Smell that blend of Johnson’s baby powder, Estee Lauder, and Vaseline Intensive Care? That’s Miss Julie, my owner, and she’s coming this way.
Now, don’t pay much attention to Miss Julie. She’s a little bit senile. How do I know? Well, suppose you had a fine, young, handsome male beagle. Wouldn’t you give him a dignified name? Something like Rufus, or Bruno, or Prince? Of course you would. But what does Miss Julie call me?
“Floppers? Floppers! Come here, boy!”
I thump my tail against the linoleum, but I don’t get up. Miss Julie broke her hip not long ago, so now she’s using a walker and more dangerous than ever. My tail still hurts where she squashed it. And my paws … let’s just say I learned my lesson. Those tennis balls aren’t meant for chewing.
Miss Julie waddle-thumps her way into the kitchen and shoves the screen door open. “Outside Floppers,” she commands, “backyard for you, mister.”
I edge my way around her, scooting outside fast before the slamming screen door can catch my tail.
Ah, the big backyard. Booorrring! I know this lawn like my leftmost whisker. Surrounded by a high wood fence, it smells like petunias, chew toys and, well, me.
I raise the old back paw for a scratch, then suddenly freeze. I’m picking up a new scent. It smells like….
I see it now, sitting by the fence, still as a statue, little nose twitching.
Quick switch to attack mode! “BOW WOW WOW! Ruff! Ruff! Ruff!”
Blast! He’s gone through a hole, under the fence!
Feet scrambling! Claws digging! Dirt flying! Hole bigger. Rabbit scent. Squeezing … through!
“BOW WOW WOW!”
Dashing across a lawn! Weaving behind a hedge! Diving into a burrow!
Hunh? I can’t fit in there.
Rabbit, 1. Brave Avenger of Dogdom, 0.
But wait. Hello, hello, hello! What is that incredible, heavenly, delectable fragrance?
And not just steak, there’s a whole table of food. Smell that A-1 Sauce. Get a whiff of those onions. Bask in the fragrance of baked beans.
Hmmm. No one in sight.
Could this food be an offering, a token of goodwill between men and dogs?
Slinking, crouching, I slowly creep up till I’m right under the table.
A quick jump from chair to tabletop.
Still no one.
Oh! Yum! Rich, rare, juicy, chewy, down-the-gullet steak! It even comes with a complimentary bone. Joy! Smell that fragrance. Taste that delight. Why, the only thing that could make this better is--
Trapped. Stuffy darkness. Basket over my head.
“Gotcha!” says a deep, human voice.
Smell of fear, steak, and dirty straw basket. I’m suffocating! What will they do to me? I howl in agony.
Light! The basket’s gone, replaced by a firm hand on my collar.
“What have we here?” the deep voice says.
Cringing, I stare up at salt-and-pepper hair, glasses, and two dark eyes.
I try to wiggle away, but the firm, gentle hands hold me down. Stern, yet kind, his eyes dominate me.
Wow! This is a man among men, a master like no other. And somehow, even though I’ve ruined his food, I know he won’t hurt me.
The master’s hand checks my collar tags, then he laughs.
“No way! You’re Julie Ellis’ dog?”
I wag the old tail.
“Come on, Buster,” the master says, scooping me up. “I’m taking you home.”
Riding in his arms, it’s only a minute before we’re in front of the old homestead, knocking on the door.
It swings open to reveal Miss Julie and the walker.
“Why, Reverend Armand?” she cries. “What are you doing with Floppers?”
“He must have escaped, Miss Julie. He came to pay me a visit.”
No mention of the steak.
“Well, I declare! The rascal! I can’t keep up with his antics, Reverend.”
“The dog needs more exercise, Miss Julie.”
“As if I could give it to him with my hip busted.”
“Suppose we make a deal. I’ll walk Buster here every day till you’re better, IF you’ll come to church with me one of these Sundays.”
“Well…. You drive a hard bargain, Reverend. Deal!”
And it all ends with me getting dropped off inside, back with the baby powder, perfume, and lotion.
But don’t worry. That’s what home smells like, and I wouldn’t have it any other way.
Though, the walks do help, as does the new name the Reverend master gave me.
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