In a Nut Shell
You probably think dogs can’t talk. Our paws really aren’t compatible with keyboards, either. So, if you buy into what I’m about to tell you, be forewarned. I am a talking dog who has mastered the art of hitting the right keys on the keyboard. If you can’t handle that, you’d better find another book to read.
Still here? Good. My name is Teddy and I’m a Great Pyrenees/Alaskan Malamute. My mistress, Andrea Sharpe, loves large dogs, and I give her a lot to love. A lot more than the collection of bums she’s married and brought into the house over the past four years to be sure.
It’s pretty quiet around here today. Andrea just lost hubby number eight and everybody except her blames little old me for poor Ed’s demise. I can explain, of course, but first I need to tell you about the jerks who have gone before the unlamented Ed. The bad news is my poor Andrea has failed eight times to achieve marital bliss. Uh, scratch that. She failed seven times. Her first love was a match made in heaven.
Sadly, it ended in tragedy when Thomas Sharpe died in a car crash. I wasn’t here back then, but I’ve heard her call his name late at night when nobody’s around. So I know she still misses him. Besides, she’s kept his name. Problem is, it’s a big house, and she can’t stand to live here alone, so she keeps trying to find a new husband.
Why doesn’t she just live with the guy until she sees how he reacts to me? Andrea Sharpe nee Collins is a small-town girl who came to New York City and hit it big with a literary agency. Those small-town values have stuck with her, but she’s vain enough that she never allows herself to be drawn into other people’s lives. I have to say, much as it pains me, that she’s somewhat shallow. Andrea is pretty, smart, and talented, but as I said, shallow. So, she insists on marriage before sex, but never lets the guy get close enough to develop a lasting bond. Now Eddie’s gone, she’s going to go looking for someone to take his place. I know she’s going to find that annoying and distracting. Almost as much as I’m going to find the whole process annoying and distracting.
One night alone in this empty mansion sends her back out on the prowl. She simply cannot live by herself in this big house. And now, her latest brilliant idea is to advertise for a man. Can you believe it? I see disaster written all over this before it starts. But what do I know, I’m only a dog. She read the ad out loud while she composed it today. Has my mistress flipped her ever-loving’ noodle?
Need mate. Romance not required. Must love large dogs.
Really? Thomas Sharpe was a gifted writer, a client who won her heart and made her filthy rich, but then he’d died in a car crash. She married Rodney Thomas on the rebound, mainly because his last name reminded her of her first husband. Rodney lasted about six months and got thrown out on his ear when she caught him doing the nasty with the maid. On Andi’s bed. I could have told her what was going on, but well, you know…I’m only a dog and things tend to get lost in the translation. And she kept the computer closed up so I couldn’t send her an email or anything. Life is tough when you’re a large dog.
This was right after Andi found me in a small pet shop. She hated pure breeds in dogs or men, and insisted a mixed breed was best. That’s because we are all ‘one of a kind’ creatures. I was four months old when I came to live with her, and it was an instant affair of the heart. Especially, when I began to talk to her. Really, I can only groan, kind of a cross between burping and barking, but she gets my point.
I grew so rapidly it took the poor girl by surprise. She found herself walking (running) me for hours just to take the edge off my exuberance before her many garden parties. On one of those disastrous events, I skipped my usual nap to make a grand entrance. That’s when she learned better than to let me do that again. I mean, by the time I was done tipping over tables laden with gourmet foods, and landing atop the jerk who tried to get in my way, the party was over. I was only being sociable, you know. Greeting the guests and such.
She simply didn’t have time to give me as much exercise as I needed, so it seemed normal that she would go hunting for a man. She was looking for a companion, but not for sex. A handler was what she really needed, a built-in dog whisperer. Instead, what she’s got so far is a string of mis-matched bums, who alternately abuse and fear me. To be fair, I instigate a fair amount of abuse myself. <coughs into paw>
Next in the string was Rudy Johnson who lasted two months. Then it was Rashid Rahab, an Iranian diplomat who’d gone after her because she would be his fourth wife, and the only one whose fortune out-weighed his own. He endured six months before deciding there was not enough money in the world for the kind of torture I leveled on him.
Winston Eisner lasted only two weeks. Poor old Winnie left screaming in terror after I cornered him alone in the garage for four hours. Rick O’Shea did a bit better, because he actually had a fondness for dogs, but not one as big and fast as me. He stayed on the scene for a year. Then Andrea got into her oriental phase and divorced him to marry wealthy Japanese entrepreneur, Okasan Sukura.
