Monday, August 06, 2012

The immune-boosting power of dogs

As the world's leading ayatollah, I typically approach scientific research with a healthy dose of skepticism. But on the handful of occasions when that science reinforces my worldview, I am more than willing to embrace it. And so it is with a study in the August issue of Pediatrics that I found most interesting and enlightening. 

The Ayatollahbaby gets a healthy dose of the dog bed.
Researchers discovered that babies with dogs in the home are, on average, healthier than those without a furry companion. Babies with canine siblings had fewer respiratory and ear infections, and they were less likely to need antibiotics. One-year-olds with a dog living in the house were rated "healthy" 81 percent of the time, while dogless children and those whose dogs stayed outside were given a healthy rating only 64 percent of the time. 

It is believed that having frequent contact with a dog exposes a child to "subclinical" doses of germs -- or germs that are not invasive or virulent. This helps children with dogs build a stronger immune system. So each time I lick my little sister's face, I am not only showing affection, I am also boosting her health. And also, God willing, tasting a little bit of sweet potato or apple sauce. Praise be to Allah for messy 6-month-old eaters!

Since the ministry is dedicated to charitable works and serving the public good, I have implemented a plan to help the less fortunate children of the congregation -- those deprived young souls who have no dogs. Here is how the MediCanine initiative works:
  • For a $10 donation, you can receive a small bag of pug fur to spread on your child's pillow, ensuring that he or she inhales valuable dog-based organisms while sleeping.
  • For a $20 donation, you can receive a bag of pug fur plus a partially chewed rawhide stick. By letting your child chew on this, you can ensure that he or she is exposed to not one but two distinct sources of life-giving germs. 
  • For a $50 donation, you will receive five bags of fur and five chewsticks -- a $100 value, my flock. This is the best option for value-minded health-care consumers, as well as those with large families. But wait -- there's more! Act now, and the ministry will throw in a Squishy Baff bath kit at no additional charge. (And who knows what kind of germs, subclinical or otherwise, your child could pick up while bathing in that sludge.) That's a $130 value for the low, low price of only $50! Keep in mind that because of the law of supply and demand and the fluctuating price of fur contracts on the Chicago Mercantile Exchange, this is a limited-time offer. Fur prices are likely to rise in the winter as shedding abates, so act quickly if you truly love your children.
  • And finally, for a $500 donation, you can arrange a personal audience with me in the Dallas-Fort Worth area, whereupon I will lick Cheez Whiz* off your child's cheeks and hands and then sneeze forcefully in his or her face. This will ensure that immune-boosting organisms are forced deep into the nasal passages, lungs and cerebral cortex, making for a happy, healthy and productive child. 
*NOTE: A comparable processed food product may be substituted.

Thursday, August 02, 2012

Chicken sandwiches and change

Over the years, I have noticed that the congregation here at Pug Life Ministries is a politically diverse group. When I look at the news feed on my Facebook wall, I see screeds against President Obama's "socialist" policies alongside banners advocating universal healthcare, flag-filled messages of patriotism alongside accusations of U.S. war crimes. I also see photos of pug puppies and bulldogs in swimming pools; perhaps this is what gives me the strength to keep returning. 

I enjoy having humans from varied backgrounds in the congregation, and I believe it's good to be exposed to different ideas and viewpoints (and potential donors). The reason the ministry has emerged as perhaps the last bit of common ground in this starkly divided country is, of course, my immense charisma and charm. But I think it may also have something to do with the fact that I run an apolitical group, with the obvious exception of my unyielding stances on canine suffrage and universal access to rawhide. 

It is not that I have no core beliefs, like one of our major presidential candidates, or set my core beliefs aside in the interest of political expediency, like the other. I simply do not consider myself a member of either of the dominant political parties in this country, and I cannot bring myself to exhibit public enthusiasm for any politician whom I know will ultimately most likely prove to be a disappointment. You can call that cynical if you like, but remember that no cynic ever fought so hard to implement a canine theocracy -- our last best hope. So, in truth, I am a patriot of the highest order. 

These people must have really wanted some chicken.
I understand. I, too, want some chicken.
As a top executive at Chick-fil-A recently learned, it can be dicey to weigh in on political matters. Sometimes, it is best to tread lightly. And so I will try to keep my pawprints shallow as I address what is, apparently, one of the most important political matters of our time: Eating mor chikin. 

Religious conservatives flocked to Chick-fil-A restaurants Wednesday, waiting in long lines for the pleasure of buying mediocre chicken sandwiches. Some might mock this practice, but I can understand waiting for a meal. I often camp out at my food bowl starting at 3 p.m. so that I'm certain to be there when dinner arrives. 

