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The Dog Who Wanted A Person Part 8

An hour before dawn, a sharp chill in the air telling of the nearness of winter, Huleekalabulee and Toshiro ate the last of Cassius’s kibble and walked through the gravestones to a big iron gate at the downhill edge of the graveyard. They crawled under the gate and found themselves in a neighborhood of two and three-story apartment buildings, some old and stately, some more recently built and resembling stacked boxes, the wide streets framed with sidewalks.

“The land of no trees,” said Huleekalabulee, sorrowfully. “Maybe I don’t want to live at the beach. I dearly love trees. The more the merrier.

“I, too, love trees and open country,” said Toshiro, wary of this treeless place. “I wouldn’t mind living where Cassius lives. But first we will walk on the beach and then we’ll see what the fates have in store for us.”

The streets of apartment buildings gave way to a commercial district of two-story buildings with shops on the ground floors, apartments on the second floors. Huleekalabulee and Toshiro saw a young woman unlocking the front door of a bakery. She turned to watch the two handsome hounds go by and she called out to them, her voice full of music and kindness, and both Huleekalabulee and Toshiro felt sure she would not call Animal Control.

“I like her voice,” said Huleekalabulee, looking back at the woman. “Maybe she would like to be my person.”

“Go to her and see,” said Toshiro, resolutely. “But I’m going to the beach, with or without you.”

“No,” said Huleekalabulee, nudging Toshiro. “I’m with you.”

Beyond the streets of shops, Huleekalabulee and Toshiro found themselves in a neighborhood of all sorts of houses on wide streets without sidewalks, the ocean roaring faintly in the distance. Some of these houses were large, some small, some old, some new. Some of the houses had yards with trees and gardens, and some of the houses were so large they filled their lots entirely.

“Fascinating mix of abodes,” said Toshiro, looking every which way. “Speaks of all kinds of different kinds of people living around here. And the air is rich with the scents of myriad dogs and cats. Thus we may deduce that animal people abound here.”

They stopped in front of an old two-story house with red trim around the windows and a turquoise front door, a big cypress tree in the backyard, the large grassy lot surrounded by a low fence.

“Now wouldn’t this be a nice place to settle down,” said Huleekalabulee, imagining living there.

“Fat chance,” said a medium-sized black and tan mutt with pointy ears. “I got this turf covered. Move along now or I’ll start yapping.”

“Yap not, brother,” said Toshiro, speaking quietly to quell the dog’s impulse to bark. “We were merely admiring your good fortune.”

“If you like cats,” said the dog, grimly. “Mimi, that’s my person, has seven of those slinky felines. Can you imagine? Seven. Large. I’m seriously outnumbered and always the last one fed, the last one petted. You hounds going to the beach? Better hurry. Once the sun comes up, Animal Control starts cruising the coast road looking for dogs without people.”

“Might we hide in your yard after we’ve seen the sea?” asked Huleekalabulee, hopefully. “We’d be as still as stones and quiet as mice.”

“Sorry,” said the mutt, shaking his head. “Mimi hates stray dogs. Years ago she lost a favorite kitty to a vagabond hound. Only reason she keeps me is she inherited me from her daughter Katrina when Katrina went off to college. I’d give you the long version but you better get going. Sun will be up in an hour.”

So Huleekalabulee and Toshiro hurried away, their progress punctuated by barks and growls from sequestered dogs responding to the scents of strangers.

*

At last they came to the beach, a wide expanse of sand stretching far to the south and even farther to the north. Huleekalabulee recognized the glorious vistas and oceanic odors from his visits here with Mom and Jurgen and Venus, and he raised his snout to the lingering half-moon and moaned in memory of those halcyon days.

For Toshiro’s part, when he felt the sand beneath his paws, he burst into song.

I’ve dreamt of you most every night

Through thick and thin and countless plights

But nothing that I ever dreamed

Could match the real you

Then Huleekalabulee and Toshiro ran together to the edge of the sea and gamboled in the welcoming waves before they trotted north for a mile or so, chasing gulls, racing each other, running for the pure joy of running.

Happily winded, they reversed direction and walked south for a while, finally sitting down side-by-side to watch in wonder as the sun brought color to the world and the ocean changed from gray to blue.

