It’s been ten years since the publication of The Dog Rules (Damn Near Everything!) and people still send me stuff about the book.

One woman claims she reads passages from the book to her somewhat hyper Schnauzer before bedtime and it puts him right to sleep. Not much of a compliment, but I’m relieved she never had kids.

Many readers sent me home recipes to use on dogs that have been “skunked” instead of the Extra Spicy Clamato juice I used on my dog Jake.

One woman sent me a photo of her little Shih Tzu eating my book in half and asked if my next book could come with bacon-flavored pages.  That’s exactly why them call him a little Shih Tzu.

And jokes. Dog lovers send me an awful lot of dog jokes, most of which are awful. I really don’t like jokes in general. They’re usually cheap, quick hits that are at best mildly funny and at worst encroaching upon sexism or racism.

Take the world’s funniest joke for example. British scientific researcher Richard Wiseman asked one million people to rate a series of jokes he deemed to be highly popular in order to come up with the world’s best.  Here ‘tis … two hunters are deep into the bush when one of them suddenly collapses face first onto the ground. His friend punches 911 into his cell phone and starts screaming “My buddy is dead!  He’s not moving!  What should I do?  I think he’s dead!”

“Calm down,” comes the voice of the 911responder.  “Take it easy.  I’m here to help you. First we have to make sure he’s dead and …”  The responder hears the phone drop, then a loud bang and then the guy is back on the phone and says:  “Okay, now what?”

Now that’s a funny joke.  Brief, clean, but rare in those respects.

No, most jokes leave me cold or cringing or forcing a laugh to avoid embarrassment.  I am, however, a sucker for a good dog joke and I don’t know why.  Maybe it’s because dogs are so lovably stupid like Jim from Taxi or Woody from Cheers. Dogs just look like they were made for comedy in the same way cats look like they’d love nothing better than to testify against you in a court of law.

When a dog enters a room, looks around and then leaves because he forgot why he came in – that breaks me up.

Did I mention that I’m a sucker for a good … So this guy is driving through the neighbourhood one day and he spots a sign on a lawn that advertises:  “Talking Dog For Sale.”  He pulls over, walks up to the front door and knocks.  An older gentleman opens the door, confirms he’s got a talking dog for sale and leads the guy through the house and into the backyard.

There sitting in front of his dog house is an old, fat Golden Retriever with a graying muzzle and droopy eyes.

Man:  “So apparently you can talk.”

Dog:  “Yes, yes I can.”

Man:  “Wow!  How does that work?”

Dog:  “Well, I realized early in life, when I was just a pup that I could communicate with human beings in their own language.  But all I seemed to be doing was winning bar bets for my owner so I decided I wanted to do more with my life. I wanted to serve my country and use this gift I’d been given.

“So I joined the CIA.  After some intensive training, they parachuted me into the presidential compound in Havana, Cuba.  Man, was that a furfest!  That place was crawling with cats. Anyway, I charmed my way into the household and eventually became Fidel Castro’s favourite pet. I spied on Castro and many of the world’s worst dictators for nearly five years.  After the CIA got me out of there, I was awarded the highest medal of honor an American civilian can receive for serving his country.

“Then I headed up the canine intelligence force for Homeland Security.  I trained over 4,000 dogs at America’s biggest airports and I was personally credited with thwarting four domestic terrorist plots. That’s when I became the only double recipient of The Congressional Medal of Honor in the history of our country.

“Most recently, I created a program at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota in which dogs can now detect and identify serious diseases like cancer and diabetes by simply sniffing the patient.  For that, I received a humanitarian citation from the Surgeon General of the United States.

“And well, that’s pretty much it.  I’m retired now.  What you see is what you get.”

Man:  “Holy Moly!  This is unbelievable.  A real talking dog.  This is totally awesome. How much you want for him?”

Owner:  “Ten bucks.”

Man:  “Ten bucks!  Are you totally insane? Why on earth would you sell this talking dog for only ten bucks?”

Owner:  “Cause he’s nothing but a bald-faced liar. He’s 16 years old and he’s never left the property.  Except for the bar bets, he didn’t do any of that stuff!”

For comments, ideas and copies of The True Story of  Wainfleet, go to www.williamthomas.ca