I'm Not the Biggest Bitch in This Relationship: Hilarious, Heartwarming Tales About Man's Best Friend From America's Favorite Humorists is the Great Dane–titled new book edited by Wade Rouse (It's All Relative: A Memoir of Two Families, Three Dogs, 34 Holidays and 50 Boxes of Wine), with essays by Jen Lancaster, Rita Mae Brown, Laurie Notaro, Jane Green, Beth Harbison, W. Bruce Cameron and many others, plus a forward by Chelsea Handler's dog, Chunk. It does not. however, contain the story of the time my shaggy mutt Guinness ate the umbilical-cord stump of my newborn son, but there's always the possibility of Vol. 2. Rouse will be joined by contributors Jiffy Wild, W. Bruce Cameron, and Annabelle Gurwitch.

L.A. WEEKLY: What inspired you to put together this book?

WADE ROUSE: I grew up in the Ozarks on 10 acres of woods, and our land was often a dumping ground for dogs and cats. My mom — a nurse and hospice nurse — tried to save all these animals. She believed prayer and penicillin could save nearly any soul, and she used lethal doses of both. Many of those animals became family pets, much to my father's chagrin. This book was really a tribute to my mom, those rescue dogs and all the pets in our lives. … I used to think we saved their lives, but I realized they save ours, too. I also wanted to assemble a book about dogs without any of that Marley & Me morosity. I wanted to pull back the shades and illuminate the insanity we all share with our dogs: the way we talk to them, the way we dress them, the way we humanize them, the way we make them the center of our lives.

How often does your dog make you laugh?

Hourly. Mabel is the dog my partner, Gary, and I currently have. She's a rescue Labradoodle-beagle mix. In essence, she looks and acts like Cher, if you threw her into the dryer for about an hour on high. Big personality covered in black hair. She's nuts. Although I think we likely made her that way. Our dog Marge — another rescue, to whom Bitch is dedicated, and who passed away last spring — was an 85-pound baby who could open any door, crate, kennel, slider, window in the world: She would do anything to get to us. She was crazy, too. And, again, we were to blame. Proudly. We invented voices for both of them: Marge talked like Chelsea Handler if she'd ingested a dozen helium-filled balloons: All snark in a high-pitched voice. Mabel sounds like Paula Deen as a baby.

Do you think dogs have a sense of humor?

No doubt. Mabel smiles, and Marge looked as if she was laughing; their faces break into discernible smiles when they are happy, especially when they're having what Gary and I call “five-star days.”

What do you think makes a dog laugh?
Their owners being idiots. Other dogs getting into trouble. Counter cruising. Easy-to-open trash cans. Scooby-Doo. Modern Family. The Three Stooges. But not Marley & Me. And definitely not Where the Red Fern Grows.

Book Soup, 8818 Sunset Blvd., W. Hlywd.; Wed., Jan. 25, 7 p.m.; free, book is $14. (310) 659-3110.

Wed., Jan. 25, 7 p.m., 2012

LA Weekly