Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Carrying a torch

It has been a momentous day for the Pugistani nation, as we secured our first-ever Olympic torch relay. After a series of troubled torch runs around the world, rife with anti-China demonstrations and shortened routes, the torch had been set to return to China following Tuesday's run in Vietnam. But I picked up the Pug Life phone and made an urgent call, waking Chinese President Hu Jintao at 3 a.m. "Hu," I barked, "you must send the torch to Pugistan. China is the pug's ancestral homeland, and the ties between us run deep. Plus, God willing, I would like to roast some marshmallows." I then assured President Hu that there would be no protests to embarrass his nation -- my ability to suppress dissent is legendary, and no Tibet-loving Lhasa Apso is going to steal my thunder. After consulting with his godless communist cohorts, President Hu agreed to formally recognize Pugistan as a nation and send the torch to the ayatollah compound, where it is scheduled to arrive in the morning via UPS.

Tomorrow, I will pass the torch to my little brother to officially kick off our relay and usher in a new era of international respect for Pugistan. Allahu akbar! Then I will pray that young Wendell does not burn the house down with one of his wild figure-eight sprints.

Thursday, April 24, 2008

So far, so good

Esther, our new foster child, seems to be adapting well to her new environment. With its satellite TV, wireless Internet and squeaking toys, the ayatollah compound is worlds apart from Esther's old home on her cloistered West Texas ranch. The technology of the modern world was completely foreign to young Esther, but she has already mastered the dishwasher and vacuum. God willing, she will take to the hedgetrimmers with similar aplomb and lack of bloodshed.

Esther misses her mother greatly, but she has confided in me that she is happy to be away from the Yearning for Zion Ranch. Though she described certain idyllic charms consistent with a typical third-world upbringing, Esther also spoke of an atmosphere of cruelty at the polygamist compound. Worst of all, she said, was the constant teasing and ridicule of the other children, who had been calling her a spinster since her 11th birthday.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

My polygamist protege

It has been an exciting day at the ayatollah compound. Esther, our new foster child, has arrived after being plucked from the clutches of a West Texas polygamist compound. A judge this week ordered that Esther and 436 of her peers be placed in foster homes while the court awaits DNA test results and sorts through one of the most complex custody cases in state history. So now Wendell and I have a new protege and playmate to keep us company while our parents are at work. Esther is rather quiet and reserved, but we have found her to be tidy and an excellent cook -- her Milkbone casserole was delicious. As a 12-year-old, Esther was taught years ago that the way to a man's heart is through his stomach. She is also quite handy with a needle and thread, and she has promised to sew a new outfit for Wendell as soon as she finishes vacuuming the house.

Saturday, April 19, 2008

The interrogation of Bella Rose: Part II

Bella's piercing eyes peered out from her cell. A prolonged, guttural growl escaped her lips, despite the muzzle she wore. She appeared to be strapped to a large steel board by some kind of doggy straitjacket. "I've been expecting you," she snarled, a wave of stench accompanying her breath. "Come closer. Closer ..."

I edged toward the thick bars of Bella's cell, studying her frightful visage. Her skin twitched, and her eyes darted around the room. "Bella," I spoke, "you have some information that I need. I am here to retrieve it."

"You want the rawhide, eh?" she growled. "Noticed it missing, did you?"

That was exactly why I was here. The enriched rawhide. A huge quantity had gone missing the night of the Pug Life Telethon. I kept this theft a secret from the International Atomic Energy Agency, but in truth, it had set the ministry back years. "Where is the rawhide, Bella?" I barked.

"Squid pro ... quo?" she barked. I studied her face. "You have no idea what you're talking about, do you, Bella?" Her eyes darted to the floor. "No," she admitted. "Listen, Bella," I barked, "I am not here to play games. If I were, I'd have brought my tug-of-war rope. Now either you volunteer some information, or I will force it from you."

Mindful of the result of our last epic battle, Bella nodded slowly and began to tell a rambling tale. She admitted she'd taken the rawhide, four tons of it, and gone into hiding. "And then," she said, "I took a lover ..."

"Bella!" I interrupted. "T-M-I." I tasted a hint of vomit in the back of my mouth.
"But you don't understand, ayatollah," she said. "This is where the rawhide went -- I gave it as a gift. Perhaps you have heard of my whippet friend."

No, it could not be! I knew exactly who Bella spoke of. It was the incredible hulking whippet. "Did this ... friend of yours eat all the rawhide?" I asked. She shook her head. "No, a small amount remains," she said. "I will give you the address."

Now that I had the information I sought, there was but one more consideration: Bella's soul. But as I studied her crazed, twitching face, a realization hit me. I could probably cast out the demons inside her, but Bella would still be what we in the business call a "bad dog." Her soul is like a low-rent tenement house for evil forces. An exorcism might cure her for now, but there was nothing to prevent her from inviting the demons back in. Much as it pained me to do so, I knew there was no other choice.