“This takes the cake of all cakes,” said Huleekalabulee, gazing at the endless waves spending themselves on the shore. “No wonder I want to live here.”

“I am fulfilled,” said Toshiro, sighing profoundly. “It matters not what happens now, for my dreams have become reality.”

Toshiro then walked a few paces toward the water, turned to face Huleekalabulee, and performed a ceremonial dance full of graceful turns.

When his dance was done, Toshiro said, “You, dear Huleekalabulee, judging me worthy of your friendship, guided me here, for which I will be forever thankful.”

Moved by Toshiro’s words and dance, Huleekalabulee walked a few paces away from Toshiro, turned to face him, rose up on his hind legs, spun around in a circle, and then bowed low to his valiant friend.

And as the hounds performed these rituals of thanksgiving, a man was watching them with binoculars from the deck of his house overlooking the beach.

“Honey,” said the man, calling through the open door to his wife who was in the kitchen making coffee. “You must come see these two remarkable dogs.”

His wife came out to him and together they watched Huleekalabulee bow to Toshiro, and Toshiro bow to Huleekalabulee.

“If they don’t have tags,” said the man, his eyes full of tears, “I want them.”

“Me, too,” said his wife. “You call them while I find some enticing comestibles.”

*

And that is how Huleekalabulee and Toshiro came to live with Edward and Fiona in the wooden house overlooking the beach. Those two dogs, let me tell you, were as happy as two dogs could ever be and had so many adventures together it would take a very fat book to recount them all, for both Huleekalabulee and Toshiro lived to ripe old ages.

Not that Edward and Fiona didn’t have other animals. They certainly did. Their old dachshund Desdemona slept under their bed, their enormous black cat Juneau was queen of the living room sofa, their tortoise Warp 5 spent his daytime hours patrolling the backyard dune grass, and their sassy red and green parrot Buckminster Fuller lived in a gigantic cage in the sunniest corner of the kitchen.

But in the grand scheme of things, Huleekalabulee and Toshiro were definitely the apples, so to speak, of Edward and Fiona’s eyes.

fin

one of the times Rex came to visit

Todd and Marcia perform Beautiful

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The Dog Who Wanted A Person Part 7

Their tummies and saddlebags full of Cassius’s kibble, Huleekalabulee and Toshiro bade the gracious old hound adieu and skedaddled from the stables before the horse people arrived for the day.

Encountering no traffic, they raced along the road to the pullover and made their way down a slender trail through brittle brush to a narrow creek bed, the creek barely a trickle as Cassius had foretold.

“I’m always enormously relieved to get off a road, aren’t you?” said Toshiro, stopping to have a drink from a pool of water.

“Roads are death to dogs and cats and all living things,” said Huleekalabulee, quoting his mother. “Not to mention being hard on the paws.”

“Roads are somebody else’s idea of how to go,” said Toshiro, listening to the leaves of the maple trees clatter in a sudden breeze. “I prefer finding my own way.”

“I appreciate the suggestion of a trail,” said Huleekalabulee, watching sunlight touch the tops of the trees. “Rather than something set in stone.”

“So tell me, friend,” said Toshiro, as they made their way downstream. “Why are you going to the beach?”

“Well,” said Huleekalabulee, taking a deep breath. “I just turned one and my mom booted me out of her place, so now I’m seeking a home and the requisite person to provide me with that home. From Mom’s house I went to the top of Bullwinkle Butte and looked out over the town and the mountains to the north and south and east of the town, and then I looked to the west and thought if I could live anywhere I’d like to live at the beach. Why? Because Mom’s people used to take my mom and my brother Jurgen and my sister Venus and me to the beach, and we always had a fantastic time chasing balls into the surf and swimming, so… why are you going to the beach?”

“Where to begin?” said Toshiro, looking up at the brightening sky. “I am two. When I was one, the people who got me when I was a wee pup took me way out into the mountains of Colorado and left me there. At first I thought they’d forgotten me and would soon come back, but they didn’t come back, and thus began my wandering.”

“How terrible,” said Huleekalabulee, his heart going out to Toshiro.

“No worse than what happened to you,” said Toshiro, shaking his head. “Abandoned by your own mother. I tell you, my friend, the world is full of abandoned dogs, abandoned cats, even abandoned people. But what can we do? We must try to live.”

