Chester (A Dog With Issues) Watches the News

My buddy Stan called.

“I dropped something off this afternoon,” he said.

That puzzled me.

“I was out working in the yard all day,” I told him, “I am surprised that you didn’t see me.”

“I saw you,” he said.“but I didn’t want to bother you.”

Stan often borrows things without asking and rarely returns them. He also drops off things that he has “borrowed” from others and rarely retrieves them. He never tells me about these things because the less I know, the better.

But why was he calling now?

“I’m going to Jakarta.” he said.


“Yeah. It’s a city of ten million in Indonesia and it’s sinking into the sea. When it rains the rivers run backwards – and I know big industrial pumps.”



“What did you leave me?”

“Well…, Daphne is coming with.”


I hung up.

Both of them out of town could only mean one thing.  He unilaterally decided that I should be dog-sitting Chester.

Chester is Stan’s psychotic Pomeranian. The dog looks like an explosion in a hair salon and has a ferocity unmatched by all Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse.

The last time he stayed with me, he destroyed the living room carpet, skinned a leather chair and powdered a row of fireplace bricks, all because a summer storm interfered with TV reception.

You see, Chester loves watching the Home Shopping Network (HSN).  He is addicted to it and Stan knows I have subscription TV, so he drops Chester off with me.

The little guy is mesmerized by the bling on HSN and the incessant patter of the presenters lulls him to sleep. The channel is the only thing capable of soothing his savage soul.

And that is where I found him, curled up on my living room rug with his head resting on his paws and utterly entranced by the nice lady hawking cubic zirconium jewelry.

I left him there until it was time to cook supper.

The last time Stan abandoned Chester at my house, the dog and I came to an understanding. He could watch HSN most of the day – but I got an hour with the news while I cooked.

And he was good with that.

For a while.

At 5:30, I turned on World News Tonight with David Muir.

It began well.

It took three commercials to transition from the local to the national news and Chester loved the pharmaceutical ads. All the nice people were overjoyed with their medications and the dire warnings of side affects were cleverly counterbalanced by bouncy upbeat rhythms.

But then a face and a haircut appeared on the screen to breathlessly announce;

“Breaking News…”

The truth was, not a bit of the news was breaking and none of it was news.

Chester was not amused.

That intro cost me a bookcase shelf.

I quickly flipped to Nightly New with Lester Holt.

Apparently ABC and NBC use the same script because Lester Holt finished David Muir’s sentence.

Scratch one throw rug.

In a panic, I tuned to FOX.

That was a mistake.

The scrum of newcasters shouting over one another resulted in the loss of several planks from living room floor.

I quickly dialed CNN.

A fateful decision for the dining room buffet.

By now, Chester was airborne, plucking the recessed lights out of the ceiling. So in a final desperate measure, I brought up NEWSHOUR on PBS.

The instant he saw Judy Woodruff, Chester landed softly on his paws and curled up on the pile of shavings that once had been the rocking chair.

I don’t know why I didn’t do this earlier. We have watched PBS before without losing furniture, so we settled in to watch Ms. Woodruff interview two academics on the impact of the US moving its embassy to Jerusalem.

It went well until the next segment – which was received with a menacing growl. But it wasn’t Chester who was growling, it was me.

NEWSHOUR was yet again airing one of their countless segments on the topics of race, class, gender and climate change.

“Good Lord,” I shrieked, “give it a freak’n rest. Those segments were informative the first fifty times you covered them. This isn’t news, it’s obsessive compulsive behavior!”

Chester cocked his head and stared at me quizzically.

Then taking his cue from my response, he shredded the drywall from one end of the room to the other.

Just then Stan called.

“Where are you?” I asked, more than a little annoyed.

“At LAX, our flight has been canceled because a volcano shut down the airport in Jakarta.”

“Why don’t we hear more about these things on the news?”  I asked. “It would be nice if they covered exploding volcanoes or rivers running backwards instead of what Trump tweeted last night?”

“You haven’t been watching the news with Chester, have you?”

“We tried to.”

“Don’t do that,” he said.

“One of these days, I’ll get your dog figured out,” I told him.

“It’s pretty simple,” Stan said. “You know why Chester loves the Home Shopping Network?”

“Not at all.”

“And why he loves commercials?”

“No clue.”

“And why he hates the news, especially in the last few years.”

“I have no idea.”

“What does HSN and commercials have that the news does not?” he asked

“Don’t make me guess.”

“Hope,” he said.


