From Words the Dog Knows, illustrated by the author and published in 2008 by Conundrum Press.

home Home is where they keep the kibble. Home is both the origin and the terminus of the walk. Locus of the soundest sleeps, at home all scents are known.

cyberspace The place where people go while dogs are sleeping.

infinity In the time between sleep and waking there is the great nothingness of the nap.

conquest The ball is a living thing. It is not enough to give chase, catch the ball in mid-air and bring it back for another throw. A victory lap is in order. And then give it a good shake to make sure it knows it has been conquered.

contingency If an orange ball has just been lost, under a fence, say—look around. Maybe there’s a busted tennis ball nearby. Maybe there’s a stick just waiting to be found.

phenomenology  When wind happens it happens in the ears. When rain happens all the smells are hidden. When thunder happens it happens inside the heart and head and there is no hiding from the fear.

consumption If it is put in front of you, eat it. If it is on the floor, eat it. If it is on the ground, eat it. If it is dead, sniff it carefully, and then eat it. Even if it smells like shit, eat it. Even if it is shit, eat that too.

corruption One way to make a walk last longer is to walk slower. Stop everywhere, sniff everything and then run a little as if to catch up, as if you’re not up to anything at all. But don’t push it, or they’ll put you on the leash.

security The leash makes pedestrians feel more secure. Barking keeps the balcony free from cats. Bark if the doorbell rings. Everyone knows evil smells feline, and danger rings before it enters.

trust When they say: “We’ll be right back,” they may not come right back, but they always do come back eventually. When they say: “It’s all right,” it may not be all right yet, but it will be soon. When they say: “Stay,” for no apparent reason, it’s best to just do it. Who knows, maybe there’s a car coming.

phantasmagoria  Dog-shaped blurs dot the distant horizon, man-shaped shadows move through the night time, footsteps fall down from the ceiling, disembodied voices float up through the floorboards, ghost scents waft on the wind.

work Play is a re-enactment of work. The ball is a bird, see? Shake it, make sure it’s dead. These sticks need rounding up. Who left this branch here? The work dog is ill suited to tagging along to the laundromat and no good at all at pacing the video store aisles—all the movies smell the same.

performance  If you bring them the ball they will throw it. If you stare at the door they will open it. If you come when you are called, you will usually get something out of it. If you lose a ball under the couch they will find it for you. People are easy to train.

transfiguration When the woman puts mascara on, it means she’s leaving the house. When the man puts big boots on, it means the alley has been erased by snow. When the black cat has a white strip on its back, be careful! The world can change in an instant.

melancholia When playtime is over and the long nap in the dark is over, and the early morning walk is over, sometimes in a hurry, sometimes even in the rain, the people shut the door behind them and the dog is left to his lonesome.

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J.R. Carpenter is an artist and writer whose work has been published and shown around the world. She lives in Montreal and at



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