Dog Story

by Trevor McClanahan

Jose's fleas bit like never before. They all seemed to congregate in a small, unreachable diamond on his back. Furniture and rough objects only offered temporary relief from the itching. Parasites were the least of Jose's worries today, however. He had been expelled from the house, green slime had been collecting in his water dish, and he was beginning to forget the divine pleasure of central air. But it wasn't always like this. He used to be a good boy.

The dogs used to pet him all the time. It was Jose's favorite way to relieve the itching that plagued his back. Occasionally they would even give him a bag of Doritos, or maybe a tootsie-roll. Sure, it required a trick or two, but you'd be surprised how fast you can learn to do a rodeo flip when all you've eaten for the past ten days is a hardened mixture of rice, chicken, and discarded fish remnants. But even when he didn't get special treats, Jose always had a special spot on the couch where he could curl up and go to sleep for hours at a time.

But he can't sleep now; the afternoon sun is making it too hot and too bright to get any rest. And though he knew it wasn't permanent, Jose wondered how long he would be an outcast from the house. In his mind, the punishment definitely wasn't fitting the crime.

The dogs obviously disagree, since he's sitting outside with a full stomach, rather than inside, guarding a freshly baked kitty pot pie. His temptations had gotten the best of him, and instead of loyally defending the meal, Jose dove right in and became more satisfied than he can ever remember. It was a rare luxury, and he knew he would pay for it.

While he crunched down the last few kitten bones and claws from the delicious pie, he heard a car pull into the driveway. His jaws froze in place; instantly he knew that the dogs were home. As the noise of jingling collar tags got closer to the door, Jose frantically thought of ways to clean up his mess and get out of trouble. But, like a deer caught in headlights, he could only wipe his face before being caught red-handed. The Owner, instantly wise to the situation, paused for only a second before leaping across the room in a full sprint towards Jose. The shame and embarrassment of his act, mixed with the intense reaction of the Owner, filled Jose with so much fear that he lost control of his bladder, and wet the carpet. This mistake only made him more scared, and as soon as the Owner grabbed him, Jose was in the air, on the way out the door.

Sure, he wasn't hurt at all physically, but the stress and anxiety from his bad deed was emotionally draining. The intense heat of the summer day did nothing to help the situation, either. But amidst the confusion and frustration he was experiencing, Jose couldn't stop thinking about an unusually pleasant smell he encountered for the few seconds that he was in the house with the dogs. It was a smell that felt very familiar, almost instinctual, but his memory was vague, and he couldn't quite place the scent.

After sitting in the sun for hours, thinking about that curious smell the whole time, Jose wondered what kind of mind-bending stunt he might have to perform to win back the affection of the dogs. As he made plans to back flip from the roof of a speeding vehicle, the Owner came outside and sat next to Jose. He was no longer angry, and his body language seemed to project a feeling of forgiveness. The Owner barked for a while, and Jose nodded, pretending to understand. Then the Owner gave him a nice scratch on the back and started to bark some more. This barking signaled the other dog, who approached the door to come outside.

As soon as the door opened, Jose became inundated by the wonderful smell. It was much more intense than before, it made his heart race and he felt a fluttering sensation in his stomach. The dog walked out holding a large plastic box with holes in the top. Jose's eyes widened and he became exited; he was so close to naming the scent that he seemed to know so well. His memory was becoming clearer by the second, and by the time he knew what it was, the dog opened up the box, and all four of them went inside to enjoy the pleasant relief of central air.

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