At the heart of the matter is the debate over same-sex marriage. Given the political and religious diversity in the Pug Life congregation, I suspect that some of you have a certain degree of unease over the idea of two people of the same sex marrying. I confess that I, too, am uneasy with regard to certain aspects of gay marriage. Such is my discomfort that I can say, unequivocally, that I will never wed another man. I simply would not be comfortable doing so. As far as others marrying, I find that letting people pursue happiness in whatever way they please, so long as it doesn't harm others, is generally a good policy. Plus, as an imam who performs wedding ceremonies, I've learned that it is good for business. 

But I will not condemn those in the congregation who do possess misgivings about same-sex marriage. We cannot force these things, and it is best to be honest with oneself. Some of you may be uncomfortable with the idea of marrying someone of another race or religious background, and this is perfectly fine. I, personally, have never been attracted to German shepherds and so have not invited any into my harem. And no, I will not be swayed by the voices of political correctness.

But as a public service, I feel it is necessary to share with you a simple fact. In 30 years, same-sex marriage will be widely accepted in this country, and people will look back on those who impeded its progress in the same light as society at large now looks back on those who fought against interracial marriage or integration of schools or suffrage for black or female voters. Progress trudges along, my flock, and I'd hate for you to find yourselves on the wrong side of history, with nothing to show for it but a wasted lunch hour and the memories of a mediocre chicken sandwich. 

Monday, July 30, 2012

Mugsy issues fatwa

Too many times have I been insulted, enraged and left with a sour taste in my mouth. Too many times have I received service with a smile that masked something dark and sinister. Too many times, my flock, have I been left with two drinks but only one mint. Sonic's crimes against the very fabric of society have left me no choice but to issue a fatwa! 

This is not a fatwa I deliver lightly. In fact, it pains me to do so -- and to have to do so. But as the self-appointed defender of morality, goodness and fresh breath, I must speak out against one of my favorite establishments. Sonic, as some of you surely know, is the home of the finest drinks known to man and pug. And the creator of the drive-in's half-price Happy Hour, by virtue of his contributions to humanity and my decree four years ago at the Fort Worth Furry Imams' Conference, has been guaranteed a spot in Heaven. But making a delicious diet vanilla Coke does not give one a free pass to sin. And this, my flock, is why corrective action must be taken!

When an ayatollah orders two drinks, it should be clear to all that he is buying for two. Perhaps he is trying to ensure proper hydration for his dear mother. Or perhaps he is courting a new prospect for his harem. Regardless, the carhop's mission should be crystal clear: If you bring a mint along with the drinks, then bring enough for everyone.

The infidels do not even bring
 a knife to cut the lonely mint in half.
Just this afternoon, in the waning minutes of Happy Hour, I procured two drinks in an effort to try to keep myself and my favorite bitch cool in Texas' oppressive summer heat. And what did I find stuck to the receipt? A single mint. 

What brand of madness is this? Is it mere carelessness that leaves us awkwardly eyeballing that lonely mint, waiting for the other party to make a move like a desperate gunfighter at high noon? Or is Sonic engaged in some kind of malevolent Hunger Games-inspired plot to pit its customers against one another -- to force them to fight to the death over a small morsel of food? Because if so, Sonic executives should know that this is a very, very bad business strategy, as the Baptist wing of Pug Life Ministries learned during its 2004 "One Pew, One Milkbone" promotion. Only recently has our offerings revenue recovered to 2003 levels. 

Whether the carhops' actions are the result of carelessness or malice, the result is the same: One party with fresh, pepperminty breath, and one concubine who will be sleeping outside because of her rank, fetid, cringe-inducing panting. This, my flock, is most unacceptable. 

Henceforth, by virtue of today's fatwa, it is the duty of every carhop to ensure that a mint is delivered with every drink. No longer shall they sow the seeds of strife and halitosis. Those who dare to defy my fatwa will stumble and scrape across the parking lot after my henchmen have summarily stripped the wheels from their roller skates. So it is written, so it shall be law. Allahu akbar!

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Mugsy returns, declares baby a success

Greetings, my flock. I have returned from my six-month pugternity leave, ready to once again take a more active role in ministry business. God willing, this will mean an improvement upon my one-post-per-full-moon pace of recent months.

