Dear Psychotic Dogs,

I think you may have noticed my affection for other animals—including my own dog—and wrongly assumed that it extended to your snarling, demented selves. But you couldn’t be more wrong; I utterly despise you both. Moreover, I’m astonished that you’re too obtuse to sense the waves of hatred that radiate from my person like heat from a Ben Franklin stove whenever you have the temerity to poke your noses at my crotch or stand there barking witlessly at me for no earthly reason.

I thought dogs were supposed to be sensitive to human emotions, but I guess that’s only normal dogs. Dogs afflicted with your particular brand of psychosis are stripped of empathy and possess only a predatory ability to sense fear or vulnerability, especially in children.

Which brings me to why I feel that you two are the most despicable creatures a kind person was ever misguided enough to rescue from the pound. I first began to hate you with the white-hot heat of a thousand suns when I caught you stalking my 2-year-old child like a pair of ravening velociraptors. Since it happened five years ago, you probably thought I’d forgotten it. But let me tell you something, Psychotic Dogs, I will never forget it. I was standing right there, for Christ’s sake, talking to my sister and watching my sweet, innocent little girl toddle around the yard, bothering no one. And then I saw you two coming at her with murderous intent. Fortunately for you, I was able to interpose myself between you and my daughter before you could do anything more than scare her. For that reason and that reason alone, you are both still alive.

Psychotic fleabags, you have given me plenty of reason to go on despising you ever since. I hate the cowardly and hypocritical way you wag your tails at people when they’re facing you, only to then take a nip at the cuffs of their pants the moment they turn their backs. You are sneaky and deceptive, which are bad enough qualities in any creature but seem even worse in dogs, which are generally noble, honest, and kind. You bring discredit to your entire species, Psychotic Dogs.

I also resent the fact that you’ve become a bone of contention (if you’ll pardon the expression) between my sister and me. I am tired of her making excuses for your brainless thuggery. I’ve heard more times than I care to recall about your lurid puppyhoods before my sister rescued you, and you know what? It excuses absolutely nothing as far as I’m concerned. Do you think my childhood was a bed of roses? I assure you, Psychotic Dogs, it was not. And yet I manage to get through life without resorting to the vile behavior that is so regularly observed in you. I believe that we are responsible for the obnoxious behavior that survives our childhood, and that principle definitely extends to the animal kingdom.

Hear this, Psychotic Dogs: If I ever catch you menacing my child again, I will pick up the nearest lawn chair and wrap it around your thick skulls. Then I will pull up two tomato stakes from the garden and drive them through your black hearts with a croquet mallet.

You need to remember that even though you undeservedly live a pampered and privileged life by taking cruel advantage of a kind soul (whom you repay by occasionally biting), you have no real legal status in this country. I could kill you with impunity. Sure, there are animal-cruelty laws, but, believe me, I could mount a justifiable-homicide defense bolstered by legions of gardeners, pool men, neighbors, and assorted others unwittingly drawn into your malevolent web. I would not only be acquitted but would probably receive a civic award for dispatching you. So never cross me again, Psychotic Dogs. It may be the last thing you ever do.

Sherry H. Ciurczak