"An owl told a snake who told a cat who said that I shouldn’t instigate by telling you Rover's people are gone, and he is asleep. Who does the owl think he is, calling me an instigator? I never start trouble."
"He told me not to go into a meadow yesterday. Uh-oh, Mrs. Angleton is looking for the broom," I barked.
"Yeah, what's up with that? She usually has it by now."
I grinned. "I ate most of it… Ugh, she found the part I didn't eat. Look out!"
Mrs. Angleton swatted at us with a broom that looked like it had gone through a wood chipper. Molly ducked and we both raced out of the house. Einstein's mom followed us as far as the porch steps. She stood there picking at the splinters in her hand and giving us stink-eye. Molly halted by the old oak tree in my yard. I sat down next to her, trying to flair my nostrils like Einstein's mom.
"You're so childish," Molly barked.
"Nice harness. What is that, Star Wars?"
"Worse. Eye of Argon," I barked. "It’s taken Einstein three years, but he's finally realized that my collar escapes haven't been accidental. Last night he proudly pulled out a plastic bag from his closet and told me he had ordered a special surprise. I thought he had treats so I jumped about, excited. 'All the experts say dogs can't get out of this,' Einstein had said after he put the harness on me."
"And?" Molly asked.
"I can’t get out of it," I replied. "He tied me to a tree and gave me a bath. It was horrible. He used his mother’s Herbal Essence shampoo. I smelled like cherry blossoms for hours. Are you coming with me to the Dover’s?"
Muttering about barking dogs, Mrs. Angleton stormed back into the house. The screen door banged shut. I heard the thud of her footfalls as she stomped into the basement to use Einstein's phone. Molly jumped to her paws.
"I'm wounded, I'm wounded! Call an ambulance," I yelped and flopped onto my side.
"You're not hurt," Mrs. Angleton humphed. But I didn't get up. Finally, she leaned over to check on me.
"I don't think you'll be using the cordless again." I licked her face. "Serves you right for throwing it at me."
"Oh!" She balled up her fists and hopped up and down. "Ohhhhhhh!"
She looked like she was trying to run in place. Humans often do this to exercise. I find it the least interesting kind of exercise ever invented, but I always do my duty by encouraging even the smallest efforts. I jumped around her barking.
"How'd you get in here?" Mrs. Angleton screeched as Molly padded up. She's a Golden Retriever mix, the guardian of the Turners, the family that lives on the other side of Ivanna Tinkle's house. Molly is a good friend so she doesn't need to bark before entering.
"The screen door. Meat Head left a hole in it," she replied, and then turned to me, "What's going on?"
"Just exercising Einstein's mom."
Molly sniffed my butt and sneezed. "You've been eating… oh my paw, that's just gross."
"I know, isn't it great?" I sniffed Molly's butt in turn and sneezed. "Yuck! Your humans are still feeding you rice and vegetables. It's enough to give me nightmares."
"Shoo, shoo, shoo!" Mrs. Angleton shouted.
"That doesn't deserve an answer," Molly barked. "You're driving that old woman crazy."
"Naw." I jumped over Molly and danced around Mrs. Angleton some more. "She lives for this. If it weren't for me, she would have died a long time ago and Einstein would be motherless."
Molly dodged a kick. "You're practically a saint."
"I know, right? So what brings you over?"
In the morning, I howled for two hours after Einstein left for work. Eleven out of ten doctors recommend this to clear morning phlegm from your throat. Mrs. Angleton worked herself into a tizzy. She was trying to talk to her father, Papa Angleton, while yelling at me to be quiet.
"Sir Richard Cecil once said, 'the shortest way to do many things is to do only one thing at a time.' I read that somewhere."
"I hate you! No, not you, Dad. I hate Meat Head. He's the worst dog in the world." Mrs. Angleton is always extra sensitive on the days her father calls, so I try not to take what she says personally. "But… Yeah, I guess."
She hung up the phone and called Einstein at work, lips pursed into a thin grimace—that means she's serious or constipated. With humans it's hard to tell the difference.
"Your dog's at it again," she said. "His constant barking is driving me crazy! What? Of course you don't hear him. He quits every time I call you—No, I'm telling you, he does it on purpose. What? No, I'm not being ridiculous… Yes, I know he's just a dog. Now, you listen to me Einstein... Okay, I'll prove it to you. I'll pretend to hang up. You'll see."
She set the phone down on the couch and went into the kitchen where she pretended to be very interested in the contents of the dish cupboard. I sneezed and flopped onto my side to wait her out. This took half of forever.
"Oh fine!" She slammed the cupboard door and returned to the phone. "I know he didn't bark but… Einstein? No, of course not, but—…I see. Well, if that's—… Don't you hang up on me! I know you have to work. No, I can't promise that. Fine. I won't call you at work unless it's an emergency. Love you, too. Bye."
"Hey, genius, I understand English," I barked, springing to my paws. "If you want to fool me, don't sneak so many peeks in my direction. It's a dead giveaway."
She picked up the first thing within reach—the cordless phone—and threw it. I jumped aside. The phone smashed into the wall and plastic shrapnel flew everywhere, clattering against the wooden floor.
Einstein put the sheets in his closet before I had a chance to roll in them. Darn (clean sheets stink) and double darn. I'd caught a glimpse of Einstein's computer screen. He had opened the picture files from the camera he'd found. The woman in the photo was huge. Einstein plopped down in his chair and rolled up to the computer.
He scratched behind my ears. "You're a bad dog and not very trainable, but I love you. See the spaceship in the background? She's an alien. I'm going to find her and prove it."
"Your spaceship looks like a smudge. The woman probably has a glandular problem. I think doctors have a special name for it: gigantism," I barked.
Einstein continued. "I bet she can even shape-shift. And I bet her ship is hidden in the woods. Check out these last three photos. They're of the guy who owned this camera."
The pictures were creepy self-portraits of a pale guy with vacant, zombie like eyes. (This expression is common among Excitement Land Amusement Park employees and every member of Einstein's family.)
"You have not thought this through," I barked. "Why would a shape-shifting alien choose to walk around looking like a giant? If I were a shape-shifting alien, I'd be a squirrel. Okay, not a squirrel, but something, anything, less conspicuous than a giant." If you're a dog you'll know that conspicuous means attracting notice or attention.
At this point, I started laughing so hard my eyes watered. It sounded like awooooo, awooooo. Einstein draped his arms around my neck and gave me a big hug.
"That's right boy. We're going to find us an alien and then get rich."
I sighed. He's an idiot, but at least he's interesting. Not like Rover's human, Ben Dover. I think I've mentioned him. Ben is six. That's forty-two in people years. He lives with his mother, Eileen Dover. Sometimes Einstein goes over there to LARP. Dogs will know that LARP is an acronym for "live action role play," also known as dress-up or make-believe by children everywhere. The game usually involves costumes and plastic swords, but my human has referred to me as his "mighty steed" after putting a cardboard saddle on my back. (Reason number fifty-six why I'm the best dog in the world.)
Suddenly, Einstein grabbed my collar. "You stink. Let's get a bath."
"Nooooo!" I yelped.
Meat Head the Worst Dog in the World will be posted here in easy to read increments. Read for oldest to newest if you haven't been following along.
Can't Wait to find out what happens next?