The International Writers Magazine: Dreamscapes: Dog Story
the wonder dog
need a dog willing to travel through the eye of this tornado of
shining tomato paste. They need a dog who is willing to give his
body for their lives.
There once was a
couple, very happy with each other, who owned a dog named Zwolf. He
was an unremarkable dog in every way, with one exception. He barked
like a normal dog. Never pestered passers by their house with relentless
yelping. And he didn't whine whenever they went away for longer than
he liked. Loyal, he wandered the house. You might think him a guard
dog if he wasn't small as a terrier -- but not a terrier.
Once a mouse had plagued the couple's home. It ran rampant through numerous
holes it burrowed in the night. It seemingly had a network of tunnels,
opening into the dining room, kitchen, living room, and even their bedroom.
The entryways he scratched through the plaster opened out onto tables,
over the couple's bedstead, underneath the stairs, and one even let
into their cupboard where they kept their rice, pasta, and canned beans.
The mouse was everywhere, and tormented the couple so relentlessly they
began to suspect that it was a company, a regiment of warrior mice bent
on defeating their human adversaries.
The couple could never figure out why the mouse did what he did. They
only knew what: he shattered their vases; he destroyed the casings on
their sofa and their expensive leather chair, and chewed up the wires
around their home theater and stereo equipment. The mouse couldn't be
stopped, and he took license to have his way with their food as well
-- and not even things mice normally eat.
A pound of ground beef disappeared from their refrigerator one day.
The man, who had been having an aggravating day working at his Engineering
firm -- one of the databases was on the fritz -- blamed the woman. And
she, annoyed because she'd lost one of her pumps when she tripped and
fell down a manhole in the street, decidedly let him know that he was
always trying to blame her for everything, and that he'd better own
up to his mistakes, or she'd leave him for the butcher the next day
without a word or written notice -- that was how fed up she was with
Now, they were about to have a tangle in the living room. The man had
an ornamental pottery choir boy in one hand, and the woman had taken
off her other pump and brandished it in two fists. She was growling
at him, and he was skipping, bobbing and weaving like a boxer with his
choir boy tucked under his elbow. Things were going to come to blows
this time. Although they'd always resolved their disputes because they
held strong ties with each other, there is a boiling point for every
couple, and like a kettle bubbling on the fire, they were about to blow.
When all of a sudden Zwolf appeared. He had pricked up his ears, sensing
their distress, and knew exactly what to do. He was their companion
the man had bought Zwolf for his girlfriend as an anniversary
present -- and he didn't hold either, man or woman, any special loyalty.
He wanted them both to survive unscathed, and the only way to do that
would be to intervene with some miracle before the gauntlet had been
He foretold their imminent fisticuffs and raced to the scene of the
crime. Opening the refrigerator with his nose, he spied the hole where
the mouse had entered, and then dashed to the living room. There, the
couple stood face to livid face. Zwolf yelped, and instantly they turned.
Their red faces began to cool because they couldn't stay mad at their
cute little doggie -- not with Zwolf. In fact, he was the prime mediator
in almost all of their conflicts. Even his acquirement was with that
same intent in mind, for the man had bought him as a present on their
anniversary to make up for the way he'd blown up at her the day before,
after she'd forgotten to pick up the groceries. He was their "little
Henry Kissinger", their little diplomat. Each of them had a war
department that continually stockpiled munitions, but he held an embassy
in each of their hearts, and brokered treaties whenever mass destruction
loomed over the horizon.
They followed Zwolf quickly, knowing that if there was anyone who could
make things up, it would be him. To the kitchen, they followed his bouncing
tail. He panted and his spittle spotted the floor.
In front of the refrigerator, the both of them stood. Neither wanted
to be the one to initiate peace. Neither wanted to open the fridge to
find whatever disarmament resolution Zwolf had drafted this time. So
Zwolf did what he always did -- improvised -- and opened the door with
the tip of his nose, just as he did before.
Lo and behold. Behind the rack where the man had stored the package
of beef at the beginning of the week, there was a small black hole,
about two inches in diameter. The woman, happy that she had been right
all along, started to hug her boyfriend, when he stepped away and crossed
his arms. What was this? The evidence of the hole wasn't enough? She
was still to blame for his missing meat? He nodded his head. She could
have drilled the hole in the fridge herself. What? Yes. She could have
snuck into the fridge during the night and drilled the hole, taken the
meat out and given it to one of her friends -- she was always going
on and on about her friends, especially Barbara, whose husband worked
at a ketchup factory and brought home sample after sample of ketchup
when they had no meat to put it on.
