Author's Note: Greetings everyone, I have returned, with some level of interest in rewriting and hopefully continuing this story. Now, it's been a long while, but I'm a little older, hopefully a little wiser, and now that I'm out of school for good, have a lot more time on my hands.
I randomly thought about this story while laying in my bed, at seven in the morning, having not gone to sleep yet, and decided it was about time I got around to fixing it up to the point where I could actually stand to look at it.
I can't promise regular chapter updates, or if I'll even update at all after this- I hope to, and even if it takes what seems like forever, if and when I do update again, it will be, hopefully, much higher quality than what I was dishing out two years ago.
So, without further adieu, here's Man's Best Friend or Puppy Love, chapter one, version three-point-zero.
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Man's Best Friend or Puppy Love
When I was younger, I always remember myself being more of a cat person. Cats were soft, quiet, and always went to the bathroom in the same place- no wet surprises in the morning, assuming you fed them the right kind of food. Cats were small, skittish and for the most part, delicate.
...And that was exactly why my father decided I was going to get a dog.
"You're going to be sixteen soon! And two years after that you'll be off on your way to college! You'll need someone to be there with you! To protect you!" My father had said, completely disregarding the fact that most apartments, let alone dorms, prohibited pets. When I suggested a full-time body-guard he laughed and announced that if there was going to be a male in the room, it better be of the four-legged kind, or he would personally take it upon himself to make him a eunuch.
Of course, five seconds after he made that comment, he winced, crossed his legs and abruptly changed the conversational subject matter.
Now, this whole fiasco was not just a random spur of the moment, or one of my father's outrageous whims (despite the fact that my family had become infamous around our neighborhood for them), it was a rather thought-out course of action. And it all stemmed from the death of my gender-confused ferret, "Mister Stripes."
Before anyone says anything about my beloved Mister Stripes, I feel it is my duty as it's former owner to tell you that no, I did not dress my ferret up in tutus, put ribbons on it and parade it around like a toddler in a Halloween costume. Mister Stripes just happened to be, in actuality, female. For the first week and a half, we weren't really sure until we took her to the veterinarian's office, and told rather bluntly that the white, stripe-less wonder was four weeks pregnant.
(For those who believe it important, the kits were given to an Aunt who took all of them.)
I had dear Mister Stripes for about six years, as she was a birthday present for my ninth birthday, and lived just a few months passed my fifteenth birthday; she was seven and a half years old when she left this world.
Needless to say, the loss was hard to handle, and I went from being my normal, lazy self, to being no more than a lump in the center of my bed. Aside from occasional visits to see friends, or trips about the house for necessities and bodily functions, that was pretty much how I spent my summer, locked in my room, laying in bed.
After the second week of school and still no real change in demeanor, my father announced we were going pet-shopping. Four weeks and a mid-term report card later, I was wrestled into the passenger seat of my dad's "pick-'em-up" truck by four pairs of arms. And for nearly six hours, I was carted around the city and surrounding suburbs looking at breeders, pet stores, rescues and shelters. I was forced to look at everything from Pomeranians to Irish wolf-hounds.
With no luck and enough dog-slobber caking my jeans to make them stand up on their own, at almost nine o'clock at night, my father finally gave in, deciding to call it quits.
Unfortunately for me, his hope was easily renewed as halfway between the last breeder's home and our driveway, we passed a shelter that we had previously missed.
At quarter-to-ten, with the sky all but black, dark clouds obscuring the stars, and a lone lamp casting a weak and sickly yellow glow over less than a sixth of the parking lot, in a relatively unfamiliar neighborhood, I was forced out of the car and all but carried across the unweeded, untrimmed lawn to the front doors by the massive rolly-polly lump of flesh and flannel fabric that was my father. He shoved the doors open in a rather dramatic fashion and strode inside and to the desk, smiling at the woman behind the desk.
