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If Dogs Ran The World: Chapters 43 – 49
Chapter 43 Life in the Dog House
That summer was particularly hot in Houston, and that igloo sitting on a concrete pad provided little if no relief from the heat.
One day, I just made up my mind I couldn’t take it another day. I jumped on top of that igloo and began to eye the distance between where I stood and the top of the kennel.
I tried to jump it. Not once, not twice, maybe a hundred tries. But I couldn’t get over. Mama and Tex began to bark at me. “Get down, get down, get down,” they said.
When that didn’t work, Tex raised his voice and began to call for Cook to come out and rescue me. He barked and barked and barked and barked. But Cook never came out of her nice cool, air conditioned kitchen.
Then Mama, in her very senior way, set up a bark that was as insistent as a marching band. Come, come, come, come, she barked, trying to get Cook to come out into the back yard and rescue us from that kennel.
By the end of it, I didn’t much care how it went. Even if it killed me, I was going to bust out of that place. But finally, Cook came out the back door. When she saw me, lying on the hot concrete, she came flying into that kennel.
“My poor baby,” she said. “My poor baby.” I was so hot and exhausted I was just limp and I could barely give her anything but one little lick. My nose was hot and dry. My tongue was lolling out the side of my mouth. My sides were heaving.
She gathered me up in her arms and we went into the back yard where she turned on the garden hose and began to cool me down. Of course, she left the kennel door open and Mama and Tex came out.
They both took a good pee – Tex against his favorite bush and Mama in the flower garden. Then they both worked the perimeter of the fence, just doing their job, making sure we were all safe as if the whole incident with the kennel were just an ugly memory.
Tex backed up to Cook for her to spray him with water. It was that hot. And Mama just stood under that hose and drank water and drank water and drank water.
Cook was holding me as if I were still her favorite baby. I began to come around. We were both crying, apologizing to each other, saying how sorry all this had happened.
I forgave her. She forgave me.
We went into the house. It was air-conditioned cool. We all took more deep drafts from the dog watering bowl in the kitchen. Cook pulled some cold chicken out of the refrigerator and began to divide it among our favorite red dog dishes.
“Too hot for a hot meal, tonight, my great dogs. Just try some of this nice roast chicken.” Then she added some cold tomato and watermelon salad which we thought was just terrific, then some slices of cold cornbread – with gobs of butter.
Nothing ever tasted so good.
While we were eating, Cook sat down in her chair and tried to find a good movie for us all to watch on the television.
But about that time, the man came in.
“Don’t you say one word,” Cook said to him. “Not one damn word. This poor dog nearly jumped himself to death out there in the heat, trying to get out of that kennel.”
The man gave me a look as if to prove that I was the number one trouble maker. Me, Scrappy Barker, known in the family as the nicest little guy in the pack. Who was this man to come into our lives and try to change everything?
I continued to sit on Cook’s lap with a ball in my mouth. Surely, she would relent and begin playing ball with me. That was our special game and we played it every night. Or at least we had played until that awful man showed up.
But no. Looked to me like Cook’s spirit had been broken by that man. She didn’t have any games in her. She was afraid of that man. She needed my protection. I dropped the ball and locked eyes with that awful man.
I gave him a look and started to growl. Then Tex backed me up and began his deep, menacing growl. The growl that said don’t mess with me brother, or you’ll be very sorry. Then Mama joined in with her rhythmic bark that said, get out of here, get out of here, get out of here.
That man was scared. We could all see that. He did not move. He tried to look tough, but he was as easy to read as yesterday’s newspaper. And when we turned our eyes to Cook, we could see she was beginning to read him too.
Maybe she would tell him to hit the trail. Because if she didn’t, it was only a matter of time before something terrible was going to happen.
But Cook waved us away and we all retreated to the dining room and dove under the dining room table to hide from the very sight of that hideous man.
Chapter 44 Scrappy Tells Earnest what happened
Soon, I heard the bing of the d-mail. Someone was trying to reach me.
It was, of course, Earnest, with Sofia on his head, trying to say howdy. “Hey, Bro,” he said, “What’s shaking.”
“Oh you don’t want to hear this, I said.”
“No.” he said. “Tell me.”
“Well today, I just could not take it another minute. I climbed up on top of that ghastly igloo, and tried to jump to the top of the fence.”