“True,” said Huleekalabulee, nodding. “But why the beach?”

“To be continued,” said Toshiro, stopping abruptly. “I think we have come to where Cassius said we would find hiding places galore. And since the sun is now shining brightly, I suggest we find our hiding place for the day.”

Indeed, they had come to where the creek bed widened dramatically and there were willow trees and thickets of shrubs and brambles. After a quick search, they found a commodious space beneath a tangle of blackberry vines, and there they hunkered down for the remaining daylight hours.

*

“So,” said Huleekalabulee when he and Toshiro were sprawled comfortably in their lair. “You were about to tell me why you want to go to the beach.”

“Yes,” said Toshiro, collecting his thoughts. “Unlike you, I have never been to the beach. In fact, I have never even seen the ocean except…” He paused portentously. “In my dreams.”

“You’ve never been to the beach or seen the ocean?’ said Huleekalabulee, dumfounded. “You’ve been wandering for a year and never been to a beach?”

“I have been traveling west since the day I was abandoned,” said Toshiro, nodding gravely. “I have traversed mighty mountain ranges, swam across countless rivers, crossed vast plains and prairies and deserts, my journey guided by my dreams.”

“Wow,” said Huleekalabulee, shaking his head in wonder. “What you’ve done makes my quest seem like a miniscule insignificant itsy bitsy barely anything.”

“Every day is a lifetime,” said Toshiro, solemnly. “Every moment holds a universe of possibilities. Your quest is as grand as mine. You’re just nearer the beginning of yours.”

“But why do you want to go to the ocean?” asked Huleekalabulee, in awe of Toshiro.

“I want to go to the ocean,” said Toshiro, smiling, “to fulfill the imperative of my dreams. Beyond getting to the beach and walking on the sand, I have no plans.”

“You’re not seeking a person?” asked Huleekalabulee, perplexed. “A home? A bed? Food? Affection?”

“First I will walk on the sand and listen to the roaring waves,” said Toshiro, closing his eyes and imagining strolling on the beach. “Then I’ll consider my options.”

“I shall attempt to emulate you,” said Huleekalabulee, pondering Toshiro’s words. “First the beach, then the person.”

*

As dusk descends, Huleekalabulee and Toshiro emerge from the blackberry tangle and continue their journey down the creek bed for another hour until they encounter a tall wall of stone blocking their way, the wall pierced by a large ceramic drain pipe clogged with branches.

“Here we must ascend,” said Toshiro, giving Huleekalabulee a questioning look. “Do we go up the right embankment or the left embankment?”

“Right,” said Huleekalabulee, remembering the wall of stone he and Rex encountered two days ago.

“Why right?” asked Toshiro, squinting curiously at Huleekalabulee.

“Because I hear traffic sounds to the left,” said Huleekalabulee, “and my instinct is to avoid traffic whenever possible.”

“A dog after my own heart,” said Toshiro, leading the way up the embankment. “Right it is.”

And their choice proved propitious for they found themselves inside the graveyard Rex told Huleekalabulee to seek.

“Ah,” said Toshiro, surveying the vast sloping field dotted with crosses and gravestones. “A burial ground. I wonder why Rex told you to come here.”

“He said this was the last place on our way to the beach where he was certain we could find a safe place to sleep until the hour before dawn. From here, he said, we must try to reach the beach before sunrise.”

“Ooh I love the idea of being on the beach at sunrise,” said Toshiro, excitedly. “Let’s find a good place to while away the hours swapping stories.”

They found a nice spot in a grove of Japanese maples overlooking the town below, lights going on in myriad houses as the sun went down.

“So,” said Toshiro, lying on his back as the first stars of the evening came into the sky, “what’s the most exciting thing that ever happened to you, Huleekalabulee?”

“Until a couple days ago,” said Huleekalabulee, thinking back over his life, “I would have said going to the beach with my mom and sibs was by far the most exciting thing that ever happened to me. But now I’d say it was when I practiced animal husbandry with a beautiful hound named Mona.”

“Ooo la la,” said Toshiro, bouncing his eyebrows. “You lucky hound, you.”

“How about you?” asked Huleekalabulee, sighing at memories of Mona. “What’s the most exciting thing that ever happened to you?”

