As I’m rinsing dishes in the kitchen sink, out of the corner of my eye I see the puppy squat to pee. I drop the plate with a loud thunk, spin around, sweep the puppy up into my arms and rush her outside into the backyard, where I plop her down in the middle of the lawn.
“Here, this is where you go pee,” I say, pointing at the lawn. “Not on my kitchen floor.”
Fleegle ambles out into the backyard, following the excitement. He starts sniffing the grass near the puppy, her rump now parked firmly on the ground as she stares up at me with an annoyed look in her eyes.
“Ooo, over here,” Fleegle says. “Here’s a good spot. Pee right on top of this weed.”
The puppy looks over at Fleegle. “Who is this that’s looming over me and why does he grab me every time I squat?”
“That’s Raud, my pet human, but you can call him the Biscuit Man.”
“Does he pick you up and carry you around every time you need to pee? It sure isn’t very comfortable having him put all that pressure on my bladder when he lifts me up.”
“No, I’m far too big for him to pick up. I’m as big as Timber Jack and his mate.”
“Who’s Timber Jack.”
“A dire wolf who lives in the woods at the end of the street.”
I clear my throat. “I’m standing right here, you know. Timber Jack is only a coyote, and I can still pick you up.” I reach down and scoop up Fleegle, all 85 pounds of him.
The puppy chirps a bark. “He must think you have to pee.”
Fleegle squirms out of my arms. “Not in front of my friend, please. You’re embarrassing me.”
“Oh, alright, but you’re still a big baby to me, no matter how grown up you are.”
Fleegle turns his back to me and pretends I’m not there.
The puppy cocks her head at me. “He speaks. How’s he do that?”
“I taught him to. He even makes sense some of the time, unless he starts going on about meditation and contacting his higher self, then you should just start watching the sky in case something falls out of it.”
“Higher self? What’s that?”
“Exactly. Makes no sense at all,” Fleegle says. “If it weren’t for me, he’d get lost the moment he went out the front the door.”
The puppy looks up at me. “Why is he staring at me like that? He better not think I’m something for him to eat. I have to pee but his staring is freaking me out too much to go. Does he stare at you when you have to pee?”
“I can hear you just fine, you know,” I say to the puppy. “I’m waiting for you to pee.”
The puppy looks at Fleegle. “Who’s he talking to? Did he just say he has to pee too?”
Fleegle jerks his chin at the back of the yard. “See those bamboo plants over there? No one can watch you pee in there.”
“Ah, so you need to hide when you go pee. Like behind that big couch in the living room. I left a present back there.” The puppy ambles into the bamboo and out of sight.
Moments later when she emerges, I say good girl in a cooing voice and stick a treat in front of her snout.
She sniffs it. “What’s this? Smells good.”
Fleegle thumps his tail against the ground where he’s sitting. “That’s why he’s called the Biscuit Man. It’s like magic. I’ll be walking along and thinking about how nice it would be to have a biscuit right about now and I’ll look up at him and there one is, in his hand in front of my mouth. It’s almost like he came trained that way. He’s the best human I’ve ever had.”
The puppy gobbles up the biscuit. “That was good.”
Fleegle thumps his tail some more. “Here’s the good part. He’ll give you a biscuit every time you pee outside.”
“No kidding? What about if I pee inside?”
“Nah, I could never quite get him trained well enough to do that.”
“Maybe you didn’t try hard enough,” the puppy says.
“I tried everything. Raud just isn’t that smart. You can only do so much with the material you’re given. I mean, seriously, he still poops in his water bowl.”
“Gross, one of my litter mates did that. He was a dirty puppy,” the puppy says. “Maybe I can help you train your dirty puppy.”
“I’ll take any help I can get. He’s a lot of work and it takes dedication. You let one thing slide and the next thing you know, he’s no longer living in your house but you’re living in his,” Fleegle says, glancing at me over his shoulder.
“Let’s start now. You distract him while I go inside and poop behind that big couch.”
“Ah, but if you do that, he won’t give you a biscuit.”
“Oh, so he gives biscuits for poop, too?” she asks. “If I’d known they were worth something, I’d have been saving them.”
“Just wait until he starts following you around with the baggies at the park.”
Feeling outnumbered, I loudly clear my throat again for some attention. “Raud’s higher self is going inside to polish the dog bowls and measure kibble portions.”
“And clean behind the couch,” Fleegle adds.
“Yes, that too.”