“Oh, Bro, you didn’t,” said Earnest.
“I did and I’d do it again. Nobody is locking me up like some criminal. I’m a good dog and I don’t deserve that.”
Earnest was all sympathy. “I know it’s hard, Bro, but just as soon as we dock in Houston, Sofia and I’ll be home. Can’t you just be patient?”
Now as anyone will tell you, there is no breed of dog born with so much patience as a ground hunting dog. We make our living sitting at the top of holes, listening for signs of life then starting to dig and dig and dig until we drag out that varmint, and make the world safe again.
“Don’t talk to me about patience,” I said. I was getting testy.
Here Earnest was, living the life of luxury with his great and good friend Sofia on a huge ocean going vessel where all he had to do was lie in the sun all day, be fed from the Officer’s mess, throw the ball a few times a day with the crew, and basically just be treated like a king. While Tex and Mama and I were locked up in this dog prison, being ignored, abandoned, and abused. It just wasn’t right.
“Let me tell you something,” I said to Earnest. “Do you know what fleas love more than anything?”
“No,” He said.
“They love hot places, like that ‘effin kennel where they can jump all over dogs and drive them insane.
“If you could see the hot spots I have this summer, all from the fleas. Now, I can’t roll in the grass, or jump in the pool, or do any of the normal things. Nor is Cook even looking at us to know whether or not we even have a flea. She just doesn’t care.” I threw my head back and yowled.
“And you want to know another thing? That fancy “self-watering” fountain Cook put in the kennel is broken half the time, so we’re all out here, dying for a drink of water. It just isn’t right.”
“Oh, my poor bro. This IS terrible. I tell you what, when we get back to the docks, we will run all the way home. We can help you get rid of that man, because the moment Cook sees me,” Earnest began to puff out his chest. “She will know who loves her and I will promise her I’ll never leave her again.”
“But would you mean it?” I asked my brother. I was losing faith that he was capable of thinking of anything besides himself and his pleasure.
“For you, my brother?” he said. “Anything. Just anything.”
Chapter 45 where cook collapsed.
But what a miracle, after that man had gone to work the next morning, Cook came out to the kennel and let us out. She got out the flea comb and the spray and went over every one of us, patiently, kindly, getting every flea off of us. Then she put that magic drop between our shoulder blades to kill any recalcitrant fleas or ticks. It was a big relief. She was sitting in a chair next to the kennel. But soon, she had to move the chair next to the house. With the Chinaberry tree gone, it was just unmercifully hot in the back yard. There was no relief anywhere.
Cook did notice the hot spot on Tex’s front paw and rubbed him generously with Udder cream, which made him feel better, a lot better.
Then, one by one, she gave us some deep tissue massage. We were all so happy and sleepy we could not wait for our afternoon nap. It was really hot out there in that midsummer Houston sun.
But with the man gone, we followed Cook into the kitchen. While she started cooking our dinner, we lay down on our favorite places and we were soon snoring and satisfied. Deep in sleep.
I cannot even begin to tell you how happy we were to be back in our own home. Mama curled up in Earnest’s dog bed in the kitchen. Tex stretched out on the cool tile kitchen floor.
As for me? I waited until all was quiet then I went to the dining room and crawled under the dining room table. It was as if nothing had ever happened. I felt like I’d been there every night for my entire life.
I fell fast asleep.
Texas heard it first: the deep clanking of pots and pans. He began to bark, a deep, there’s a problem here, bark. Mama joined him with her rat a tat tat bark.
I flew out from under the dining room table and hurled myself through the kitchen door. I did not know what to expect: the dreaded mailman, a package delivery, a meter reader. An intruder of some kind. I knew it was something bad.
But I could never have guessed how bad.
Cook was laid out on the cool kitchen floor, flat on her back, her eyes about half open, looking for all the world like she was dead. Tex was at her head looking straight into her face. “Wake up,” he barked. “Wake up. Wake up.”
Nothing. Then Mama was on the other side with her insistent rat a tat tat bark.
I knew I could rouse her so I jumped on the middle of her chest and began to lick her face, her cheeks, her nose, her mouth. But she was just gone.
From out of nowhere came the man, his arms full of groceries, shooing us away, waving his arms around, calling her by name. Telling us to get out of the way. He put one arm under her head and raised her to a half sitting position. She moaned a little and we were glad. At least we knew she was alive.