Celie's record during
her first six months
was not entirely spotless.
When my human sister the Ayatollahbaby was born, I knew that it was vital for me to become a steadying influence in her life. If her upbringing were left in the hands of our parents, she would surely suffer. As you may recall, I endured a rough puppyhood on the mean streets of Dallas, falling in with the wrong crowd and plunging into the depths of addiction. It was only through the uplifting influence of Allah that I was able to pull myself up by my bootstraps and become the pug, the myth, the legend that you all love, revere and -- deep down -- somewhat fear today. I am pleased to report that Celie is on the right path, even if she occasionally rolls off of it and cries until she's righted, fed, put to bed or tossed in her whale tub. She is a charming, good-natured, riotously funny child who, aside from the occasional fur tug and one isolated incident in which she mistook my tail for a bottle, has learned to respect her elders. 

So I am now ready to retake the reins of running the ministry full-time. My brother, Wendell, has performed ably in my absence, sparking only a handful of easily won border skirmishes and displaying just enough erratic behavior to keep the United Nations on its toes. If anything, our ability to influence global oil prices has only increased under Wendell's stewardship, a true badge of honor for any self-respecting ayatollah.

Now, you may be wondering, "Isn't a six-month fully paid leave to spend time with a newborn rather generous?" And the answer, of course, is yes. Pug Life Ministries is renowned for its generous benefits, especially among the executive ranks. I have a $420-a-month cellphone allowance, and I can't even hear anything. In these troubled times, it has been necessary to make some minor, targeted, sensible cutbacks to ensure that these important benefits continue. Thus the discontinuation this year of our contraception and spaying coverage, as well as other changes to allow ministry employees to better take control of their own health and welfare and reduce unnecessary expenses. But I digress ...

During my leave, I was not only tutoring young Cecelia. Babies, as it turns out, take a lot of naps. So in addition to serving as the Mr. Miyagi to her Daniel-san, I took advantage of her sleep time to begin work on a special project. Expect an announcement soon with further details. 

Friday, April 06, 2012

Who's the master now?

It appears that Seattle-area dog Sierra has made a political statement regarding the "no women allowed" policy at Augusta National Golf Club by eating her humans' tickets to the Masters. This is reminiscent of the time in 2002 when I spoke out against excessive highway speed by swallowing the money order that father intended to use to pay a ticket in Grayson County, Texas. He learned his lesson well and has not been cited for speeding since. God willing, Sierra's message will resonate with the same force.

Or perhaps Sierra had simply gone too long without a meal.
SEATTLE (AP) — Russ Berkman's dream came true when he won a lottery for four passes to Wednesday's practice round at the Masters golf tournament in Georgia. But the Seattle-area resident's stomach turned when he found his dog, Sierra, had eaten them.

Berkman told KJR radio on Tuesday he was determined to go. His girlfriend told him he had to make Sierra puke.

He induced vomiting and recovered a gooey glob. Then he went to work trying to put about 20 vomit-covered pieces back together.

He says he recovered about 70 percent of the tickets. He took photos and explained the situation to the Augusta National Golf Club as “my dog ate my Masters tickets!”

They reprinted Berkman's tickets and had them waiting for him in Georgia.

Friday, February 03, 2012

Cute as a button

My baby sister has an actual belly button now. Allahu akbar! God willing, I will lick it soon. 

Thursday, February 02, 2012

Think pink

Now that it's become fashionable to bash Susan G. Komen for the Cure on blogs and social media sites, is it finally politically correct for me to go public with my long-held rant* against the over-pinking of America and, most specifically, the fact that I'm sick of seeing my favorite NFL players mar their classic uniforms with ill-matching pink leggings and mittens for a quarter of the season or more? Probably not ...

* The ayatollah condemns cancer in all its forms. 

Monday, January 23, 2012

The Ayatollahbaby: An FAQ

Like her pug brothers, Celie loves to sleep. Unlike
the pugs, she does an excellent Mr. Magoo impression.
Since announcing the birth of Cecelia the Ayatollahbaby, I have been inundated with questions about the child. (But sadly, no donations for her college fund. Yet.) Rather than answer them all individually, I decided to compile an FAQ to address the most frequently asked questions. 

This baby naps and eats a lot. Could she be part pug?
This seems highly likely. Given the amount of pug fur floating around the ayatollah compound, it is a virtual certainty that some pug DNA found its way into the fertilized egg. This would help explain Celie's sleeping and eating habits, in addition to her extreme cuteness. 

Will the baby be applying to join the harem?
Ew, my flock. Please keep in mind that Cecelia is my sister. Wendell may try to hump his brother's back during fits of extreme boredom, but your faithful ayatollah is far too genteel and family-oriented to engage in such shenanigans. Save those questions for Woody Allen. 

