Chato’s Tale by Mike Boggia

The pack leader went to work early. Later, his mate, the one the people pups, call mommy, said “park.” My ears perked up, not easy for a Labrador pup. Park means “walk,” but they left me on the patio.

A howl started, but that was a “NO,” I stretched out on the cool cement and waited. Thirsty, I went to my bowl and drank, played with my ball, gnawed on my bone and waited.

I went to the front gate, pawed it, and it swung open. This has never happened. My pack always uses the front door to take me for walk. Beyond the sidewalk, a car disappears around the corner. I slink out and look up and down the empty street.

The delectable aroma of hot dogs roasting wafts past my nose. I zero in on it and trot west, nostrils quivering. Once, I got a whole hot dog when my pack leader dropped it from the grill. Wonder why they’re called dogs. They aren’t like any dog I’ve met or smelled.

The odor leads me up a driveway and into the carport. I sniff around and find a strange silver and gray flat ball that has a scent of bacon fat on it. It is not comfortable in my mouth, but I chew to get the bacon flavor.

The door opens and a mommy person comes out with a garbage bag. She looks at me, drops the bag. and screams. I jump back and hide behind a privet bush.

“Dog. Rabies!”

The curtains part and people pups peer at me. My happy wags shake the wiry blob from my mouth. Froth flies from my lips. More shouting indoors. I wait for someone to come out and play with me.

I’m about to leave when a white truck pulls into the driveway and a man dressed in brown climbs out carrying a pole.

“Rabid dog, carport,” comes from the window.

The man approaches. It might be best to smile and wag at someone with a big pole. The wiry mess falls from my mouth. The man leans the pole against the wall and laughs.

“Hello, pupper.”

The words are cheerful and friendly. I wiggle up to him and lift a paw. He strokes my head. Drawing a leash from his back pocket, he slips it around my neck. With a smile, he tells the people I’d been chewing a Brillo pad, whatever that is.

The family comes out of the house and a boy smiles as I wag harder. He plays with my boy. He points toward my home and the man leads me back to where my pack calls, “Chato, Chato.”

They take me in the house and I run to my water bowl to rinse the soapy feel from my mouth.

The next day a metal blob hangs from the gate handle. It never opens again, no matter how hard I scratch.