The dog. By Roger Rosenblatt. The dog barks. By Roger Rosenblatt. The dog barks by Roger Rosenblatt who is trying to read "Crime and Punishment" by Fyodor Dostoevsky. He is trying to read "Crime and Punishment" by Fyodor Dostoevsky, but the dog barks. As Raskolnikov dodges his landlady, the dog barks. As Raskolnikov curses his sister's fate, the dog barks, too. The dog always barks. By Rodya Raskolnikov. "Dogs and Punishment" by Rodya Rosenblatt, by Roger Raskolnikov, by Fyodog Dogstoevsky. Barkbarkbarkbarkbark.

I am not crazy yet. The dog has not barked me to craziness quite yet. All I have sought to do for the past two days, sitting in the same chair in the same house with the same chcolate kisses left over from Halloween at my same left hand; all I have sought is to make some progress with "Crime and Punishment." It is a very great book. You ought to read it sometime, I ought to read it sometimes. But the dog barks, and so I cannot read "Crime and Punishment," and so I have considered killing the dog, as Raskolnikov killed the two old women.

If you kill one dog, after all, what matters it to the balance of the world, if you know what I mean, and I think you do.

Of course, you do not hear the barking; you, swaddled in the sweet silence of your Ford Torino or your Library of Congress, you do not hear my cairn terrier with the Tommy-gun voice. Nor can you hear what my cairn terrier hears. Nor can I. But I can hear her. It is a metaphysical riddle, is it not, that she barks at what she hears, but I can only hear her barking. Who then would hear the sound if I felled her with a tree in the forest?

What gets me is how little she cares for my peace of mind. She has not read "Crime and Punishment." She knows nothing of the pleasures of sitting back with chocolate kisses on a dismal November afternoon -- the trees shorn, the wind mixing with rain -- and readingof starving young Russians tormenting themselves in the city of --, in the year --. Six long years I have owned this dog, feeding and bathing and tummy-scratching, in return for puppy barking and dog barking. now she is not 6, I remind her. She is 42, older than I. Time to settle down, I remind her. Tempus fugit. Cave canem. (Barkbarkbark.) She is not the dog I had hoped for, not that dog at all. Not that I was hoping for Lassie, if that's what you're thinking. Nor Rin Tin Tin, nor Yukon King, nor Fala, nor Checkers, nor Him, nor Her, nor any dog that flies or takes fingerprints or says "Ruth" in bars. I was not expecting maybe Ms. Magic Dog of the 21st Century, who would not only fetch me my copy of "Crime and Punishment," but who also would have translated the book from the original. Not my dog. Not the dog of my dreams.

All I ever wanted was a good and quiet dog, like the dignified hound in Piero di Cosimo's "Death of Procris," sitting so mournfully, so nobly at the feet of his fallen master. A dog like that would not bark more than once a month (once in his seven). A dog like that would know his place in the order of things, would state by the mere fact of his docile existence that there are those who rule and those who sit quietly, those who read "crime and Punishment" and those who don't, and therefore do not make it impossible for those who do, just because they hear things that those who do, don't.

Damn it, dog. Am I not king of the jungle? Am I not God's reason that civilization is not going to the cairns?

Barkbarkbarkbarkbark.

There is nothing out there. I have been stalled on p. 71 for an hour, and there is nothing out there, while Raskolnikov has axed the two old women over and over again. He feels no remorse. What remorse would I feel -- except to acknowldege in the foul tunnels of my heart that am for whom the dog barks? That she barks to protect only me?

Now she is still for a moment. The brown blank eyes fixed with alarm. The head loaded, ready to fire. What can she hear? is it the sound of an enemy I cannot hear yet? Or is it the sound of evil itself, of my own murderous impulse to kill the very dog who barks to keep me from killing the very dog who barks to keep me from killing me?