She raised an eyebrow and pulled the chewed pen-tip out of her mouth before casting a rather unamused look at me, as I was still standing outside in all my tired and passive-aggressive glory. Her attention triggered my father's interest and he tilted his head to the side in confusion before following her gaze. As soon as his dark blue eyes locked with mine, he shot me a disapproving look before speaking. "Come on Anne, everyone in here has had their shots…I think." He looked at the receptionist rather skeptically as I trudged inside, dragging my tennis-shoe-clad feet.
The receptionist cracked a smile, revealing perfect, overly-bleached teeth that had a rather eerie shine from the ceiling lights. Her hair was dyed a rather predictable champagne blond, her dark roots showing faintly and giving her away, while her eyes were a rather strange shade of gray-blue which I found rather interesting, as the color stood out rather prominently against her fairly tanned skin and rather obscene levels of make-up.
She stood up, revealing her tight white shirt, which seemed almost ready to burst by how tightly it was drawn across her more-than-ample chest, and what I assumed was the uniform-required khaki pants. "Well aren't you a comedian, sir. I'm Gladys and even though it's almost time to close, is there any way I can help you?" She asked with a gentle and perky voice, she was nice enough but at that moment in time, her overly-perky demeanor seemed like nails on a chalk-board.
My father grinned and introduced the both of us "It's nice to meet you, Gladys. I'm Richard and this is my daughter, Anne." He put his sausage-fingered hand on my head and ruffled my hair.
I sighed and tried to pretend to be civil, even if I really didn't feel like being so. "Hi."
My father patted my head in approval, before letting his hand drop. "I know we're short on time, but we're looking for a dog." My dad spoke calmly, folding his hands across the counter of the desk.
Gladys nodded, "Is there any particular size, type or breed you're looking for?" She practically sang.
My father glanced at me, shrugging when I just stared at him- not providing any input. "Hm… Probably a medium-sized dog, or a guard dog like a Rottweiler, German Shepard, Doberman or a Shiba Inu…"
Gladys raised an eyebrow, "Shibas are usually more hunting or companion dogs…"
My father snorted before lifting his hand up, displaying a series of band-aids covering his fingers from his encounter with a Shiba earlier this afternoon. "Ever try to get in between one and it's owner's four-year-old?"
Gladys winced, before quickly back-tracking to avoid getting involved in that subject any farther. "So.. .you want a guard dog?"
"It'd be preferable, though any dog would be fine, so long as the princess here approves." My father jabbed a Barney-BandAid-covered thumb in my direction.
"So the dog is for you, sweetie?" Gladys said in what probably sounded like a sweet tone, but to me seemed like a harpy's screech.
"Not- ..." I stopped myself before sighing and running a hand through my hair. "Yeah, I guess."
"Alright then, lets go back and have a look, shall we?" Gladys smiled and headed towards a metal door that led to the kennels, waiting for me to follow.
I glanced at my father, silently asking 'Do I really have to go?'
He ignored me and I sighed before trudging after the woman.
It was well after ten when we finally got to the last row of kennels, and as with all the rows before, all the dogs were barking and yipping and making an obscene level of noise, which Gladys didn't seem to mind as she went about petting a few here and there, talking about the information of the dogs that seemed relevant to my father's specifications.
I walked down the row, looking at each dog individually- or trying to. As they bounced around each other, it was hard to tell where a Spaniel ended and a Boxer began.
I stopped at the second to the last kennel-cage, curious as the light was out for that particular space, not initially seeing the mass in the back, before moving to the last one and jumping right back at the rather animated jumping of some small yip-yip dog.
There was a snort- or at least an abrupt exhale that sounded like a snort from the dark kennel and I looked inside, squinting faintly, before I noticed that the 'shadow' in the back was actually a dog, laying down, staring at me as boredly as I had been staring at the other dogs.
Whether Gladys failed to notice my interest, or outright ignored it, I'm not sure, but I wasn't paying too much attention to her rapid descriptions of other dogs, as I was curious as to the dog who seemed to share my disinterest in everything around it.
