Saturday afternoon, and I was going head to head with Laura, queen of Trump Dogs. I was feeling confident, having acquired most of the pack in the process of knocking my brother out of the game. Sitting across from her I fanned out my cards, examining my strengths. I had the Rottweiler and Doberman both, cornering the Guard Dog Ratings with both at 10. I had the Great Dane, who maxed out the Height, though I knew she had the St. Bernard, the mega heavy hitter. Best of all, I had the Golden Retriever: Cuteness Rating of 30. Unbeatable.

Laura scrunched up her face as she stared at her cards. Stuart turned the page of his newspaper, having long ago given up watching the game. We were well into our second hour, and my frequent demands that Laura give up had been met with cries of rage and refusal.

I looked at my card. The rather ineffective Poodle.

“Rareness?” she asked.


“I’ve got three,” she said, and I slid my card across, beaten by her Shit Tzu.


My Jack Russel came in at a modest 22. Not good enough.

Finally my trump card came up. Golden Retriever. Please demand the Cuteness rating, I silently begged.

Laura examined her card with the utmost scrutiny.

“Careful,” I warned. “This one is my best dog.”

Her face scrunched up tighter.

Cuteness, I begged. C’mon.


“No!” I said. “Ask cuteness!”

“No!” she yelled. “Rareness!”

I sat back in disgust. “Fine. 1.” Golden Retrievers, despite their alluring physique are as common as dirt.

“3!” she said. I looked down at my card, at the fishbowl lens photograph of the Retriever puppy, and then sighed and slid it over.

“Golden Retriever!” yelled Laura.

“He’ll come back,” I said.

“No he won’t,” she said.

“He will. He likes me better.”

Laura paused, considered. “But I pet him,” she finally said.

“Yeah? I give him bones.”

“I give him cookies.”

“What kind of cookies?”

She narrowed her eyes. “Secret cookies.”

“No fair!” I said. “How am I supposed to get him back if you don’t tell me what kind of cookies?”

“Mine!” She yelled, and wiggled about in her seat. To my left, Stuart snorted and turned the page of his newspaper.

“We’ll see about that,” I said, and glared at her. She hunkered down low behind her cards and glared right back, and then burst into giggles. I turned my next card. Rottweiler. “Come on,” I said, sneering like Clint Eastwood, “Ask my Security Dog Rating. I dare you.”