Then the man dialed 911 and began to shout instructions into the phone.
It seemed like forever before we heard someone banging on the front door. What was this? Mama, Tex and I set up a ferocious round of barking. Go away, we said. Go away, go away.
But then the man let them in and not only did three big men in white pants come inside, but they were dragging this little cot on wheels.
All of them got in Cook’s face and began to work on her. One of them called her name, another began to beat her on the chest.
Now that was just about all we could stand. They had laid her out flat on her back on the kitchen floor and now they were just beating on her? We began to scream at the top of our lungs.
One of them looked up at the Man and said, “Can you please just shut the dogs up?”
“I’ll try,” said the man. “But they don’t pay much attention to anything I say.”
“We understand. This is normal for dogs to be upset when their loved one is facing death. We see it all the time.
“But maybe it would be best if you could just get them out of here.”
As if we had any intention of leaving Cook’s side. Tex began his deep “how dare you” bark right into the face of the man, edging up on him like he might just bite his head off. Every hair on him standing out from his neck to his tail. Straight out, as if to say, I mean it buster. And he might have done just that, were it not for the intervention of one of the white legs guys.
He looked straight at us and said in a calm voice, “I know you’re scared about your mistress here. But don’t worry. We are doing everything we can to help her and what we need to do now is move her to the ambulance and get her to the hospital.
“We believe she’s had a heart attack”, he continued, looking right into Tex’s eyes. “We’re on your side, Buddy. We want to save her as much as you do.”
At last, someone who would talk to us as if we made some sense. We began to understand. These men were trying to help Cook. Not to kill her – which it certainly looked like when they had begun sticking needles in her arms, and putting thingies on her fingers, and a mask over her mouth, and laying their head on her chest to listen. Then beating on her chest.
If they asked any one of us to help we would gladly have done anything they asked. Just please save our Cook.
They told the man he should follow in his car, and suddenly, as if the air had been let out of a balloon, we were left at home, alone. Front and back door standing wide open, Food still cooking on the stove. How were we supposed to manage all this?
Chapter 46 Where did they take our Cook?
We did what any Mistress-loving dog would do in the face of cataclysmic danger. We gathered where Cook had fallen and began to stand guard.
Tex curled himself into a tight ball right where she had fallen in front of the stove and willed himself to sleep so that he could follow wherever they were taking her.
Mama leaned up against Tex and got more silent than I had ever seen her. Me? I made a dash for the dining room table and dove under it. I knew if anyone had a chance to reach Cook, I did by reaching out to her through D-mail.
I called to her and called to her. Nothing. I closed my eyes as tight as I could.
Time passed. The light in the kitchen came and went. The stew went from smelling so delicious it made our mouths water to a rancid overcooked smell and finally, when the pot had boiled dry, to a ghastly the-pot-is-on-fire smell.
The fire alarm in the house began screaming and our kitchen was simply bedlam. Smoke pouring out, the alarm screaming. We began to choke on the smoke but none of us would leave the spot where Cook had fallen.
It wasn’t long before fire trucks came whizzing up, firemen came pouring through the open front door and immediately saw the source of all that smoke reaching for the sky out the front door.
One of them opened the back door, the other flung the pot as far as he could into the back yard. The smoke almost immediately began to fade.
But not Tex’s duty to guard our house, our Cook and our very existence. He was more menacing than I’ve ever seen him. Not barking loud but just issuing warnings to all those firemen that they had better get out of our kitchen.
And if that weren’t enough, here came 3 or 4 policemen in blue, asking the firemen what happened?
“Kitchen fire,” said the firemen.
“But something went down here,” that fireman continued. “The front door was standing open, these dogs were barking their heads off. Somebody left this house in a hurry.”
One of the cops went out into the back yard and looked around.
“Car’s still in the driveway. Nothing else is amiss.”
About that time that hideous man came in the front door. The cops and firemen knew he could be trouble. You could see that easy from the way they sized him up.
He tried to explain about Cook, about how she’d been rushed to the hospital, but we were glad to see the cops and the firemen were not about to take his word for it.
They got on their phones and began their own research.
“Why was the front door left wide open?” One of them asked the man.
