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.”