“Oh heavens,” said Toshiro, pondering the question. “So many exciting moments to choose from. But I suppose nothing can quite compare to the time I slid down a snow-covered mountainside, landed in a raging river and was swept downstream for several miles to a rocky beach where I was pursued by a huge brown bear. I outran the raging beast to the top of a ridge, raced down a dirt road and came to a cabin where a man chopping wood stopped chopping and picked up his rifle to shoot at me, the bullets missing me by inches.”

“It’s a miracle you’re alive,” said Huleekalabulee, gazing in wonder at Toshiro.

“It’s a miracle any of us are alive,” said Toshiro, nodding sagely. “Every day a gift, every moment a universe of possibilities.”

“Hey maybe we’ll find a person who wants both of us,” said Huleekalabulee, smiling at the thought of sharing the rest of his life with Toshiro.

“Maybe so,” said Toshiro, yawning. “But also maybe not. Only time will tell.”

Mystery Jump

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The Dog Who Wanted A Person Part 4

Leaving Drago and Killer dining on bloody steaks, Rex and Huleekalabulee resumed their trek via the creek bed in high spirits, having been informed by Drago and Killer that the person who used to raise goats is now raising ostriches and is therefore no longer shooting dogs because ostriches can easily kick the poop out of even the most enormous dogs.

“What a relief,” said Rex, stopping to have a drink from a pool of water. “I wasn’t looking forward to crawling on my belly through dense undergrowth for half-a-mile, and now we’re just rollin’ along, singin’ a song, side by side.”

“Are we sure Drago and Killer know of what they speak?” asked Huleekalabulee, having a quick drink, too.

“Drago and Killer might be vicious,” said Rex, sniffing the air. “But they know the lay of the land.”

“So…” said Huleekalabulee, clearing his throat, “at the outset of our collaboration you mentioned your motives for joining me, for which I am most grateful, were not entirely altruistic. Care to elaborate?”

“Ah,” said Rex, walking on. “Yes. Well. As I’m sure you’ve sensed, I am not fixed, which means I am still called to pursue females of our species, and I have it on good authority that across the road from the park where we’re going there lives a lovely hound ripe for motherhood. This comely dame, so say my sources, has no interest in lesser dogs. Thus I thought to present myself to her and see if she might be inclined to trip the light fantastic with me.”

“I see,” said Huleekalabulee, choosing his words carefully. “And I, as I’m sure your proboscis has informed you, am also not yet fixed, but I swear to you I shall not interfere in your courtship.”

“Appreciate that, Huleekalabulee,” said Rex, picking up the pace. “Thus we shall not have to fight.”

*

They arrived at the park an hour before sunset, and seeing no park rangers lurking about, Rex and Huleekalabulee crossed a neglected baseball field to a copse of alders transected by a burbling brook where they hunkered down in a grotto formed by the propitious coming together of four massive boulders.

Shedding their saddlebags, they refreshed themselves with long drinks from the brook and then followed their noses to the ranch across the road from the park where a large lovely female hound awaited her suitors.

A four-year-old Lab Malamute with big black eyes, silvery brown fur, and a fabulous physique, she was exactly Huleekalabulee’s size. And when the lovely hound smelled and heard and finally saw Rex and Huleekalabulee approaching, she came halfway down her driveway to see what the winds of fate had blown her way.

“Well well well,” she said, her lip curling to show fang. “Finally some big handsome fellows come to court Mona. But what else besides good looks have you got to recommend yourselves? I’ve waited four years and I’ll wait another four before I’ll have the pups of louts.”

“I like a female who speaks her mind and speaks it well,” said Rex, his tail held high in honor of Mona’s charms. “My name is Rex. My father was a mighty Ridgeback, my mother a brilliant Chocolate Lab. Our children will be big and strong and handsome, and good swimmers, too. I’ve battled a puma and lived to tell the tale, never been sick a day in my life, and you, my darling, are very much my type.”

“Got it,” said Mona, turning to Huleekalabulee. “What’s your spiel, kiddo?”

“Oh gosh. I’m just a one-year-old questing for a person,” said Huleekalabulee, blushing. “Rex is showing me the ropes as I make my way to the ocean. I’m greatly drawn to large bodies of water and not really looking to…”

“What’s your name?” she asked, a tender quiver in her voice.

