For Fleegle’s second birthday, we go to the pet store to pick out some new gear. In the leash aisle he says, “Ooo, look, Raud, they have matching leashes and collars. Your leash could match my collar.” He ambles down the aisle gazing up at all the different types and colors, stopping to sniff the ones that appeal to him. He grabs one in his mouth with neon colored dog heads on it.
“Is that the one?” I ask.
“There’s no matching leash,” I say.
He drops the collar in the basket I’m carrying. “You don’t need a leash. I think you’re old enough to walk off-lead.”
I spot a nice leather one that’s not so wide that it’s heavy. “I like this one.”
“Okay, we’ll get that one for you,” he says and pulls it off the rack with his mouth, “but you need to get over your fear of getting lost without me and set yourself free.”
“Follow me please, we need to get you a harness,” I say as I move to the next aisle.
He cocks his head to the side. “A harness?”
“Yes, no more attaching things to your neck. We’ll attach the leash to your harness.”
“Are we going mountain climbing?” he asks.
“You mean spelunking? No.”
“Spelunking sounds like something a cat might do,” he says. “All over your pillow, that is.”
I pick one that’s nicely padded with orange neoprene. “How about this one?”
“I like orange. It goes with my brown fur but if I get a pink one people will think I work at Baskin Robbins and tell me how much they like ice cream and I like talking about ice cream. Did you know there’s an ice cream that has cookies in it?”
“I’m not sure how keen Baskin Robbins are to hire workers who lick the ice cream scooper after every use,” I say. “Let me help you try this one on for size.” I put the harness on him and adjust the straps in the buckles for fit. “How’s that?”
“No chafing. Can I go bungee jumping in this?”
“Sure thing, right off the back of the couch.”
Fleegle sniffs the air. “Can we go to the cookie aisle now?”
“Sure,” I say and he leads the way.
As we follow the scent to the cookies, Fleegle pauses to look inside a glass cabinet. “Look, Raud, they have TV remotes. Why does a pet store sell remotes? I don’t see any televisions.”
“Maybe they sell them to replace the ones that go missing,” I say as I catch up with him and look into the glass case where the store keeps their expensive items locked up. They’re remotes, but not to televisions.
“And look, they come with matching black vinyl collars for that goth and punk rock look,” he says. “Why don’t you get one of those for yourself? You can sit on the couch, watch television and wear your fancy new collar as you test out your new remote.”
The collar has a black box attached to it with two metal prongs meant to press into the skin of the neck in order to make electrical contact. “And if I get depressed with what I’m watching, I can give myself shock therapy.”