Friday, December 2, 2022

“Puddles” by Brian Lintner


Trigger warning: dog-lovers beware.

Yap bark!

Puddles was a Yorkshire Terrier with four stubby legs sticking out from his sausage body and his coat felt like waxed string. He was so tiny he could barely jump puddles, and when excited, well, he was so named. Puddles was also miserable.

He was adopted from the shelter by Bonhomme, after his second divorce. Bonhomme needed company in his life that didn’t yap at him like his marriages did. Bonhomme’s first wife was French, his second wife was German, and his working language was English. Thus, Bonhomme was a polyglot. Surely, he could learn to speak Dog.

Puddles spoke high-pitched dog, “Yap! Bark!”

Puddles was more high-strung than Bonhomme’s marriages, and he flailed about like a drunken morning star. Puddles yap-barked at every bird and squirrel that flashed by a window or door. Fleeting moments of calm were interrupted by unhinged yap bark chaos when other dogs passed by his terrier territory. This aggravation was doubled because Bonhomme lived on a corner lot.

Bonhomme spoke to Puddles in all of his languages, explaining the maxim reverence, a dog is a man’s best friend. “Good dog, bien chien, guter Hund…”

“Yap! Bark!”

The invisible fence associated with the shock collar made no difference to Puddles’ determination to scrap with every living object. The collar could not be recharged quickly enough. He nipped at the heels of visitors and chomped on their footwear. He punctured the hands of the unknowing who reached out to pet him, and because of this, Bonhomme picked up occasional medical bills.

Bonhomme and Puddles’ relationship evolved like his marriages. Unlike his marriages, however, what eventually worked best for Puddles was a rolled-up magazine and a helluva racket. But there was more yap in Puddles than Bonhomme had magazines. Still, Puddles was a rescue, and surely someone needed to love him.

Bonhomme introduced Puddles to the new woman in his life, the Queen. Puddles protested his pecking order demotion. “Yap! Bark!”

He marked territory in the house, peeing on the Queen’s bed or depositing doo-doo gifts in high traffic areas. Queen put up with it because of her love for Bonhomme, a good man. Puddles learned to tolerate Queen, but he did not accept her – nip yap bark. For Queen, Puddles was part of the Bonhomme love package.

It was Queen’s idea to purchase a robot vacuum that could suck up the dog hair and the dust of life that settles everywhere. Activate the robot when leaving the house and the floors will have been vacuumed by the time you return. They should have known better, and it only happened once, but Puddles donated a steamy loose pile of doo-doo on the kitchen floor that the robot rolled through, again and again. Their house, their floor, acquired the stench and veneer of dog doo.

Mans best friend.

Queen, the social butterfly she was, mingled with all of the neighbours. She would walk around the country-sized block they lived at, and Puddles was always eager to sniff and pee on every vertical object along the way and would yank-tug at the stupid-long retractable leash. He would wrap around hydrants or trees and get stuck in some self-immobilized knot that needed a rigging knife to untie. It wasn’t the first time Queen thought of a rigging knife.

That spring, having returned from their winter retreat near the equator, Queen took Puddles for a routine stroll. As they neared home, the neighbour with the big pickup truck came along and stopped alongside Queen. Queen stood at the driver’s door where they shared howdy-do’s, and yammered excessively about tropical warmth. Perhaps, between the two, they became mentally lost in their chinwag about paradise. 

Puddles rambled around the back of the truck, marking each tire along the way and arrived at the front passenger’s wheel, somehow locked into another knot. Tuckered out and nowhere to go, he sat and waited for the entanglement to be undone.

Queen and the neighbour bid adieu. As the truck popped into gear and rolled forward just a little bit, there were two very audible sounds: a partial yap and a splot.

It was an accident.

A man’s best friend is not necessarily a Queen’s best friend.

The birds can land and the squirrels can jump

There ain’t no Puddles yapping about

The critters and rodents not longer have fears

The remains; a curly grin and crocodile tears


Brian Lintner is a veteran and former corporate guy who loves good stories and word salads. He and his tolerant wife of 37 years have dragged their kids around Canada and overseas, and now live somewhere in the armpit of the Golden Horseshoe. When not writing, he is known to paint, and continues to pluck away at his ukulele, or occasionally babysit the grandkids.

See Brian Henry’s upcoming weekly writing classes, one-day workshops, and weekend retreats here.


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