Dog Days in the Kibble Krisis
Award of Excellence winning submission to the Stephen Leacock Association's annual humorous short story contest, 2011.
The recession brought times of great pressure and stress on the hard working people of Canada. Luckily, Hugh Spadley was not generally considered hard working. His dull wit and plain looks had seemingly crushed his lifelong dream to become a television reporter. However, in a successful effort to vex his parents Hugh applied to school for journalism. Four years later, his parents sat and watched their son cross the stage at his university graduation, accepting a degree earned with bouts of work, tears and pleading. Hugh spent the next year interviewing for positions as a television reporter. During that time, potential employers would describe him with words such as incompetent, inarticulate, and who? To the surprise of his parents, as well as his employer, Hugh was hired by the CBC by way of a computer glitch that accepted his application for a position that didn't exist. Hugh Spadley, the lazy what’s-his-face kid from Parry Sound, ON, became the CBC’s first canine correspondent.
The 2008 financial crisis that would spark Hugh’s career came at a time of conflict in the Middle East. Rising dog food prices were caused by the insecurity of the great kibble fields in the area, sparking an outrage in western society. Man’s best friend had become an unaffordable mooch. That year saw the price of kibble jump to over $125 per barrel, although experts were still debating as to why dog food was being sold in such ambiguous quantities.
Hugh Spadley was woken from his reveries that fall by a call from Peter Mansbridge. He had been working at the broadcasting corporation for some months and had yet to receive a story to cover, or even any acknowledgement of his employment other than his paycheque.
“Hello Harry, this is Peter Mansbridge. I hear you've been doing some great work down there.” Said the clear, deep voice on the phone.
“Hello Mr. Mansbridge, its-uh, my name is actually Hugh Spadley and-”
“I don’t have a lot of time to chat Harry; I’ve got a hair appointment in an hour. I called to tell you that you’re scheduled to fly out to Riyadh in three hours. You’re covering the rising kibble prices, and people are getting anxious. Don’t mess this one up. I’d go, but I don’t look good with a tan.”
And with that, the slow and steady voice was gone. Hugh immediately reached to search Riyadh into Google to see what all of this was about. The CBC office would have been aghast at the swearing upon his discovery of forty degree weather, had Hugh’s desk not been located in the supply room. He quickly drove home, grabbed a few days worth of clothes and hurried to Pearson International Airport.
Those first few days in Riyadh were full of chaos and sunburns. For the first time in his life, Hugh was experiencing the heavy burden of stress in the workplace. The brilliant sun and scalding heat of Saudi Arabia seemed an undeserved punishment for his weeks of fruitless employment. Thankfully, years of experience quickly led him to find someone to coast behind. The CBC had sent him a writer, Jessica Durance. Jessica became a breath of fresh air in the desert, her skills and intuitions spoon-feeding Hugh the information and the Canadian context of events overseas. Night after night, Hugh faithfully read off of a report written by his trusty companion on-site in Saudi Arabia. He described the conflicts in the Middle East, and how slowing kibble production had lead to disaster in western society. This continued for two weeks, during which he coined the phrase “Kibble Krisis” in a moment of combined creativity and terrible spelling. Hugh became an international icon.
The Canada Hugh came home to was a different one than he left. The Humane society was plagued with large dogs, as rising prices had begun to force Canadians to down size. Television ads and billboards were full of pictures of smaller, more food efficient dogs. His report on political instability in the Middle East had caused a minor panic, which had led to the stockpiling of dog food across the country. Dog lovers everywhere were buying all of it up, selling out pet stores and raising prices further.
Celebrities seen walking large dogs were beginning to feel the pressure from society. This shameless excess was met with outrage, as families struggled to make ends meet. Dog food had become an expense that weighed down upon the masses. As a result, many made a point to be seen walking small dogs, or to simply escape the attention of tabloids and mass media altogether.
As Canada continued to face rising kibble prices, Hugh Spadley experienced incredible success in his career. He was given an office, free at last from the inhuman dimensions of the supply room and the constant presence of body odor that accompanied it. Over the course of two and a half years, Spadley was seen on television five nights a week, covering such topics as kibble, the conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan, and more recently revolutions in Egypt and Libya. All of these events had substantial impacts on the price of kibble, as the Middle East accounted for a large percentage of its extraction. Those years saw the price of kibble rise to $150 per barrel. The Canadian public saw Spadley as the voice behind the struggle to keep our dogs fed. Jessica Durance continued to be the brains behind the operation, seemingly content to receive little credit for doing Hugh’s job because of a bizarre romantic fascination with him that she would later describe as misguided. Her friends looked on with pity.
The United States was looked upon with disdain, as American pop culture still glorified large dogs in the media. Such lack of food efficiency was taboo in a society where the financial strain of the recession, job loss and kibble prices made everyone slightly grumpy and very judgmental.
It was in 2011 that Hugh Spadley was contacted by the Canadian government. He was asked to attend a press conference regarding a new food efficiency initiative. As ever, Canada was following the American example and starting a program entitled “Dollars for Collars”. This initiative offered tax rebates for anyone willing to downsize their dog for a more food efficient one. The next few weeks saw protests by such groups as PETA, the Humane Society and independent groups Canadian citizens. Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s office later retracted the bill supporting the initiative due to a misunderstanding in communication regarding the implications of offering monetary reward for the dispossession of animals. A simple sorry would have rolled off of the tongue a little better.
The journalistic value of such a political fiasco was not lost on the ever plotting mind of Peter Mansbridge. You didn't become a pillar of Canadian television journalism without realizing the power of a rich, deep voice and a few persuasive suggestions. During those exciting weeks of outrage, he gave Hugh Spadley a call.
“Hugh, this is Peter Mansbridge calling, how are you doing my friend?”
“Uh, hello. I’m good- a little busy. I don’t have time to talk, I’ve got this interview in half-”
“Listen, don’t worry about that interview. I know your schedule is packed. I’m going take some of that heavy workload off of your hands and-”
Peter Mansbridge cursed as the call ended.
“Who does he think he is?” he thought.
On that day, March 12, 2011, Mansbridge vowed to destroy the career of Hugh Spadley, loudly enough to send CBC interns fleeing from his presence.
“No one hangs up on Peter Mansbridge” he announced to no one in particular.
In reality, Hugh Spadley had very badly burned himself and ruined his phone in a clumsy attempt to handle his coffee while taking a call and copying reports from Jessica. Hugh would later describe this fateful event as HOT! How poetic.
The politically charged Canadian population was beginning to take shots at celebrities and politicians who were still flaunting their wealth by touring their fancy dogs, Great Danes and other such hulks. Celebrities began to hide behind masks of charity and by avoiding attention at all costs, Charlie Sheen excluded. That March, rumors began to circulate on air and over the web that Hugh Spadley was harboring large dogs and was hoarding kibble. Spadley, normally the face of the Canadian public, was pressed by tabloids and social media to answer these claims. The Canadian public was outraged at the accusations and demanded that he deny them with the truth. Mansbridge smiled on as Hugh, caught without Jessica Durance to save him from his own words, answered those questions with the words that would end his career forever.
“Well, um, I’m really more of a cat person."