By Trent Rentsch
I’m thinking of changing my dog’s name. And I’m not talking about adding another nickname to the burgeoning list. There are already numerous versions of his “root name” Kirby… Kirb, Kirbus, Kirbmeister, Kirbareenoooo. Then there’s Dog, Muppet, Fuzzy Wuzzy, and on occasion, You Little Shit. No, what he really needs is a legal name change, based on his recent activities. I want to name him Kato.
Surely you’ve seen at least one Pink Panther movie. Inspector Clouseau is “greeted” as he enters his apartment by a screaming madman. A few broken pieces of furniture and/or bones later, we learn that the attacker is actually his manservant, Kato. It’s all an exercise for the reflexes, and the gag in subsequent scenes/movies is keeping us guessing when and from where he’ll strike next.
As far as I know, Kirby has never seen a Pink Panther movie, although to be fair he’s only been my Step-Doggie for 3 years. It’s possible that one night, as my then yet-to-be Bride fell asleep on the couch, Kirby studied Kato’s moves during a late late late movie re-run. Somewhere, deep in his peanut-sized brain, the skills of a ninja butler lay dormant for several years, waiting for the catalyst that would set the mad dog inside free. Just what set the wheels in motion I don’t know, but for the last 6 months I have become Clouseau to Kirby’s Kato.
Here’s how our scene plays out: I get up about 4, 4:15 every morning. I walk/stumble past his bed on the way to the bathroom, sometimes even pat his head, no worries. I shut the bathroom door as I get ready to avoid waking my wife, and all is quiet and peaceful… until I open the door. Every day, without fail, he attacks. Sometimes it’s just a growling bark before he races under our bed; sometimes he comes at me with bared fangs. Sometimes he’ll run under the bed, sneak out the other side, and attack from the rear. Luckily, the only damage so far has been a hole in the cuff of my jeans, but I feel it’s only a matter of time before he isn’t stopped by my wife and I simultaneously screaming, “KIRBY!” Yes, the scene wakes up my wife. I’d be surprised if it doesn’t wake up half the neighbors.
I love the dog, and other than that 30 seconds or so in the morning, he seems to love me. He’s always excited to see me when I come home, usually won’t leave me alone until there’s some serious petting done. I’m certainly not mean to him; in fact I’ve been accused of spoiling him to a point beyond rotten since I moved in. Yet there’s something about the way I open the bathroom door at 4:30 in the morning that he doesn’t like, and he’s not afraid to let me know.
He wouldn’t be the first to go Kato on me lately. I’ve been working with this client for years, long before he owned a business of his own. Back in the day he was doing marketing for a furniture store, and I met him when he tagged along with the owner to the radio station. We became partners in crime, convincing the owner that he really needed to quit voicing his own commercials. When the owner passed away suddenly and the family closed the store, my marketing friend moved to an Ad Agency, and several years later launched an Agency of his own. Through it all I’ve been writing and producing creative for him, and it’s always been a friendly and mildly profitable relationship, until last month.
“Wrong!” he screamed through the phone at me. Before I could respond, he got about 4 more “Wrongs” out. I had written a script, and was hoping for approval from this call. Apparently, I was, ah, wrong. “My 6 year-old could write better copy! What in the hell were you thinking?” I knew what I was thinking, but before I could tell him he disconnected.
So a script isn’t approved, no big deal. I’ve been in this business long enough to know that you could have Dick Orkin ghostwrite for you and still strike out on occasion. But I was mad, and confused. How could this guy turn on me like that? Years of working together, probably hundreds of spots, no problems, zero. Plus, I had come to count him as a fairly good friend. The longer I thought, the less sense it made, and the madder I got. In fact, I was just reaching for the phone, ready to feed it right back to him, when it rang.
“God, I am sorry! Listen, I feel terrible! This day has just sucked, I had a headache all night, my kid used a magic marker on the new couch this morning, I had a flat on the way in, then that owner called and bitched about the script. I guess I just kind of snapped, and you didn’t deserve that. Listen, can I buy you lunch and we can go over this thing? I know you’re going to make him happy, your stuff is the best, really! See you at noon, okay?”
Stuff happens. We’re all human. And that’s really what we have to remember. Everybody is going to have a bad day once in a while; everybody is going to do something to hurt somebody else without meaning to. We just have to keep it in perspective and try not to make an uncomfortable situation, a bad one. We’re all human. Except Kirby/Kato; I still can’t figure him out. Maybe he needs more doggie Prozac, or less late night TV.