The breeze was fat with tantalizing aromas; woodland creatures scuttled about, waiting to be chased, but I ignored them. I strolled wearily about the yard, melancholia covering me like a mantel of cement. I was about to anoint an azalea when I caught scent of my neighbor, Molly.
There she was, plodding towards me, looking like an old rug and moving just as fast. Molly is okay for a Labrador, a little cynical perhaps, but sensitive and wise in important ways.
“Hi, Molly, what’s up?” I asked with a spirited tail wag I didn’t feel.
“Not me,” she replied, flopping down beside me. “That’s better,” she said, panting softly.
“How did you get out?”
“Edna’s getting forgetful…she left the gate open.” Molly gazed at me, her brown eyes reflecting concern. “Woody, you’ve been drifting around your yard like a lost weekend. What’s the problem?”
I put my head on my paws and sighed. “Sheila—Wally’s new mate—she’s the problem. Lately he spends more time with her than me.” I moaned.
“Come on, Woodrow, don’t wallow in self-pity, better to wallow in a compost heap.” She rolled over on her back and wriggled her legs, pretending to wallow.
“Easy for you to say. Your Edna hasn’t got a mate”.
“My Edna is ancient. Got a face like a dried pig’s ear,” Molly replied, then added, “Facial hair would help.” She rolled back on her belly. “Anyway, Wally is still a young male. And being human, you can bet no one has surgically imposed celibacy upon him.” She gave me a pointed look.
I ignored it. “Yeah, but why does it have to be Sheila?” I wailed. “She smells like weed killer, Woolite, and…” I paused and then hissed, “CATS!”
Molly stiffened. “NO! Not Wally. He always struck me as rather intelligent…for a human. And besides didn’t you tell me he hated cats?”
“Perhaps he doesn’t know. Things can change…just look at Wally.” I sat up, anger energizing me. “When she comes in, I’m always kicked out. It’s my house and I feel about as welcome as pinworms.” I stood up and began to pace. “Now he baths twice a day, gargles mouthwash and douses himself with citrusy aftershave. His sanitary bouquet has nearly put me off my kibble.” Rigid with hostility, I growled, “And it’s all…her…fault!”
“I’m sure it won’t last,” Molly said soothingly, trying to calm me down...unsuccessfully.
“She’s got eyes like a Siamese cat. In fact, she moves like cat, slinky, skulking and predatory,” I snarled. “And poor Wally is her prey.”
Molly got up stiffly and looked up at me, her eyes like moist olives. “Wally is your best friend. It’s your duty to protect him.” She sniffed the air. “Woody, my dear, I’ve got a plan.” She walked towards the hedges and said, “Let’s go dig up that field mouse you been ripening.”
The candles were lit, so were they, having consumed a bottle of cheap merlot. They sat on the sofa, cooing and mewing and stroking each other’s legs. I slid in unobserved and crept under the coffee table. I laid my “gift” by her foot. I repressed the urge to bite her ankle; instead I began licking it.
“What the…” Sheila looked down and screamed. (I still shiver when I remember her face contorted with rage and disgust.) “Oh God what is that?! He’s licking me! Stop licking me! ” She jumped up and ran across the room.
I picked up the dead mouse and followed her, wagging my tail like a propeller.
“Keep that filthy dog away from me!”
“Woody just wants to play. The mouse is a kind of gift,” Wally said with a bemused look.
“Get that stinking, hairy beast out of here! You know I hate dogs!” To prove it, she kicked me.
I dropped the mouse and limped to the corner, whimpering pitifully. (It was an Oscar worthy performance.)
“Sheila! If you've hurt him, I'll--" Wally rushed over to console me. “Hey, boy, are you OK?”
Sheila started brushing invisible dog germs off her arms. “Listen, Wally, either that tick magnet goes or I do.”
He handed Sheila her purse.
She was being kicked out instead of me!
When the door slammed, I yipped with glee. Wally leaned over and patted me. “Sorry, fella. I guess I’ve been ignoring you lately.”
I gave him a rapturous gaze and vibrating tail, then licked his cheek. As wise old Molly would say “to err is human, to forgive is canine”.
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