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The Good Dog
Inside every good dog is a bad one. Behind those puppy eyes and that wagging tale, it prowls, fangs bared, locked away and chained. Chains are made of loyalty and the iron bars of love. Inside the cage, the bad dog lurks, ready to spring, should God forsaken it.
Spock was a good dog. The seven-year-old shepherd mutt never bit the hand that fed him or did IT on the carpet. Spock loved his God and God loved Spock. Or at least he used to...
God’s proper name was Josh Anders. In the good old days, it had just been Spock and God, two bachelors living at the Home. Then Josh met Jenna. Now suddenly Jenna was spending every night and even some whole days at Home. Spock had been kicked out of God’s room and was forced to sleep on the couch, instead of by God’s feet. Then Jenna had caught Spock on the sofa. After a shouting match, mostly her shouting with God trying to push a word in edgewise, which sent Spock scurrying to hide under God’s bed, he was now chained to the radiator at night. Spock hated the radiator and the strange noises it made in the dark.
Spock tried to love Jenna. He really did. When she came Home Spock would bound to the door and leap to kiss her and express his affection through other slobbery means, Jenna would shout “No! Down!” Then she grabbed Spock by his collar with one hand and use the other to shove his rump to the floor.
Spock couldn’t understand it. God loved when he did tricks. God would always feed Spock when he begged, or pet him when he lay on his belly just so. Jenna would throw her slippers at Spock if he tried such a thing. That didn’t bother Spock too much though, because Jenna invested in some very tasty footwear.
So Spock did love Jenna, in a secondhand, round about fashion. He love God so much that residues of amore even rubbed off on Jenna. No matter what Jenna did, God’s best friend was pooch.
Of course love is only unconditional until one day it isn’t. There’s a line as thin as a knife blade that we all tread. Be careful someone doesn’t push you off.
There had been the incident of the potted plant. Jenna was keen on plants. When it had just been God and Spock, there had been a few wilting cacti, but that was it. God never remembered to water them, so anything less hardy that a cactus was doomed to death by dehydration.
Jenna had taken one look at the cacti and sighed. The next day the little desert dweller was pushed into a shadowy corner of the mantlepiece and every available coffee table, countertop and hatrack sprouted at least one species of flora. Spock had been quite excited at first. He didn’t have to go to the dog park any more, because the dog park had been brought to him! Well, mostly brought to him. It didn’t take long for Jenna to point out the crucial difference between grass and carpet.
Spock had had his nose rubbed in IT, but that didn’t discourage him. All dogs are optimists. He found his favorite squeaky toy, the duck with the missing eye and fluff coming out when its legs had once been. Then Spock proceded to frolic.
He tossed the duck high into the air, like God had taught him. It wheeled across the room, a blur of yellow cloth, cartwheeling over the coffee mugs on the table. Joyfully Spock bounced after it, in a single leap following its trajectory. By as gravity would have it, it’s much easier for an eight ounce fowl to stay airborne than a 43 pound canine. Spock didn’t make the jump. He landed unsteadily on the table and as he tumbled off, accidentally knocked something with his flailing paw. There was the sounds of breakage.
Then came a sound even more fearsome and fur-raising. “Spock!” Jenna shouted. “Stupid dog!” God entered the room as Jenna pounced on the hapless Spock. She grabbed him by the collar and yanked him up. “No,” yank, “No,” yank, “No!” yank.
Spock looked towards God, pleas for help in his big brown eyes. “Sheesh, Spock, old boy. Why’d you do that?” Something died then. A flickering candle extinguished by the gale.
What is hope? It springs eternal, but from where? The well runneth dry in the desert and a plague of frogs ravages the lands.
Every day Spock still waited for God or Jenna to come home. The door opened, but today Spock sensed something was wrong. But Spock was hardly a superstitious dog and not pessimistic in the least. The shepherd mutt leapt from the couch without a second’s hesitation. He cannoned from the living room into the hallway, ears a-flapping, paws tripping over themselves in anticipation.
Through his monochrome vision, Spock took in the scene. There stood God, Spock’s heart did a giddy flip, holding the door for Jenna, Spock’s heart missed its landing and splattered against his chest. She needed the door held because both her arms were full. One hand sported a bag with words, that if Spock had been able to read, would have proclaimed “Pets Mart.” In the other––
Spock tried to halt mid hurtle and sprawled on the carpet in a position known as the “downward dog falling flat on face” pose. There was something clearly wrong with the picture. Jenna was carrying a cage. The cage was far too small for Spock. One sniff was enough to tell him the rest. She’d brought Home a cat. The b****.
Her name was Angel. As in “keep that brute away from my little Angel,” and “what a sweet little Angel, much better than some smelly dog.” Jenna should have named it “Lunch,” thought Spock, as in Mine.
Angel got the run of Home. Did Jenna ever kick the cat out of God’s bedroom? Of course not. Was Angel allowed on the coach and on Jenna’s lap and even on the table, a place Spock had never even considered a pet-accessible spot? Take a guess. And God put up with it. God treated Jenna like a God of her own and in return, he was her b****.
One night, tied to the creaking radiator, Spock made up his mind. Jenna must go. She must leave forever, taking that measly, stuck-up cat with her. With God completely infatuated, there was only one dog for the job, Spock.
