SO WHEN LAST WE spoke, I had left Tarzan to hold back Beauregarde’s assault while I ran for reinforcements. I heard the man let out another “JESUS CHRIST!” and the squirrel squeak another “EXCELSIOR!” and I hoped against hope that a man much taller than me could deal with a baby squirrel for a few moments.
I pounded up the deck stairs and tore open the back door.
Since I’d gone out through the garage to hover anxiously over Tarzan’s bike repairs, Miss B was downstairs, but as soon as I gave the come here NOW whistle she scrambled upstairs and bolted for the back door. Odd trundled in her wake, sleepy–he’d been ensconced on my bed, snoring happily, for quite some time that day. (His midafternoon naps are Most Important.) I rudely shut the door in Odd’s face and pointed B down the stairs.
“WHAT IS IT? WHAT’S GOING ON? A JOB? YOU HAVE A JOB FOR ME? CAN I HEEEEERD SOMETHING? BOSS SOMEONE AROUND? WHAT IS IT? SHOW ME! SHOWME SHOWME SHOWME!” She lolloped down to the yard, a big doggy smile on her face, and bounded over to check out what Tarzan was doing.
I expected a fursplosion, and B chasing Beauregarde across the yard, and relief when the damn squirrel scaled the fence or a tree and received both a shock and a salutary lesson in why one shouldn’t molest human feet. What happened was…somewhat different.
Instead of fleeing and fursplosion, Beauregarde bounded to meet this new arrival. “EXCELSIOR! I AM THE KNIGHT OF THE NUT TABLE, I CHALLENGE THEE TO–ULP!”
Miss B, skidding to a stop, stuck her nose on this fascinating New Thing. It didn’t flee, so she had no interest in chasing it. (Can’t herd what doesn’t run, now can you.) So she had to settle for her secondary default mode.
You see, her former owners used her for breeding (that’s why she’s so small, malnutrition issues since they used her to whelp litter after litter at too young an age) and as a result, her maternal drive is off the charts. I often think Miss B’s constant supervision is the main reason Odd survived his difficult puppyhood. Of course, this could also be the reason why he’s so goddamn neurotic, too. Six of one, half a dozen of the other.
“B…” Tarzan, holding the bicycle pump since he’d decided it was better to be armed than sorry, stared in disbelief. “Is she…Is she licking it?”
“I AM THE KNIGHT–STOP IT!” Beauregarde wiggled, and Miss B put a paw down to keep him still while she cleaned him.
“IT’S JUST A BATH.” She began working at his ears. “WHAT DID YOU DO, ROLL IN DIRT? OF COURSE YOU DID. SILLY PUPPY.”
“For fucksake,” I breathed. “Only you, Miss B. Only you.”
“That thing might be diseased.” Tarzan took a half-step closer to B and her new prize, who was beginning to seem a little draggled. Beauregarde kept squeaking about the Nut Table and his honor.
“It’s not acting rabid.” I have since found out that squirrels by and large don’t carry rabies, so there’s that. But at the time, it was all I could think of.
Beauregard wriggled out from under B’s careful paw. “VILE THING! I CHALLENGE THEE TO COMBAT! I SHALL SMITE–“
“SHHHH.” B almost flattened him with her paw again. “I MISSED A SPOT. AREN’T YOU A FILTHY LITTLE THING.”
“This is so bizarre.” Tarzan, still holding the pump, almost went to scratch his head, and saved himself from a braining just in time. Sheepishly, he set the pump down, watching our dear little Aussie groom the fearless paragon of chivalry.
“Welcome to my life.” I haven’t told him about Neo yet. Maybe I should. I decided now was not the time, and skipped back as Beauregarde bolted out from beneath B’s paw again. He made it to a rhododendron, his fur sleeked down with dogspit, furiously chittering about his surcoat and his honor and something about the Nut Table again.
Then he stopped, turned around, and darted at Miss B, who was so surprised she actually performed a catlike, stiff-legged jump back.
“Holy fuck,” Tarzan backed up toward the gate. “He’s chasing B!”
It was at that moment I had a stroke of what I was reasonably certain might be genius, or something close. “Okay. Hold on a second.”
“What are you planning now?”
I was already gone, up the deck stairs again. (The whole day was a workout, let me tell you.)
It was time to bring out the big guns.
…To Be Continued…