This wouldn't do at all. She had not proven herself innocent, but had
even furthered her guilt by trying to use Zwolf to validate her lie.
She had lied to him, and he was going to pack his things and find a
new apartment, leaving her with the exorbitant rent. She protested that
he already paid the majority of the rent, and that it would be too much
of a burden for her to pick up the balance for the remainder of the
lease. So, find someone else, he said, and promptly began moving toward
the living room door. Find someone else to share your rent. You can
work it girl. Troll the bars until you pick up some bum to live with
you, and see how you like it. Maybe then you'll appreciate me and stop
stealing my things for Barbara. You leave Barbara out of this! She screamed.
Now things were even more heated. And Zwolf was worrying his head what
to do. What does a dog do when he is more competent to act than his
masters? He has to use his doggie wits, and that's exactly what Zwolf
did whenever the hour grew grim. Racing to the living room, he jumped
out of the front window and onto the street. He knew his mission. He
knew the way to solve this problem. He knew his destination and he picked
up his pace to get there quick as he could. Time was scarce. Before
long he knew that the man, who was standing nearby the kitchen sink,
would grab one of the knives and begin his attack. The woman, on the
other hand, stood by the pots and pans, so he knew that she would have
ample defense. She could use the big steel frying pot as a shield, but
he feared for the man's head, because, with a mighty blow, she'd be
able to crush his skull.
Time was running out when finally he saw the objective he'd been looking
for. Rising twenty feet high -- astronomically high, high as the sky
for a dog -- was the supermarket. Inside, behind all of the aisles of
frozen boxed meals, cereals, and canned goods, would be the deli with
its cuts of meat and ground beef. He'd managed to catch a stray twenty
lying on the floor of the living room with his mouth, and planned to
make a purchase that might or might not save the both of their lives.
It would be a close call, a head to head finish. There's no telling
whether or not he'd be able to make it home in time. But with luck,
and with the courage to be the first dog to buy his own pound of beef
at the supermarket, he would succeed and save his darling masters.
A man and his shopping cart, with a boy riding on top, emerged from
the squeaking electric doors. The lights of the supermarket were inviting,
and he could hear all of the cashiers scanning items and ringing up
totals on their registers. Hesitating for a moment, gulping down his
last fear, he darted through the door, into the light, into the cold
air, into the teeth of a million hazards!
Shopping carts squeaked out of control under the grip of old ladies.
Young boys raced between the aisles looking for candy. Men with their
girlfriends on shopping trips absent-mindedly controlled their carts,
eyes glued to boobs rather than to the path ahead. In short, every second
Zwolf faced immediate and grisly squishing, smashing, decapitating,
and eviscerating. He was running through a mill of potential anguishes
and suffering. He was flying through doggie hell on a mission to save
the souls of his dear man, and his kind woman.
Between the wheels of a cart he moved, ducking under the shining aluminum
grill. A young boy ahead, in the aisle he'd taken, leaned on his tippie-toes
to grab a can of corn for his mother. She'd stupidly gone for some eggs,
leaving him unattended. He shook on his legs, straining to get the can
-- and the inevitably horrible consequences spelled dire doom for doggie
The boy fumbled the can, and fell to the side, arm still outstretched,
knocking can after can off the shelves. It was an avalanche of canned
corn, lima beans, and kidney. It was a rolling tidal wave of metal in
Zwolf couldn't believe his eyes! Looking up above, he wondered if God
had it in for all the doggies in life. Why? Why have you forsaken me,
he began to bark. But then his conscience kicked in. That little voice
in his head that told him right from wrong told him to buck up. Don't
give up Zwolf, it told him. Don't give up on your masters or you'll
be homeless for the rest of you life. Don't curse God when what they
need is determination, not lamentation. They need a dog willing to travel
through the eye of this tornado of shining tomato paste. They need a
dog who is willing to give his body for their lives.
Zwolf growled. His conscience was right, and he stared into the tumbling
metal cans with a fierce gaze. His nostrils flared and his legs kicked
into hyperdrive. Scrambling across the slick floor with his claws biting
into the cracks, he hurtled his body through the whirling storm, cans
falling to his left and right.
Midway through, a can pinned his tail against the ground, and he howled
with pain. But he didn't let discouragement set in and stay his progress.
He wouldn't let a mere pinned tail keep him from escaping from the avalanche.
