Dogs: Here for It, #216

Hi! It's R. Eric Thomas. From the internet?

The minute I sat down to write this newsletter I received a push notification from my NextDoor app. Now, you, me, and Gladys Kravitz know that I do love me some NextDoor app shenanigans, where a post about a fox sighting can quickly devolve into a shouting match about mask-wearing. I get my little digest of White Drama every Sunday in my email and I make myself a cup of chamomile tea and put the Do Not Disturb on my phone so I can concentrate on my stories. Don’t come a-knocking! I need to give all my attention to these stressed out “fiscal conservatives” who like bird-watching and watching the movements of a delivery driver they don’t recognize in equal measure.

Pictured: me watching two retirees go to fisticuffs about whether teenagers putting lit firecrackers in a mailbox was a “harmless prank”—an actual conversation I witnessed on here.

It’s crucial, however, that all of this happens in my email not the app. I do not engage with this NextDoor business, honey. There is a reason that I call this show White Drama. I’m just keeping an eye on things in case I need to interrupt my own long-running show, Black Comedy. So this push notification was a surprise. I don’t turn on push notifications for anything, except Twitter because I need to know if I’m being canceled and my calendar app because I need to know what Zoom I’m late to. Every other app? I’ll see you when I see you. Don’t push me, I say to my iPhone; push a push pop! So, I don’t really know how this notification happened and I’m about to post on NextDoor about suspicious activity in my area.

The notification said “Urgent Alert” which is also new. I clicked on it, obviously, because if they’re announcing that they’re starting the revolution I want enough notice to finish binge-watching Last Tango in Halifax (aka British White Drama) before the end comes. The alert read: “Owner of dogs located.. dogs home.” This is great news that I did not understand at all. Did I find it odd that I was receiving an urgent alert about the reunification of Pongo and Perdita with their owners but not an urgent alert about the dogs on the loose? Yes, I did, so then I had to stop what I was doing and jump on to NextDoor to retrace the pieces of this cold case which had already been solved. The gag is: there was nothing else on NextDoor about this. The person who sent the urgent alert has posted 91 times on the app but only once about this dog business. No one else was posting about it. It was as if the thing that was urgent was letting everyone know that there was no problem.

NextDoor: Everything’s fine.

I have to admit I love that energy. It’s like “BREAKING NEWS: Another wonderful day!” I honestly wouldn’t mind that at all. I mean, not in a push notification. Let’s not get carried away. But if my neighbors want to send me messages that say “Nothing’s wrong” I’d welcome that.

Actually, scratch that. Out of context “Nothing’s wrong” seems foreboding. Do not want. Don’t you come to my house telling me there’s never any trouble here in bubbleland. Says who?! You have a permit for blowing bubbles?! Let’s go back to not communicating, thanks.

It is fascinating, however, that anyone can make an Urgent Alert. I just tried it and it didn’t make me enter a code or anything. I mean, I didn’t go all the way through with it so it’s possible there’s a security question at the end like “What do you think of great dad Ted Cruz doing the right thing and supporting the airline industry by taking his family to Cancun?” It’s amazing that the system doesn’t get abused (or, in this case, effectively used). I want to start sending urgent alerts all the time now.

URGENT ALERT: Making scones!!!!

URGENT ALERT: It was Agatha all along!!!!

URGENT ALERT: What’s that sound?

URGENT ALERT: Never mind. The pipes were just clanking. Haha.

URGENT ALERT: What are we going to do about Gillian on Last Tango in Halifax and all her bad decisions??? I am vexed! Blimey! Feel free to stop by my house and yell your thoughts about this into my front windows. Any time! Day or night!


URGENT ALERT: Maricopa County has counted 95% of their ballots.

URGENT ALERT: I did not find any escaped dogs today. Just wanted to keep everyone abreast. Will let you know tomorrow. Urgently.

Hot Dog

Speaking of dogs, it’s been a spotty week for the Champ and Major news cycle. Get it… spotty? Because dogs?


I was scrolling through Twitter, as is my spiritual practice, and I came across these two photos of the First Dogs frolicking on the snowy White House lawn:

In context, they are adorable but I was only half-paying attention and mistook the two German Shepherds for wolves roaming a climate-ravaged post-apocalyptic Washington DC. Lemme tell you, I opened up NextDoor right quick like “What all did I miss with the fall of humanity and whatnot?” What are these West Wing Wolves doing and should I be concerned? I don’t know why I saw these photos and, instead of thinking these are presidential dogs, I thought the wolves have taken over DC; in the distance the eagle screams; humanity is but a distant memory like I’m the narration in the beginning of a video game.

But now, of course, I can’t unsee it! It certainly doesn’t help that there isn’t a single person in these shots and both are taken from far away as if through a telescopic lens on a reconnaissance mission. The Prime Minister of Squirrels has sent her top spy to observe President Champ and Major Major.

I certainly do like being around on Earth but if it’s all going to go to the wolf-dogs, I am happy that Champ and Major are the ones who inherit it. That opinion, however, was not shared by an attention-thirsty NewsMax host who spent minutes of his one precious life this week complaining on air that Champ looks “dirty” and “unlike a presidential dog”. They really got on television and were like “Run to your NextDoor app and send an urgent alert that Biden’s dog is busted!” We have talked about non-troversy on here many times before but this is a whole other level. The dog doesn’t look presidential? Babe, I just got a note from the Prime Minister of Squirrels and she thinks you should log off.

I will not link to the broadcast because I wouldn’t want to lower your IQ but I do need to show you the photo they ran with the segment.

