The Good Dog

Cat, shmat, man, pan, dog is God spelled backwards -

- Desolation Angels

Goddog nose.

Goddog nose his alpha. He nose the all the smells of the man who feeds him and rubs his belly: Cannabis Sage Tobacco B.O. Mansmell Plantflesh Earthsmell Dust Treesmell Incense Leather Lysergic Acid Diethylamide and more; dozens more, hundreds more. He knows all the wonderful smells that only his alpha can make.

His alpha loves him. And Goddog loves his alpha.

He can smell Cannabis Sage from across all the miles that there are.


This time, he's not on the dogbus. This time he's in back of a cowboy camper car with Cannabis Sage. Sage sits crouched over on a small bunk, smoking a joint with Goddog's head resting on his knees.

He loves to ride in the car. Usually he would stick his head out the window for that wonderful rush of smell and sound going by, but the little window's closed and even if it wasn't, he can smell only another peoplebox on the other side. He'd rather have his head on Sage's lap anyway. It's been a long time since they've been together. Even longer, in dog years.

He can hear the engine, and the wheels rolling on the road, and the sound as the pavement changes, and the little rock that's wedged in the tire tread, hitting again again again again again again.... Happy sounds. Eyebrows twitch as he looks up at Sage with liquid brown eyes, looks at him with the simple love that means everything in the world to a dog. He watches the light change on his bearded face, shades of green and blue. His tale wags with joy. A dog's love is pure, the sort of love prophets and philanthropists would kill for; Goddog loves Sage like God so loved the world.

And Sage looks down at him, pets his head and says GOODDOG.

Goddog nose all the different people voices, ecstatic happy warm cold bored scolding mad stern frightened hurt and all the various shades in between. But he only knows a smattering of people words, chiefly NO of course as well as GODDOG and BOY which mean the same thing and BADDOG which means the same as NO. Then there's GEDDOWN which means NO but only for the spot where he's sitting. But his best favorite word of all is GOODDOG, which usually comes with stroking and petting and sometimes a belly rub. GOODDOG means his alpha feels the same about him as Goddog feels about his alpha.

GOODDOG is the people word for "love."


They ride for a day and a night. When they come out of the car, they are in a new Place, with different smells and sounds and things to chase. They have never been to this Place before. Goddog nose.

Cannabis Sage goes off, and soon becomes lost in the overwhelming rush of smells of the gathering-place. Sage always gets lost. But Goddog doesn't mind, because he gets to run around in the exciting crowded mess of people and smell things and eat things. And if his alpha isn't around when the smelling and eating are finished, he will find him. It will take a while, because of all the other cannabis and sage around, but eventually Sage's unique mix of smells will be like a beacon. Smells are people particles, solid things. When you smell someone, you take a part of them into you. And Goddog has millions of Sage's smell-cells up his nose like, you should pardon the image, the world's longest leash.

But this time Sage gets really lost. Again. And Goddog can't even find him when the smells and sounds die down and the night comes and the cars start leaving one by one. Soon he knows he must go to the dogbus. Sage has left without him.

And Goddog is sad. Because he loves his alpha.

With a whine, he sets his snout in the direction of the dogbus' distinctive smell. The dogbus will take him to Sage. It might take a day and a night, but his alpha will be there. Because his alpha loves him.


Goddog likes the dogbus, most times. He mainly likes it because he gets to ride in the car. The dogbus is always filled with other dogs, with all their unique smells, some he knows and some he doesn't. The dogbus alpha gives them water and food and stops to let them run around sometimes.

It is never boring. But it can be bad. Barking howling happy scared fighting fucking dogs can be bad, alone or all together. Sometimes they gather into packs. Sometimes the alpha has to stop the dogbus to stop the fights. And some dogs always want to prove they are alpha. Goddog knows better, because he is a GOODDOG. Goddog knows alphas always walk on two legs.

But other dogs are sad because they don't have alphas that love them, like Goddog does. Sometimes they are sick or full of biters. So they get mean and try to prove they're alpha by fighting. Goddog has smelled wolves sometimes, at the Soul Places out in the Big Trees, but has never seen one. He doesn't know they are like the fighters on the dogbus, or that in another world, all alphas have four legs.

