My mom is a dog-licker. That's someone who thinks highly enough of her pet to accept French kisses (and we do know where those dog lips have been).
Max is a mini black poodle. Full name: Emperor Maximus. No, really. It's engraved on the doggy bling that Mom creates herself from Swarovski crystal.
Max receives full emperor treatment, too. In the hallway you'll find portraits of him front and center, in the space normally reserved for religious icons.
It's not that my mom worships her dog. Well, yes. It is. It's exactly like that. But people get weird around their pets. A woman once asked if I'd like to see her goldfish, then returned with a laminated carcass.
"Um," I said. "Um."
"The salt preserves him indefinitely," she said.
So yes, when it comes to pet obsession, Mom is off the hook. Ha! Hook. Sigh.
Max weighs five pounds -- half a bowling ball -- but barks like he's been dipped in the river Styx. He chases passers-by with the illusion that somehow, someway, he will finally render them extinct.
Compare to cats, who have no protective instincts at all. You could fall down the stairs and lie unconscious in a heap, and the cat will be playing with your shoestring. So it goes.
Not to "out" him or anything, but Max also pees in a litter box.
"Does his wil' piddle," says Mom.
The pee smells funny because she buys him flavored vitamin mineral water. For an animal that was only moments ago gnawing at his bahookie.
In the living room you'll find a ball that, when you touch it, sounds a recording of Mom's voice: "I love you, Max. I'll be home soooon."
When you suggest that she's overdoing it, Mom does both voices.
MAX: I just wants to pway wis my mommy.
MOM: Then go get it. Get your ball!
ROD SERLING: And if you get quiet -- listen not with your ears but with your heart -- you too might hear that little creature say, "I am god spelled backwards."
I don't mind that Max prefers Skippy to Jif; it's just that my mom knows about it.
When Mom leaves for work, Max runs to his kennel cab to sulk. Mom pitched at her coworkers a take-your-dog-to-work day, but they're not biting. Ha! Biting. Sigh.
When last we spoke, Mom and Max -- the twins -- were at the dentist, and can't you just hear that conversation ... "For the last time, Mrs. Baker, no. We are NOT recommending braces for your dog."
Max has an Imelda-Marcos-size toy collection, 52 animals in all. Last week he had sexual relations with the lobster (and you wonder how we get things like crabs). If you catch him in the right mood, Max will have relations with your leg. And that's another difference between cats and dogs: A cat may love you, but dogs go all the way.
My mom is not alone in her obsession. Have you seen the dog treat section at Petco? Sirloin kabobs, duck jerky, organic crispy cheese cakes. Not that Max would eat food that comes from a "pet store." He's ready for a setting at the dinner table.
"Who made you rice wich your chickeeen? Max, don't eat the garnish!"
Mom and her husband Mark watch The National Dog Show, which is when a starchy woman, perhaps the queen of England, walks around pointing out various flaws. Like People magazine.
Max himself couldn't handle a contest because he's prejudiced against dogs. Once he learns to stand upright, he's getting a wax and having the surgery.
At Christmas, Mom pimped her dog out with antlers and posed him with Santa. She's submitting the pictures to Parade and fully expects to see prize money.
Here comes the scary part: Mom and Mark may be getting another puppy. Breeders beware: These are the nicest people in the world, but they'll spoil your dog beyond recognition. They will decorate him and take him on road trips and teach him to speak in childish tones.
"Who's the bestest, most bootiful boy in da wooorld?"
I hope Mom sees the humor in all this because one, I love her, and two, I'm going over for dinner tonight. We're having Snausages.