At first, the smell was just a nuisance. It tickled the inside of Lily’s nostrils like the birth of a sneeze. She could ignore it if she tried. But, as days passed, the smell grew more intense. She poked at the smell with her cold, wet nose. Maybe if she got a bigger whiff she could find out why it fascinated her so.
“Lily, get off me,” Poppy shrieked. “I have a date in ten minutes.” Poppy rolled her eyes in exasperation. It wasn’t enough that her little black dress was more like a big, black dog-hair magnet. Now she would have the added bonus of being covered with slime from Lily’s muzzle.
“What is with you anyway?” Lily hung her golden head.
“Yes, you should be ashamed.” Poppy’s lint-roller was getting a serious workout. “It’s not like I have a date with a handsome doctor every day.”
At the sound of the doorbell, the lint-roller went flying into the nearest cabinet and Poppy opened the door with a nervous smile.
“Wow, you look great! And what a gorgeous Golden Retriever. Hey, you have a glop of hair gel or something stuck to your arm.”
Of course he noticed. “Oh, it’s just a little dog drool. Big dog equals big slobber. Shall we go?”
Poppy cut her eyes at Lily and gave her the most severe “BAD DOG” look she could muster as she shut the door.
Lily tried to be good, but the smell was starting to override her sense of obedience. Smelling it, touching it, licking it was becoming irresistible. She couldn’t help herself. It was even worse than the urge to bark at the mailman or rub her face on a dead bug.
Poppy pulled on the delicate sweater her grandmother had crocheted for her last Christmas. As beautiful as the sweater was, she knew she would look ridiculous. Beyond ridiculous. It was the middle of summer.
“Lily, if this is my last date with Dr. Hugh I totally blame you.” The dog let out a pitiful whine.
Poppy examined her arm for the thousandth time. Lily had developed the annoying habit of constantly licking it. While she was lounging on the sofa, Lily would sneak up and give her arm an unwelcome bath with her big, pink tongue. She had even begun to engage in this bizarre behavior while Poppy was sleeping. There’s nothing like waking up to a 70-pound dog standing over you, drenching you with drool in the dead of night. Due to the constant canine attention, Poppy’s arm was unsightly. Hence, the aforementioned sweater.
“Lily, what’s wrong? Are you having a doggy midlife crisis? Is it because I got you spayed last year? Just because you can’t have babies, please don’t ruin my chance.” Poppy ran to answer the chime of the doorbell so Hugh could get a glimpse of his sweater-wearing freak of a date.
Lily was depressed. She couldn’t eat or sleep. All she could do was think about the smell. It had become an obsession. Lily had decided the smell was very bad and it was her mission, her purpose, to get rid of it. She sensed that Poppy’s very life was in danger.
“I’m sorry,” Poppy whispered as she shut the dog crate. “It’s the only way to keep you from mauling me while Dr. Hugh is here.”
Lily’s amber eyes followed her as she answered the knock at the door.
“Hi! Hey, what did Lily do to deserve solitary confinement?” Hugh spied Lily moping in her crate as he crossed the threshold.
“She’s been compulsively licking my arm. It’s gotten way out of hand. Today she even started scratching at it,” Poppy shamefully admitted.
Enlightenment suddenly dawned on Hugh. “Is this why you’ve been wearing sweaters for the past three weeks when it’s 90 degrees outside?”
Hugh looked concerned. “Can I see your arm? Please?”
Poppy reluctantly pushed up her sleeve to reveal the ruddy mess underneath.
“How long have you had this little mole?”
“I’m not sure, why?”
“I’m not trying to scare you sweetheart, but I think you may have skin cancer. Some dogs can naturally detect cancer in its early stages. After some minor surgery you’ll be fine, but you’re lucky Lily here is so perceptive.”
Poppy’s eyes began to fill with tears as she opened the crate. “Oh, Lily. I’m so sorry. You’re a good, good dog.”
Lily’s tail swished back and forth in relief. At last, her mission was complete.
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