The squat beagle, hovering on the edge of obesity, lay in his bed in a tired heap. His eyes were rolled back into his head and the occasional snort slipped out of his mouth. Nothing could possibly wake him.
“We’re heading out on a WALK!”
Except for that.
Jumping out of bed, the dog padded over to his master, his tail wagging so hard that his behind was shaking like an old jalopy.
Not the old down trick! Did he have to? The dog sat, hoping this would satisfy his master.
It failed to make his master glow with pride as the dog had hoped. His master pulled him down by his collar until he was lying below him. He was supposed to be ashamed, but he felt nothing but frustration.
Huh? The dog hadn’t caught that last part. Did he say chill? What else could he have said? Still, in case he was wrong, the dog lay on the floor.
“CHILL, BAKER! GOOD DOG! CHILL!”
Now that the dog could understand. He leapt up and shoved his head into his master’s leg.
“Calm DOWN, boy!”
This time the dog was too excited to pay any notice to the down word. The sun was shining, everyone was happy, and he had the world out there to explore!
Then, clouds rolled across the sky to cover up the sun. Darkness descended upon everything, and the world became a dangerous place. For out of the gloom came the most horrible monster anyone could imagine. The Choker.
The Choker was a black fabric winding its way around the dog’s muzzle. If the dog wanted to chase something, all his master had to do was pull the leash and… ouch! His face was pulled back and his throat tightened. The dog hated the Choker, and the Choker apparently hated him back.
His master slipped the Choker onto the dog’s face, managing to maneuver past the dog’s twisting and turning head. After that, they set out.
So many scents! So many sights! The dog was immediately overwhelmed. He should chase that stray cat. No, the squirrel would be easier to catch. Sniff. Sniff. The unmistakable scent of dog wafted towards his nose. The dog’s head was spinning. Ignoring all the confusion, he went on.
Soon after he had left his house, the dog spotted a little rabbit in the hedges. A deep, threatening growl escaped his throat. His would-be prey, now aware of his presence, dashed away. The dog was determined to follow it, but before he could, pain shot through his head. Not the Choker again!
Then, the dog had an idea, perhaps the best of his lifetime. He twisted his head to nearly unreachable angles, rubbed it on the grass, and escaped the Choker’s grip. Yet as soon as he freed himself, his master’s foot was on his leash.
“DOWN,” he commanded.
The dog didn’t want to obey, but he had no choice. He sat placidly as his master reacquainted him with his old nemesis. Then, his master turned around and dragged the dog home.
As soon as he set foot inside the door, the dog felt sleep approaching and retired to his bed. He would have to tolerate life with the Choker, or life without walks.