The brown-eyed girl models her
great-grandmother's bonnet from the early 1900s.
Who does the baby most resemble?
She clearly has my big brown eyes, and the top of her head is as soft as a pug's ear. I'd say this bodes well for her future.

How much does she weigh?
At birth, Cecelia was 9 pounds, 1 ounce and about 21 inches long. She currently stands at 9 pounds, 3 ounces and has grown 3/4 of an inch. 

Does she sleep through the night?
She regularly sleeps a solid four- to five-hour stretch overnight, giving mother a chance to get some much-needed rest. More important, my hearing impairment -- awarded by Allah just in time for the child's birth -- leaves me oblivious to any late-night crying. Nothing has changed in my routine -- I still sleep like a baby.  
At about 30 hours old, Celie would reflexively stick her
tongue out whenever someone did the same to her.
What is her best trick?
Some people think that dogs are far superior to babies when it comes to learning tricks -- and they're right. But babies are born with the instinctive ability to do at least one trick. Mother read during her pregnancy that if you stick your tongue out at a newborn baby, the child will return the gesture. After Celie's birth, the humans found that this trick did, indeed, work for about two days. Even more impressive, Cecelia was able to turn the tables on her parents. She now only sticks her tongue out whenever she wants to, but she's trained mother and father to follow suit (lending credence to the theory that she's part pug). 

You're a radical, ultraconservative cleric, and the baby is a female. Will she be allowed to drive a car?
Absolutely not. She's much too young. 

An old issue resurfaces (and donations are welcome)

Inspired by U.S. Sen. Rand Paul's recent airport antics, I am looking for a way to manufacture renewed outrage over one of my pet causes, the dog show "Don't Touch My Junk" movement. Any suggestions, my flock?

Wendell has suggested recruiting one of the athletes in the upcoming Animal Planet Puppy Bowl to draw an intentional delay-of-game penalty with a scripted hissy fit to raise awareness, while mother has urged a series of "junk-in" protests. Ever the thoughtful and calculating pug, I am still weighing all options. 

Friday, January 13, 2012

Behold, the Ayatollahbaby

She was the cutest baby in the hospital nursery -- I checked.

She has arrived, my flock -- our new human baby. Young Cecelia arrived early Tuesday morning, a little bit later than originally expected. Sometimes, Allah needs to take His time on important projects. 

"I get to go meet my
pug brothers? Yes!"
After three nights in the hospital, Celie was cleared to go to her new home at the ayatollah compound -- news that she greeted with great excitement and an emphatic fist pump. 

Sometimes, when a newcomer is welcomed into our home, the humans will bring Wendell and I outside to sniff him or her beforehand. This was done during our Schnauzer uncle's first visit. We contemplated a similar tactic with Celie. But Thursday's extreme cold and wind put the kibosh on that plan. As it turned out, such a move was unnecessary. Her assimilation into the family was seamless. And her diapers ensure that she cannot mark any previously claimed territory. 

Celie didn't mind being licked, sniffed or pug-snuggled, and even loud barks didn't faze her. I attribute this to the near-constant presence of Wendell and I on mother's baby bump during pregnancy. After nine months, our snorts were old hat to little Cecelia. 

Wendell was the first to greet her. He cleaned her up -- as he does for all visitors, willingly or unwillingly -- to ensure that she was fit for an audience with the ayatollah. He also performed a security check to verify her identity, and he frisked her for hidden weapons. We've recently picked up chatter in online radical chew-toy message boards about the hiring of infant assassins, so a canine cleric can never be too careful. 

The nurse missed a spot in that hospital bath. 
After Wendell cleaned and cleared the child, I moved in quickly to sniff her and welcome her to the family. My tail wagged most vigorously as I got my first whiff of newborn, my flock. Those babies do smell quite nice. I would soon invite her to join me in my favorite spot on the recliner.

Her head may be even softer than mine.
Now that Celie is here, we've found that she doesn't do all that much. Thankfully, we've learned, she is no threat to our food supply. So this will go a long way toward promoting continued goodwill and preventing any sibling rivalry from taking root. For the most part, she naps and eats. And occasionally tries on party dresses. 

All dressed up with nowhere to go.
So Wendell and I will continue to snuggle her and nurture her as we wait for the glorious, glorious day when she is finally allowed to eat solid foods. And then, my flock, we will pray to the Almighty that she is a typically messy toddler eater. 

Saturday, January 07, 2012

Licking my chops

I wish this baby would hurry up and make her appearance -- I'm hungry