“And how come you didn’t turn the fire off under the food on the stove?”
“Any trouble here – between you two?” asked another cop, looking into the man’s soul with his eyes.
With that I couldn’t help myself. I just had to pipe up. “Yes, this man is trouble r and he does not belong here.” The cops understood me immediately.
One of them stepped behind the man, put handcuffs on him and escorted him out to the cop car and drove him away.
Tex, Mama and I were so grateful to those cops and firemen we didn’t know what to do. We began to thank them, then one of them checked our water bowl, refilled it, and poured some kibble into a big bowl.
“No reason for you guys to go without your dinner,” they said, patting us on the head and on the rump. We began to calm down.
The cop made another call and then they said, goodbye. The locked the house up good and left us inside. In the dark. With only water and kibble to keep us company.
I don’t know which one of us was more nervous. I spoke right out into the dark. “I want Cook?” We all began to howl at the tops of our voices. What if she died? Then what?
Chapter 47. we contemplate life without our Cook.
We just wanted our Cook home. We wanted our life back. It was that simple.
After all the hubbub had died down, Tex began to speak.” I’ve seen fire and I’ve seen rain,” he said.
“I think I heard Cook sing a song about it,” I piped up.
“No kidding, kids. When that rain started in New Orleans, 10 years ago, and I was just a suckling pup at my mother’s breast, how could I ever have imagined that I’d nearly drown, end up in a row boat, then in a dog crate, then in an airplane along with 700 dogs being rescued.” His mind had begun to wander.
“And then the luck of getting the attention of Cook, who took me home and loved me back to health. How lucky was that.
“And then she went back to the shelter and got Ginger to be my partner and very best friend. Ginger, who had been Miss Virginia, the highly decorated ground hunting champion of the state of Virginia, then high jacked into being a brood bitch in a puppy mill, then discarded once they were done with her and doomed to a kill shelter.
“Where she tore out the wire fencing with her bare teeth and started walking. And then Cook found her too and brought her home for me, because she knows dogs are pack animals and always happier in pairs.”
We could tell it helped Tex to tell his story, over and over, about how he and Ginger had come to live in Cook’s house. We loved hearing it too. That was our story as well. It was our family and Tex told us over and over, how our family came to be.
“If you think Ginger and I are going to let some smelly interloper ruin the rest of our peaceful lives, you have another think coming. This is something worth fighting for.
“And the fact that I still suck on my dog bed like it was my Mama, well you’ll just have to excuse that. And the fact that Ginger still digs humongous holes in the back yard, you’ll just have to forgive that one too. It’s just how we are. Old fears don’t die easily.
“And haven’t we been good parents to you pups? We’re good dogs. Yes we are.
“And nothing, I’m telling you nothing, is ever going to interfere with our happy home again.
“And we are not resigning ourselves to living in a plastic igloo in the broiling sun in a kennel with no shade out behind Cook’s house just because some damn man said we would.
“So we’re going to have to mount some serious campaign to run off that man. He is not good for Cook. He is not good for us. He does not belong in our lovely life. In fact I’m thinking he may have tried to kill Cook.”
“I think the cops have taken him away for good,” I said.
“And the cat? I leave that to you my dear Ginger. You were not named the best ground hunting champion for the state of Virginia for nothing. You’ll know what to do.
“That cat has to go.”
Tex reached up to the top of his head where he could still feel the scar from the cat claw right between his eyes.
“Yes,” he said. “The cat has to go.”
“We’ve got to get some order back in this house,” said Tex.
“Our cook will not want to come back to us until we get some order,” He threw back his head and howled.
Mama and I immediately joined him in the longest, most mournful crying you ever heard outside a den of wolves on a moonless night. We wanted our Cook back. We wanted our lives back.
“But what if our dear Cook is dead? What will become of us?” I asked again.
Chapter 47 strangers come into the kitchen.
Before long, the blue pants guys, the cops, came back and bringing along another stranger, this one smelling suspiciously like the dog catcher.
“There they are,” we heard the cop who had given us food and water say.
Tex and Ginger immediately started their most serious –get away from me- growl.
Me? I just remained hidden under the dining room table.
“Wasn’t there another one?”
“Maybe he went out into the back yard,” and with that they opened the back door. Tex and Ginger shot out of that door as fast as they could and made for the kennel.