Goddog has fought plenty. He has strong jaws and doesn't lose often. But he doesn't like to fight. He would rather run and catch the stick and bring it back and run and catch the stick and bring it back and run and catch the stick and bring it back and run and catch the stick and bring it back.... Because Goddog loves his alpha. And he wants him to always have the stick.


After a day and a night, Goddog knows they are near a Place of Big Sound; he can tell by the smell. The dogbus stops and all the dogs get out, in packs or alone. Goddog walks alone, always.

While he's wandering around checking out the smells, stopping sometimes to chase a cat or fuck a female in heat, he smells his old friend, poodle Leafshit. Like all dogs, Leafshit's asshole is a bouquet of odor, and his is instantly recognizable - his alpha gives him only plantflesh food. All dogs have different smells coming up from under their tales but Leafshit's is really really different.

"Hey Leafshit, what's going on?" Goddog asks.

"Hey Dogshit, I got to go for a ride in a car. We went for a day and a night and when we came out I got to run around!" They sniff each other's tales, for details of where they've been and what they've eaten, and then go on.

When he smells her, his tale goes high with excitement. French Fry Thighs! He hurries through the thick mess of hairy sandaled legs, homing in on her happy lap smell. It seems like he runs forever before he hears her happy squeal. She calls his name and pats her blue thighs, which makes her smell even stronger. It's how she always greets him. He runs to her and she grabs him and hugs him and pets him and says his name some more. He gets a few good licks, sampling the smells and tastes of all the places she's been, and she says GOODDOG.

French Fry Thighs is Goddog's other alpha.


He expects treats, and he isn't disappointed. French Fry Thighs always eats at The Big Gold Dogfood Place. But she doesn't eat animal part pieces, only the salty greasy hunks of burned plantflesh. That's why her lap is always thicker with that odor than even womansmell.

Goddog doesn't mind. He loves salty greasy plantflesh.

She feeds the stalks into her mouth three at a time, tossing him the ones she drops. He catches them in the air and she laughs and claps. He knows that means she loves him. So he catches them every time.

Soon some other women come to share cannabis with Fry. He knows the smell well and it makes him think of Sage, but he knows Sage is nowhere near. These must be his Cannabis Sisters.

Fry is happy. She pets his neck and when he rolls over she rubs his belly. And Goddog is happy. Because his alpha loves him. And he loves his alpha.

Both of them.


Dog days pass slowly. But soon the sound of engines tells him it's time to go. He gets up and paces anxiously in front of Fry, wagging his tale. Eventually she gets the message. Grabbing pack and sleepsoft bag she gets up and goes, and he goes along.

Fry approaches a catbus. He can tell it's a catbus from way the fuck away; no dog on Earth could mistake that smell. Fry talks to the woman in the catbus for a minute, then says something stern to Goddog. He knows from the tone she is saying: don't play with the cat.

As they get on the bus, small and crowded with people, Fry takes tight hold of his collar. It's not necessary: her words bind him better than any leash ever could. Even if he did want to play (and it's not tempting; he's run into the wrong end of a cat a few times), Fry could say his name once sharply, and he would stop whatever he was doing. Because he loves her.

So no, he won't play with the cat. But the cat's not so sure; it stations itself high atop one of the people, holding itself there with its feet-needles. Goddog gives a soft wuff of greeting, but the kitty doesn't move, just stares down with wide wide eyes. Cats are so uptight.

So they drive a day and a night, and come to another place. The cat has relaxed by now, but still keeps its distance. Goddog can smell its feline outrage ease as he and Fry file out of the bus.

Outside, Fry makes happy sounds to him. He knows she is saying she loves him. He knows she is going into the Place of Great Sound. He knows she will come back for him, because she always came back before. But still he whines quiet as she walks away.

Goddog never goes into the Place of Great Sound. Obviously it is for people only, like most city places. But he can smell; even at this distance, he can pick up the smells inside the Place. Enough to know that the same alphas are always inside. Always. No matter how many new Places they go, no matter how different all the other smells are, the alphas inside are always the same.

Dimly in his dog way, God supposes the alphas inside are Alpha Spirits. What else can live in many places at once?

It can only be the One who lives Everywhere.

Even in dogs.

Goddog, of all we have met, is closest to Kerouac's consciousness: living all loving all and seeing the concept of God in the unwashed glory of a Grateful Dead show.


