The Year Zero

Things were not well in The Logging Road Cyclist’s Forest Estate. A nasty, reactionary insurgency threatened to undo all of his progress towards building his own little socialist Utopia in the woods, where each contributed according to his means, and received according to his needs. The Utopia had a population of 4: TLRC and the three dogs, Good, Affable, and Devil Puppy. TLRC had almost all of the means, while the dogs had almost all of the needs. Their means were, respectively, to be devoted, friendly and to sit around and look beautiful, like a model or gun moll. Still up for debate was whether or not Devil Puppy’s need to be snuggled was a means or a need.

In any case, since the means were his, TLRC thought it appropriate that TLRCFE was run as a benevolent dictatorship. Under TLRCSoc he alone directed for the benefit of all. “Call me Big TLRC,” he would say while his big soothing eyes would calm the proles, “tonight we will all have our Pro Plan. Pro Plan has always been our food”, even though they had switched from IAMS not long before, when it had always been their food.


Those fortunate enough to have been on a long (say more than 4 1/2 hours) ride with Big TLRC knew his political views in some depth. He admired that sturdy and reasonable socialism born in the Upper Midwest, Manitoba and Saskatchewan and lamented their recent decline beneath the rising tide of corporate reaction spawned during the Reaganite/Thatcherite surge.  Imagine his dismay, then, when under his own nose he found a similar plot.

In his muddling Socialist way, TLRC had brought Devil Puppy to the Utopia with the best of  intentions. She would provide some cheer to The Good Dog as she approached her senescence. The Affable Dog would, no doubt enjoy the company of his own kind.

At first, all went well.

(l-r): Good Dog, Devil Puppy, Affable Dog.

Then, slowly, little things began to go askew. Discontented mutterings rose from Devil Puppy. She wanted more for herself, and less for the others and was willing to use raw intimidation to get her way. Fights erupted. Snarls and snaps ruled the roost, all emanating  from DP. As the other dogs cowered, Big TLRC thought he heard Devil Puppy murmur to them “…four legs good, two legs bad, four legs good, two legs bad…” over and over. Suddenly it was clear to Big TLRC. Although man of peace, he knew his Trotstky, Mao and Ho. This was reaction, pure and simple. A textbook Sendero Luminoso tactic, adopted for reaction instead of revolution: terrorize the populace to bring on repression which will in turn bring uprising. Devil Puppy was not above co-opting  classic leftist propaganda and tactics to seize control of the Utopia for her corporatist ends! Doubleplusungood!

No fool he, Big TLRC realized he was out of his depth, and co-opting corporatist tactics himself, called in a consultant, an Animal Behaviorist from a northern tier state in the EU. She would brook no nonsense, while at the same time avoiding the repression Devil Puppy was seeking.  TLRCFE was turned into one large re-education camp. It was, in the words of Pol Pot, The Year Zero.

Re-education Camp, Year Zero, TLRCFE.

First a program of collective punishment was imposed. No beds, no furniture, no rushing out or in doors like a pack of wild hogs.  No feeding from the table. Sit, Stay, Sit, Stay, Sit, Stay, on and on… For Devil Puppy, special treatment was reserved. No more sitting on Big TLRC. No more snuggling in bed, indeed, she was to be crated away from the bedroom. No more sitting on Big TLRC’s feet. No attention or affection without it’s price: Sit, Down, Stay, Heel, and, for snarling, snapping, fighting or  other completely proscribed behaviors there was:

“You asked me once, what is in Room 101. I told you that you knew the answer already. Everyone knows it. The thing that is in Room 101 is the worst thing in the world.” O’Brien to Winston Smith, 1984.

For Devil Puppy, what is in Room 101? Nothing. No dog, no Human. Not even a harsh word, just no word. Just her, a Springer Spaniel. Alone. The worst thing in the world. A minute sufficed….

After the crisis, the dogs were at The Long-Suffering Girlfriend’s house, watching her in the garden. Big TLRC was away on a ride. It was a beautiful day, periods of warm sunshine punctuating cold rain.  The Good Puppy sat under the awning lapping at her clove-flavoured Victory Gin, gazing fondly at the other dogs. The gate rattled: Big TLRC was home. Good Puppy trotted over to where he knelt, stroking The Good Dog’s head. The puppy came up behind Good Dog and lay down, touching her and smiling up at Big TLRC. He looked down with his large, soft eyes, and petting them both said over and over, “Good doggies, good doggies…” The Good Puppy rolled further over on her side and drifted off to sleep. She loved Big TLRC.

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