Turned out, the Japanese didn’t know any more about large dogs than the others, and this one had a cruel streak. The man disappeared without a trace five months into the marriage. I can’t divulge secrets, but I proudly take partial credit for saving her from him. Now don’t look at me like that, I am not a murderous sort at all. It wasn’t like that at all. Really.
Finally, Ed Volmer came into the picture, and Andrea thought she’d found the right man for the job. He’d managed to hide the fact he hated dogs in general with a passion, and me in particular. Andrea assumed we got along well. She insisted he take me for daily strolls around the grounds, but never bothered to see what we were doing out there.
Ed, cowardly but smart, found a place at the corner of the estate where the trees were so thick that even I had to slow to a walk. The sneak tied a short chain around one of the trees without my knowledge, and fixed the leash so he could tie me to the tree before I could get away. He’d leave me tethered while he visited the neighbor’s estate, timing it so he had enough time to do one of their maids.
What he didn’t count on, was that I was also smart and caught onto his nefarious scheme. On that fateful day, I chose a path that challenged Ed to either run with me, or be dragged across the grounds. Sadly, he zigged around a tree when he should have zagged, leaving the leash hopelessly entangled with the trunk. The result was a whiplash that threw him over the edge of a rocky overhang.
He ended on the rocks below, not seriously injured, but spitting mad. How was I to know that when he waved his arms so frantically, he wasn’t asking me to jump down so he could catch me? I jumped, he screamed. I smashed into him full force, his scrawny body saving me from injury.
Unfortunately, Ed wasn’t so lucky. His neck snapped and he died instantly. Andrea praised him for sacrificing himself to save me. How could I disabuse her of the idea, given the circumstances? After all, I’m just a dog. If Ed hated me all that much, he could have told Andi, and he’d still be here. Or somewhere. Preferably somewhere. Well, he’s somewhere now; six feet under and pushing daisies, as the saying goes. I’ll share this story in greater detail a bit later.
And now, Andi’s planning to advertise for number nine. Good thing she has Theo to take care of me in the meantime. Who is Theo? Oh, yeah, I should tell you about Theophiles Kerikades; Andrea’s Greek God-gardener-chauffeur-fix-it-man who apparently came with the estate when the Sharpes leased it. He lives in the summer house at the lower corner of the estate, close to the bluff overlooking the ocean. It was Theo who discovered Ed’s body after I scrambled up the incline and raced for help. <coughs into paw> Really, I was running to get help for the man. Really.
Now Theo is a real man. We get along fine. Too bad Andi has her nose stuck in the stratosphere, like most of the snobs who live around us in The Hamptons. Oh, well. I can have some fun when she brings more of the jerks she’s liable to attract with that dumb ad. I can hardly wait. He he he…
* * *
Uh, oh. Here she comes. Is she going to walk me today? I love Andi, but she has got to be the world’s worst dog walker.
Whew! Never mind. Theo’s with her, which means he’ll take me. Which means lots of fun! I wish he would walk me every day, but I guess he has too much to do around here.
Hmm…Just thinking. Now here’s a reason for me to push this thing a little bit. The longer it takes her to bed down with another creep, the more fun I’ll have with Theo. Talk about incentive!
Andi knelt and rubbed behind my ears and under my collar. “Hi, Teddy. How’s my big furry baby today?” I just about collapse on the floor when she rubs up and down my chest. Ahh, heaven! The nights when she sits on the soft leather couch, all hundred-seventy pounds of me snuggling beside her, my head in her lap, makes my day. And my night.
I answer with my customary groan which, translated, means, “Keep that up and I’ll love you forever.”
“You miss Ed, don’t you? I can see it in your eyes. All that pain and longing.”
Pain and longing? Are you kidding? The only pain I feel is knowing you’re about to saddle me with another Ed. Maybe even worse. Jeepers! “Yowwwwll!”
She looked up at Theo and shook her head. “See how sad he is, Theo? Maybe you can walk him and help him feel better. My poor baby.”
“Sure thing. I’ll be glad to, Mrs. Sharpe.”
“Andrea, please. After all the time we’ve spent together, I’m just Andrea, especially with you. Besides, I have to get on with my life with Ed no longer a part of it. After his funeral tomorrow, I mean.”
“I knew what you meant, Andrea. I’ll walk Teddy. Will you be leaving the estate today?”
