Fallout

Sadie woke from her nap, stretched her front legs, fanning her toes on her paws as she did, and rose. Dog, I sure needed that nap, she thought. I love naps, naps and balls. She looked inside the small plastic crate next to her bed where she kept the new pet her parents gave her for her birthday.

“Wakey-wakey.” She nudged the crate door with her nose. “Did you sleep well? I sure did. I bet you need to go outside to piddle and make poopies.”

She opened the crate door and out walked a little man about ten inches tall, naked except for a piece of frayed cloth wrapped around his waist.

Seeing the cloth, Sadie said, “Oh, not again. Why do you insist on tearing up the blankets I give you. The dogs at the pound told me you were past the teething stage. Shoot, and I really liked that blanket.” She snapped the cloth from his waist with her teeth, tossed it aside on top of the crate, then attached a leash to the little man’s collar.

“Are you ready?” she asked, not waiting for an answer as she led the way from the room–leash in mouth–and down the hall to the stairs, the little man doing his best to keep up. At the top of the stairs she paused and glanced over her shoulder at him. “Climb on.”

The little man did as told, grabbing fistfuls of brown fur to pull himself up her hind leg and onto her back.

“Hold on tight,” she said and gently started down the stairs.

Watching from the foot of the stairs, her mom said, “Awe, isn’t that cute? Hey, honey,” she called into the living room to her mate. “You have to see this. Sadie’s giving her little man a ride down the stairs.”

When she got to the bottom she shook the little man off and looked at her mom. “I’m taking him outside.”

From the living room, her dad said, “Good idea. We don’t want him relieving himself behind the couch again. I can still smell it.”

Frowning, her mom said, “Oh, Rex, it wasn’t personal. If it had been he would’ve soiled your spot.”

Sadie and her mom shared a look as they heard Rex’s growl. He loved his couch and his spot on it and didn’t appreciate anyone messing with it. Once when she and her mom had rearranged the living room, it sent him pacing about and growling at the furniture for hours, completely unable to get settled.

Sadie licked the little man’s head. “You must never mess on the couch. That’ll get you a trip back to the pound and once dogs find out you’ve been returned by one family, the others won’t want you. You’ll be unadoptable and they’ll put you down.”

Rex sauntered into the hall from the living room, his chocolate Lab fur shining in the overhead light. “You know, they still eat humans in some countries.”

Sadie scowled. “They do not.”

Her mom frowned again. “Rex, don’t’ be crude.”

Rex gave the little man a sniff. “Have you decided on a name yet?”

“I was thinking of Rover.”

Rex shook his head. “Not a dog name. You need to give him a proper human name, especially if you plan to title and breed him. How about Bartholomew Yardstick the Third? We’ll call him Stick for short.”

Sadie shook her head at her dad and sighed. “You’re hopeless. Everything is about sticks with you.”

“I sell sticks for a living, what do you expect? And like you should talk. You practically sleep on a bed of tennis balls. How many are in your collection now? You should be thankful I’m as good of a stick salesdog as I am. It’s sticks that paid for all those balls.” He looked at her new pet. “And they paid for him. Look at the wee man grimace. He’s about to poop where he stands. Hurry and get him outside.”

Her mom nodded agreement. “That must be his poopie face. Don’t let him in the pond this time. I don’t want him tracking scummy water back into the house. It smells.”

Her dad snorted. “Not to mention the smell of wet human. You should bathe him today.”

They told her this every time she took him out. “I got it. Enough already.” She led the little man through the kitchen to the patio door flap and jumped through. On the other side, she waited for him to appear, but he didn’t, so she stuck her head back inside.

The little man stood with his arms crossed. “I don’t want to go outside.”

“Nonsense. It said in the training book to take you out after you eat, drink a bunch of water, or wake from a nap. You just took a nap so you need to go out.”

“But I don’t need to go.”

“Like you would even know. One minute you’re playing, the next you’re peeing.”

“But it’s cold out there.”

“Don’t be silly. There’s plenty of radiation to keep you warm.” She wagged her tail that was still on the outside of the house. “Even from here I can feel the warmth from the pond rocks and their radioactive glow. Very toasty.”

When he showed no signs of budging, she pulled him through the flap door by his leash. “Don’t be such a wuss.”

He looked up at the sky, it’s orange glow making him look orange too. “But I’m scared. What if those crows come back and try to eat me again?”

“I’m from a long line of bird dogs. You don’t need to fear those dumb crows.” She pointed at his shadow and barked. “What’s that?”

He looked down at the ground and jumped. “What is it?”

Sadie laughed like a hyena. “Your shadow, silly.” She hadn’t thought he would fall for that. Humans were so gullible. She nudged him with her nose out onto the lawn. “Go do your business.”

He took a few steps on his own, the grass coming up to his knees, as she looked on. “I can’t with your staring.”

She snorted her derision, then turned away and sniffed at nothing by her front paws. Soon she heard him tinkling, then grunting, and her nose told her the rest. He ran over to her, gaze skyward, still worried about being snatched by a crow.

“What a good boy. Don’t you feel better?” she asked.

He nodded.

“You’re going to feel even better after I give you a bath. You’ll zoom about the yard like a giant hornet,” she said and began licking him from head to toe, bathing him in her saliva, but his panicked expression said she probably shouldn’t have mentioned the giant hornet. Those buggers could be pretty fearsome.

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