“Huleekalabulee,” he said, smiling shyly. “You’d do well to hook up with Rex. He’s kind and generous and strong and intelligent and…”

“Did you say… Huleekalabulee?” said Mona, breathing hard. “Say it again.”

“Huleekalabulee,” he said softly. “Huleekalabulee.”

“Zounds,” she said dreamily. “What are you… some kind of Serbo Croatian mesmerist?”

“Not that I’m aware of,” said Huleekalabulee, lost in the depths of Mona’s big brown eyes. “My mother was a Golden Retriever and my father was a big brown mutt. But if I could choose my father, he would be Rex.”

“Noted,” said Mona, glancing at Rex before returning her gaze to Huleekalabulee. “Tell you what. I’ll weigh my options and you two come back tomorrow morning and we’ll see what develops.”

“I shall barely sleep,” said Rex, bowing gallantly, “as I await your decision, dear Mona.”

“Whereas I will sleep like a log,” said Huleekalabulee, disingenuously. “Because I am definitely not in your league, Mona. No howl, no way.”

*

Settling down for the night, lulled by the burbling brook, Huleekalabulee and Rex drifted off to sleep, Rex dreaming of Mona, Huleekalabulee dreaming of…

Huleekalabulee’s eyes popped open as a tantalizing scent set his nostrils a’quiver. He listened to Rex snoring sonorously and deduced the old dog’s sniffer was not what it used to be.

With the stealth of a cat, and almost-but-not-quite against his will, Huleekalabulee got up to investigate the source of the irresistible scent. He walked out of the alder copse, and there on the outfield of the neglected baseball field, her silvery coat shimmering in the moonlight, stood magnificent Mona.

Huleekalabulee approached her, his tail wagging furiously. She touched her nose to his, her tail wagging with equal enthusiasm. Then they sniffed each other from head to toe, gave each other several sweet kisses, and Mona said in a deep husky voice, “Now’s the time, Sweet Stuff. Time your love came tumbling down.”

*

Rex woke at dawn to find Huleekalabulee sprawled nearby, snoring loudly.

Ah youth thought Rex, recalling how soundly he used to sleep when young and exhausted after a long day of running and playing. This is my chance to make time with the lovely Mona unencumbered by my young companion.

So Rex had a good long drink from the brook, and as the morning sun painted the treetops golden, he crossed the road to Mona’s driveway and waited for her to come out to him.

After a short infinity, lovely Mona emerged from a dog door onto the front porch, her sweet smile giving Rex the impression she wanted to mate with him.

But then she said softly, “Dear Rex, had you been a few years younger I would have chosen you. But I was drawn to younger blood. Forgive me.”

“Nothing to forgive,” said Rex, smiling bravely. “I appreciate your kind words. Adieu.”

“Oh Rex?” said Mona, calling after him. “Take good care of that young friend of yours. He’s really something special.”

“I think so, too,” said Rex, feeling a surge of paternal pride. “Today I’ll guide him to the park beyond this one and then loose him upon the world.”

“The park beyond this one,” said Mona, reverently. “Safe travels.”

One Fell Swoop

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The Dog Who Wanted A Person Part 3

His route to the ocean decided upon, Huleekalabulee bid Myron and Zazu adieu, made the next right onto a two-lane road sans sidewalks, and trotted north along a slender footpath adjacent to the road.

“I love this place,” said Huleekalabulee, smiling at puffy white clouds in the cerulean sky. “All this open space and trees and fields and orchards and hills and dales. Who wouldn’t want to live around here?”

Having said this, he came to a winding drive leading to a big red farmhouse, and halfway up that drive sat a big old hound, a chocolate brown ridgeback, gazing intently at Huleekalabulee.

“Hello,” said Huleekalabulee, stopping at the mouth of the drive. “Are you by chance Rex, friend of Myron?”

“Who wants to know?” asked the old hound, his voice deep and rumbly.

“I’m Huleekalabulee,” said Huleekalabulee. “I’m a one-year-old searching for a person to call my own. Just had a long chat with Myron about the good long way to the beach. He said he got his info from you. If you’re Rex.”

“I am Rex,” said the old hound, standing up and walking stiffly down the winding drive until he was a few feet away from Huleekalabulee. “Kind of late in the cuteness game to be looking for a person, aren’t you?”