Once inside, they hid deep inside their dog igloos.
The cop and the animal control guy tried everything they could do to get them out. Nothing worked. So finally, they just locked the kennel.
“They’ll come out when they get hungry,” said the Cop. “Let’s just wait ‘em out. We can come back tomorrow.”
And with that, they went back inside, locking the back door behind them, then walked through the front door, locking it as well.
I was still under the dining room table. I guess they didn’t see me at all. I began to howl. I wanted my mama and my Uncle Tex. So near and yet so far.
Of course, Earnest and Sofia heard me and piped up from across the world on the D-Mail.
“Bro,” said Earnest in his most soothing voice. “Don’t worry, Bro. We’ll help you get out of this?”
“What can you do? You are half way across the world with Sofia. And I’m locked in this dark house, and I’m afraid Cook is dead, and that awful man has been taken to jail and Tex and Mama are locked up in the kennel. This is awful.
“What can you do?” I asked.
Earnest spoke in his most soothing voice. “The first thing you have to do is calm down.” he said. I don’t know why I believed him, but I did.
And momentarily the dogs in the kennel calmed down and I knew Earnest had spoken to them too.
All we had to do was wait it out. And we were all ground hunting dogs whose biggest attribute was patience. We could wait.
There was water and food on the floor in the kitchen. My mother and my Uncle Tex were right outside.
Something would happen. We would be freed.
I thanked Earnest for his call, then I closed my eyes and slept.
The man came home first. Miraculously, he opened the kennel door and invited the dogs into the kitchen to eat. They came in and we all fell on the food he put into our dishes. Of course, it was nothing but that awful kibble, but it was something.
We heard someone at the front door and that scared us, so, we all dove under the dining room table. The man invited the cop to come inside and they were talking about something. The man took some papers from him. He signed the papers. Then, the cop left and we were left, huddled under the dining room table where we felt reasonably sure we were safe from the man. He was about the last person we ever wanted to see. The last.
He paced around the kitchen, grabbing stuff out of the refrigerator to make himself a ham sandwich. He left the milk on the kitchen table. And the half loaf of bread, and all the ham.
Then we heard him talking on the telephone. “Mrs. Carr Buncle?” we hear him say. “I need you to come over here and clean this filthy house. The lady of the house is coming home from the hospital and this house must be clean for her.”
He muttered other things into the phone, but we just hid under the table and listened.
Eventually, he slammed the front door and left. It was very quiet. Ginger whispered to Tex. “Are you hungry?’ she asked.
“Starved,” he said.
“I can smell steak,” I said. “And bread.”
Ginger came out from the table first. She had always been the quietest and most efficient food-napper in our family. She went to the kitchen, climbed up on the kitchen table and nosed around.
“Come and get it, boys,” she called. “She was already tearing into the steak.
Tex and I weren’t far behind. We joined her in the kitchen. Now she was nosing into a bag for the bread. We jumped up there too and made quick work of the ham and bread.
In our haste, somebody knocked the milk over and it began to run onto the floor. That was alright. The floor was tile, and we all jumped down and licked it up. Before we were through, no one would even know there had been any milk spilt at all.
About that time, we heard the man coming in the back door with Mrs. Buncle. She was carrying mops and brooms and a jug of something. He was carrying a vacuum cleaner.
“Phew,” she said, screwing up her nose. “You can tell that dogs live here,” she said. “This house smells to high heaven. But don’t worry. I’ll clean it right up.”
The man tried to introduce us to the cleaning lady, but we couldn’t see why.
Mrs. Buncle was a thin, sour-smelling excuse for a person. Her clothes just hung on her and every time she got close, we got a whiff of body odor that we were sure could only come from a witch. Besides which, she had a nose as long as your arm, and her legs were only half covered by stockings which she rolled down from time to time.
The man didn’t stick around for long. He slammed the front door on his way out. “I’m going to pick up the Missus,” he said.
“Don’t worry,” said Mrs. Buncle. “By the time you get back, you won’t even recognize this place.”
She was spraying some awful smelling stuff out of a can into the air and it made us all sneeze. Why did humans love those awful smells so much? It was a mystery.
We all hid under the dining room table, certain that she’d never find us. We could hear her slamming around in the kitchen, muttering to herself. “Who spilled the milk?” she asked.