Patience is a virtue and all dogs go to heaven. Spock waited to implement his revenge. As God took him for his morning walk, Spock schemed. On one paw, Jenna was an evil and wily temptress who’s very being was a mar unto the world. Unfortunately God was quite fond of Jenna. Spock ventured a glance at his doting master, who was doing something obscure involving a plastic bag. Spock could not hurt God, but this wouldn’t harm him. It was for the best and someday, God would understand how much better off he was.
Idly, Spock raised a leg.
Angel was sitting on top of the bookshelf when Spock returned with God. The blender screamed from the kitchen where Jenna was making those mushy glasses of fermented fruit. The woman didn’t even know how to eat properly.
God unhooked Spock and headed for the grating wails. Spock sat back on his haunches and glared up at the feline, considering his options.
One thing Jenna had been wrong about was calling Spock stupid. All canines are naturally bright, with a few exceptions rhyming with “wah-wah.” Spock wasn’t the squeakiest rubber bone in the store, but he was hardly unintelligent. As Spock gazed at the bookshelf, images of a smashing pot, a spray of dirt and leaves drifting to the floor floated to the surface of his mind.
Spock took a few paces back and lowered his tail, for better aerodynamics. And he charged. Paws flew as he rammed into the bookcase. Novels crashed down as the shelves shook. High above, Angel let out a panicked, “Rweor!”
A copy of Carpentry for Dummies thudded on Spock’s nose. He shook his muzzel dazedly and tripped backwards. The collision had left his shoulder aching and sore.
The blender’s whirring halted and Jenna’s voice cut through to the hall. “What was that? Josh, honey, go check it out.”
Spock’s eyes uncrossed and he sprung into action quickly. Once more he slammed into the bookcase. Again it teetered, but didn’t fall. Another rain of literature hailed the failure. In fact, it wasn’t just books that were dumped on Spock.
“Mreeeeooow!” Angel came leaping down and landed on Spock’s head. Her claws dug into the flesh above his eyes before she was off, darting down, over the books and out of the corridor. Spock gave chase. It is in the nature of a dog to seek that which flees.
He bowled into the living room. Angel hissed and shied away, turning to scamper around the couch. Spock followed. Angel bolted and leapt high onto the window sill. The open window, though which sounds of traffic four floors below resonated.
“NO!” It was Jenna and because it was Jenna, Spock surged forward. He was at the window in a heart beat, but before he could touch the cat, it was too late. Angel had reacted instinctively, and dodged out of the way. She’d dodged right off the edge.
Far below a woman screamed.
“He’s got to go.” For once, Jenna wasn’t shouting. On some level, this was even more terrifying to Spock. He’d been put in a cage. It was a portable kennel, the kind you could buy at the store and put together at Home. He had water and a bowl of dog food and even his duck, but he may as well have been locked in a dark closet filled with vacuum monsters. Spock wanted to curl up, put his paws over his eyes and howl.
“Jenna, I’m sorry, but I just can’t! Spock’s a good dog, we just shouldn’t have paired him with a cat, that’s all! I’m so sorry.” Even God’s voice couldn’t make Spock perk up.
“I don’t care. It’s me or him, Josh.” The silence stretched.
“Jenna, babe, don’t do this...” Again there was no sound but the quick breaths of God and the deep, purposeful ones of Jenna.
Minutes rolled by, and dog minutes are seven times longer. Finally: “Well.” It was Jenna. “I see, can’t separate a man from his dog.” The bitterness of her voice would have etched steel. There was the shuffle of movement. Jenna spoke again, “I just want you to know, Josh. I really do love you. I guess that’s just not enough.”
“No!” The word was more a sharp exhaled than actual speech. “Don’t. Please, lets talk about this.”
“We’ve talked, Josh. I’m leaving. If you change your mind ... well I’ll be at my parent’s.” The door opened and closed. The click of the lock was deafening.
It must have been several years late when God walked into the room. Spock sat up, and wagged his tail, but God didn’t even glance his way. God settled down into an armchair, stared at the wall, then buried his face in his hands.
Even though Jenna was gone, he didn’t let Spock out.
“I’m sorry, boy.” Those were the last words Josh ever said to Spock. He’d taken him on a car ride, thirty minutes into the city. They’d come to a building that smelled of overcrowding and despair. Josh walked Spock in on his lead, the one he took for walks. Then he’d signed a paper and given the leash to a woman in white.
“Look, buddy, I know we’ve had some great times.” God’s voice was gruff. “But, it’s just I really think I’m in love. I’ve never felt the way I do for Jenna ever before. And ... well, I just didn’t know what else to do.” God wiped his wiped across glistening eyes. “Look, it’s okay, Spock. You’ll find a great new family. Okay? You’re a great dog.” He ruffled Spock’s ears. He stood up, nodded to the woman in white and strode towards the door.
God paused and looked down at his dog. “You’ll be just fine. I’m sorry boy.” Then Josh walked out of the room, out of the building, out of Spock’s life.
“Come Spock,” commanded the woman in white, tugging at his leash. Spock didn’t move. Instead the shepherd mix stood up and howled.