Someting Extra: Puppy Love – Part I

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Part One

Zach took in a breath of fresh air with a hint of dog poo.  Despite the smell, going to the dog park wasn’t without its advantages.  His neighbor across the hall, Clare, was dog-sitting for a coworker.  Odin was a giant, fluffy, kaiju mastiff.  Clare could actually ride Odin and he took up much of her space in the apartment.  Added to that, their apartment building didn’t allow dogs.  Odin was kept a secret.  As a relief she took as much time as she could to take Odin to the dog park.

Spencer, Zach’s roommate jumped on the opportunity to join her.  He absolutely loved dogs and never missed an opportunity to play with them.  So Zach tagged along.  Truth be told he didn’t need an excuse to hang out with Clare.  But until he came clean about his feelings for her he preferred one.

Spencer was busy across the park playing with a Giant Samoyed, named Gerbil, and talking to its owner, Heather.  She worked at the local Dinosaur Park, caring for the genetically created raptors.  They were just like cats she joked.  That was probably why she was more of a dog person now. Spencer laughed.

Meanwhile, Zach was trying to concentrate as Clare taught him how to properly throw a ball for fetch.

“If you want a longer throw you have to widen your fingers,” said Clare.  She grabbed Zach’s hand and put a tennis ball in his palm.  Then she positioned his fingers around the ball for proper control.  As soon as she took his hand Zach stopped listening.

“Then release it just at the apex of your throw,” continued Clare.  “That’ll send the ball high, far, and slow.  It gives the dog a chance to run circles before the ball even lands.”

“Yeah, yeah,” said Zach, trying to keep up with the conversation.  Zach smiled.  Clare smiled back.

Then Odin barked.

His bark reverberated across the park.  Many of the other smaller dogs froze in terror for a second before getting on with their play.

“It might be time to go,” said Clare.  She looked at her watch then nodded her head.  “I think you’re right, Odin.  You’re hungry.  I’m hungry.   It’s time to roll.”

Odin wagged his tail in excitement.  Knocking back several bushes behind him.

“Are you going to stick around?” Clare asked.

Zach looked over at Spencer.  He was deep in conversation with Heather.   “I think I’m going to have to.  I’m Spencer’s ride.”

“I’ll see you later then,” said Clare.  “I’m going to feed Odin first.  Afterward, if you’re hungry we can get dinner.”

“Sure,” said Zach.  “I’ll try and hurry up Spencer.”

“Cool,” said Clare.  She grabbed the reinforced leash for Odin.  “Just shoot me a message.”

“No problem,” Zach said without hiding his smile.  He watched as Clare walked toward the exit of the dog park with Odin’s leash out in the open. 

Odin stomped across the lawn, eager to leave for dinner.

Zach looked at his watch.  He had to wait until Odin was gone for the ground to stop shaking and properly look at the time. 

He would give Spencer another fifteen minutes.  Then they would leave.

Zach took a seat on a nearby bench.  Several dogs come up to him for pats on the head and scratches behind the ears.  He spent the next several minutes occupied with one dog after another.

During the assault of cuteness a tennis ball rolled in and hit Zach on the foot.  He paid it no mind.  His mind was on the dogs at his feet.

Then a movement to Zach’s right on the bench grabbed his attention.  He looked over.  Another dog was sitting on the bench.  It had a green sweater on.

“What a lovely sweater,” Zach said as he scratched the dog under the chin.

“Thanks,” said the dog.

“Whoah!” Zach nearly jumped out of his seat.  The only thing holding him down was the Great Dane leaning on Zach’s knees looking for a scratch along its back. 

Zach took a moment to get a better look at his bench neighbor.  The dog was actually a humanoid dog.  He wore a green sweater and brown pants.  No shoes.  His furry paws stuck out from the frilly bottom of his slacks. 

“I’m Humphrey,” said the dog-man in the green sweater.  He put his paw out to shake Zach’s hand.

“Zach,” he replied.  “Sorry about the scratch there.”

“It’s okay,” said Humphrey.  “It happens.  Honestly, it’s usually kind of nice.”

“Haven’t seen you at the dog park before,” said Humphrey moving the conversation along.

“My friend is dog sitting,” said Zach.  “Figured I’d tag along.  Do you come here a lot?”