“They don’t sell jewelry on HSN or pharmaceuticals during the news, they sell hope.  Their product is happiness.  The very essence of marketing is grounded in optimism.  Happiness is all Chester wants. It is all anybody wants. It is why he loves it so.”


“And lately there has been precious little of that on the news,” Stan said.

Author: Almost Iowa

45 thoughts on “Chester (A Dog With Issues) Watches the News”

  1. Chester and I probably wouldn’t get along. I can’t handle the HSN, but I can barely tolerate the 24-7 repetitive mono-thematic news either. I think we’d have to settle on long walks. 🙂 Happy New Year!

  2. Chester apparently has a little know condition called, “News induced pica.” When I started chewing on ice and pieces of paper during the world news, I realized I was going down the same path of destruction. I can’t wait to see what new drug Big Pharma will release once this diagnosis gets the news coverage it deserves. It will be a win-win situation with news inducing symptoms and ads offering a solution.

    1. I can almost envision the ad.

      FADE OUT.

  3. I’m beginning to think I have something in common with Chester (although I don’t express my disapproval by destroying the house. Since I’m one of the people who would have to pay for the repairs, I have to be careful about that.) The news drives me batty, too, for the same reasons: the endless repetition of stuff that is not news, the absence of anything that actually is news, and the fact that they offer no hope at all. Chester may like the home shopping network, but I prefer HGTV. I watch those shows and think that maybe someday, I’ll finally get that beach front condo I’ve been dreaming about! I say just accept reality and let the little guy watch his shopping shows…..

    1. What bothers me most is when the 24 hour news channels get the facts wrong, and repeat the wrong facts for days.

      Case in point, when the I-35 bridge collapsed in Minneapolis, CNN ran a banner proclaiming that a bridge between Minneapolis and Saint Paul collapsed. The bridge was between downtown Minneapolis and the northern districts of the city. Saint Paul is miles to the southeast.

      Did no one call to say that was not correct?

      It is okay to make mistakes. People do it all the time – but to not have a process in place to correct mistakes is unconscionable, especially for a news organization.


      My wife loves it. She is as addicted to HGTV as Chester is to HSN. It makes her happy – but it makes me miserable when she gets ideas…. “Oh,” she says, “look at what they did to the garden!”


      1. I know what you mean about the mistakes! There is no excuse for not correcting them, immediately. And they never ask the obvious questions, either, which I’m embarrassed to say sometimes leads me to yell at my poor TV. I agree that HGTV can be a problem if we try to copy what they do in our own house and yard…..

  4. Poor Chester. Think of the harm he does to his digestion and claws just to teach a simple lesson on hope. There again, sit me in front of the shopping network and I might harm some digestion and claws.

    1. We didn’t have a TV until my daughter was 12, then someone whose name I refuse to mention, wanted one so he could watch the Vikings. The worst decision I, er he, ever made.

      1. Ha ha. I get it. However, making it until she was 12 is super impressive! My husband is kind of an endless-watching-of-random-channels-tv-addict, so a few years ago while he was on a business trip, I lugged our big screen tv upstairs and made a man cave. Woo hoo! Tv has been up there ever since!! Score one for me!

        1. Not having a TV had its benefits. One being that my daughter could read a newspaper before Kindergarten. About that time, when we were at my cousin’s piano shop, he took a technical manual that I was carrying and to show off to his friends asked her to read a page.

          She did.

          It was an explanatory piece on metalingustic symbols. Impressed but a bit skeptical, one of his friends said, “okay, but what does it mean?”

          She said, “it means that something is what it is unless they say it isn’t.”

          In other words, she explained in a dozen words what the technical writer tried to do in a thousand. In effect what they were saying is that a character like the exclamation mark ! signifies an exclamation unless we use it in another context, like a computer language where it might mean NOT as !True. (false)

          She went on to study philosophy and is now a pipe fitter. We need more pipe fitters who can philosophize.

          1. W.o.w…. bravo.

            My Little Bit sounds similar. Sooooo smart. In fact, we homeschool and one of the beauties in it is we tailor to his learning style and interests. He’s in the dining room right now, singing and building a shopping center out of blocks. 🙂

            Love that she chose philosophy. And that she’s a pipe fitter!! That is soooooo awesome!

  5. There are alternatives to both mainstream and social media, and I’ve spent a good bit of time searching them out now that I don’t have a television and have given up all social media. I do follow some meteorolgists, weather-and-fire sites and groups like the American Fern Society on Twitter, but I’ve had it with the prissy reporting on NPR and news broadcasters who seem to think that telling me what topics are “trending” on Twitter is sufficient.

