Kurt Vonnegut, "Thomas Edison’s Shaggy Dog"

Two strangers meet in a park, and one tells a huge secret about the relationship between people and dogs.

(from Welcome to the Monkey House)

I came home from the company party half drunk and three quarters depressed. In a tie and a sweater and nice pants and nearly comfortable black shoes. Inside, on the steps to the second floor, sat a little white dog. There’s a bigger white dog on the second floor, but this looked like the one who lives on the ground floor. I could hear some arguing going on behind the door. I walked up the stairs with the dog following and soon leading to my apartment. After standing at the top of the stairs looking at the door and the dog in my way looking at me and both of us listening to things getting heated two stories down, I opened the door and in we went. I propped the door open with the bike pump.
The dog was not afraid of me and I was not afraid of him. Neither of made a sound. I picked up Welcome to the Monkey House which happened to be sitting in the living room (which was pretty much abandoned since I moved the TV to my bedroom for the summer time retreat). The dog took the only sitworthy spot on the failing Ikea couch and I sat across from him on the bare, dusty TV stand (a chipped but sturdy piece of furniture nicknamed Dr. Octagon, despite its hexagonal shape). So with the dog watching intently, I re-read “Thomas Edison’s Shaggy Dog,” a story I liked in college but which my creative writing professor was not fond of. It’s still a pretty neat story in its way, with its sci-fi-riffic paradigm shift (concerning dogs being smarter than people) and fairly barebones prose.
After I’d finished reading the story I put down the book, and got a glass of water and returned to the TV stand. The dog and I sat in silence another ten minutes or so until the arguing drifting up the stairs was replaced something like sobbing and then keys rattling. The dog hopped of the couch and looked down the stairs, then back at me. A second later he headed back to the first floor. I shut the door.

One thought on “Kurt Vonnegut, "Thomas Edison’s Shaggy Dog"

  1. Phil

    I know this post is older, but I’m curious as to why your creative writing professor didn’t like the story.

    It’s not a typical Vonnegut indictment of non-civil society, but still…


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