Cherchez la Chienne, Part 1
Listen up, Puppies. Your mother wants me to tell you the facts of life. The origins of species, as it were—our species.
Trouble is, like any wolf, I know a lot more about the origin of feces than species, even our own. If we hybrids even are a species, which is another question entirely. Hmm…. Maybe we’re just mutts.
Just look at you—all perky ears and shining eyes and waggy tails! You’re as curious as a human about where babies come from! Irresistibly cute you are, you little monsters. In just a few months, you’ll be all skinny and lanky and juiced up on sex hormones and your brains will feel as if they’ve migrated to the nether end of the body—
Ow! Did you see that, Kids? Your mom just bit me! What was that for?
Okay, okay…. Darned bitches—they always have the upper paw! She wants me to tell you how to be good dogs and manage your sex life, so that your humans won’t take you to the vet to remove certain bits of you. Ha! As if I, of all wolfdogs, would have any idea how being good and having sex can ever co-exist in a society run by humans!
I could simply tell you a story, I suppose…. An edifying and proper story, it goes without whining. Two tailwags for yes—do I see two tailwags? A story about my first girlfriend? Universal tailwags. All right, then.
When I fell for Pack Leader, I wasn’t much older than you. I was just a dumb ball of white fur, with no idea how I’d come to be and even less notion of what life was all about. The only ideas rolling around in my furry skull were my family memories—that, and I wanted to stay next to Pack Leader forever.
I didn’t call her Pack Leader then; I called her Mom. We didn’t live in the True Woods, either—not then. My notion of the future was nothing more than a yearning to visit, some day, the True Woods my own mother had so often reminisced about, her eyes glowing with longing. Instead, she had somehow become trapped in the Big Smoke with her humans. That’s where she met my father, and that’s where my litter was born.
Pack Leader lived in the Big Smoke, too, in a big old creaky house near her school. Their school, I should say. Pack Leader’s sister lived there, too, studying to be a doctor. Among humans, doctors must be dominant. Mistress not only took up the biggest bedroom but also had Pack Leader bring her food every few hours so that she could keep her muzzle in her books.
Some nights, so late that cat-and-mouse adventures created the only sounds floating through the treed, dark streets of our student-infested neighborhood, Mistress would emerge from her room, wild-eyed and scraggle-furred, and shout, “Fudge!” Whereupon Pack leader would groggily pour ingredients into a big bowl and work up a heavy sweat, beating them into a smooth, creamy gunk so sweet it makes your fangs ache. Yuck! But Mistress loved that sort of thing—as long as she didn’t have to do the work.
She loved fresh bread, too, but wouldn’t touch it if it had aged as much as a day, which meant that every night Pack Leader and I rose well before sunrise to punch down the bread dough. (Not that I ever got my paws into the flour, but Pack Leader appreciated my moral support.) I was rapidly learning that passive aggression can make humans do the darnedest things. Even the cats went along with the whims of Mistress, whatever the time of day or night.
Oh, yes, the cats. Merlin, a short-haired, coal-black slim guy with a whiny meow and Morgana, the fluffy, also coal-black, fire-eyed bitch from Hell. I was already twice their size and so guessed they would want to be friends—probably even play with me. Wrong! Never make this mistake, Puppies. There are several sharp ends to cats—I’ve never quite figured out how many. Morgana glared balefully at the sight of me, puffed up to roughly the same size as mine and swiped me across the face with a set of razors. I yelped and ran. “Mom!” Blood stained my white muzzle. She wiped my muzzle clean, kissed me and said, “Let that be a lesson to you: cats are not your friends.”
More on my saga with cats later; suffice it to say that I learned to steer clear of the Black Menace. Besides, my biggest problem in my otherwise perfect new home, with its din-din, treat-treats, brush-brush and a cushy velvet bedspread, was…Chichi the chow-chow.
It was Chichi who had bestowed the title of Mistress on Pack Leader’s sister. At first I couldn’t fathom what he was. His pushed-in face, punctuated by a long swipe of black tongue and framed by an outrageous furry mane, swiveled atop one end of his boxy body, more or less balanced by a huge curved tail at the other end, the entire hairdressing feat scurrying along on compact cat feet. The rapid tick-tick-tack of those nails as he tried to micro-manage the entire household drove me bonkers. Lord Chichi held his schmuzzle so high in the air, it was a wonder he didn’t trip over anything. Of course, he snubbed me, the interloper.
“Don’t mind him,” advised Merlin from his favorite position—atop the sofa back. That cat would lie there for hours, luxuriously stretched out, rousing every now and then to clean a little protuberance of flesh that peeked from between some folds of his perfectly black fur and then, for good measure, to lick the little fur-covered marbles just below it, just to drive Morgana crazy.
“His Royal-Assy Highness,” said Chichi the Chow-chow, “needs to cool it, Man. Next time we get catnip, let’s slip a little into his dish.”
“I hope he gets a hairball from that ridiculous mane,” snarled Morgana, who was given to wishing on her enemies what she most hated about her own life, which, aside from Merlin, was choking on a hairball.
“Chichi, Darling,” chirped Mistress, “wouldn’t you like to play with the puppy?”
To judge from Chichi’s disdainful glance at me, he would far rather have gotten his head stuck in the toiletful of humans’ offerings. He scurried to Mistress’ chair and sat on her feet with a ridiculously proprietary air.
“Isn’t he cute? He’s guarding me! I have my very own bodyguard.” Mistress rubbed him behind the ears. “Do you know, I think he’s a Doctor Dog, too. He was licking that cut on my leg last night in the most therapeutic way.”
I headed for my water bowl to hide my ears, which tend to fold back of their own accord in a particular way whenever such smarmy nonsense enters them. Pack Leader was in the kitchen, anyway, as usual, fixing something for Mistress to eat. She grinned at me and kneeled conspiratorially beside me. “Don’t worry, Wolfydog,” she whispered. “I know who’s the finest dog in the world. Never mind Cheech—he’s had a rough life and Mistress saved him. He can’t help feeling insecure next to a handsome young boy like you!” She kissed me between the eyes, which I love. “Don’t worry: he’ll come around.”
You don’t have to shout, I told her. I was trying to teach her telepathy but it took her quite a while to learn it. Humans are not the smartest beings on the planet—they just think they are.
To be continued….
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