What in the Big Foot sighting is this image quality? Why does this look like a picture taken with one of those cameras you use to photograph an eclipse? This shot has the exact same aesthetic as every photo they send back from Mars. I think it was lifted from a TikTok but it looks more like some yellowed photo you find at a yard sale that is probably haunted. This is the Picture of Dogian Gray.

I do love Champ’s expression in this shot, though. Champ is like “He said WHAT about me?” This dog is agog! Champ put out a press release that just said, “To quote Nene Leakes, ‘Now why am I in it?’”

If these bedraggled people don’t keep Champ’s name out of their mouths! Champ is 12 years old! That is 84 in dog years! He wasn’t trying to be up in the White House at this big age; he thought he was going to be barking at ducks in Delaware right about now. Champ’s like, “no offense but I was rooting for Elizabeth Warren’s dog. Now, I’m on the news with people trying to shame me because I haven’t had any cosmetic surgery. Child, anyway. I’m about to turn into Julianne Moore in Magnolia. Shame on you! You don’t know my life. I am stressed! I have all these public appearances! The last president didn’t have a pet but this whole place just has a messed up energy and I have to spend so much time barking at walls. And I love Major to bits but that dog is 3 and he has too much energy! He’s a millennial so he’s always talking about his anxiety and eating avocado toast kibble and asking me what time I was born so he can do my birth chart. Calling Ella Emhoff’s cat talking about ‘What if we collab on a line of fashionable interspecies sweaters?’ The other night Major lit a bunch of candles and tried to communicate with the spirit of Checkers but he accidentally got Fala, FDR’s dog, who kept us up all night talking about the time Fala got left in the Aleutian Islands and FDR sent the whole Navy back to get him. Now Major is like ‘we should get ourselves lost to see if Joe really loves us. Maybe he’ll send Space Force!’ And I’m just like, ‘Can you sit down for one second and let me have a minute’s peace? You’re giving me a major headache.’ Back in my day (2008), if you were a political dog, you did The Tonight Show and the cover of People and then folks left you alone. Now I have to tweet! There’s chuckleheads on a channel I’ve never heard of calling me ugly! And Major keeps saying ‘Okay Boomer’ to me which isn’t even accurate. I’m many generations removed from the Dog Boom, which as you are aware is when Pongo and Perdita had 101 puppies. I’m just over all of this! You tell that Newsmax reporter he can meet me outside on the iced over remains of Melania Trump’s tennis courts. I don’t mean to curse, but knick knack paddywack! Give a dog a bone, people!”

Anyway, I think Champ looks great.

URGENT ALERT: Pretty dog!

Cancun You Believe It?

Lastly, in our dog roundup—Ted and Heidi Cruz took their family to Cancun during a crisis in Texas, got outed by literally every person they encountered, from the flight crew, to the fellow passengers (who were also going to Cancun in a pandemic…), to Heidi’s own group chat! But worst of all: they left their dog at home! Fala would like a word!

I absolutely refuse to give Ted Cruz any more of my mental energy this week but I am eating good on the sheer incompetence of every part of this Cancuntroversy. I want to sit in on the staff meeting where Ted Zooms in from the beach, wearing a bootleg Life’s Good shirt that reads “Live’s Grate!” and tries to decide how to handle the fury that everyone has toward him all of the time and also especially now that he has taken off from the state that he represents while it is almost completely without power and water, and gone to Cancun in Mexico, a place he regularly besmirches. I am obsessed with the fact that the best PR spin that team Cruz could come up with was “blame it on his daughters.” Ted Cruz really dragged his dragged ass back from Mexico and got on television and tried to tell us “well, you see a 10-year-old and a 12-year-old were insistent that we get on a plane and cross an international border in the middle of a pandemic and, well, what can you do? Obviously, as a Senator and one of the most powerful people in the Republican party despite the fact that I am a feckless stooge going through a truly excruciating hair journey, I have no choice but to follow the whims of a couple of preteens.”

What did he think was going to happen? I saw him thrice shrug his shoulders and say “I was just trying to be a good dad.” I’m not a father but I have an extraordinary father and one of the things he’s never done is thrown me under the bus during a national controversy. So, let’s start there. Ted really got on television and said “my house was chilly so I flew 1700 miles.” What in the Snowpiercer?

Part of me thinks that Ted Cruz just has an addiction to publicity and doesn’t care that all of it is bad. The thinking might go, well at least everyone is talking about me. Which, sure, fine. But everyone online is also talking about Kathryn Hahn and it’s not because she pulled a “will the life boats be sorted according to class” but because she’s good at her job. Maybe Ted should try that.

My Book is 7 in Dog Years

Thursday was the one-year anniversary of the publication of Here for It! I’m so grateful I got to meet so many of you all on my abbreviated book tour and through a year of Zoom book clubs, library visits, and class talks. Thanks for borrowing the book, buying it, recommending it to your friends, giving it as a gift, and posting about it. Thanks for listening to it on jogs and road trips. Thanks for rating it on GoodReads and Amazon and NetGalley. Thanks for sending me such incredible messages about it (and I’m sorry if I haven’t gotten back you about about your message yet! I am bad at communication, which I know is ironic considering I am literally communicating with you right now). Thanks! Thanks! Thanks!

Here’s a photo my friend Matt sent me of him pulling the book from the ocean like a reverse Rose from Titanic.

Random Thing on the Internet

In honor of Nina Simone’s birthday, which is today, Hanif Abdurraquib posted this great video of her concert in the Netherlands.

Live’s Grate!,