He paws at the door; I get up, open it. He runs away, off into the yard, to stare at me like I’m the dumb kid who just fell for the up-high-down-low-too-slow. I close the door and whisper bad names at him, knowing he doesn’t care, that he only pretends not to understand.

The dog hates me.

Three seconds later, he’s back, pawing at the door again. The door shakes. The glass shimmies. There’s movement behind the glass, out in the dark night, a whisper of a streak, a blur of motion. He let’s out a long, high-pitched whine that sounds like the first thirty seconds after someone fires a revolver next to your ear.

I open the door again. He jumps back, ears flying, and bolts for the yard, knowing I won’t chase him: it’s dark out there, I’m barefoot, and we both know what business he’s been doing. I’ve already had enough of his shit.

He’s on the back porch before I can even get the door closed, leaning his weight against the glass, paws working like he’s trying out a new drum solo. Upstairs, the wife laughs at The Mindy Project, while the two year old on the couch calls me “Pinky” and barks laughter. I have no idea what it means, but in my mind, just for a second, I thought he called me the other P-word.

I run my hands through my hair and look at myself in the mirror. It’s time for a haircut; I look like Wolverine, but with less style and no claws.

The dog has started leaving dead moles on the porch. In another home–one where a dog loves its master–the mole might be seen as an offering to a god. But not at my house. The dog hates me, and I take the mole as a threat, like the rabbit in the stew pot in Fatal Attraction.

I saved his life. Twice. The first time when I brought him home from the pound, and then when I paid to keep him alive through a rough bout with Parvovirus. He doesn’t care. The only appreciation he knows is biting my hand and pawing me in the balls; digging up the yard, and tearing chunks out of the door while he plays the game he thinks is so cute. It’s not. Fetch is a cute game; so is tug-of-war. Not this. This is cruelty and torture. This is a battle for supremacy in the ranks, a power play. And I’m losing. I feel like I’m being bullied by a kindergartener.

The game goes on until I leave the door open, just a crack. Then he comes in on his own, jumps up on the couch, and looks at me like I’m the idiot with no testicles. He thinks he’s made me feel inferior, but in truth, I look at him and think about how, if I wanted, I could break his jaw with one quick kick. I don’t. With his mouth wired shut he would just whine all the time.

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