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Toby & The Big Bad Dog
American Dog #15
© 2023 James LaFond
The wind howled down the mountain and through the trees, the great cedar boughs rushing as the distant metal stanchions moaned and the buzzing wires sung. Toby stood guardian over the creek bridge, beyond the pond, protecting his stray human, who was tearing black berries out of the ground with a heavy rake.
“Bro, this is so boring,” whined Toby up at the myopic ape.
“Another hour, Buddy,” granted the man as he spied yet more ground creeping enemies to rip up by the roots.
“Human,” whined Toby, “you have not eaten yet today, and, more importantly, I have only eaten twice, and you have hands to cook and melt cheese, and Smookah Bear is I don’t know where!”
“It is useless,” said Annie as she perched on the old mossy fence post above the pond, “it hunts some weird of an ideal. The roots are merely proxy foes for his addled mind.”
“How can you stand the aimless toil of it, Cat?” whined Toby.
“Rolling cover from hawks, extended targeting. Oh, and I enjoy the demise of interloping canines.”
Nervous of a sudden, Toby whined, “I am not inter that loping, am I?”
“Oh, no, Dark Dog. You are the perfect subject of this grim symphony of dim-witted slobber song.”
“Say what, Cat?”
Just then Toby heard a gruff bark in a new voice, “I am the Big Dog! Be warned, Black Dog!”
“He, buddy, stray man, we are under attack! Get the Vet!” barked Toby. But the man simply kept digging black berries.
‘Comes the Moment of Decision, Dark One,’ beamed Annie a thought into his mind.
Toby saw the big, mature, blonde dog strutting up over the bank from the creek, some dog from down by the houses upon the public road, challenging: “My master is the Big Man, yours small. I am the Big Dog, you small. I come to eat your cat there, gnaw upon this lame human here and rut upon the bitches without a care.”
Annie winced audibly, “The banality of dog politics—I understand now, Mother.”
Bisquick was nowhere to be seen, however, as she spoke, Annie looked at the moon pale in the dim bluster of the dying day.
Toby pranced forward and snarled, “Back, dog, back!”
“I’m the Big Dog!” barked the blonde dog, half again as big as Toby, nearly as big as Amos.
‘Life isn’t fair-why can’t Amos be here?’ whimpered Toby within. Yet Toby, on home ground, recovered with a surge of pride, “I’m the home dog, the guard here, you may not pass!” barked Toby, finishing with a snarl, showing his dining enamel.
The big dog then charged, looming larger, broader, meaner, and Toby broke under the pressure, and with a savage snarl turned and bolted under the fence, around the pond, running for his life towards the stinky mule fields, the wicked images of his coyote hunted dream haunting his shrinking mind as the puppy at his core took over.
Toby was fast though, very fast, his good master and savior James Chosen having often credited this to his black color and his breed’s extensive service in the courts of the Nigerian Kings of some big bad place where these dogs were said to hunt the small, pale “potato-digging” race of the Stray Human, called also LaFond.
There sat Izzy, on the high point above the pond, under the greatest of the cedar trunks, looking stoically at him as if to say, “We never run on our own ground, young one.”
Barked the big bad dog on his heels, “Run to your old bitch, black dog, and I will crop her ears!”
“Better her than me,” whined Toby, most honestly, running hard and fast for Izzy, figuring she would chase this big bad dog off. She was his trainer, should be his protector.
The Big Bad Dog was snapping at Toby’s curl of tail. “Not my tail, I’m just a pup!” and Toby skidded in the mossy turf at the pond edge under Izzy’s frowning gray brows and rolled over, instinctively submitting and curling his spread of four feet, giving up his underbelly to be ripped or spared.
The Big Bad Dog hulked proudly over Toby at the pond’s edge, snarling drool down upon Toby’s soft furry belly even as he glared up at Izzy siting sentinel like upon that rock. Toby had dodged the mauling, had fallen prey to betraying his own training dog.
“Bitch, I come for you, yer pup nothin’ but bait—I’m about ta rut on yooo!” howled the conqueror.
Izzy yawned, “Bait, yes.”
She then yawned again, glancing over at her favorite human, the weird stray, whose tenacity at toil she so admired. She then glanced back down at the Big Bad Labrador Hound and grinned with a wolfish intensity that was frightening to Toby, stood and yawned, “This is how it was done when the world was young.”
Toby and the Big Bad Dog had both been looking up at Izzy. Then as she yawned, behind the Big Bad Dog they heard, a rising of water and a churning of muck under big hairy paws, a slavering of a tongue in muddy pond water…and a snarl from Amos!
The blond dog was rolled over, pawed, bit, clawed and even head butted with Amos’ bear-like skull. It whined and whimpered, squirmed, yipped, simpered and scampered and Toby was on the High Horse of Victory, barking in the golden dog’s face as Amos dragged it like a carcass, limp-like, around the pond to the Human Stray. At the feet of this strange, aimless human, Amos pinned the “interloper” to the ground, snarling for permission to rip and rend.
Toby was panting in an ecstasy of victory and could not help it—no, must do it—and lifted his leg on the pinned dog. Soaking the reprobated canine invader Toby barked, “I’m the Home Dog!” [1]
The man then laughed and Amos let the dog go so he could be run down the road in fun form, routed before all of those below who might doubt that a dog of account was on duty under Cedar Mountain.
So went the most glorious day of Toby’s life. [2]
-1. Toby is a serial insult urination criminal.
-2. According to my recollection, this happened further up the road, and I, who Izzy stood by, was the target among the scotch broom. Amos plowed over the Labrador that was charging me like an NFL highlight reel. However, Toby’s version might well be true as well, as I have seen him playing bait and scamper around the pound as Amos dives and swims and plays swamp monster. I leave it to the reader’s discretion. -JL, Stray Human
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