“Oh yeah,” said Humphrey.  “It’s nice.  Though it always feels like I’m the one being dragged here and not the other way around.  You know?”

“It does look more fun for the dogs than for us,” said Zach.  “Do you know most of the people here?”

“Sure do,” said Humphrey.

“My friend is talking to somebody… Heather,” said Zach gesturing toward Spencer and Heather across the park.  “Do you know anything about her?”

“The dinosaur wrangler.  Yeah, she’s really great,” said Humphrey.  “Haven’t had much of a chance to talk to her myself, but I’ve seen her around.  She comes here a lot.  Brings nice treats for everybody.”

“Nice,” said Zach.  “I kind of want to head out of here, but don’t want to interrupt them.  If she comes here a lot then we’ll probably run into her again.”

“I don’t doubt that,” said Humphrey.

“Good to know,” said Zach feeling better about ditching the dog park to meet up with Clare for dinner.  He reached down into his pocket and pulled out a half eaten bag of pretzels.  He took one bite, and Humphrey looked over at him.  His eyes were big and round.

“Pretzel?” Zach asked.

“Thanks!” said Humphrey.  “I’m starving.”

The two ate in silence for a moment.  Then Humphrey spoke up again with pretzel still in his mouth. 

“I can give your friend a few tips,” he said as crumbs flew out.  “I’ve got a little insight on Heather.”

Across the park, Spencer waved good-bye to Heather after a lengthy chat.  Gerbil was already standing by the exit, ready to leave.

“I’ll see you tomorrow?!” Spencer called out.

“I’ll be here!” Heather called back before she was pulled out of the park by Gerbil’s determination to leave.

When Heather was out of sight, Spencer made his way over to Zach and the dog-man sitting next to him on the bench.  The two looked to be chatting and hysterically laughing.

“So, I told the guy, ‘Hey, I’m not the one that put the bushes near the bathroom!’”

Both Zach and Humphrey cried louder than ever at Humphrey’s joke.

“Hey,” said Spencer.  “What’s so funny?”

“Oh, nothing,” said Zach, waving off the laughter.  “Just a story of Humphrey’s.  It’s long.  You don’t have to listen to it.”

“Saw you talking to Heather,” said Humphrey. 

“Yup,” said Spencer defensively. 

“I can give you a few pointers,” Humphrey revealed.  “I know a few tricks.”

Spencer scrunched his face.  “I think I’m good.  Is Clare still around?”

“No, she left already,” said Zach.  “Why?”

“I was going to see if she is coming back tomorrow or if I can bring Odin with me.”

“To see Heather?” Humphrey asked.

“Yeah,” said Spencer, already growing tired of Humphrey’s enthusiasm.  “You ready to roll?”

“Yes,” said Zach.  “I’m meeting Clare in a bit for dinner.”

“Oh, can you ask her about tomorrow?” asked Spencer.

Then Zach’s phone beeped, alerting him to a message.  He frowned when he read it.

“And Clare just cancelled,” said Zach.  “Odin is getting antsy.  She has to stick around to keep him calm.”

“Oh, can you ask her about tomorrow?” Spencer chimed in.

Zach looked up from his phone, grimacing at Spencer.  “Maybe later.”

“You better,” said Spencer.

“Hey, if you’re hungry, I was thinking about getting something to eat,” spoke up Humphrey.  “You can join me.”

Zach and Spencer looked over at the humanoid dog.  Humphrey was long and lanky.  His green sweater hung loosely over his body. 

“Yeah, I’m hungry,” said Zach.  “I’ll join you.”

“Great!” said Humphrey.  His tail tagged in his pants.

“Spencer?” Zach asked.  “You in.”

“Maybe next time,” said Spencer.  His glare gazed upon Zach’s new friend, Humphrey.

“Oh,” said Zach.  “I can drop you off at home.”

“No, that’s fine,” said Spencer.  “I can take the train.”

“You sure?” asked Zach.

“You sure?” repeated Spencer, gesturing cautiously at Humphrey.

“I’ll see you later,” said Zach. 

“Let’s go!  I’m starving!” shouted Humphrey.

Then the two of them headed for the exit.  Spencer kept his distance.  He watched as Humphrey jumped back and forth on his feet.  Excited about going to lunch with his new friend.

Something Extra:  Puppy Love Part II

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December 31 2021 11:59 pm