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Interview with Aslan (a character from Kristin Kaldahl's novel)


October, 2019

Quinn Tannis, celebrity correspondent

OKLAHOMA – Today I had the opportunity to chat with Aslan, a bright-eyed, one-year-old Shetland sheepdog. Aslan seems like a typical suburban housedog, but he actually lives quite an exciting life as an agility-dog-in-training. He is also one of the characters in “Aslan: Running Joy,” an exciting new novel about dog agility.

Although Aslan doesn’t talk in the book, he agreed to talk to us for this interview. I threw a variety of questions at him, and, in typical show-dog fashion, he didn’t blink at even the most outrageous inquiry.

Q: What did you have for dinner last night?

A: Dog food. I had it last night. I had it this morning. I’ll have it tonight. I have it every meal, and I like it that way.

We dogs are creatures of routine, you know. We kinda like having the same thing to eat each night. It’s comforting, and, if you don’t mind me saying, it keeps the digestion regular. Plus, I don’t have to worry if I’ll like dinner. I know I will. It’s the same old dog food, and I love it.

You humans are odd creatures, and mealtime is a perfect example. Don’t get me wrong, I love people—well, mostly—but when you guys eat, you make this huge deal of it. You take these small bites and chew and chew and chew. Sometimes you roll your eyes and moan as if someone is rubbing your ears.

I don’t get it. Eat already. Get it down. Anything could happen. Someone could come along and steal your food. It could blow away. It could spontaneously combust.

Inhale it!

We dogs have that right. When my girl puts my food bowl down you can bet that kibble is gone in seconds. I don’t even chew. Why bother? The idea is to put it in the stomach before someone else can take it away. True, Ruffis, the older collie who lives with me in the big house, has yet to steal my dinner, but what if he did? He’s bigger than I am. I don’t want to go hungry so the faster the food gets inside me, the better.

My motto? Scarf your food, dude.

Q: Who’s your best friend, and how did you meet?

A: Canine or human?

Q. Umm, canine, I guess.

A: Let me think. There’s Ruffis, the older collie I mentioned before. He’s more of a big brother than a best friend, though. We hang out in the house, but we don’t go out and do fun things together. He’s old. There’s Victoria, my girl’s best friend’s German shepherd. She’s an awesome dog, and we sometimes go on walks with our girls. But she’s kinda overly absorbed with her owner. There’s also Jeeves, a little hound mix in agility class, but he’s so laid back.

I think my best friend is Honey, the bearded collie from agility class. She’s a riot. She keeps everyone, both people and pups, in stitches. Her eyes always sparkle, and she’s a big wad of flying fur. I love to play with her. She’s bigger than I am, and she’s knocked me over a few times. But I forgive her.

In fact, that’s how we met. We were in puppy obedience class together, and at the end of class, the instructor let all the puppies play. I wasn’t much into play at the time, so I was minding my own business, sniffing the ground, when this big ball of blond fluff runs smackdab into me, throwing me to the floor. I was fine, but that was my introduction to Honey. It pretty much sums her up.

We went through puppy class and obedience class together, and now we’re in agility class. By the way, I’m better at agility than she is. She’s too much of a clown. I hope she doesn’t mind me saying that. The next time she sees me she’ll probably push me over for that comment. In fact, can you ignore that last part? Just pretend I didn’t say it.

Q: What’s your favorite movie and why?

A: What’s a movie?

Q: You know. It’s when your family sits in front of the big, flat thing in the den and watches the moving images flashing on it and listens to the sounds it makes? A movie is, sort of, that—the images and sounds.

A: Seriously? You’re asking me that? I’m a dog.

Q: Well, I’ve seen videos on YouTube of border collies watching movies, so I thought maybe, being a smart agility dog, you might be similar to a border collie.

A: No. I’m a sheltie. I know lots of border collies, and, yes, some of them do weird things like watch movies, bite dust poofs raised by the footfalls of their people, and stare straight into your eyes like they want to eat you. But I’m no border collie.