I crouched down, linking my fingers around the chain-link of the gate and stared at him with an interest similar to that of a first-grader at the zoo.
I was assuming it was a male at this point, as the only things I could clearly make out were his eyes, as they reflected the light from behind me rather well.
Eventually my actions registered on Gladys's radar, or she finally decided to acknowledge them, because she moved over and put a hand on my shoulder- her manicured nails making me think of the skeletal hand of Death, for some reason.
"Sweetie I don't think this is the kind of dog your father would like you to have…" She tried to reason with me.
"Why not?" I asked, still trying in vain to see through the shadows.
"He's a bit big, not very sociable, highly independent and rather strong-willed." She seemed to be almost pleading.
"…So are Batman and Mr. T, but that doesn't mean they're bad." I justified, wondering what she'd say.
She didn't respond for a few moments and I wondered if she was confused or merely thrown off-guard.
"…I just…don't think he'd be a good fit for you." She sighed.
"…Does he bite?" I asked.
"Is he paper-trained?"
"Then what's the problem? Does he attack other animals?"
"Then what?" I asked, standing up and looking at her, arching an eyebrow.
She sighed and moved me aside before opening the kennel door and stepping back a few steps.
There was a groan, which I assumed meant the dog was getting up, before a hulking mass of fur moved towards us, into the light. 'Big' didn't even come close- the 'dog' was more like a bear or a pony- far larger than any of the Irish Wolfhounds I had seen, as most of the male Irish Wolfhound's came up to just below my sternum, this canine anomaly's head was about chin-level. He had moderately long golden fur, with black-colored ears and rather intelligent golden eyes.
It stared at me, as if sizing me up, or daring me to do something. I extended my hand, palm-up and watched it carefully, ready to snap my hand back to my side at the first sign of the animal's jaws wanting to have intimate and painful contact with my appendage.
It lowered its head and sniffed my hand once, nudged my fingers with it's nose and sniffed again before sitting down and staring at me with a 'What do you want?' expression.
I grinned slightly- the animal had a distinctive cat-like personality, and I loved it. "…I want him."
Gladys looked like she had just been bitch-slapped by Rick James before blinking and opening her mouth several times- like a fish out of water, before finally getting her voice back. "..Ar-are you serious?"
My grin dissipated and I simply stared at her, unamused. "…." After a moment or two my 'civility-censor' kicked in and forced me to reply. "Yes."
She looked at the dog, before looking at me, and then repeated the cycle a few more times. "….Wait here…I'll go get a leash…"
She all but jogged out of sight, leaving me with the over-sized animal, with a cacophony of barking echoing off the stone and concrete.
I looked back at the dog and it stared at me, waiting.
I shifted my weight before running a hand through my hair and looking at my shoes. I inhaled, trying to ignore the over-powering smells of wet dog, cheap sanitizer, and fresh plaster. Not knowing what else to do, I spoke to it. "…..Hi there…I'm Anne…and…I think you're going to come home with me…" I looked up at it, my head still bowed faintly.
Whether or not I actually expected a response was up for debate, but I received none either way, as the dog continued to watch me, before getting bored and looking around.
The sound of rapid footsteps preceded Gladys's return, and both myself and the dog were already watching the entrance to the row when she walked through, a green nylon leash in hand.
She smiled awkwardly at me, "So did you two bond?"
I just stared at her, watching as she made what resembled a noose out of the leash and carefully put it over the dog's head and let it settle around his neck. She started to lead the way back, only to be stopped when the dog wouldn't budge from it's seated position. She sighed and handed me the leash, "…You better learn how to deal with this now…or you'll have problems later."
I furrowed my eyebrows before nodding, and she started to walk away. I loosened the tension on the leash and looked at the dog. "Um…let's go?" I gave a light tug.
He didn't move.
"…Mush?" Another light tug.
"…Yip-yip?" A much more hesitant tug.
