Mr. Cavendish had gone to pick up his pet beagle, Merl, from obedience school. It wasn't that Merl was really disobedient, but he had picked up a few bad habits and Mr. Cavendish, being such a gentle person, just couldn't bring himself to properly discipline his little friend. So, enrolling him in obedience school seemed the best solution.
Entering the school's office, he was greeted by the headmaster, Doctor Diabole.
With a warm handshake, the good Doctor invited Mr. Cavendish to have a seat.
Well, now, Mr. Cavendish, how very kind of you to drop in. I assume you're here to see how Merl is doing?
Why yes, of course, Doctor Diabole. How is little Merl? I had hoped he would be ready for me to take home.
Doctor Diabole gave a slight cough and, averting his eyes from Mr. Cavendish, bowed his head slightly as though embarrassed.
Ah, my dear Mr. Cavendish, he said softly, I'm afraid I have some unfortunate news.
What is it Doctor, Merl isn't sick is he?
No, no, nothing of the sort. As a matter of fact, Merl is dead.
Mr. Cavendish was stunned!
What? Merl dead? How did it happen? He couldn't believe what he was hearing. Merl dead?
He began to cry and took out his handkerchief to wipe the tears from his eyes. His Merl, dead?
Doctor Diabole walked out from behind his desk and put a comforting arm around the sobbing Mr. Cavendish.
My dear sir, I'm sorry to have to tell you this but Merl proved incorrigible. In fact, he consistently failed an essential course on properly piddling. You know, of course, how a rolled up newspaper is used to gently correct a dog?
Yes, I know, Mr. Cavendish replied, a lump in his throat and wiping his eyes.
Well, Doctor Diabole continued, Merl just didn't respond well to such a training technique utilizing a newspaper. So I was forced to apply sterner measures with a baseball bat, but even this proved insufficient and finally left me no choice but to beat him to death.
WHAT! Mr. Cavendish roared, jerking up from his chair.
Now, now, Mr. Cavendish, I understand your concern but really, we simply cannot have dogs piddling just anywhere, now can we?
But, but, beating my dog to death! You can't possibly be serious! This is some kind of sick joke, right?
Not at all, sir. But you do have the option of having Merl stuffed and mounted quite attractively in a pose of your choosing or we can simply give you his pelt.
Stuff Merl! Give me his pelt! Are you insane!
Please calm yourself sir. We here at the Kind and Gentle School of Obedience are not savages; we are not insensitive to owners such as yourself. But surely you must realize that the school's reputation is at stake. We simply cannot be viewed as not taking our responsibility seriously. Nor, may I be so candid as to suggest that you, as Merl's owner, would surely not wish it known that you owned a dog that was so cloddish he couldn't learn to piddle properly, now would you?
You! You! ...!
Please, sir, do calm yourself and try to put yourself in my position. Now beating Merl to death has to be put in its proper perspective. I'm sure you will, upon calm reflection, come to see the wisdom of my action. Your agitation is understandable, but do be civilized my dear man. After all, didn't your parents beat you when they were lovingly trying to teach you to piddle properly?
No! They most certainly did not! Mr. Cavendish shouted.
Come, come now, my dear Mr. Cavendish, it's all right to indulge in some fantasy but it does no good to pretend such a thing didn't happen. After all, I came to see the beatings my parents gave me were out of their purest love for me. Denial is very harmful, damage to the psyche and all that, you know. It would be far better to simply admit the truth of the matter rather than continue in denial. Most harmful, you know, to a well-adjusted and healthy mind toward such things.
You sadistical fiend! My parents never beat me to get me to piddle properly and how dare you even suggest such a thing!
Oh, dear, I simply cannot deal with you about this issue if you continue in this hysterical vein, Mr. Cavendish. Perhaps it would be better if you simply left Merl's final disposition to me. The choice of the pelt in your case, I would imagine. Yes, that would be best, I'm quite certain. I assure you that once you have Merl's pelt in your hands you'll feel much, much better and be able to put all this in its proper perspective. In time you'll come to appreciate the wisdom of my action and the fortuitousness of no longer having to face the disgrace of being the owner of such a shameless and incorrigible animal. Now my professional recommendation is a nice hot tub and a good book. You'll feel much, much better, I can assure you.
A kind of numbness had overtaken Mr. Cavendish and he allowed Doctor Diabole to gently usher him out the door of the office. (Oakland, California: A man, Damon Valrey, 25, was charged with murder for beating a toddler, Dante Jones, 2, to death because the boy was having problems with potty training. The little boy's body showed signs of previous abuse including burns from scalding water).
Samuel D. G. Heath, Ph.D.
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