We looked at each other. We shrugged our shoulders, trying to be as quiet as possible.
Soon the most awful smell came drifting in the air. Even worse than the spray. Mrs. Buncle had covered the kitchen floor with some awful smelling potion, and soon was soon mopping away. She had picked up the paper wrapper from the bread and ham and tossed them into the trash.
We felt sure she blamed the man for that. She had no idea we had any part in it.
In fact, we felt so secure in our hiding spot, we believed the cleaning lady didn’t even know we were in the house. She moved from the kitchen to the bathroom where she splashed more of that horrid smelling stuff on the floor. Mama began to cough, it smelled so bad.
Then she moved to Cook’s bedroom and she started up that awful vacuum cleaner. It made a terrible noise and we all became restless under the table. Then the worst thing happened. Mrs. Buncle vacuumed her way into the living room and began cleaning right up to the edge of the dining room table, trying to kill us with that machine.
Tex could not stand it another moment. He stormed out from under the table and began to attack that machine. Now that scared the cleaning lady and she ran back into the kitchen. We came out too and joined Tex in his attack of the vacuum cleaner.
Surely, if we worked together we could kill it. But before we knew it, back came the cleaning lady wielding the biggest broom I had ever seen. The first thing she did was unceremoniously strip the cloth off the table. Now, we had no place to hide.
And she began chasing us around the room, waving that broom like she was going to kill us all. It was very upsetting. In fact, Tex was so distressed he just humped up and took a big dump right at the back door. That would show her.
But all that did was make her more angry. She brought in a whole roll of paper towels and began to pick up the poop, screaming at us at the top of her voice.
Then she opened the back door and we ran out, quite happy to escape Mrs. Buncle and her terrible machines. We ran as fast as we could to our igloos out in the dog run. We jumped into one of the homes and got way in the back where it was dark and quiet.
As soon as she slammed the dog run door shut, we began to laugh our heads off. It was, after all, pretty funny, to have chased the cleaning lady until her face was blood red.
We could see her from the safety of the dog run. She threw our dog beds out into the back yard. She ran that infernal machine until she killed it, then silence for a long time, and then she poured the mop water out into the back yard and the smell wafted it out into our kennels. Ugh.
When would Cook come home and restore some order to our lives? This was just awful.
Eventually, the man came back and invited us to come into the house. “Your mistress is coming home and she said she wants to see you.”
We tiptoed into the house. The kitchen floor stunk to high heaven with that poison the cleaning lady had splashed on the floor. In the living room, our table was bare, because she had removed the dining room table cloth. How would we ever retrieve D-mails. That horrid cleaning lady had taken away our screen when she removed the table cloth.
The carpet even smelled ghastly because she sprinkled some awful smelling powder on it before she ran the vacuum. And there was not a dog bed to be seen anywhere in the house. What was wrong with that woman? Had she no shame, just dismantling all our favorite things like that?
But at least the cleaning lady had taken all her death-dealing equipment with her when she left. There were no mops or brooms, or vacuums, stinking up the place.
But it was so different and we could not stand the smell coming up from those floors. Chemicals. Just chemicals. That’s all we could smell.
And in the kitchen? Not one dog bed in sight there either. No toys or balls in the basket. Everything just scrubbed, wiped clean and dead. It did not bear much resemblance to the comfortable home that Cook kept for us.
But surely when Cook got home, she would make it home again.
Chapter 48 Cook comes home.
The sound of Cook’s voice woke me up. I had been curled up behind the sofa with Tex and Mama. We were all trying to sleep away this nightmare. Sleep seemed our only respite.
But then we heard the sound of Cook’s voice. Yes, she was coming in the front door, or rather she was being wheeled into the front door. In a wheel chair with a white legged attendant pushing.
This was pretty shocking, but I was so glad to see her, I ran to her and jumped into her lap.
“Oh my sweet Scrappy. I’m so glad to be home,” and she began covering me with kisses.
“You have no idea how horrible it was here without you,” I said, calling and barking and wiggling and kissing. But now, I thought, this horrible nightmare is about to be over.
The person in the white pants shook Cook’s hand, helped her to a chair, then pushed out the wheelchair and was gone.