“Yes. I have an advertisement to place in the local newspapers.”
“I could do that for you if you’d rather not face the public.”
“It’s not a problem. Anyway, I do need to begin looking to the future, don’t I? I may as well start now.”
“Very well. I’ll take Teddy for his walk and wait for you at the car.”
“Thank you, Theo. Honestly, I don’t know what I’d do without you to help me get through all this.”
I growled, unable to stifle myself. She patted my head which, when I sat and she stood, rested at her waist. “You too, Teddy. You and Theo are the most important men in my life.”
Yeah, right! Big deal. If that’s so, why are you already looking for another jerk to come here and mess things up? Hmm? Why can’t we just stay like this, the three of us?
“Come on, boy. Let’s go for a stroll. Okay?” Theo snapped the leash onto my collar and off we went.
Theo didn’t understand, but I would have walked with either of them without the restraint of a leash. It was only those fools she’d tried to hook me up with that made it essential for me to assert my independence, necessitating the leash. And that may be the reason Andi never understood the resistance I gave those bums. With Theo or Andi, I never had to create a problem, so they had no clue how diabolical I could be. But only when provoked of course.
Well, no matter, now. Until another idiot makes the mistake of accepting my mistress’s offer, it’s all good. I followed at Theo’s side and we went out the double French doors onto the patio overlooking the forested part of the estate, leading to the bay view everybody loved so much. How’s that for panorama?
I glanced back to see if Andi had moved away from the windows before I challenged Theo to let me run. The man might be in his early forties but he was athletic. He kept in shape, and the man could move. We had a special place we went when either of us needed to burn some energy. Just over the first rise and to the left, if you happened to be facing south toward the sea. No doubt meant originally to be part of a private golf course or some such, it stretched for a quarter mile with slight undulations to keep it from being totally level. A perfect place for a large dog and an athletic handler to run full tilt; and gallop to our hearts’ content.
So that’s what we did. He was good for four lengths, and we generally did three, leaving us at the edge of the clearing nearest the bluffs where poor Ed met his maker. I really should put up a monument or something suitable. Hmmm, I’ll have to think on that. A nice leisurely stroll through the trees and a gander at the sea, then we’d laze our way back to the clearing and run full tilt to the rise near the house.
I should amend that. He would run full tilt and I would alternately leave him in my vapor trail and circle around to encourage him to keep up with me. A good natured man, he never once lost his temper even when I teased him by dancing backward and barking. I sensed from the first time we walked together that he was an okay guy, so I never gave him a hard time when he reattached the leash. Of course, he never confessed to our mistress that he’d let her precious mutt, moi, run wild. A totally non-athletic type, Andrea would not have understood and would probably have fired the man who kept her estate from total collapse. Then where would I be, I ask you?
After three laps of the field, he hooked up my extension leash and we strolled into the trees. I’d hoped he would find the path Ed had taken that fateful day and go that direction. Sure enough, eagle eyed Theo spotted the series of elongated footprints where Ed had been dragged by moi. He commanded me to sit. I sat. He got to his knees and dug around the packed leaves from the stand of oak trees shading the grotto.
“This where Ed walked you that day?” Now, he knows dogs can’t talk. He also knows I’m smarter than the average dog. I barked vociferously, nodding my head up and down enthusiastically.
Getting to his feet, he shortened the leash to force me to walk at his side as we moved slowly forward. He was doing what I wanted, so I led him to the lone tree that snagged the extended leash that day. He mumbled to himself, fingered the welts in the tree bark, and followed the double skid marks Ed’s feet had made on his way over the bluff’s edge. Turning to me, he stared into my eyes.
I knew he was trying to figure out where I’d been at the moment of tragedy, so I went to the spot and sat, giving out a mournful wail. His eyes reflected instant understanding. “I’m sorry, boy. You didn’t want him to go over the cliff, did you?”
Using my guttural growl, I did my best to communicate agreement with his question. Amazingly, he seemed to know I was talking to him and I was doing an impressive job of lying through my teeth.
He patted my head. “I’m really sorry it happened, Teddy. I know you didn’t like Ed, but this wasn’t what you would have wanted. We won’t come this way anymore, boy.” He led me back to the clearing and unhooked my leash, setting off at a dash trying to catch me off guard. Not bloody likely!
