Kije Questions

At 12:11 PM -0500 4/3/03, Dan Kois wrote:

1. What is your pet’s name?

Kije Von Williams, Aka Mr. Dog, Aka, Squeejee Frog, Aka Sir Poopsalot, AKA Mom’s Dog. More often ‘Mom’s Dog’ than anything else, because he was attached to my mom in the way that only a dog who never gets to see his master is. My mom has been homeless for the last fourteen years, and the dog, for the last ten years of his life, was more accustomed to hotel rooms and the back seats of rental cars than he was to any one specific room.

2. What is your pet’s breed?

Pure bred Yellow Labrador. And look what that got him, hip dysplasia, early onset cataracts and one of those maudlin regal disease deaths that goes on for too long and leads to embarrassing periods of kings unwilling to relinquish their thrones to their snotty children. Fortunately, Kije ruled exactly nothing, not his own backyard or section of bed or home, not even his own appetite.

3. What is your pet’s age?

I think he has currently reverted to his most perfect self, when he was about eight and a little fat and living in Chapel Hill, either with me or with Ian, or (for about four days) with a sorority that he ran away to and returned only because the girls walked him up McCauley and he was stupid enough to recognize Ian and run to him. He was wearing a Carolina blue kerchief ’round his neck.

4. Gender?

Disputed. Initially male but quickly derailed of any kind of gender training. He was the only male in his brood and had no idea that there was a way to function other than female. He was in his fifth or sixth year before he realized he could lift his leg while peeing.

5. Where does your pet spend most of its time?

While alive, Kije spent all of his time pining. He was not a satisfied animal. He pined for my mom whenever she wasn’t there. When he wasn’t eating Pepperidge Farm raisin bread, he was pining for… I mean, I would say he was pining for the taste of Pepperidge Farm raisin bread, except for the fact that he would swallow whole slices of raisin bread without chewing or tasting anything so maybe he was just pining for the feel of white bread and raisins dropping down his gullet. After he had eaten the bread, he pined for the time just before, when there was no punishment imminent.

Physically, it’s impossible to say where he spent most of his time. He was always in motion, which for a large fat lazy dog is really extraordinary. Mostly he was being moved, either in a carrier or in a car or on a leash.

6. Where did you get your pet?

He was purchased at a farm in LA that grows dogs like him. It isn’t something any of us are particularly proud of, but the circumstances are pretty unique. We had not been allowed to have dogs growing up, my father was terrified of them and, mostly because of that, so was I. When my dad left my mom, it was decided that she should get a dog, a real statement of independence etc., but I was still terrified of dogs. The only dog I had ever been around was my friend Tom’s dog “Lady” who was a large yellow lab. So, despite the fact that my mom was making this grand gesture to help her deal with her divorce, she was actually, as she always has, doing something with her kids absolutely in the forefront of her mind.

When she got to the breeder, the black lab mom and the black lab dad had a litter of black lab puppies, except sleeping in the corner was this weird mistake, a sleeping yellow lab male puppy. My mom asked something of the breeder, and when Kije heard my mom’s voice he woke up, climbed out of the box and went to her. As if he had been waiting for her to come along. It was pretty much all he did for the rest of his life.

7. How did your pet fill out its bracket?

I asked Mac to come over because I wanted to help him fill out his bracket. I had done a lot of research this year, and I had a couple of hunches (including Maryland losing in the first round), and I *really* wanted Mac to win. He came over with some other friends and we were talking shit and suddenly the war started. We all watched the TV for a little while and couldn’t really look at the brackets.

Mac should be *kicking* himself now.

Once I realized that I couldn’t do anything for Mac I decided to enter my dog. That might sound disrespectful to Mac, but I think he sort of considers me his pet bulldog as well, so it all works out. I tried really hard to pick good stuff for Kije, because I really wanted him to win. It was less Kije’s pool than my homage to Kije, and what his pool would have been if he had been a guy and knew basketball and, y’know, wasn’t dead.

8. What is your pet’s favorite food?

Pepperidge Farm Raisin Bread, but that’s like asking Madonna what her favorite sexual position is. Kije wouldn’t eat lettuce, but he liked everything else. He would *chew* lettuce, certainly, but then let it drop out of his mouth like gum when he was done. He loved broccoli, he loved red bell peppers, and he had a fondness for cooked meat of any kind. He liked melons and he really liked grapes. But man, he loved bread.

We would put a loaf of bread on top of the refrigerator and leave. We would come home and Kije would be hiding in our bedroom, even though he *really* had to go outside, and in the middle of the kitchen floor there would be a plastic bag that had been surgically opened with one canine tooth running the length of the top without a single crumb of bread still existing in the bag.

9. What will your pet do with the prize money once it wins?

No-one anthropomorphizes their animals more than my family does. But when Kije died, he did it on September 17, 2001, and we all had the sense that he had waited until he wouldn’t hurt any of us when he went. We were all so worried about the thousands of people who had just died on 9-11 that he could just slip away without us weeping and wailing. My brother Steve (who had to bring him in to the vet because my mom, naturally, was in Eastern Europe) dropped us an email saying

“So many people have lost so much this week. Walking away from Kije’s still form, I couldn’t imagine the pain others must be feeling. Let’s all imagine that Kije is romping on a new, green field in Manhattan with 5,000 new friends.”

So I think if Kije won any money, he would probably want us to blow it on a bottle of wine (a cheap bottle at this point). Or probably, he would want us to buy a loaf of bread and eat it with my mom.

10. Have you seen your pet exhibit any new behavior since it entered the Pool?

He’s actually not been doing much since he died. We have his ashes, and the last time I saw them they were, no kidding, on Ian’s nightstand right next to his bed. It’s just a box, it isn’t a creepy urn or anything. But still, that’s weird, right?

11. Does your pet have anything he or she would like to say to the other pets in the Pool, or to the Pool at large?

The two questions Kije normally asked of everyone were the following, and in this order;

“Are you going to eat that?”


“Can I have it?

The two answers he expected, despite years and years of getting the opposite, were ‘no’ and ‘yes’, in that order. I have to assume that he would ask the other pets on the list the same thing. The advice I think he would give the pets from the great beyond? “Life is short. Don’t chew, just swallow.”