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Senior Correspondent

Hi there. My name is Duke. I don't know what I'm the Duke of, but I do know that I'm a four-year-old Labrador Retriever. To be more precise, a "Yellow Lab", for you dog aficionados. I live with my master, his wife Jan, and a small black cat named Sable.

You didn't know dogs could write? Well, I've noticed that there's a lot about us that you humans don't know. With that in mind, I've decided to share with you the diary I've been keeping. I do this in the hope that by reading one dog's thoughts you might become better educated to our species' needs.

Here we go; I've tried to dumb this down for you wherever possible:

Monday: As I often do, I took up my post at the window for much of the day, barking at all cars that came up the street. In every case, the cars kept going past our driveway, thanks to my bark. The drivers are obviously too terrified to turn in. Sure, there have been a few deliverymen or tradesmen who have run the gauntlet at times, but I calculate my overall deterrence rate at about 98%.

Granted, we get less than 10 cars a day on our street. My master attributes that to the fact that we live on a very steep, winding, dead-end road. I beg to differ. I believe my bark's reputation is what keeps people away from our street, and that I'm not getting the credit I deserve.

Tuesday: Sable is getting on my nerves. Everything has to be on her terms. Somebody once said, "In ancient times cats were worshiped as gods; they have never forgotten this." How true. But cats aren't as smart as they think. From what I can tell, Sable doesn't even know her name. Heck, she never comes when they call her, nor does she even look up when they’re talking to her. I mean, I might not know what they're saying, but I at least try to feign interest by cocking my head and treating them to a few wags of my tail.

I'm also beginning to wonder about Sable's sanity. Several times today, she was spinning around in a circle, trying to catch her tail, as if it’s not attached to her. And she is SO promiscuous, seductively rubbing her body and tail up against my master’s leg whenever she wants food. It got so bad today that my master had to tell her, "Sable, I find you very attractive, but we just fed you an hour ago."

Wednesday: My master drives a school bus part-time. He was gone driving today. He wishes I could go with him and I do too, but his manager said I could only go if he's blind and that if he were blind he shouldn't be driving a bus anyway.

When he got home, he and Jan had a group of eight humans over for a visit. I barked so much I went hoarse. I'm exhausted. I wonder how they'd like it if I invited eight of MY friends over for a party? I also got in trouble for sniffing all eight visitors in all the wrong places.

Thursday: My poop-and-pee area in the backyard was not a happy place today. It was pouring rain all day, and my master was getting impatient with me. He doesn't understand why I need to take time to scout around for the best places to relieve myself. I wish he could be more understanding.

After all, how would he like it if the only way he could relieve himself would be outside in full public view twice a day in temperatures that range from subzero to near 100 degrees in rain, sleet, or snow? Not to mention mosquitoes and the need for me to keep track of four paws to make sure none of them tread on the fruits of prior outings (my master occasionally misses some of those "fruits" when he picks up after me and brings them into the house, a habit of his I find very puzzling).

I also have to constantly try to remember to position myself so that I'm not pooping with my butt uphill. And how would you like to have all of your bowel movements visually analyzed to see how well they resemble Tootsie Rolls, a shape that is supposed to indicate that I'm healthy?

The irony in all this is that I know how to use the toilet, but I can't talk, so I have no way of telling anybody. Meanwhile, Sable gets to go in a box in the climate-controlled house, even though the memory of her every visit to that box always lingers in the air. I wouldn't mind so much if what she left in the box were tasty, but it's not much better than her cat food (not that I've ever eaten either – at least no one's been able to prove that yet, despite many slanderous allegations).

Friday: Why do humans feel the need to repeat everything they say to me three or four times? If they think I'm that hard of hearing, why don't they get me a hearing aid? And while I'm at it, I wish they could be just a bit more imaginative with their praise. "Good Boy!" and "Good Doggie!" are getting a little old. Why can't they mix in phrases like, "Exceptional performance, you canine wonder!"

Today my master said he could make two new dogs with all the hair I shed. I guess he and Jan are getting tired of walking around with a lot of yellow hairs on the backside and legs of their pants. Hey, what can I say? If they don't want hair on their clothes, they should stay off my leather sofa.

Saturday: Another workweek in the books. Slept in today, catching 16 hours of snooze time instead of the usual 14.

Those guys who come every week came again today. The ones who ride standing up on the back of a big truck and who empty our barrels into the truck. Every week, they steal our stuff. I bark my head off, which always causes them to leave, but no one else seems concerned about these thieves. My master even makes it easy for them by leaving our stuff right by the curb. Go figure.

Sunday: The highlight of my week. We went for a Sunday drive. I helped my master drive by riding with my head out the window, checking for any hazards he might miss. When we drove up to the starting gate on the highway, a man in a booth reached his hand out toward my master. I knew it was some kind of extortion, so I gave him my most fearsome growl, but my master chickened out and gave him three quarters anyway. Then he chastised me for growling!

When we got home I had a lot of pent-up energy to burn. I ran up and down the stairway a few times until Jan yelled at me to stop. She said something about how the stairway wasn't designed by NASCAR, whoever that is. I assumed she was being critical, so I went and smelled Sable's butt, then gave Jan a kiss. I know, I know, that was mean, and I feel a little bad about it, but we dogs don't have many weapons to get back at you with.

In closing, I hope that by sharing my diary with you I've improved your knowledge of dogs and what we're all about. If you ever learn what I'm Duke of, please let me know. Otherwise, stay off my street!

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