He didn't want to be buried under corn. No sir-eeh. He was a ferocious
golden retriever at this moment, hell-bent on retrieving a one pound
package of beef from the deli and slapping it down on the conveyor.
He would purchase that beef alright. He pulled his tale from under the
can. He would make it, and he would save them, and they would take him
out for a walk no matter how late it was from now on. They would give
him a treat whenever he panted for one. They would rub his belly when
he demanded. He would be their master. Ah, ah, ah, his conscience told
him. They will always be yours.
Zwolf made it through. He came out on the other side with only a bruised
tail, and the deli counter was high and frosted ahead. The butcher stood
over him, blood on his apron, a knife in hand, dicing meat. He had a
nasty beard and a nasty look on his face to match it. Zwolf barked.
The butcher looked around, but didn't seem to believe his ears. Zwolf
barked again. The butcher raised his eyebrows in shock. What could be
making that noise? Is it a bird? Is it a plane? No.
Bark! Zwolf barked at him, and he finally looked down. Now this butcher
happened to know the man and the woman, was actually a pretty good friend
of theirs who they invited for tea every Saturday afternoon. Recognizing
Zwolf, he began to ask him what he was doing there. Had his masters
been in a car crash by the supermarket? Did they need help?
No. That's not it. What are you here for? Are you hungry boy?
What would you like? We've got veal cutlets. We've got polish sausage.
We've got beef--
Beef? That's it, you want beef? How much beef do you want?
You want one pound eh? Well, you know that's mighty expensive don't
you. I don't see how a doggie like you will be able to pay for a tall
order like that, let alone how you'll carry it back. Will you need help
carrying it boy?
Boy... you ARE determined to go it alone huh?
Zwolf raised his right forepaw, and the butcher's eyes shone when he
recognized the face of Andrew Jackson on the twenty dollar bill. Immediately
he dug up a pound of beef from the packages and gave it to him.
There you go, he said, but I still don't know how you plan on carrying
Zwolf, answering his question immediately, took the package in his jaws
while keeping one claw hooked through the twenty dollar bill. The way
back to the check-out lines was by no means as hard as the way in. It
seemed like fate had taken a liking to Zwolf and his perseverance. He'd
shown true courage in facing the avalanche of cans, and true cleverness
in his dealing with the butcher. He was a gifted dog, a dog of dogs,
a dog who would go down in the history books as a savior, and trusted
companion, to me.
At the check-out counter, Zwolf leapt up onto the rubber conveyor when
his turn came, and stayed there, as it buzzed and whirred and item after
item was scanned by the laser, until he reached the cashier. The cashier,
who wasn't exactly the smartest pea in the pod -- if you take my meaning
-- misconstrued the situation.
Are you buying this dog, sir? He asked the man behind Zwolf.
No... I ah... I don't believe dogs are sold at the supermarket... but
perhaps this one in particular does sell them, although I'm not sure
what your rates are, but I may actually be wanting--
Why hello there, the cashier said to him. What a smart dog. So you mean
to tell me that you are the one buying that meat, and that you are not
actually for sale?
Okay then. I guess I'll just ring you up. That'll be five eighty.
What? You want me to keep the change? Okay, thanks a lot doggie. You're
one special pup.
Zwolf silently thought to himself that the cashier was correct and that
he couldn't have made a better judgments of his character. He knew he
was a special pup. No other pup could have come through what he had.
No other dog was half the dog he was -- no matter how big, no matter
how ferocious a fighter. Fighting wasn't a true measure of a dog's mettle
anyway. Fighting was for big, stupid dogs, dogs that did nothing but
destroy. He was a dog of life. He was a dog who saved people. He was
a dog who would be sent up into the great roast beef dinner feast of
doggie heaven when all of the fighters and neck biters would be sent
down into doggie hell, where they would all eat nasty, dry dog food.
On his way home, under the passing light from the street lamps, he began
to feel a cocky confidence coming over himself. Although still small
as a terrier, he'd picked up a strut to his run. One of his legs kicked
forward a little more than usual, and his wet nose had taken on the
look of an English poodle's. He pointed it at an angle in the air, haughtily.
He had succeeded. He felt it. He knew that he'd done what needed to
be done, and that when his masters had listened to him for a second
time and found the pound of beef under one of the seat cushions of the
sofa in the living room, they would spend the night happily in front
of the television throwing him doggie treats and petting his tummy.