    Sites like Axios do a good job of presenting news in a factual way. They have an assortment of emails you can subscribe to, as well. I get Axios AM and PM, and they’re great ways to see what’s been happening — with links to more in-depth articles if you’re interested. I subscribe to their science newsletter, as well. Nautilus is another good one, and for pure fun, there’s Atlas Obscura and Futility Closet.

    Best of all, since making some changes, I’ve stopped chewing the carpet and shredding the upholstery.

    1. I would dump the TV but watching Masterpiece on PBS every Sunday night is a decades long tradition for my wife and I. It serves the same function as date night.

      Axios is a wonderful site. The clean design is very easy on the eyes.

      Atlas Obscura and Futility Closet are new to me, I thank you for that. I have been following Roads and Kingdoms. You might want to try them.

  6. We can all take a leaf out of Chester’s book. Not that I need another ad on erectile dysfunction or misbehaving bladders, but still they are better than listening to the most recent tweets from the Whitehouse over and over. I’m ready to chew up the carpets and spit out the tacks, myself.
    “Go get em, Chester. Good boy. Here, have a bite of my steak.” –Curt

    1. We can all take a leaf out of Chester’s book.

      We could but being true to Chester, we should simply shred the book and everything else within reach. 🙂 🙂

  7. We watch only our local news. We don’t have to worry about important stuff just the usual hit and run and the latest fundraiser for whoever got shot that day. It is so soothing not to have to relate and also to look forward to the weather report. I’m on Chester’s side and I’m with you on the enough already on the race, gender, class, politics, North Korea, poor diplomacy, immigration, the wall, and climate change.

    1. We also enjoy the local news, especially after moving beyond the reach of the Twin Cities media.

      In true Chester style, I took my first bite out of a television while watching the local news cover a police press conference that I had attended. Their reporting wasn’t even close to what was said. I was also a tad bit annoyed at their reporter for charging into my cube with lights, camera and microphone rolling. I didn’t say a word and merely pointed to the next office up the food chain.

  8. I might have to side with Chester on this one. If you made me watch the news, only giving me a break by changing to other news, I might destroy a carpet or two. Reminds me of a gym teacher who liked to say: “ok boys, let’s take a break…by running some laps.”

  9. We all have issues with the news, President Twitter, Washington, politicians in general, etc. Poor Chester has no other way to vent his frustration. Guess he could bark loudly, but someone would probably muzzle him. And still the little guy has hope. Who’s a good boy!

      1. Well, sure Chester is a good boy. He is going above and beyond, the whole nine yards, trying to take your mind off ads they show twice in a row, the never-ending account of the White House tweets, North Korea’s latest missile, murders, home invasions, hit-and-runs….there’s no end.

        Hell, I think I’m gonna go eat some furniture myself while I’m waiting for hubby to fall asleep so I can pry the remote out of his hand and eat that so he can’t turn on another newscast!!

        Chester rocks!

  10. OMG! Stan said something….INTELLIGENT! The world is ending, isn’t it? this is just your sweet way of warning us. It was really great knowing you hun. stay safe!

  11. I’m at a point in my life right now where I am without a pet, but I’m thinking Chester and I have a lot in common. I’ve gone from watching local and national news in the morning, local at noon, local and national at night to one local in the morning. I can’t take it. I haven’t torn up the floorboards or the sheetrock because I don’t watch it anymore. I know most people spends hours a day on FB commenting back and forth or tweeting on Twitter, but I can’t do that because I’d be living in a tent if I had to deal with everyone’s opinion about the reality of life. I live in the land of hope with Chester, and just maybe it might get better. If not, I’m old, I’ll die and someone else can be tormented by it. 🙂

    1. I deleted my Facebook account. All the tribal chest-thumping got to be too much.

      I do love the news though. I can watch NEWSHOUR but have to turn away when they get repetitious. I used to listen to MPR/NPR and much of what they have is still good – but there is a madding political correctness about their coverage that simply does not have to be. If they would only report the stories straight and quit trying to mold opinion rather than report. I could handle that.

      Mostly I read. I like Bloomberg and The Economist, and there are a few deep read websites I visit regularly. I am not so much bothered by point of view as I am by partisanship, especially the barking kind.

        1. add leave out the entertainment

          I long for the days when stone-faced newscasters delivered world events in a mono-toned voice while a teletype machine rattled and clacked in the background.

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