To Love and Protect by Louis Wilberger

On this particular Friday night, Fido, Alice Brennan’s Beagle, and Chloe, her Maine Coon Cat, were discussing the finer points of their current situation.

“I am the master of my castle. Beagles rule.” Fido scratched at a persistent flea.

“Give me a break. You have to be cool to rule, and with a name like Fido, I’m sorry. I mean, look at me. I’m so cool they don’t even tie me up.” Chloe continued to groom herself.

Fido perked his ears and sniffed. “It’s Alice, and she’s with Stale Sweat and Aqua Velva again.”

“Time to go.” Chloe stretched “If I had your nose I wouldn’t get within a mile of him, I really don’t know how you stand it.”

“It’s my job. To love and protect.”

“If you can get rid of this one, I’ll be eternally grateful.” Chloe disappeared out the pet door.

When the front door opened, Fido was his usual exuberant self. Alice picked him up, let him give her a few slobbery kisses, and scratched his ears. “That’s my good doggie.” She put her purse on the coffee table. “Why don’t you sit down and relax, Ted. I’ll fix us a martini before dinner.”

Fido jumped on the couch and started sniffing Ted’s private area. He didn’t like the way Ted was petting him but was determined to finish his examination. Something didn’t smell quite right. The stench of Aqua Velva made things tough, but being born to sniff; he finally figured it out. Old Ted had been screwing around again, but unlike the others, this one had a left him with a rotten odor. The closer he analyzed Ted’s crotch, the stronger the putrid smell got. Whatever the woman had given him bore an evil bouquet, and Fido went into love and protect mode. With no time to waste. He lay down and thought about the yucky vegetarian dog food Ted had put in his dish the day before. The Green Giant’s revenge was at hand.

Fido waited until Ted pick up the paper, and in less than a minute, he could hear it rattle. He opened an eye. Ted was frantically trying to fan away the stink.

“Alice, will you do something about this flatulent beast?”

“It’s probably the dog food you insisted on.”

“It’s supposed to be good for him. Oh man, that’s ripe.” Ted’s hand moved toward Fido.

I hope you don’t think you’re going to push me off this couch, pal. Fido growled and smelled Ted’s fear move up a notch.

“He’s growling at me, Alice, and he’s still passing gas.”

“Come on, Fido” She handed a drink to Ted as the dog hopped off the couch. She scratched his floppy Beagle ears again. “Don’t worry, baby, mommy got you some real food.”

“That dog is dangerous. You should have him on a leash.”

“My puppy wouldn’t hurt anyone. “ Alice let Fido give her a doggy kiss. “It just takes him a while to get used to people. Why don’t you finish your drink while I start dinner? In the meantime, would you two see if you can get along?”

Fido gave Ted a look and followed her into the kitchen so he could assess her condition. He used the rapid sniff and blow method. His head slipped under her skirt as he strained for maximum analysis. She stepped back and his cold nose touched thigh just below her butt. He heard her yelp as something rattled in the sink.

“Fido, you quit that.”

He understood the inflection when she said, “Go on,” but he was happy. There was no rotten smell. He padded across the room and curled up next to Ted’s foot. It’s time for the old canine tail torture. Whap, whap, whap, Fido’s tail smacked against Ted’s leg. Ted crossed them and glanced up. When Ted started reading his paper again, Fido moved back into range. Slap, slap, slap, the tail struck again. He saw the scuffed up wing tip gently moving toward him. Now we give him the quivering upper lip with a a light growl and–. Snap, went the jaws, as he took in the delicious smell of Ted’s cold fear.

“Alice, this animal just snapped at me.”

“Honestly, Ted. Why don’t you bring your drink in here?”

Fido quickly positioned himself between Ted and the kitchen doorway, He could hear Alice moving his way. As she stepped in sight, he tangled himself up in Ted’s feet.

“Stinking mutt.” As Ted tried to use his toe to lift the dog out of the way, Fido howled like a truck had hit him. He rolled over twice and lay with his feet in the air.

“Oh, my God,” Alice rushed across the room. When she touched him, Fido gave out a blood-curdling yelp. Alice glared at Ted. “How dare you kick my dog, you miserable bastard.”

“But honey, I was just –.”

“I saw what you did.” She stroked Fido’s head and he knew it was time for the sad eyes and pathetic whimper. “That’s ok, baby.” Alice turned on Ted. And you, just – get out.”

“Fine, I don’t need you or your mangy mutt.” Ted stormed out and slammed the door.

Alice sat on the couch and gently picked up Fido. She grabbed a pillow and laid him next to her. “That’s okay, baby, the bad man won’t be coming back.”

Fido heard claws hooking in fabric as Chloe took her position on the back of the sofa. “Beautiful work old boy. I promise I won’t smack you on the nose anymore.”

Fido chuffed out thanks, laid his head in Alice’s lap, and took in all the marvelous scents. Reassured that there was no evil stench, he closed his eyes.

“Good doggie,” Alice said, scratching his chin. “I should have known better than to trust a man who can’t get along with a beagle.”

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