A World Less Certain | Sukie Says

My four-legged darling during the dog days of spring

PHOTO: SouthPasadenan.com News | Rick Thomas and his canine pal, Sukie

Have you noticed how many people practice self-awareness in public these days? Nothing sharpens one’s acuity more for community spirit and fair play (toilet paper hoarders excluded) when faced with the possibility of getting a fatal disease and spreading it to family and friends.

We all want to do the right thing. Crime is down. Family togetherness is up – an opportunity for parents to spend quality time with their children. And so on.

Who am I leaving out? Only the tail-wagging four-legged furry creature who never asks for much more than table scrap or your timely return home. The only living animal on Earth that universally produces tears in humans when they ascend to doggy heaven.

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You may discover, as I did, the best medicine for COVID-19 right now is a walk with your dog.

A Dog Named Sukie

Sukie means “like” in Japanese. Oh boy, do we ever like our girl. She is sweet, begs for treats better than a panhandler in a rainstorm – without an umbrella. Her gorgeous copper eyes speak to me. And since I understand every word, the following is how Sukie sees things from her paws-on-the-ground perspective.

     “Dad, you look funny. Why are you wearing mom’s panty-liner over your mouth?”

     “It’s a mask, Sukie.”

     “What e v e r. You’ve been acting a whole lot weird lately. Don’t be puttin’ that mask on me! I need to chew my bone and put my nose in my favorite spots. Freshly-cut grass and doggy pee are simply divine.”

     “Lucky dog. Your kind can’t get the coronavirus.”

     Your kind? I thought we had this discussion. You promised: no speciesism talk in this house.”

     “Sorry Sukie, I meant to say – ”  

     “Talk to the paw!”

Sukie sits up on her hind legs. I extend my balled fists (she can’t resist that). Her webbed toes land on my knuckles, and we dance.

I sing –

Bla bla cha cha cha
This is called the bla bla cha cha cha
Haven’t words to fit this tune

So we’ll just say it’s the bla bla cha cha cha

*     *     *

     “You know what I think?” Sukie asks.

     “I haven’t a clue,” I reply, rolling my eyes. A silly game we play.

     “I didn’t ask you. I’m talking to them.”

     “My readers? Okay, you talk while I type. Go ahead, I’m sure they’re all ears.”

     “Funny one, paw.”

Sukie says:

My sister used to come home from college but not so much lately. The last time she went through the door, she blew her voice into a shiny thing mom says makes the blues. But they don’t act sad, and the sound she makes makes be glad. I howl and howl cuz it tickles my happy bone.

They go see her and drop off vegan stuff at her dumb dorm. I want to see her too! They are afraid because she could get them sick. I don’t get it: more snacks and long walks for me. I still don’t get it.

I got a huge box of food that will last me forever. Chewy, it says. I like to chew my Chewy chow and like most things that start with the letter “C” except cat.

I don’t like the shaggy dog who lives down the street. His eyes look like they bleed rust. Yuck! I mean, okay, Shaggy is kind of cool but doesn’t bark. Shaggy chirps! That makes my ears move at weird angles. Sometimes Shaggy lowers his head and charges at me like a bull. Silly Shaggy! You’re not a bulldog. You are a terrible tiny terrier.

My face has a few more grey hairs lately. I match my dad now.

I’m still strong tho. When the coyotes pass by our home after sunset, they come down from the hills to the arroyo, and I go CRAZY. I wanna bite them – play with them – and do whatever with them. Dad says I’ll be their Sukie supper if I break free to be with them. Them is bad. I guess.

Dad says because of the beer virus, these are the dog days of spring. Dog days? Ha ha. Another funny one, paw.”

All I know is I walk more now. We walk walk walk and talk talk talk. Dad says, “Sukie, I’m afraid you’re becoming a walkie talkie!” My tail wags whenever he tells me that.

     “Wish I had a tail to wag,” he says. “Wanna go for another walk?”

     Dad races me to the door – I beat him every time.


Rick Thomas
Author Rick Thomas is the former museum curator and vice-chair of education for the South Pasadena Preservation Foundation. He served on the South Pasadena Natural Resources Commission, helping to maintain a strict policy protecting the city’s great old-growth trees. Using touchstone photographs from his own collection—one of the San Gabriel Valley’s largest accumulations of historical images and artifacts—as well as national, state, and local historical archives, Thomas provides a window to his city’s past and an understanding of why its preservation is so important.