He would be a happy dog tonight. That was the summation of his inner
sentiments as he tramped up the door to their house, jumped onto the
window sill, and dove inside. Zwolf tucked the beef under one of the
sofa cushions and made his way to the kitchen, wondering why he didn't
hear anyone fighting. Were they dead, he wondered?
No one answered. A rotten feeling began to purl in his stomach. He knew
something was wrong, but what? What could they be doing? Where had they
gone? He was almost afraid to enter the kitchen because he thought he
might find their bloody bodies on the floor in front of the refrigerator.
Entering the kitchen, he found nothing still. Where had they gone to?
He began poking his nose around the house, looking from door to door.
All the lights were off. From across the street he could hear the thumping
music of a party pounding the windows. Had they gone to the party across
the street? He was beginning to get frightened. What if they'd gone
upstairs? What if the man, becoming tired and frustrated with life,
had decided to commit suicide? And then, what if, after he committed
suicide, like Juliet she'd decided to take the concrete plunge as well?
What if they were both together lying on the patio in the back of the
house, a pair of crushed bones and gnarled faces?
He pondered these questions in his mind, and then began his ascent of
the staircase. As soon as he was about midway up, he began hearing a
sound, a low vibration. What could it be? The banister was slightly
quivering, and he could see the windows pulsing with sound waves. Was
it the sound from the party next door reverberating all the way through
Rising to the top of the staircase, he made his way down the hall, checking
every other room but the bedroom first, afraid most of all of that room
because its door was shut. In the bathroom, the mirror stared spookily
at him. In the study, he could see the man's papers scattered under
the light of a lamp, and the television lay deactivated on a bureau
in the corner.
Slowly he approached the bedroom. It was time to bite the bullet. He
thought he could hear a noise inside. He wondered what could possibly
be happening. Perhaps the mouse had come from the hole and had begun
chasing them around the house, and they'd took their bedroom as a refuge
by plugging up the hole above their bedstead. No, that couldn't be it.
The mouse could always burrow a new way in. He was devious like that
-- unstoppable. No. Perhaps the man had killed the woman with the knife,
and now, resting her body on a table inside, was sawing her body to
pieces, rocking it back and forth, causing the door to vibrate the way
it did. Or perhaps the woman had crushed his skull with the frying pan
and was doing the same thing, or had come up with an even grislier way
of concealing the body and the evidence. The only way to find out would
be to use his doggie intellect to open the door.
Stepping on his hind legs, he made a swipe for the doorknob with his
paw. No luck. It would be harder than that. Next, he shoved a book from
the study onto the ground, and pushed it underneath the doorknob. With
the extra boost, he managed to grasp the handle in both paws. But, even
turning the knob he couldn't open it. The door was shut too tightly.
Thinking, thinking, he continued to fret, pacing in front of the door
wagging his tail. What could be done? What was that noise? What would
happen to his masters!
Finally, he figured out the trick. Running downstairs to the drawer
where the woman kept all of her sewing equipment, he retrieved a piece
of colored yarn in his teeth. Dashing up the steps, he knew what to
By using his teeth, he managed to tie a small noose in the rope. He
would lasso the doorknob, and, after jumping on top of the book again,
and turning it to the left in order to wedge it a small ways open, he
would leap in the air away from the door, using his doggie weight to
pry it open like a crowbar. It was the perfect plan, and he commended
himself under his rapid breaths for thinking it up. He was in top form
tonight, a true Lassie at his best.
Slipping the loop over the doorknob and sliding the book underneath,
the preparations were done. He was ready to commence. Standing on his
hind legs, on top of the book, he turned the knob, just as he had before,
and opened the door a small crack so that the bolt wouldn't slip back
into place. And now, the leap of faith.
With the string in his mouth, ready to fly, he jumped -- and... Success!
The door was open! He had done it! He had figured out the problem and
now he would finally solve the mystery!
Perhaps they were still fighting. Perhaps they were arm wrestling and
he'd be able to solve their feud by leading them down to the sofa and
pointing out that the man had merely forgotten it underneath one of
the cushions when he'd sat down to watch television. That would be that,
and they could go on living just as they had -- he the beloved dog,
and they the adoring masters. He almost wanted to strike a pose in the
From the doorway, he heard the faint sound of "ya, ya, ya."
He'd never heard his mistress speak like that before.
He heard a gasp as he entered the darkly lit room. Focusing his eyes,
he saw something.
What are you doing on top of her like that!
© David Tavernier October 2004
never see him coming, from way up in the sky
in Black and White
out yer pockets and gimme yer wallet kid," he had said.
David Tavernier has a bee in his bonnet
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