"Farewell, Bella," I barked. "I will pray for your redemption, and I will try to find a permanent solution to free you of your demonic influence. But for now, it is best for all involved that you remain under lock and key."

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

The interrogation of Bella Rose

"Wait here," I barked. "If I'm not back in eight hours, have the humans drive you home. Then contact Supreme Commander Brody of the Armed Revolutionary Forces and tell him to initiate Operation Ichabod. He'll know what to do from there." Wendell nodded intently before becoming distracted by his tail and chasing it. Could I really trust the pup with such an important mission? At this point, it seemed, I had no choice. I exited the car and stealthily made my way from the outer parking lot to the naval brig's security checkpoint. Using skills I had picked up while boarding with a ninja family on Mount Shibutsu, I slipped past the guards unnoticed. The shadows provided cover as I made my way to the commanding officer's quarters. Then I pawed at the door.

Adm. Jacobs looked surprised when he saw me on his welcome mat, but he invited me in. I raised my paw to shake his hand. Being a cat owner, he seemed impressed. "We have to talk," I barked. "I must see Bella tonight." The admiral tried to dissuade me. The Chihuahua is too dangerous, he told me. "No one enters her holding block. No one."

I nonchalantly pushed my beard to the side and took hold of the medallion I wear around my neck, causing it to swing from side to side. My bark flowed in an even, soothing tone. Within minutes, the admiral was under my hypnotic spell.

Back outside, I traveled another 200 yards to the prison entrance. I presented the guards with a handwritten note from Adm. Jacobs. Though they seemed taken aback by its message, the guards complied, opening the sturdy steel door. One escorted me inside, where we passed through another thick door and then another. Then the guard moved back toward the doorway. "This is as far as I go," he said, his voice breaking. "You'll find the Chihuahua up there." He pointed ahead and then hurried back through the door, slamming it shut behind him. The final barrier unlocked with a thud and slowly moved to the side, urged on by the straining whine of electric gears. I moved ahead, the damp concrete cold on my paws. After passing a series of empty cells, I reached a windowless concrete wall. From there, the corridor split off to the left at a 90-degree angle. I turned and walked past three more dimly lit cells.

What I saw next chilled me to my last rawhide bone.

To be continued ...

Friday, April 11, 2008

Announcement regarding Sister Bella

Many of you know the long and sordid story of Bella the Chihuahua. She began her career with Pug Life Ministries' Catholic wing as a nun. She was not exactly sweet, but still, she was fairly innocuous. Somewhere down the line, however, she snapped. Bella returned to her ancestral homeland of Mexico, where she wreaked havoc on unsuspecting villagers as a feared bandit. Even members of the drug cartels cowered before her and the marauding gang that she directed. She was cold and merciless, leaving grievous ankle wounds from the Texas border to Mexico City. Finally, the ministry intervened, sending an elite squad of bulldog commandos to apprehend Bella. Her subsequent exorcism, in which she temporarily killed the pope and very nearly took my own life, was the stuff of both legend and nightmare. But it seemed to be effective -- for a while. Once again, the demons began to take hold of Bella's soul, causing her to lash out at the ministry and viciously attack rock star Tom Petty during last summer's Pug Life Telethon.

She escaped and was later taken into custody by federal authorities, and from there the trail went cold. Despite putting the Armed Revolutionary Forces' top bloodhounds on the case, we were unable to locate her. Until now. Yesterday, one of my top-secret moles within the White House sent me a communique regarding Sister Bella's status. It seems she is being held as an enemy combatant, deemed too dangerous to be allowed in the civilian legal system. She was transported to Jordan under the CIA's "extraordinary rendition" program, where authorities hoped to break her down and gain information from her via questionable interrogation techniques. The Jordanians are noted for their ruthlessness, their cruelty. But in this instance, they found that the blood on their hands was their own -- courtesy of a thousand bites from Bella's razor-sharp teeth. She was returned to the U.S. and sent to a maximum-security holding cell at a U.S. naval brig, where she resides today.

Tonight, I am going to visit Sister Bella. God willing, I will return to tell the tale.

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Mugsy makes cryptic quasi-announcement

I have an important announcement to make, my flock. Unfortunately, it will have to wait. I am pressed for time and must get to a meeting regarding salmonella levels in the Ayatollah Mugsy Scout cookies. Do not worry; my scientists tell me the cookies should be perfectly fine for human consumption. Please check back later for this major announcement regarding high-stakes espionage, the U.S. government and Sister Bella.

