that last one.) It hasn’t slowed your progress, though. You’re sitting like a pro! It’s almost as if you’ve been doing it all your life. You’re doing it now and I didn’t even ask you!


I feel terrible about the things I said about you when you first came here. I take it all back. You are not the Antichrist, and neither are you a Morlock. I know you didn’t bite me on the nose because you wanted to make me cry (though you didn’t do yourself any favors when you high-fived the cat immediately after).


I feel sick about the time I called in one of those dominance trainers to help me deal with what I later realized was just your puppyness and not some perverse desire on your part to turn me into your petrified valet. (You were only 11 weeks old! How sick was I?) You’re really going to hate me when I tell you that when I made that desperate call, I was fully aware that the alpha-dog theory had been discredited by serious animal behaviorists long ago—I did get that far in Grandin’s book. I promise never to do anything like that again. In fact, if I ever encounter another one of those jerks, I’m going to alpha roll him.


I’m sorry that sometimes I forget you’re a dog and not a baby. The BabyBjörn was absolutely too much, I agree. (It’s in the closet with your bonnet and sleeper, if you were wondering.) But just so you know: that sailor suit you tore to shreds wasn’t cheap.


I should never have compared you to Marty, my first dog. You two are very different. He was perfect and you’re evil—kidding!


I feel terrible about the first time I took you for a walk, which was really more of a prolonged drag. Now I’m the one being dragged on the walk. But it’s good for me. It’s helping me lose the puppy weight.


I’m sorry I didn’t realize you were trying to loosen me up, show me that life can be fun and not an endless march to the office, the gym and, ultimately, inevitable extinction. I still march, but dammit if there isn’t a spring in my step! That’s owing to you, my little Morlock.


Finally, and this one is hard for me to talk about, I’m sorry I lost my temper and screeched at you like a banshee that night. That really was our darkest hour, and I swear it will never happen again (yes, I know, it did, one more time; but never again!). I learned a valuable lesson from it though. I can be an animal sometimes, too.


Flannery Dean is a Canadian writer and editor with numerous magazine, newspaper and television pieces to her credit. Despite having grown up among dogs of all types and sizes, nothing prepared her for the challenge of Alvy, the lawless Keeshond puppy.