I’d passed him within twenty yards and kept going until I could hear him gasping for breath before turning back. He’d stopped and was bent forward, holding his chest. I walked up beside him and sat, waiting for him to recover. Maybe I’d overdone it. I certainly didn’t want him to keel over or anything.
Just as you know, dogs don’t talk, so you probably think dogs don’t feel, either. I can answer that in two syllables. We do. We have nearly the same emotional range that humans have, just no verbal way to express it to you.
Guilt was what I felt when we walked slowly back to the house. He’d run too fast, too far, trying to keep up with me, and he was hurting. I could sense his heart racing as we strolled up the cobblestone steps onto the patio where he dropped into a chair, wheezing for me to sit at his side. I complied.
Before he could catch his breath, Andrea stuck her head out the patio door and barked, “Theophiles, where have you been? I simply must get to those tawdry newspaper offices this morning.”
“Sorry, Ma’am. I just got back from Teddy’s walk. I’ll go and get dressed. Back in a jiffy.” He jumped to his feet and trotted off to the summer house to change into his chauffeur garb.
“Teddy, come inside. I’ll fix you a nice treat while we’re waiting.”
I glanced back to make sure Theo hadn’t fallen from exhaustion and followed her to the kitchen. Whatever other exercises in futility she’s capable of, Andi fixes one fine treat. Besides, I was pretty sure Theo was winded more than actually ailing. By now you know enough about me to understand the story I’m about to reveal, so let’s get started.
Star Crossed Lovers
A few minutes later Theo pulled Andrea’s Bentley up to the entrance and got out to assist her into the car. I had a plan of my own, and sauntered up just as she settled into the rear seat. Before she could say squat, I jumped in and plopped down beside her, resting my chin on her left shoulder. Andi is usually a very controlling woman, but I am her Achilles heel. She can’t resist me, especially when I adopt my helpless waif pose. I can helpless waif with the best of them.
“Teddy, what am I going to do with you?”
I gave her my best rumble, approximating my favorite appeal, “Love me, or I’ll kill myself.” It usually worked, and today was no different.
“Oh, all right. You can come, but you’ll have to stay in the car while I take care of my errands.”
“Yowl.” Translated, that means, “Bring another jack ass like Ed home, and I’ll kill you instead of me.”
Theo slid into the driver’s seat. “Shall I wait in the car with Teddy?”
“I think not. I may need you to help negotiate with those morons at the newspaper offices.” She reached out and fondled my ears. “I think our boy can handle himself alone for a few minutes.”
“Very well, then. Off we go.”
Andi gave him the address of the first neighborhood newspaper and we sped away in a super smooth burst of silent power. There’s nothing quite like the majestic ride of a superlative machine like this one. Thomas’ legacy to my mistress. Even the silver blue and midnight finish was sophisticated like Andi, I’d overheard her mentioning to Theo that she was considering trading it for a new Bentley Mulsanne. Sometimes the woman has no taste, but I still love her.
After we parked a safe distance from other autos in off-street parking, I was left to survey the lot and the smattering of cars residing there. Imagine my surprise when I looked into the Lexus a couple of spaces down to see a primped poodle staring back at me. Obviously a female. Hopefully a female, with all the braids and jewels bedecking her gorgeous neck.
Her gaze met mine, and I knew I just had to get acquainted with this amazing diva of dogdom. What Andrea and Theo don’t realize is I’ve figured out the locking tabs on the doors of the Bentley. It took only an instant to work the handle and open the door.
I gave a hearty “Rowlff,” meaning “I’m free.”
Things went downhill from here, though. My pretty poodle had no idea how to break out. Things happened pretty quick after her owner showed up shouting and calling me all kinds of nasty names. I was saved from his totally uncalled for raging by the return of Andi and Theo. I honestly can’t understand why he was so upset, I am a young virile male and the poodle was the epitome of feminine doggy loveliness. I only wanted to get to know her better. <waggles manly eyebrows>
Andrea heard the commotion and came running. “What is my dog doing in your car, you—you dog snatcher!”
Did I mention I hopped in the car when he opened the door? Not to worry, more on that a bit later. The man’s eyes almost popped out of his head. “Is that your mutt? He nearly bit my head off, and I have nothing to do with him being in my car with my precious Muffin.”
Muffin? That’s what he calls the love of my life?
“Look, whoever you are, my dog was sitting calmly in my car over there.” Andi pointed to the Bentley. “How you got the door open is anyone’s guess, but you’re not getting away with dognapping if I have anything to do with it.”