Night comes, bringing its own smells, smoke and sex and kerosene and cooking. Fry and God get in a cannabis car and go to a Place of Big Trees. Here all the people get out (like a clown car, really, there are so many inside) and set places and spaces to sleep. Here, more smoke and happy sounds and cannabis. There's not much food and what there is is cold, but Fry gives him bites anyway. That's 'cause she loves him.

Soon the alphas kill the kerosene smell. He still has plenty of light to see, but he knows this means time for sleep. He waits patiently for Fry to lie down. He stays by her side at night, always. He knows he is expected to protect her.

Curled at foot of Fry's new sleepsoft bag, Goddog sleeps; Goddog dreams. Feet twitch and nose frowns.

Goddog dreams.


He stands in the Soul Place in the Big Trees. Fry is behind him, and Womansmell Secret is standing in front of him. He remembers Womansmell Secret: she spent most of one night making sounds that hurt his sensitive ears. Sage was his alpha then, not Fry; but Fry is with him now, not Sage. Somehow both his alphas are the same, and he doesn't understand how this can be.

Womansmell makes the sound that hurts his ears. It hurts Fry, too - Goddog can smell her pain. He starts to growl a warning. Womansmell's face stretches as she screams, her mouth and eyes turning into big black ovals.

She reaches across the table toward them. Her arm has become something strange, something that smells like a shadow looks - an absence of smell, when some should be there. It's not right, God knows. Nothing doesn't make a smell. Clawlike fingers reach for Fry behind him. Goddog wants to bark. He knows if he barks, Womansmell Shadow will run away. But all he can do is growl.

Womansmell makes the hurting sound again. But how? Her face has been eaten away by the shadow-smelling stuff. She has no mouth anymore. Then he realizes Fry is making the hurting sound.

The Shadowsmell is hurting her! He can't let that happen. He must protect her. Snarling, for once more wolf than dog, he gets to his feet and runs into the shadow. But he cannot bite what he cannot smell, and soon the darkness surrounds him. He turns and turns in confusion. Without smell, he is helpless and lost.

But he can still hear Fry screaming.

Finally, Goddog begins to bark and bark and barků.


Hands grasp him. He is awake, standing barking at darkness. Familiar smells surround him; it's Fry. She shushes him sleepily and lies down, no longer smelling of pain. The Shadowsmell is long gone too.

He scared it away, God knows.

Satisfied at a job well done, he turns around three times and lies down alongside Fry.

She feels so safe, she is already asleep.


Next day, they get back in the cannabis car and leave Big Trees for the Big Sound. Fry lets him go and he runs around. When the day is over, he follows her sweet French fry smell to find her again.

But here he smells Sage! Sweet Cannabis Sage in the crowd somewhere, somewhere over there by that coughing bluebus. His tale swings happily from side to side. He wants to run to Sage, wants to run and jump in his lap while he's still standing up, and lick his face and smell his smells. He weaves anxiously side to side, seeking a glimpse of Sage moving.

But then he sees Fry, sitting alonely on sleepsoft bag. Oh she loves him. Oh she needs him. Oh she calls him GOODDOG and rubs his belly. She sits bored breathing smoke and does not see him. But she still loves him.

A high tiny whine escapes his throat. This has never happened before. He paces back and forth, tail wagging in indecision. Fry or Sage?

The bluebus engine roars, hot harsh breath of bad smoke. Not much time. Even less, in dog years.

Sage is his alpha. And Goddog loves his alpha. But Fry is alpha too - only different. Fry is more like him somehow, almost another dog, an aimless mutt of the American road. And what if the Shadowsmell comes back? Only he can protect her.

Sage loves him. But Fry needs him.

Goddog whines again as Sage's smell is swallowed by the bluebus' belch of exhaust. Gone now. The beast roars again, gears shifting, and rolls off down dusty road. Gone now.

Gone now for good.

And Goddog is sad.

He trots back to Fry. And she sees him, and says his name; and she holds out a hand alive with dirt and good smoke smell; and she pets him. He whines again and hides his nose in her warm palm, surrounding himself with her smell.

She strokes his head. She doesn't know what just happened, but it doesn't matter. Because she loves him. And she needs him.

So he will stay with her.

GOODDOG she says.


dedicated to Annette Rodriguez

.angelheaded hipsters and visionary tics

(c) 1998 Alan Rankin