Buddy lived with two humans, devoted to each other. It was always easier getting a pair of them. They kept each other company and did not try to run out as soon as you got ready to leave the house. You weren’t as concerned that they would be lonely in your absence. Those were older and rather quiet. When he had to leave them behind, Buddy usually left the radio on. They seemed to enjoy classical music the most; he kept the volume low.


Kramer saw Buddy from afar and wagged his tail. His humans were rather tall. He too got a pair, for the same reason. Granted, they cost more in food and incidentals but they cuddled together, played and worked side by side, and seemed generally content with their lot. Sometimes, you really got the impression they were communicating with each other. Kramer had gotten the female a red leather handbag, and she filled it with her possessions and brought it with her everywhere they went. It was really cute. Kramer and Buddy greeted each other and chatted about the derelict house, near the train tracks. It was all anybody could discuss.


Soon, Fifi joined them, with one of her humans. “Where is the fat one?” they inquired. “I left him home,” she replied. “He’s getting slow and I wanted to catch up with you. He can no longer keep up,” she said sadly. “Do you think he’s in pain?” asked Buddy. “I don’t know. He’s slower getting up. It seems to be his hip. I put painkillers in his food, but he knows. He eats all around it but won’t take the pill. I have to shove it down his throat.” They chuckled sympathetically. “She’s fit, though,” they continued, pointing at the female. Like Fifi, she was well-groomed and perky, the pride of the pack. Kramer’s male paid her lots of attention. His female looked bored. They walked together, talking.


Buddy was on his way to the groomer’s. He grew shaggy between haircuts and was overdue. That explained why he had left his humans behind. It was better for them to stay in the comfort of their homes. They got bored at the groomer’s, and started pestering him before too long. He had learnt his lesson. Still, he felt awkward walking by himself and was glad for the company. They headed in the same direction, commenting on the interactions between their humans. When you had nothing to say, you could always laugh at your human’s antics.


They passed by Laika’s home. Laika was a beautiful dalmatian, tall and elegant. Her humans were well-behaved. She had three, which was a handful. She had kept an offspring. It was often a good idea, because the parents tended to be less trouble after a birth. They were more tired, looking after the baby. They got attached very quickly and Laika did not have the heart to take it away from them. She had named the baby girl Pat, a good soft name. The baby did not yet react to it. That was okay, it was a long process with humans, but she was patient.


Buddy detached himself from the group as Kramer and Fifi had decided to go to the park to socialize their humans. They could roam freely there. He hurried along; he hated being late. He still had to go past the derelict house, which he dreaded. It was an eyesore. Humans had taken over, and the grounds were infested with squirrels. From the corner of his eye, he saw a curtain move. A human was looking out from the upstairs window. He seemed sad. One would be, without a good dog to take care of you.


He should bring the matter up again at the next town meeting. This state of affairs should not be allowed to go on. The humans were teenagers, at that difficult age when you are full of energy and need a firm hand to guide you. Sometimes they could be seen roaming at night, slinking in shadows looking for food. Next thing you know, more would join in and they would start making trouble. He sighed. Rocky had been a hermit, and it took the townsfolk a while to realize he had passed away. In the meantime, a posse had formed, whose sole interest seemed to be to rile the good citizens of Dogsville. A few of the humans were on the porch, smoking. They had spotted him; he could hear them talking in low voices. One whistled at him, derisively. “Here, boy,” barked another. His body stiffened, his ears perked up, but he did not look their way. He would not give them that satisfaction. He was suddenly self-conscious of his long unkempt coat. He gladly stepped into the groomer’s store with its tinkling bell and its “No humans allowed” sign.


“Good day,” he said to no one in particular. They were all in various states of grooming, getting bathed and shampooed, trimmed or pedicured. It smelled nice and there was always an abundance of treats and snacks. The service was excellent – everyone kept coming here, even though the neighborhood was going to the humans. “Hey, Buddy,” said the owner. They had known each other since they were pups, had rolled in the mudholes together and fought over girls. “You’re overdue for your trim,” he said reproachfully. But then, “How is your baby girl?” He took out pictures. Everybody huddled around to have a look. “They’re so cute when they’re small.” “Look at her little toes,” said another. “It makes you want to adopt,” said a third, amongst the general oohs and ahhhs. He smiled proudly, basking in reflected glory. “She’s starting to crawl,” he announced. “Better keep out of the way. Her teeth will be coming out soon!” They laughed. “Are you getting enough sleep?” “It’s a challenge,” he admitted, as he settled down for his shampoo. All his cares washed away. Even the threat of the teenagers felt moot.

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