There was some more back and forth yelling and threats, but I was more interested in my amorata. I did notice when he called me a cur and expressed my indignation. You’ll find out the rest of the adventure a bit later, but suffice to say I was turfed out of the car and my Muffin was speeding away from me.
I trotted back to Andrea and sat down doing my best to look innocent and harmless. She turned to Theo. “Perhaps we should head for the next stop. But that…that…man better never come near Teddy again.” She patted the top of my head as I looked lovingly at her.
I let them lead me over to the Bentley and waited patiently for Theo to open the back door for me. Without further ado, we embarked on the journey to the next newspaper office. All thought of that poodle, I’d already forgotten her name, vanished as I contemplated possibilities for our next adventure. Love is fickle and there are other girl dogs…Now if I could just convince Andi I needed a friend…?
Life is good.
The rest of the trip was uneventful because Andi was thoughtful enough to have Theo stay with me in the car so I wouldn’t be vulnerable to another dog napper
The Course of True Love Never Runs Smooth
Hi Teddy here again. I just have to share another story with you. Muffin is the love of my life, her and my little family. How we got together…well…it’s kind of complicated. But what love story isn’t?
I already told you briefly about the first time I saw my Muffin and enlightened you as to what a prat her owner is. I call him Preenie, but his real name is Harold Preen. Either way I think his parents must have hated him to saddle him with a name like that.
I’ve already given you the gist of what happened in the parking lot. There I was, minding my own business, when my eye was treated to the most wondrous sight. A few cars down from where I sat in Andi’s Bentley was the most beautiful dog I had ever laid eyes on. True, her owner only had a Lexus to squire her around in, but the poodle…she was magnificent. I had to assume the poodle was female, what with all the jewels and baubles around her neck. She met my gaze with those limpid brown eyes of hers and I lost my heart to her.
Maybe this was how my Andi felt about her Thomas. For the very first time I had an inkling of the vacuum his death must have left in her life. Poor Andi! Thank goodness she has me to help fill the void. But I digress, back to Muffin. I may be only a dog, and a mutt at that, but I am extraordinarily smart, if I do have to say so myself. Long ago I learned how to open car door locks, a most useful talent when one is bent on creating terror in the heart of one of Andi’s husbands. However, the dog in the Lexus presented quite a new and exciting application of my talent.
It only took a moment to work my magic on the Bentley’s locks. I leapt out the open door. “Rowlf!” Translated that means “I’m free!” I trotted over to the Lexus, my gaze never leaving the lovely lady trapped inside. Her voice came to me through the closed window, sweet and high. Like the voice of an angel. My angel. I stopped by her door and waited for her to open the door. Sadly, she either never had the need to escape before, or she was terribly challenged in the mental capacity. My frustration grew as I stood gazing longingly at her, and she pressed her nose to the glass with her pretty paws on the ledge, looking at me imploringly. I was in love, hopelessly, madly in love.
I tipped my head to the side, trying to show her how to work the locks. She didn’t appear to comprehend my instructions. We engaged in this silent communication for perhaps five minutes before we were rudely interrupted. A huge buffoon, I had to presume it was her owner, came thundering across the parking lot toward us. He was screeching things that a dog of good breeding like myself won’t lower myself to repeat. As I said before, vulgar bugger. I watched him waddle toward us with more than a little amusement. And this was before I knew his name was Preenie.
He skidded to a halt, huffing and puffing. The queen of my heart pleaded with eyes for me to do something, to save her from the jackass who owned her. I had to do something, I mean, how could I refuse the light of my life? So…when he turned his back and opened the driver’s door, I leapt with impeccable timing and launched myself past the man into the passenger seat and then into the back with the lovely poodle girl.
“Get out,” he screeched at me.
“Arrrffff!” I let loose with my throatiest and loudest bark. I have a mighty bark, one that is capable of shattering ear drums. He clapped his hands over his ears and glared at me. I waited. As soon as he dropped his hands I let him have it again. My pretty poodle pressed against me and crooned softly in her throat. All my systems were suddenly in go mode. Happiness shot through me. She really liked me, the purebred princess.
“Leave her alone! Get out of my car!” Unable to take another super-sonic bark from yours truly, the man scrambled out of the vehicle and beat on the windows screaming incoherently. I ignored him and concentrated on the sweet scent of the queen of my heart.
Andi heard the commotion and came running with Theo hot on her heels.