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Killing the Dog

Posted by Jew from Jersey
22 October 2004

Once upon a time there was a population of fleas who lived in the hair of a dog. The fleas, being fleas, lived by drinking the dog’s blood and contributed to him nothing but annoying bites and flea excrement. The dog, being a dog, supported himself by rummaging through garbage and preying on smaller animals who were sick and weak. For entertainment, he wallowed in dirt and smelled other dogs’ rear ends. Such is the world.

It is understandable that the fleas regarded the dog with some disdain. “He does things even the filthiest of us would be ashamed of,” they thought. But what incensed the fleas even more was that the dog constantly upstaged them. “Look, there goes Sparky,” would say dogs and cats alike, with not a word about the fleas. Other animals were much the same. The fleas were outraged. “Don’t they see that we’re the ones to notice,” they’d ask each other, “We have the culture. We have the sophistication. Sparky’s nothing but a violent, flatulent reprobate.” Other fleas who lived on other dogs shared a similar opinion of Sparky and of their own dogs. In general, fleas regarded their dependency on dogs as a major injustice. “We should be the ones deciding where to go,” they’d say to each other, “Sparky always goes to the park to pee on the flowers anyway. What does he know about the world?”

The fleas took the matter up with Sparky. “Listen, champ,” they said, “How’d you like to have a real life? Go to museums and flower shows? Meet celebrities, dine in style? You don’t need to do a thing, either. Just leave it all up to us and you’ll be the envy of the neighborhood.” Sparky was not impressed. “You fleas, me dog,” he said, “Now we go retrieve stick.”

Ferment set in the flea community. “The dog must go,” they said, and embarked on a brutal biting campaign. Sparky, being a dog, made no response but to scratch, which hurt him more than it hurt the fleas. When Sparky developed festering sores, the fleas sought to contract especially deadly infections to spread to him. Soon the dog grew sick, retired to a spot in the garden and seldom stirred. Other dogs and animals came to pick on him and steal his bones. Cats and even birds came to torment him. “They’re on our side,” said the fleas, “we’re on the side of the world, Sparky is isolated, soon we’ll be free and the world will reward us for doing the right thing.”

When the dog died, the fleas died with him. Most of them were too gorged with blood to jump very far.

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