Charlie was having a variety of reactions to the situation. First and foremost, he felt a sense of delight and possibility at this interesting discovery: a magical animal of great love and attention who, out of nowhere, seemed to have taken a special liking to him. Why him? What had he done to deserve this? He felt kind of excited, as well as special.
On the other hand, he felt confused and slightly overwhelmed. This same cheerful, excited furry being who had just come into his life was equally unpredictable as exciting. Charlie had no idea what to do or how to control it, as it seemed to want to run around everywhere.
Right now, it had proceeded to start digging into the flower bushes. Though he may not have grasped the full meaning and extent of Nan’s reaction to the dog, he knew that she loved her flowers. Though he had lived here for five years, she routinely came over and gardened.
She would not like this sight. No sooner had she left the backyard, to handle whatever she was handling, than the dog had started digging, right next to the flowers. He was still looking in the direction of the back screen door where Nan had disappeared when he felt something splash on his shoe. He looked down to see dirt.
“Wait! Stop!” he cried. This would not do. Nan would not like this! Yet Charlie did not know what to do. He had never handled a dog before. He was completely clueless. Despite her friendly demeanor, she was a big creature, and though he found her exciting and likeable, he was still slightly scared of her.
Suddenly he remembered his little exchange with Stevie. Stevie knew dogs. Charlie wondered if he was still over by the tennis courts. In the excitement of the moment, he come back to the house without saying goodbye. Without thinking, Charlie took several steps to go inside the house, where he was aghast to see that he had tracked dirt from the dog’s digging endeavors onto the rug.
Nan would definitely not like this.
Charlie considered he had a great relationship with his landlord. For five years, he had lived here. He had kept things clean, and he did not mind when she had made him promise to try to keep the house clean. Maybe it was because of the stresses of the moment, or bumping into Nan with the dog here–Nan was clearly not pleased about it, it occurred to Charlie—but Charlie suddenly felt a desire to try to be on his best behavior, so as not to displease her further.
This means the dog needs to be on her best behavior too.
As Charlie thought this, what he actually thought, but didn’t let himself admit, was, “This means MY dog needs to be on her best behavior too.”
A rush of excitement passed through him. I have a dog! Charlie had never considered such a thing happening. In fact, he had never much considered having any kind of pet, for that matter.
Suddenly, Charlie wondered, Why not? They are such wonderful creatures! This voice arose as if it had been there all along. Yet Charlie could not remember ever having thought this way before. How had he missed the magic of having pets before?
These thoughts all occurred to Charlie before he realized something else, rather soberingly. This was still not his dog. It could belong to someone else. They might appear at the door, or in the neighborhood, asking around if anyone has seen a red, lanky, friendly female (for that is what Charlie thought she was) pooch.
Charlie felt a bit sad as he thought this. It would really be too bad, if that were the case.
Charlie came to from his reverie and remembered the dog in the back digging up the roses–or whatever they were, Charlie wasn’t much good with flower types. Stevie! he strode through the house and was about to go out the front door when he noticed the very boy sitting on the stoop.
Charlie wasted no time, opening up the door further and saying, “Stevie, you know about dogs, right? Well, um, I’m having a little problem with her. Could you come in the back?”
Stevie turned towards him, looking a bit surprised but rather happy, and said, “Well, what’s the matter? Did she go to poo-poo or something? You need to get a bag and put that in there.”
“No, not at all… um, she’s digging up the flowers.”
Stevie’s eyes widened. “I can help. Show me.”
Charlie led Stevie through the living room and into the back yard, where, sure enough, the dog was still busy digging up the flower bed. There was a rather substantial presence of dirt strewn along the grass and the cobblestone pathway in the back.
“Hey! Hey you!” Stevie shouted confidently, not missing a bit. “Stop that!” Stevie strode towards the dog, bending over and putting his arms around her scruff, pulling her away from the hole in the ground she was digging. She panted, her mouth open wide, wearing what was as close to a big smile as a dog could have. Clearly she was enjoying herself, but she gave way to Stevie’s nudge. “No!” said Stevie. “That is not okay!”
He dragged her by the scruff of the neck back towards the screen door where Charlie still stood. The dog came along willingly, and neither boy nor dog were hurt by the other.
“Very good, Stevie!” cried Charlie, impressed. “You were the right man for the job!” He reached out and patted Stevie on the head, and then patted the dog on the head.
Stevie’s grin seemed to get even bigger. “No problem, Mr. Charlie! I am glad to help!” The dog started licking Stevie’s face enthusiastically, as if she couldn’t be happier, too, that he had dragged her away from her hole-digging duties.
“This dog needs a collar… and a leash!” shouted Stevie. “And she might be hungry. Got any food for her?”
Charlie admitted that he didn’t.
What does one feed a dog? Charlie did not know, other than thinking it was probably meat. Yet he was pretty sure that the kid standing across from him, looking self-satisfied and basking in his knowledge of all things Dog, knew the answer.