By Greg Dawson
Illustration by Dana Summers

“Greg! I think they’re talking about you on Facebook.”

“Wait … what?”

“Our apartment complex Facebook group,” said my wife, Candy.

It was news to me that the residents have a Facebook page. But then the entire cyber revolution has been news to me. How hard up for material do you have to be to post about me? In the Orlando Sentinel newsroom, where I worked for 25 years, that was called a slow news day. There must be some mistake.

“Come over and look at it on my phone,” Candy said.

It showed the photo of an unsigned hand-lettered note — black ink on white paper — lying on the hallway floor where the gray surface meets the white baseboard. 

An arrow on the note pointed right toward a dry, yellowish area on the floor shaped roughly like the nation of Turkey.

The note read: “you’re Disgusting. Hope you and your dog get an UTI.”

The photo was posted by a JB, who added: “Who ever you are on this 3rd floor C building you are my hero! I know it’s the old guy with the little white dog…just sayin.”

I’m not hurt that Candy immediately figured that this JB person meant me. I fit the description, and what are the odds there’s another old guy with a little white dog on the 3rd floor of Building C — one who’s frequently seen walking his pooch down the hallway? Candy knew I was unjustly accused and leaped to my defense.

She posted: “Actually, ‘the old guy’ is my husband, who takes a cleanup kit (including paper towels) with him every time he walks our 16-year-old Havanese, Pepsi. We are conscientious and even pick up other dogs’ messes. We’ve been married 50 years and I just didn’t want him blamed for this.”

A resident named AS chimed in: “Tell them Candy!” As did SB: “Yes, he does clean up very thoroughly. We have seen him.” Added RB: “Wishing harm on someone and their dog is a bit much.” CB also weighed in: “Leave Pepsi alone!” This last sentiment echoed “Leave Britney Alone!”, a notorious meme about the pop singer — like Pepsi, a star. 

Many neighbors and dog lovers in the complex know and love Pepsi. A breed glossary says, “The Havanese is a small, cheerful dog that typically loves everyone it meets.” This is true of Pepsi, but she hasn’t met JB.

Before casting hurtful remarks and lecturing others about their alleged failure to clean up, JB and the anonymous whiner should clean up their own messy language. To wit:

“Hope you and your dog get an UTI.” It’s not an Urinary Tract Infection. it’s a Urinary Tract Infection. And JB, it’s not “who ever,” it’s “whoever” on this 3rd floor C building. Finally, “just sayin” needs an apostrophe: Just sayin’. That’s a lot of mistakes in two short sentences for adult humans with opposable thumbs and smart phones.

How can I say with certainty that I was unjustly accused? Because I’ve walked Pepsi in those hallways over a thousand times and she never has peed close to the baseboard — always in the middle of the floor where it’s easy to clean up. And her puddle resembles a larger nation, like China or Argentina.

Like all Havanese, Pepsi is exceptionally sensitive to people. If we’re on the paved path in the park and she’s overcome by the urge to poop, she struggles sideways in mid-poop to reach the grass out of consideration for two-footed walkers.

Because Pepsi is a dog, her medical records are not subject to HIPAAW, er, HIPAA laws, so I’m free to share them with you. They show treatment for heart disease, elevated liver enzymes, high blood pressure, chronic gastroenteritis, pancreatitis and protein-losing nephropathy (kidney dysfunction). We both take glucosamine for our joints. But — sorry to disappoint the whiner — not a single UTI. For her or me. 

Pepsi’s full AKC (American Kennel Club) name is “More Bounce to the Ounce,” taken from a 1950s ad campaign for the soda. The breeder dubbed her Pepsi for the color of her coat at birth, which has lightened to beige. Pepsi just turned 16, about 80 in human years, according to the AKC. She doesn’t have the same bounce to the ounce that she used to, but who among us does?

She now needs a boost to jump up onto the couch, and, if the elevator isn’t working, I carry her down three flights of stairs to spare wear-and-tear on her weakening hind quarters. She still runs down the hall after walks, but we no longer ask her to dance for treats. Pepsi is on five medications and supplements, has cataracts and her hearing is 50 percent at best. 

JB, if you’re reading this — you too, Mr. or Ms. UTI — please know that The Old Guy and his Little White Dog — a certified therapy dog — are concerned about your anger and distress. We want to help. With that in mind, we are sharing the results of a “stress-busting clinic” with executives conducted by a Kennel Club in London.

The study measured participants’ heart rates, blood pressure and cognitive thinking ability. Those who spent time with a Havanese pup showed the biggest decrease in stress levels. It concluded that, “If you have a stressed-out, busy working life, then the answer is simple: get a Havanese.”

Just sayin’.

Greg Dawson is a journalist and author. He has worked as a reporter, a television critic, a metro columnist and consumer columnist. His most recent book, with Susan Hood, is Alias Anna: A True Story of Outwitting the Nazis (HarperCollins, 2022). Dawson is a contributing writer for Winter Park Magazine.

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