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  • Writer's pictureJerry Della Femina


There’s a reason all of us spend so much time walking the streets desperately holding on to our cell phones.

They’re our lifeline.

A cell phone tells you that your spouse, your children, everyone you love is right there in the palm of your hand. Safe.

Cell phones have turned our streets into a great big party line.

Walk a block and you can listen in on the lives of everyone around you.

I was standing on 27th Street and Broadway, waiting for a light, when a nicely dressed middle-aged woman standing next to me suddenly blurted out, “Don’t you dare tell me that I drink too much. The reason I drink too much is because I hate you.”

I jumped back, making sure she didn’t have a sharp object in her hand, and all she had was her cell phone. As it turned out, the sharpest object she had in her possession was her tongue.

By the time we reached corner of 28th and Broadway (I must admit I was walking step-by-step behind the angry woman, eavesdropping), she had calmed down.

“I’m sorry I lost my temper. I had a horrible night,” she said. Then she started talking about the merits and her fears of Ambien and how a few years ago she had an Ambien night and woke up nude in her kitchen next to an empty bottle that once held red wine and two empty bags that once held pork rinds. At that point I lost my appetite and walked away. I decided the lady should drop the guy she was talking to, cut down on her drinking and rush out and adopt or buy a puppy and that would change her miserable life.

That’s when I thought of Shlomo.

I realized that of all the people I love whom I talk to every day, there is someone whom I adore who can’t be reached by cell phone: my sweet little dog Shlomo.

Shlomo is 12 and he and I are close to the same age when you look at it in dog years.

Shlomo sleeps in bed next to me every night, much to the horror of my doctor, the world’s greatest allergist, Dr. Rosalinda Rubinstein.

Now, I must admit I wake up a couple of times each night just to check Shlomo’s breathing, and I would like to believe when I’m sound asleep he wakes up and checks my breathing.

In guess the story that exemplifies the joy that Shlomo has brought into my life is to tell you that even when he was a puppy and he got sick, my wife’s and my feeble attempts to help him left us laughing hysterically.

I will never forget that day, 12 years ago.

First Shlomo heaved, then he was droopy and wouldn’t eat and was walking with his tail between his legs, looking miserable.

I naturally did what I always do in a situation like that – I panicked. “Call the vet,” I whined to my wife, the beautiful Judy Licht.

Judy called and I was hovering, wringing my hands. “What did she say?” I asked.

“She suggested that we take Shlomo’s temperature.”

“How are we going to get him to keep a thermometer under his tongue?” I joked.

“We have to get him a thermometer that goes in the other side, a rectal thermometer,” said Judy, looking uncomfortable.

Being the rough, tough he-man I am I screamed: “YUCK! YUCK! YUCK! That’s disgusting. I won’t ... I mean, I can’t do it. Can’t we just feel his forehead?” Then I realized that I was starting to sound like Butterfly McQueen in the movie Gone With the Wind, crying, “I don’t know nothing about birthing babies.”

Judy took control and called me a hopeless wuss and the next thing I knew we were off to a pharmacy to pick up a thermometer. I sat in the car as Judy went in to make the purchase. As she neared the door of the pharmacy I suddenly remembered something I had forgotten and shouted out to Judy: “JUDY, GET A LOT OF VASELINE. WE’RE GOING TO NEED A LOT OF VASELINE.”

Everyone on the street turned to stare at me except for Judy, who covered her head with her hands and rushed into the pharmacy, pretending she didn’t know me.

Once we were back at our house, sitting on our sofa, we got into a jurisdictional dispute. Who was going to hold Shlomo and who was going to do the inserting?

“I can’t do it,” I protested. “It’s the man's job to hold the dog while the woman er ... er ... does the rest.” So there I was, holding on to Shlomo when Judy said, “I can’t do it – his tail is in the way.”

“Ridiculous, it’s just a tail. Just lift it.”

“No,” said Judy. “I can’t. His tail is hard as a rock.” So I tried to lift his tail and I realized it was like an iron bar. Putting on my best announcer’s voice I said, “Well, Shlomo, if this tail erection persists for more than four hours, you should seek medical help.”

“Shlomo, your father is an idiot,” said Judy.

I finally lifted the tail. After a while Judy said, “I can’t find it.”

“That’s ridiculous. It’s got to be there.”

“I know it’s there but I can’t see it.”

I said, “Here, you hold him. I’ll do it.” So Judy took poor little confused Shlomo onto her lap and I took a look and said, “My God, this is like looking into the back of a Rastafarian’s head. This dog has dreadlocks on top of dreadlocks back there.”

Then Judy and I looked at each other and started to giggle at our total incompetence. The last time I giggled so long and so loud I was in the 6th grade at P.S. 95 in Brooklyn. Judy laughed so loud at the two of us that she couldn’t catch her breath.

“I give up,” I said. “Shlomo, we’ve failed you.”

“So what do I do with this?” Judy asked, holding up the thermometer. I said nothing, but I made a face and bit my lip.

Judy started laughing again.

Today, 12 years later, in addition to Shlomo, there is another puppy in our life, named Mussolini.

Why a second puppy?

Because I was told my family decided that with Shlomo’s advancing age they were concerned that I would go to pieces and curl up and die if anything happened to Shlomo.

This, I might add, is the ridiculous reason that people rush to fix up a widow or a widower when their mate passes on.

What they didn’t figure out is that although Mussolini is an incredibly cute dog, it turns out he’s batshit crazy and neither he, nor any other dog, will ever replace Shlomo in my heart.

Besides, he runs around the house like a flash until he crashes into a wall. And he watches television for hours until he spots a dog on TV and then he attacks the television, barking like he’s lost it.

And then there’s his obsession with toes. He has to lick them. It’s annoying when you’re in bed, but it’s worse when you’re trying to walk barefoot and the nutty dog is trying to lick your toes with each step you take.

Mussolini has another problem that has us really worried.

Two women in their 20s who have stayed at overnight our house have reported that Mussolini has stolen their panties and eaten them.

That was proved when a good-sized, chewed-up, undigested piece of panty was found in Mussolini’s poo.

“What are we going to do about this,” I said. “It’s clear that Mussolini is a pervert.”

“He’s your dog,” I said to Judy. “Shlomo is mine.”

That’s when she shut me up.

“I’m in control here,” she said. “It looks like it’s time to enroll Mussolini in the Jeffrey Epstein Dog Training Academy.”

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