Puppy Love

Note: This story is also from a while back. 2001 to be exact. And yeah, it’s girly. Oral exams are the 27th of this month, btw.

Puppy Love
9.05.01
Ashok Karra

The car ride was smooth and relaxing for the both of us. I normally hate driving, but things are different when she’s in the car, and it’s a bright but not-too-hot day, and the windows are open, inviting a cool breeze into the otherwise enclosed space. The noise from the highway was there – I’m never sure where it comes from exactly; is it the tires hitting the road, and just that alone? – but the purr of the engine actually made me – and I think her, too – comfortable.

Some stretches of the highway were surrounded by open country, with a few farms, or sometimes there would be patches of woods around us. There was always the occasional hill in the distance, and, of course, there were a few small towns, but they were up close, as I was driving through them. The green of the grass and trees seemed greener; the towns seemed as if they were out of an oil painting. Sunshine sometimes does that to things; it bathes them in such a way that the things themselves look like they’re giving off a rich, warm glow.

Her head was turned to the side, away from me, and I thought she was trying to sleep.

“Wait! Did you see that?”

“See what? I’m busy driving!”

“Turn around.”

“Whatever you say, dear,” I muttered, half sarcastically. I knew what she saw and I really wasn’t in the mood.

I turned the car around at the next light, and when she pointed and said “There!” at a large sign marked “Puppy Barn,” I turned into the appropriate lot.

“Dear, don’t be so snappy,” she said as I was parking.

“You know how I feel about dogs…”

“Just behave yourself inside, OK?”

Now that comment got me mad. I was disappointed before that the ride had to end so abruptly. Then the ride-ender insults me. I’ve never embarrassed her before. But now I wanted to. (Some boyfriend I am.)

We went inside, she smiling, I rolling my eyes. “Puppy Barn” was filled with dogs of all breeds and shapes and sizes. Some were roaming free, others were in enclosed spaces – not cages, but sizeable areas (for puppies and smaller dogs, at least) – fenced off. All of the animals were cute, giving my girlfriend that puppy eye look – whether the animal in question was actually a puppy or not being irrelevant – that I give her when I’m pleading with her for something. “Great,” I thought to myself, “competition.”

The proprietor said hi. He was a good looking, dark haired, flannel-wearing gentleman in his 30’s. I half smiled back and waved. She was busy making cute faces at a shaggy looking dog with two shiny black beads for eyes, and didn’t see the guy.

“Don’t you love the color?” (His shaggy fur was tan.) “And he’s so cute!”

“I have a carpet like that. I never see you making faces at it.”

“Oh, shut up,” she said in disgust, and walked away. I knew she wasn’t mad, just determined to enjoy herself here, with or without me. I chuckled, stared at the dog she liked, and wondered why I was a cat person. This dog really was cute. Then I sneezed, and knew I couldn’t stay inside much longer – I was allergic to something in that place. I walked outside and looked at the outside of the premises and at the cars going by.

A few minutes later, she came out.

“You OK?”

“Sure. Take your time, I’m in no rush.”

“Well, I think I found a dog I like.”

“Do you have the money to get him? I didn’t bring my checkbook.”

“Yeah. You think you’ll be allergic to him on the way home?”

“It won’t be too bad if I am. I was only sneezing back there. Do you want to try it?”

“Yeah, he’s really cute. I feel sorry for him being stuck here.”

“Hmmm… you were looking for a pet anyway, even though I seem to obey your every command. Go get him, I’ll be out here.”

She went inside and brought back a little beagle. Apparently the owner was given it by a friend and really wanted this dog to have a home, fast. So she got a big discount. I sized up my new competition. She could certainly shop for him more easily than for me, and I will admit, there is something charming in knowing what his every word is going to be. I gave him a stare, and then a smile. He barked at me and then sniffed me. Then he continued to sniff a bit more, before barking briefly again.

“He likes you.”

“I’m never sure. Come on, let’s get back. He must be hungry.”

The ride home would have been more pleasant if she didn’t treat the dog as if it were her baby. I mean, she had to keep it occupied, and I don’t know specifically what I objected to in the cute talk – no, I know what got me mad. It was that look she gave him, the one that made me think the dog was her child. I can only get that look from her if I took her out to eat, and the movie afterwards was good, and the conversation was perfect the entire night. I mean, I wasn’t mad, but I do go to great lengths to earn that look. What does a dog have that I don’t?

I dropped her off at her place. We decided that the next day was busy, and so was the day after, but the night of the day after I could eat with her and her family.

When I arrived shortly before dinner, later in the week, I was greeted by her father, who looked tired. “She’s walking the dog right now. Apparently he has to be walked twice a day.”

I was just curious: “I know that your family was looking for a new pet, but how did you feel about…”

“The dog’s a dynamo, I’ll grant that… but she did pick a beautiful dog, and we’re all taken by it,” he said, with some resolution.

“I see. Well, she does have excellent taste.”

“Wait until you have a daughter.”

I laughed, and then saw her come in, with the dog. She saw me and beamed, and I got a kiss on the cheek. The dog started sniffing again, then barking.

“He’s been doing that to everyone he meets. I guess it’s just one of his habits.”

I would have said something pointless and meaningless, which is what I usually do when I have nothing informative or useful to say, if it wasn’t for the fact that dinner was being served. We ate well, and I can’t say I didn’t enjoy myself, but that dog did bark a lot, while it was staring out the window at passerby.

“It’s just a puppy. How is he so loud?”

“I don’t know,” she replied, “it’s one of his quirks.”

After dinner, her parents went out to a movie, her little brother retired to his room to do his homework, and we got some time alone. So we sat on the couch and talked.

“He’s made me exhausted. Why didn’t you warn me?” she said, smiling brightly.

I looked into her eyes. “Look, there is one thing…”

“What?”

“Well, I don’t want you to think I’m jealous of the dog or anything weird.”

“Just say it.”

“That look you gave the dog in the car, the ‘Awww… You’re sweet!’ look – how do I get that look?”

She bristled. “Oh, come on; you’re not saying I have to control the way I look at things now, are you?”

I looked away from her, at the floor. “No, I really am just curious. Don’t be defensive. I just want to know what I can do for you to make you happy, because I’m thinking that certain look conveys to me that you’re really happy with the way things are.”

I looked back at her. She gave me a laughing smile. “You’re sweet. You can have whatever look you want from me.”

The dog came into the room and began sniffing me. I petted it, and this time he didn’t bark or continue sniffing. He just lay down near my feet and went to sleep.

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