“Maybe so,” said Huleekalabulee, nodding. “But I remain optimistic. Seems to be my nature.”

“You abandoned?” asked Rex, squinting at Huleekalabulee. “Happens to lots of one-year-olds. Once the cute puppy phase passes and poop fatigue sets in… the shelters are full of youngsters. Most humans, if you’ll pardon my French, are fickle as merde.”

“Even so, I’ve got to try,” said Huleekalabulee, bravely. “It was very nice meeting you, Rex. Myron spoke highly of you. I’d love to keep chatting, but I want to get to the park before dark and find a place to spend the night.”

“Good plan,” said Rex, sitting down to give his right ear a good scratching. “Only there’s a problem.”

“What’s the problem?” asked Huleekalabulee, innocently.

“Between here and the park,” said Rex, ceasing his scratching, “live two vicious farm dogs who would surely do you harm, and if you somehow manage to get by those two, there’s a crazy human who raises goats and therefore shoots unfamiliar dogs. With a gun. Kills them. Dead. Kapish?”

“So what do you recommend?” asked Huleekalabulee, shivering at the thought of vicious dogs and death. “Myron said this was the safer way to get to the ocean?”

“Well it is,” said Rex, now scratching his left ear.

“Therefore?” said Huleekalabulee, waiting expectantly.

“I’ll come with you,” said Rex, nodding to affirm this. “You seem like an affable mutt and you’re a fine conversationalist and I haven’t been to the park since spring. Be nice to see the leaves changing. Hold on a sec while I get my kit.”

“Wow,” said Huleekalabulee, greatly relieved. “This is very kind of you, Rex.”

“My motives are not entirely altruistic,” said Rex, trotting up the winding drive to the farmhouse. “I’ll explain later. For now, I suggest you hide in the bushes until I return. Humans around here are wary of dogs they haven’t seen before and are quick to call Animal Control.”

So Huleekalabulee stepped behind a bush, and luckily so, because while he waited for Rex, three pickup trucks went by, each with a large dog riding shotgun and looking for trouble, or so Huleekalabulee surmised.

“Here I am,” said Rex, outfitted with well-worn saddlebags. “We’ll go via the creek bed and stay out of sight of the road until Drago’s Farm. Creek’s but a trickle this time of year.”

“Sure is beautiful around here,” said Huleekalabulee, trotting along behind Rex and noting the old dog’s stiffness had disappeared. “Do you think your person might possibly want another dog in the family?”

“Sorry,” said Rex, glancing back at Huleekalabulee. “I’ll be Louise’s last dog. She tells me so evenings of late when the peach brandy loosens her tongue and she pokes at the fire with her long stick. ‘I’m old, Rex,’ she says with a plaintive sigh. ‘If I’m still alive when you’re gone, I’ll sell the place and move into my daughter’s guest house and have a cat or two.’”

“How old are you?” asked Huleekalabulee. “If you don’t mind my asking.”

“I don’t mind,” said Rex, stopping to sniff the news at a local pissing spot. “I’m soon to be twelve. Hey get a load of this.”

Huleekalabulee sniffed where Rex was sniffing.

“Good grief,” said Huleekalabulee, alarmed by the pungent scent. “Who the heck is that?”

“That’s puma piss,” said Rex, wrinkling his nose. “Ever seen a puma?”

“Not that I’m aware of,” said Huleekalabulee, his hackles on the rise. “What’s a puma?”

“Mountain lion,” said Rex, looking for other signs of the mighty feline. “Giant cat. Bigger than moi. Fought one once when I was five. He killed three of Louise’s chickens, then he killed my good friend Cecil, a Boston Terrier poodle, and then before he ran away, he gave me a gash on my snout the scar from which still aches on cold nights.”

“Yikes,” said Huleekalabulee, glancing around nervously. “I thought this was the safer way to the beach.”

“It is,” said Rex, chuckling. “Don’t worry. Pumas only attack little dogs. The one who recently pissed here is, I believe, a female, and she won’t mess with two big hounds like us. Trust me. I know my pumas.”

*

A mile further along, Rex explained, “Soon we’ll come to where the creek bed is blocked by a wall of stone atop which runs the road. The drain pipe running through that wall is too small in circumference to accommodate hounds of our height and girth, so we must ascend to Drago’s Farm and traipse along the road for a hundred yards until we are able to descend once more into this commodious creek bed.”