"Come…?" I didn't even pull this time- just lifted the leash.
Abruptly the dog stood up and started walking after Gladys, all but dragging me behind him, until I managed to regain my balance and trot along side him.
When we came back into the entry hall, my dad was looking up at us, a "Dog Fancy" magazine resting in his hands. "So how'd it go-Holy mother of…What is that?!" He got up and moved over towards the over-sized dog and I, looking at it in awe. "Aren't you just a big puppy? Yes you are Oh yes you are! Whose a big puppy? You are! You are" My father spoke in a rather gaga voice, extending his hand for the dog to sniff before petting it, only to have it growl at him.
He stepped back and looked at me. "…Are you sure this is the one?"
I glanced at the dog who simply stared at me, before nodding. "Yeah…I'm sure."
He looked between the two of us before sighing and nodding, "Alright…whatever you want…" He went over to the desk and began filling out the paper-work, talking in a hushed voice with Gladys.
"…Does he have all his shots?" My father asked.
"Yes, sir." She replied, filling out something on a sheet before handing it to my father.
"…Does he have a history of biting, violence or destruction?"
"Not exactly… Please sign here, here and here…initial here." Gladys pointed to certain lines as she spoke.
"Does he have a name?" My father asked as he finished putting his initials on the paper.
"No, sir." Gladys looked at him before glancing at me. "What do you want to name him?" She asked, having finally dropped the 'sweetie'.
I blinked and looked at the dog, as my father started throwing out names. "What about Duke, or Rufus…How 'bout Sam? That's a popular dog's name, right? Max? Buddy? Bailey? Buster? Casey? Cody? Farfignugen? Heinek-"
I looked at him and abruptly answered "Shader."
He stopped and raised an eyebrow. "Shader? Like a lamp-shade or an awning?"
"Shader… like the chemist or whatever that Uncle met in Rehab…the one that blew up the factory five years ago." I glanced back at the dog, looking him over as I spoke.
"…The kid?" My father raised an eyebrow.
"…He was in his twenties, dad." I sighed.
"…He was still a kid…." My dad pouted faintly as he filled in the name. "Whatever…now come over here and sign this…" He held out the pen towards me.
I lightly tugged the dogs leash, muttering a 'please' and was actually able to lead him over to the counter and sign in doctor-style scribbles.
Gladys took the sheet and stapled everything together. "You're all set, and free to go."
My dad nodded and thanked her rather graciously, while I just nodded and followed him like a good little duckling... while leading a pony.
As soon as my dad was through the doors I heard Gladys say "….Does that say Edward?"
I smirked faintly and trotted along after my father, happy that the dog, Shader, was following my lead so easily. Unfortunately my smirk faded as my dad lifted me into the truck bed like I was four and just grinned.
"….You can't be serious."
Shader came up next to me and simply laid down against the side of the truck bed.
My dad shut the back hatch and shrugged. "Someone's gotta keep the pooch company, and you still don't have a valid driver's license."
I groaned and flopped backwards, glaring at the sky over the tops of my glasses as I heard the driver-side door slam and the engine start.
I loosened my grip slightly on Shader's leash, knowing that if he jumped, I would most likely be dragged behind.
Before the car moved, I noticed that Shader had moved closer to me- or at least I assumed it was Shader, as it was a warm, furry body pressed against my side and arm. Awkwardly I reached over and lightly began stroking his fur, smiling slightly as it was as soft and oddly silky-smooth, almost like freshly-conditioned human hair.
I was abruptly whacked in the face with a long, fluffy tail and I realized there was a dog's backside less than a foot from my face. I groaned and could've sworn I heard Shader laugh, or rather growl in a way that resembled a laugh.
…But dogs don't laugh…do they?
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Until Next Time.
…I finally finished this, after writing the initial Author's Note and first two paragraphs over a month ago… (I just stopped writing for awhile…) Well…tell me what you think of the new and improved version. : )