Pardon Michael Vick

Reprinted by permission of Ray Abernathy.  Ray's website is available at:

My friend Pete is a retired arbitrager who lives in Manhattan. Since his wife, Madelyn, is much younger and still working, Pete has only his Golden Retriever-Lab mix to talk with. Today they are visiting the dog park where West Seventy-second Street meets the Hudson River. Pete is reading the New York Times sports section. Max is under the bench, pretending to be asleep.

“Max, I think they should pardon Michael Vick, don’t you? It says here in the paper that a lot of people think he’s guilty only of hanging out with the wrong crowd. His father says he’s a natural dog lover, says Michael is a good-hearted person who couldn’t bring himself to shake off a bunch of freeloading friends and they got him into dogfighting.”

Max scratches a load of dirt into Pete’s Birkenstocks.

“OK, OK. So it’s a bad excuse. But he’s admitted his guilt, and what has Michael done that hunters and fishermen don’t do every day. I mean killing animals is killing animals, right? And besides, these dogs were bred to fight. It’s their destiny. And when he drowned or hung six of them who wouldn’t fight, he probably saved them from a fate worse than death.

Max barks twice and emits a load of bad air that wafts up between the slats on the bench.

“OK, OK. So if you don’t buy that argument, how about this: If Scooter Libby got a pardon, why shouldn’t Michael Vick get one?”

Max has to stop and think. On the one paw, Scooter didn’t kill anything, not even a dog. On the other paw, he exposed a CIA agent to possible bodily harm. Both Vick and Libby violated federal laws and they both tried to cover up what they’d done. Maybe Pete has a point.

“Maxie, the only difference is that Scooter has friends in high places and Michael has friends in low places. Scooter was hanging out with the right crowd. The right crowd, get it?”

Pete looks up and notices his conversation with Max has drawn another kind of crowd. A large German Shepherd and an even larger Rottweiler are sitting with a Shih tzu and a Cocker Spaniel in a semi-circle in front of the bench. The Cocker Spaniel bares his teeth and growls. Pete snaps on Max’s leash, lures him up with one treat and trots him through the gate of the dog park with another.

‘C’mon, Max, we have to pick up laundry. Those guys know nothing. And hey, listen, in China they have dogs for supper, and I don’t mean dogs sitting in chairs, and isn’t China hosting the Olympics next Summer. Besides, the Falcons just lost their backup quarterback and if Michael Vick doesn’t get a pardon, they are dog meat.”

Pete and Max are halfway across West Seventy-second and Max has had enough. He stops, sits, then lies down over a manhole cover. Pete yanks twice on the leash. Max spreads himself flatter and digs in his nails. Pete turns his back, loops the leash over his shoulder and begins dragging the 85-pound dog across the asphalt. A very large African-American sanitation worker blocks Pete’s way.

“Hey, watch that. You could break that poor dog’s neck. Shame on you.”

“He’s not really a dog. He’s more like a human infant pitching a fit, so I have to deal with him accordingly. And hey, I’m a dog lover.”

“Yeah, you and Michael Vick.”



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