“Is Drago’s Farm where the vicious farm dogs dwell?” asked Huleekalabulee, trying not to panic.

“Indeed,” said Rex, winking at Huleekalabulee. “But they know me and I’ve brought along a treat for them. Fear not. As long as you’re with me, they will not hurt you. But do refrain from making eye contact with them, for they are both easily incited to riot, if you know what I mean.”

“I can contribute turkey jerky to the bribe,” said Huleekalabulee, eager to help.

“We will sup on your turkey jerky tonight,” said Rex, bouncing his eyebrows. “But for these blokes… raw bloody steak.”

And sure enough, upon climbing out of the creek bed and resuming the footpath adjacent to the road, Rex and Huleekalabulee arrive at a gravel driveway guarded by two very large dogs, one a German Shepherd, the other a tawny English Mastiff.

The big dogs come charging down the driveway, murder in their eyes, but when they recognize Rex and see he’s chummy with Huleekalabulee, they slow to a walk, hackles bristling.

“Well if it isn’t old Rex,” said the mastiff, his upper lip curling to reveal fang. “Haven’t seen you in ages. Thought you might have croaked.”

“Hello Drago. Hey Killer,” said Rex, avoiding eye contact with either of them. “I’m still going strong. You’re both looking well.”

“We’re peachy,” growled Killer, the German Shepherd. “Who’s the punk?”

“This is Huleekalabulee,” said Rex, gazing at Huleekalabulee. “For all I know he could be my great grandson, but whoever his progenitors he’s my pal and we’re going to the park. Brought you a couple steaks in thanks for letting us pass unscathed.”

“Hulee what?” said Killer, scrunching up his cheeks.

“Kalabulee,” said Huleekalabulee, looking skyward to avoid eye contact with the dangerous dogs.

“What kind of name is that? Navajo?” said Drago, the mastiff. “Hopi?”

“Maybe,” said Huleekalabulee. “My mother is a Golden Retriever, my father a big brown mutt.”

“Fascinating,” said Killer, studying Huleekalabulee. “You look kind of Italian to me.”

“I was gonna say French,” said Drago, smiling hopefully at Rex. “But whatever his origins, steak sounds divine.”

Lions

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The Dog Who Wanted A Person Part 2

Having escaped the creepy neighborhood of giant houses guarded by professional attack dogs, Huleekalabulee found himself on a street of small cute houses.

“This feels better,” said Huleekalabulee, stopping to pee on a fire hydrant.

“Wouldn’t do that if I were you,” said a sleek brown and white dog sitting on the front porch of a little blue house. “Because unless she’s taking a nap, Mrs. Tuttweiler is probably watching you with binoculars from her front window and ready to call Animal Control if you so much as lift your leg.”

“Darn,” said Huleekalabulee, grimacing. “I really have to go.”

“Note the big hedge about thirty feet further along,” said the brown and white dog. “Duck behind there and Tuttweiler won’t be able to see you.”

“Thanks,” said Huleekalabulee. “Very much appreciate the tip.”

“No problem,” said the brown and white dog. “You seem like an affable mutt. You live around here?”

“Hold that thought,” said Huleekalabulee, dashing to the hedge. “I’ll be right back.”

Having emptied his bladder on the far side of the hedge, Huleekalabulee retraced his steps to chat with the brown and white dog and found the hound sharing his porch with a beautiful shorthaired gray cat.

“The wanderer returns,” said the brown and white dog. “Allow me to introduce myself. I’m Myron. And this is my feline housemate Zazu.”

“Buenos dias,” said Zazu, assessing Huleekalabulee with a practiced eye and sensing no threat. “Como se llama?”

“My given name is Huleekalabulee,” said Huleekalabulee. “But I’m hoping to come up with a shorter more rough-and-tumble name.”

“Good idea,” said Zazu. “Huleekalabulee is a marvelous moniker. If you were a cat, I’d say keep it. But you’re a dog. Thus the music and poetry of your name will be lost on most of your kind. So yeah, let it go.”

“Any suggestions?” asked Huleekalabulee, panting hopefully.