I began to alert Tex and Mama that Cook was home. They began their most ardent call of welcome to her. Tex had been so cautious he was even afraid to come out from behind the sofa. And, of course, Ginger had stuck by his side. Just as she always did.
But once he saw the coast was clear, Tex was all over Cook too.
Mama jumped into Cook’s lap when she sat in chair. They dug some peppermints out of Cook’s pocket and began to eat them, wrapper and all.
But Tex had more urgent business. He began to sniff Cook all over. “Where have you been? What did they do to you? Are you alright?” He asked with every deep draft of her that he could take in with his nose.
She patted him on the head. “Don’t worry, my darling, Tex. Everything will be alright now. We’re here together. Nothing can tear us apart. Not ever again.”
Then she got up and went to her computer in the kitchen and we all arranged ourselves around her on the floor. We were content. All was as if nothing had ever happened. Or so it seemed.
Chapter 49 The dogs wonder why some people and some dogs don’t like other dogs?
As the days passed, Cook got stronger, and we got more content. Cook put the table cloth back up. She bought us a new set of tennis balls. She began cooking for us and we had hot food to eat every night. Settling into our lives. The man was blessedly absent. We didn’t know where he was. We just hoped he never came back.
We knew Earnest was on his way home. In the afternoons when Cook would lie down on the back sofa just outside the kitchen door, we began regular visits with Earnest and Sofia. We’d lie under the dining room table, our rumps and tails wagging. Inside the dark shade of that table, the D-mail would light up and Earnest and Sofia would fill us in on where they were, how many more days until they got home to Houston and what presents they were bringing us from their big round-the-world trip.
“Today we landed in Vera Cruz,” said Earnest one day, sounding more excited than ever.
“So what’s in Vera Cruz?” I asked, not really that interested. Just trying to make contact with my globe-trotting brother.
And then he told us.
“I guess I’ve just seen too much,” he said.
“What?” we asked.
“The dogs here on the dock are so thin and desperate, and they keep circling me and asking me how I got so fat.
“What can I say?” we could just see our adorable brother, Earnest with his little short legs and his scruffy fur.
“And I hardly know how to answer. And this afternoon, one of those big wild dogs came at me and took a big bite out of my rump. If it hadn’t been for Sofia, I know they could have killed me.”
“Oh dear,” said Mama. “This is just terrible. So what did you do?”
“Sofia ran for the Captain who came out with a couple of guys and big sticks and they ran those feral dogs off.
“I never in my life thought I’d be so scared. But I’ll tell you this, all I want to do is come home.”
Earnest had been picked up and taken back to the ship by one of the sailors who took him to the dispensary which just smelled awful, all alcohol and medicine.
But the Captain, who had grown very fond of Earnest – even if he did insist on calling him Bingo, and a couple of his men worked Earnest over. They could see nothing was broken. He had a few deep puncture wounds and one of the men gave him a shot of something, just like he was a little man. They dabbed him with stingy stuff and poked into the puncture wounds with a long stick covered in yellow medicine.” He tried to remain calm. But it hurt something awful.
“They took me to the Officer’s mess and fed me, but I have to tell you. My appetite is gone,”
Earnest began to tremble, all over. This had been a terrible experience for him.
After he had eaten, the Captain’s man took him to the Captain’s quarters and put him in his nice little dog bed.
He told us he had a restless sleep, seeing those flashing teeth, and bared rumps, and he didn’t know if he’d ever get that nightmare out of his head.
He told us he looked deeply into the Captain’s eyes, and told him he wanted to go home. The Captain, who was a kind man, seemed to understand, He held Earnest on his lap and soothed him and soothed him and soothed him.
Later, the Captain put on his pajamas and the two of them got into his bed to sleep. He even let Earnest get under the covers. But by the next morning, Earnest said, every place on his body was sore. He could barely walk. He wondered if he’d even be able to get off the ship when they got to Houston.
But then, he told us Sofia came in and gave him some of her special Mouse Medicine, and that made him feel a lot better.
Good heavens, we said to each other. What else could go wrong on this round the world tour?
“Well at least,” said Sofia in the D-Mail, “We only have one more stop and we don’t have to get off. We can just sail to Houston, dock, and get home as fast as we can.
“But will you be able to walk?” Mama asked Earnest.
“To get home, I’ll walk. You’ll see me before you know it.”
End of chapter 49