Saturday, April 05, 2008

A real hoot

This evening, I ventured to a local sports bar to dine and watch a little Final Four action. Around halftime, the waitstaff began linking together several tables for a large party. Finally, a dozen or so rowdy girls took their seats. They each appeared to be roughly 10 or 11 years old, and all wore orange and white tank-tops with "Hooters" emblazoned on the chest. My mother found this apparel to be somewhat disturbing on lasses so young. I, on the other paw, have nothing against owls. But it did pique my curiosity. Were they members of a sporting team called the Hooters? Or perhaps involved in some sort of mentorship program with the restaurant chain of the same name? I know this blog, representing the world's largest interfaith, interspecies ministry, has a fairly wide reach. So if anyone out there has an explanation, mother and I would love to hear it.

Happy birthday to me

As some of you know, I celebrated my 7th birthday this week. It seems like only yesterday that I was a tiny, growling pup hanging by my teeth from the legs of father's jeans as he slowly trudged across the room. To mark the occasion, the ministry erected a 70-foot obelisk outside the ayatollah compound. An inscription on the base bears a partial list of my major accomplishments through the first seven years of my life. Truly, it is a breathtaking sight. Yet some in the neighborhood have complained. It seems they were caught off-guard by this towering structure, and by the fact that it was built with homeowners' association funds. They thought their annual dues would go toward landscaping, lawn-mowing, perhaps another gazebo. But this is their own fault. Did they complain when I took control of the HOA presidency late last year through a bloodless coup? No, not in any significant numbers. And did they attend the hastily arranged 3 a.m. meeting where this obelisk was approved? Again, no. Only one neighbor took the time to show up and speak out against this monument. And his vote was outweighed by mine and that of HOA treasurer Wendell. Allah, we thank you for neighborhood politics.

Thursday, April 03, 2008

Mallard's April Fool's Day joke

Assalamu alaikum, my flock. On Tuesday morning, I began a marathon 48-hour tug-of-war session with Wendell. Imagine my surprise when I returned to my blogging station and found that my aide-de-camp Mallard had played an April Fool's joke on the congregation. He even went into my pre-written speech file -- where I keep several dozen texts on hand, just in case -- to make it sound more authentic. But Mallard inserted a couple of changes near the end of the speech that should have made it a dead giveaway to anyone who follows my teachings. First, he wrote of "free and democratic elections." Ha ha ha! That Mallard, such a card ...

Then he named himself as my successor. Now Mallard is wonderful when it comes to dealing with physical stress, and he has the toothmarks to prove it. But mentally, there is simply no way a chew toy could handle this job. Being an ayatollah isn't easy, and Mallard would simply quack under the pressure.

Tuesday, April 01, 2008

Mugsy steps down as ayatollah

This is Mallard, Ayatollah Mugsy's aide-de-camp and favorite chew toy. As some of you have probably already heard, the ayatollah stepped down this morning as head of Pug Life Ministries. I'm in shock, as you probably are, too. I asked him if he wanted to address you on the blog, and he said, "No, my work with the ministry is finished. I will never blog again." So this is a sad, sad day. Here's the full text of his resignation speech, in case you didn't catch it on CNN:

In the last few days I have begun to atone for my private failings with my close advisers, the ladies of my harem and my entire family. The remorse I feel will always be with me. Words cannot describe how grateful I am for the love and compassion they have shown me. From those to whom much is given, much is expected. I have been given much: the love of my family, the faith and trust of the congregation of Pug Life Ministries, and the chance to lead the glorious nation of Pugistan. I am deeply sorry that I did not live up to what was expected of me. To every canine, and to all those who believed in what I tried to stand for, I sincerely apologize for a series of unspecified actions, which I will not go into now.

Over the course of my public life, I have insisted, I believe correctly, that people and canines -- and, to a lesser extent, felines -- regardless of their faith, position or power, take responsibility for their conduct. I can and will ask no less of myself. For this reason, I am resigning from the office of ayatollah. As you can see on the crestfallen faces of all the concubines gathered here on stage with me, I have done a bad, bad thing. So I have much to atone for.

I go forward with the belief, as others have said, that as Allah's creatures, our greatest glory consists not in never falling, but in rising every time we fall. As I leave the ministry, I will first do what I need to do to help and heal myself and my family. Then I will try once again, outside of public life, to serve the common good and to move toward the ideals and solutions which I believe can build a future of hope and opportunity for us and for our puppies. Perhaps I will resurrect my music career, or maybe I will pursue my long-held dream of being a plumber. Given the legendarily attractive
backside of my breed, I would no doubt have a leg up on any humans within the plumbing field.

I hope all of the congregation will take part in the upcoming free and democratic elections to choose my successor, but in the meantime, I have named my loyal aide Mallard as interim ayatollah. At this very moment, he is reading the Cliff's Notes for the Quran to prepare for the task ahead. Farewell, and may peace and rawhide be upon you all.