instructions to the new puppy

I suggest that you get a grip and stop eating things other than food….”


by brian doyle


Do not ever again for any reason eat crayons.
Do not eat more mice in one day than you can digest.
Do continue to eat as many ants and moths as you can slurp.
Do not ever again eat anything that even remotely resembles a crayon.
Do continue to make that rubbery surf-guitar sound when I rub your belly.
Do continue to face the heat vent with your eyes closed and a smile on your face.
Do continue to slide across the floor and crash into the wall for no discernible reason.
Do continue to wait impatiently for the children to emerge magically from their rooms.
Do not even think any more about the crayons. Forget the crayons. Move on. Let it go.
Do not continue to bang on the door with your water dish when you want to come in,
Because even though I admire your intelligent manipulation of the tools handy to paw
To issue messages to creatures who I am sure seem a complete and utter puzzle to you,
And even as I like you personally, your mad eyes, our mutual cautious respectfulness,
I grow weary of mud and chewing and nipping and shouting and sudden puddles
Which look to me like remote mysterious islands in the Malay Archipelago.
So if we are to get along, which it looks like we are going to have to do,
I suggest that you get a grip and stop eating things other than food,
And stop nipping the children and causing chaos and hubbub,
And I will continue to rub your belly when I get home,
And do my very best, as a gentleman, to forget
The whole crayon thing, of which
The less said the better.


Originally published:
Issue Thirty-Seven
June 2005


Brian Doyle is the author of six books, most recently THE WET ENGINE, about hearts and all. It’s not bad. Among his awards and such are (a) a woman married him, (b) the Coherent Mercy granted them three children, and (c) he was named to the 1983 all-star team in the Newton Massachusetts Men’s League, which was a really tough league, you drove to the hole in that league you lost fingers, one time a guy drove the lane and got hit so hard his arm came off, but he was lefty anyway and hit both free throws. Supposedly he then left his arm in a toll booth basket on the Mass Pike but that might be apocryphal. More from Brian Doyle can be found in the Vault of Smoke. (bio/2005)

Brian Doyle was the author of many books, including the sea novel The Plover, which has, no kidding, music printed in it, not to mention Mink River, Martin Marten, The Wet Engine, and more than we can recall.  He won the 2017 John Burroughs Medal for distinguished nature writing for Martin Marten, which was plenty cool and much deserved.  Brian passed away peacefully at his Lake Oswego home on May 27, 2017. 

More, much more, from Brian Doyle can be found in the Vault of Smoke.



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