The Great Chuffissimo
As you stare into the cage, the pound attendant explains:
“They called him Puffito, The Great Chuffissimo, El Cigaretti, Old Smokey, the Chain-Smoking Chien, the Hound with a Habit ...”
The act? Who could resist a smoking pooch?
The finale: a whole packet of cigarettes burned in one giant, foggy mouthful.
Backstage, Puffito felt the hours stretch together into a fidgety, nicotine-blind nightmare.
The performances came as spikes of mellow insanity. Puffito took puff after puff, greedy, wide eyes glinting in the limelight. Smoke wrapped around him like a crying mother; he breathed it like oxygen.
Every night, the trainer left a cigarette outside his cage - to keep his edge - while breaking plates, dropping a tin of rusty nails, pumping on a wheezing accordion.
The attendant unlocks the cage door.
“Poor little puppy,” you say. “I’ll take care of you.”
Lighting a cigarillo, you notice a confused and pleading look in his eyes.