Pack Leader’s old friend Major lies buried in our back yard, near my favorite wallow. His spirit keeps nagging me. “Hey, Kid! Written anything yet?”
Kid, he calls me. Grrr. I’m almost two, now, taller than Pack Leader when I place my paws on her shoulders. “He’s still a teenager,” I hear Pack Leader tell other humans. Whatever teenagers are, it must be some kind of excuse for bad behavior. She always says it when I’m on the verge of being B-A-D.
Kid or not, I’m supposed to take over Major’s writing job. I don’t even have my first degree yet! I can’t spell human language—this iz wut it looks like wen eye trie. But Mayjur ashoorz mee pak leedr wil fiks up mie wurds.
“But…wut doo eye rite uhbowt?”
“Rite about munnee, Hunnee—it’s reellee kwite funnee. And yuze yer spel-chek!”
That’s the last I heard from that silly old ghost dog. So here goes, spell-check turned on.
The business of money isn’t funny. It seriously messed up my life. The facts all k9s should face is that (a) humans cannot seem to live without money, and (b) when they do not have enough of it, they do crazy things, things that wolves or dogs would never do.
I should be grateful to money—I met Pack Leader because of it. You see, my previous human never went walkies with me, being busy under the hood of his car; so we didn’t get car-car trips, either. I thought I’d do him a favor by taking myself for walks. My first few forays out into the big bad world went fine: if something spooked me, I’d sidle up to the nearest friendly-looking human, invariably a female, who would then feed me something nice and chauffeur me to the neighborhood dog hotel, called The Pound. A nice chap there, Bob, would talk into a little box, and eventually my human would show up, hand over some money, yank me out of my inelegant quarters—not a moment too soon as by that time I had usually managed to fill up one end with poop—and ferry me home.
Every time, my human’s mood was worse. “BAD DOG!” (Worst words you can hear!). “I’m sick of paying through the nose for your hijinks! The next time you get a price on your head, you can damn well stay at The Pound until some rich bitch ransoms you!”
I was so confused, I didn’t eat for two days. I had seen him give Bob money from his hand, not his nose, and there were no bitches, rich or otherwise, at The Pound. Was he not telling the truth? I padded to the bathroom mirror to inspect my head: nothing. Obviously smelly wads of paper did not constitute the entire story of money.
Depression hit. I moped. I determined to stick to my human like pine tar, even if I had to cross my legs twice to wait for pee-time. That proved impossible. He’d leave me behind, locked up. What if he never came back? I panicked; tried to follow him, using paws and teeth to escape my jail. When he came home, he’d point at what I’d chewed and yell at me. “You’re costing me a fortune, you stupid mutt! You’re eating me out of house and home! Why’n’t you go play in traffic?”
So, one day when I’d been left behind again, without breakfast or water, I escaped and headed for traffic. How this would help, I had no idea, but I was willing to try anything once.
I’ll say one thing for playing in traffic: you get fast results. Cars screeched and banged together. People screamed. Someone yelled, “Holy shit! A wolf! Get a gun!” I was shaking so hard I blurped diarrhea all over the road. Then a female human opened the back door to her car; the seat was empty and I jumped in, just as a guy emerged from his truck with a shotgun. “I’m taking him to The Pound to be youthanised!” yelled the female through her window as I cowered in the back.
As he slipped a fresh collar on me, Bob the Pound man assured her that yes, I’d get my youthanisation as soon as my human’s time to redeem me had expired. I tried to kiss the lady before she left, as an apology for the brown spots on her back seat, but she dodged me. “I don’t know who could handle that dog!” she said as her car spurted gravel on its way out.
So began a long, long stay at The Pound. Bob came to my cage every day. “Poor buddy,” he’d say, “there’s a big price on your head now. Eight hundred dollars.” Then he’d scratch my head as if to erase the price. Try as I might as we passed the dirty old mirror in the hall to daily walkies, I could not see that price. According to Bob, however, “it” couldn’t last much longer. “If I had the money,” he said, “I’d pay that fine and take ya home meself.”
I spent days thinking about how to find him money. Going home with Bob seemed like a great idea, compared to my past. I noticed that other dogs disappeared after awhile, even if their humans never came. Bob would take the dog for a walk one day, but not bring it back. Then he’d scratch me more sadly than before. “I’m runnin’ outta excuses,” he told me. “But I just can’t do it to ya.”
I knew Bob hadn’t taken the other dogs home—he didn’t have the money. And there was death in the air. That was probably the real meaning of youthanisation. I wasn’t getting younger—I was probably next.
I lay next to my poopoo, muzzle on paws, and pondered money. Why, when humans have no money, are they compelled to kill others? It made no cents. Or scents. Or sense.
How did I escape the human money bind? You know those little talking boxes—phones? Bob used one to summon Pack Leader. When she arrived at my jail, I knew at once she was just my type. Apparently wolfy humans can magically make prices on wolfy heads disappear. She didn’t give Bob any money, from her nose or her hand, but he patted me a fond Good luck, Buddy anyway. And we drove away from Abbotsford, I hope forever.
My saga with money has continued. Pack Leader says I’ve cost her thousands of milkbones, but she doesn’t care—she loves me. I’m just a lucky K9! Yet all of us fourpaws should remember the basic rule about money: when humans don’t have enough money—do they ever?—they start seeing things, like a ghostly price tag on your head. Beware! Your doggone life may not be worth a plugged nickel.