“Do you have any special talents?” asked Myron. “Fast runner? Ferocious fighter? Wily problem solver? Irresistible to the opposite sex?”

“Fairly fast runner, though not exceptional,” said Huleekalabulee, quickly self-assessing. “I had an aggressive older brother, so I’m an excellent fighter but prefer rational discourse for resolving conflicts. I’m smart, but wouldn’t describe myself as wily, and, well, come to think of it, female dogs do seem to like me.”

“Then how about Romeo?” suggested Zazu, batting her eyelashes.

“The problem with Romeo,” opined Myron, “is though females may like that name, males will want to kick your butt for presuming to be some kind of dog’s gift to females.”

“What does your person call you?” asked Zazu, enthusiastically licking her chest.

“I don’t have a person,” said Huleekalabulee. “I’ve just today embarked on a quest to find him or her or them.”

“Whoa,” said Myron, taken aback. “Aren’t you starting your search a little late in the cuteness game? I secured my person when I was a roly-poly cutie pie puppy. And just ten months after Tina adopted me, I was the nondescript brown and white pooch you see before you.”

“Oh I don’t know,” said Huleekalabulee, smiling at Myron. “I think you’re still pretty cute.”

Myron blushed. “Really? You do? Seriously? That’s the first time I’ve had the adjective cute applied to me since, well, since I was the aforementioned cutie pie puppy all those years ago. Wow. Really? You think I’m still pretty cute?”

 “Unquestionably,” said Huleekalabulee, nodding emphatically. “Verging on handsome.”

“You’re a most unusual canine, Huleekalabulee,” said Zazu, admiringly. “Reflexively kind, refreshingly honest, and sweetly encouraging of others. Baby I’m amazed. Pero Myron es correcto. Tina brought me home when I was ten-weeks-old and so cute every time I saw myself in a mirror I’d swoon. Now… not so much.”

“My sibs got chosen when they were cutie pie pups, but not me,” said Huleekalabulee, remembering his brother Jurgen as a pup playing with Mr. Zimbalist who became Jurgen’s person. “I think as far as puppies go I was fairly non-descript. So I guess my person will have to recognize my nobility of spirit and my inner beauty and…”

“Have you been listening to inspirational dog stories?” asked Myron, arching an eyebrow.

“My mom loves those stories,” said Huleekalabulee, feeling nostalgic for Mom and his food bowl and his red tartan dog bed in the garage. “Her people gave her a new Doggie Bedtime Stories CD every Dogmas. So, yeah, maybe I am something of a romantic, but I honestly believe there’s a person or people out there waiting for me, whether he, she, or they know it or not.”

“I wish you good luck,” said Myron, still tingling pleasantly from being called cute. “I’m tempted to suggest you try with our person, Tina, but I won’t because almost every day now when she picks up my poop she says, ‘I will never have another dog.’”

“Poop fatigue,” said Zazu, nodding thoughtfully. “Happens.”

“This has been fun and informative,” said Huleekalabulee, grinning at Myron and Zazu. “I could hang out with you guys all day. But I really should be going. Any advice about the best way to get to the beach from here?”

“Shortest way is to turn left at the next intersection and go straight down the hill through the middle of town,” said Myron, his eyes narrowing. “But that way is so dangerous. Crazy fast cars and gigantic buses and terrifying trucks and hordes of people and gendarmes on every corner. The much safer though longer way is to turn right at the next intersection and skirt the north edge of town. You’ll find two big parks along the way full of places to hide and sleep. Creeks to drink from. Garbage cans full of picnic leftovers. Fields. Forests. Cows. Horses. Sheep. Country dogs. Takes a couple days to get to the beach that way, but that’s how I’d go.”

“Have you made the trek to the beach from here?” asked Huleekalabulee, feeling confused and overwhelmed and on the verge of tears.

“I’ve gone the short way on leash with Tina,” said Myron, nodding. “And I’ve heard detailed descriptions of the long way from Rex. You’ll be going by Rex’s place if you make the next right. Big red farmhouse. Rex is an elderly Australian Ridgeback Chocolate Lab. Tough as nails with a heart of gold. If you see him, please tell him Myron said hello.”

“Bon voyage, Romeo,” said Zazu, yawning majestically. “And now I’m off to the sunny kitchen windowsill for yet another nap.”

Missing You