Wake up, boy. Rise from your blanket in this portable zippered dog crate; unfurl your tongue into the oozing sunlight. Past the bulldog statues on the mantel, and the emblazoned bulldog throw pillows and squeaky toys on the hardwood floor, follow the coo of your owner, Michael Kaltenmark, “Twippy, you hungwee?” to the garage.
Your tongue! Dangling and swaying, saliva laced between it and your underbite, it lands in a bowl of kibble.
Poop by a water hose. “Get it, dude!” encourages Michael, who’s also your best friend.
Away from Hinkle Fieldhouse and the Blue III “Trip” posters and coffee mugs, this yard is one of the only places you can go without being famous. Roll in this grass, the sky pink as your tongue.
Michael grunts, lifts your 64 pounds into his white van, a gift from Don Hinds Ford. “The Blue Mobile” has a picture of your face on the front and a monogrammed hammock in the back. Jump into the hammock. Lick the hammock. You, the chosen one, the only male in a litter of five at the Kong King Kennel in Lizton.
The van parks in your very own spot on the Butler campus, and you pull Michael toward the library, on a leash. To a line of students at Starbucks, a dozen hands passing over you, into the folds of your skin. Catch a treat thrown into the air; crawl to Michael, who worked his way from student assistant to director of web marketing at Butler; play dead; poke a basketball with your nose.
In Michael’s office, destroy a pink pig; sleep on its plush innards like a layer of clouds. Walk by the cardboard cutout of Blue II in the hall.
Everything you do is an event, chronicled on Twitter. Colts games. Pep rallies. Visiting a high-school chemistry class. Even now, as you are snorting, huffing, drooling, Michael tweets to your 10,000 followers, pretending to be you. You never bark on Twitter.
You are the mascot of this city. Walk the Circle, paws scraping the brick in the heat. Terrified of metal grates, you avoid them, swaying diagonally, your breath revving the air. In the marble lobby of the Conrad, slurp water poured from a plastic bottle, all over your face. Let out-of-towners here for a food convention ogle you, take pictures, you wriggling filthily over the entryway.
Ride home. Roll your tongue into a bowl of ice cream. Hunker down on a big, soft rug.
Curl up into your crate, boy, next to the empty crate beside it. Your other best friend, Blue II, is gone. Now it is just you.
Photo by Tony Valainis
This article appeared in the November 2013 issue.