Movies are another of those strange human things. You sit and watch that flat thing with its lighted moving images for hours. Why? It makes no sense. There’s so much we could do instead. We could train agility or obedience, we could play games, you could talk to me and pet me, you could take me for a walk. But to sit and stare at that thing?

It’s a puzzler.

Q: Do you have a bad habit?

A: Well, I don’t think it’s a bad habit, but my girl goes really, really bat-poo when I eat cat poo. I found this out when we were at her best friend’s house—you know, where Victoria lives? Well, there’s this cat there named Shalimar. Shalimar is a horrid animal. She hisses at me and tries to scratch my nose when I get too close to her. Completely rude. But she has this indoor box where she’s allowed to do business, and oh my goodness, are her solids ever tasty.

The first time we went to visit, I wandered into the bathroom where the cat keeps her box on the floor, and I saw these wonderful treats inside. I took one and was in the middle of breaking it into smaller, bite-sized bits when my girl started to scream. Really scream. Then, she pried my mouth open, causing the poo to drop, and kept making this gagging noise between the screeches.

It makes no sense to me. I mean, there’s this great food just sitting there in the box, but the humans never eat it.

Who can understand the mind of a human?

Q: What’s your biggest secret?

A: Oh no. I can’t tell that.

Q: You can trust me.

A: If I tell you, you can’t repeat it. I mean it. This is a seriously big deal. This has to be kept off-the-record. I mean deep off-the-record. Are you good with that?

Q: You’ve got me super intrigued. Okay. I don’t normally go off-the-record, but I’ll agree. Please do tell.

A: This is huge. I’m trusting you, here.

So, in the far back of the yard, behind the bush that makes flowers when it gets warm, I dug a hole.

Q: That’s it?

A: Of course not. I dug a hole for a reason. See, early one warm day, Paul, the young boy who lives in the house with my girl and her parents, had been playing in the yard with friends. When they were done throwing the oblongish ball that’s way too big to hold in my mouth, they sat in the chairs on the patio. One of the boys took off this band thing from around his head and left it on the outdoor table. A breeze blew the cloth band to the ground, and, since the boys had gone inside the big house, I took it.

I stole it. Like a very, very bad dog.

I went behind the bush in the back of the yard, and, just like people who chew food slowly, I chewed it and chewed it. Of course, it wasn’t food so all I could do was chew it. It was salty and wonderful smelling. A while later, after the band had lost its saltiness and thrill of the theft had worn off, I realized what I had done. If that cloth was ever found, I’d be in deep, deep cat poo—which, really, considering how cat poo tastes, wouldn’t be all that bad. Anyway, behind the bush, I dug a hole, put the cloth in it, and used my nose to push the dirt back on top of it.

That’s my secret.

You promise you won’t tell? You can see why I’m so serious about this, can’t you?

Q: Well, I guess. May I ask—can you read?

A: What’s a read?

Q: I think we’re good then. Let’s move on to my last question. What’s your superpower?

A: That is so easy. I fly.

Q: You fly?

A: Yes. See, in dog agility, there’s an obstacle we have to climb over called an A-frame. It’s got this humongous ramp that goes almost straight up super high in the air, and then, there’s another equally humongous ramp that goes down the other side. If you run as fast as you can up the ramp and jump over the apex where the two ramps meet, you can fly. Or, at least fly for a bit. Eventually your paws hit the down ramp, and you have to run to the bottom of the A-frame to get off. But you fly at the top. Actually, literally fly.

You can fly over jumps, too, but you aren’t as high up as you are on an A-frame.

So, yeah. I fly.

Q: How cool! I’ve never interviewed a dog who can fly. Thank you for taking the time out of your busy training schedule to talk to us.

A: It was my pleasure. And don’t forget about that secret. It’s off-the-record.

Q: Don’t give it another thought. It will never pass my lips. I promise.

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