Meet Cute #2: The Pug and the Doberman

One day, Candy Three Snoops was snurfling and snuffling along the sidewalk outside her house. Her owner had let her out a few minutes before to “go potty,” which she understood to mean urinating. She obliged only about half the time, and today was not one of them.

A large dog rounded the corner ahead. Candy perked her ears and sniffed. Oh yes — that thing. The Doberman that lived a few doors down. She believed his name was Viggo.

“Viggo, heel!” yelled Viggo’s owner, a young woman with furry knobs on her ears. The owner was young and pretty.

Viggo did not obey. He strained at his leash. He lunged. He whined. And somehow this greatly upset Candy. She began to waddle around in a circle, her snurfling becoming louder.

She would rather not have had this response. It was so undignified.

In fact, being a pug in general was undignified. Being a pug was the whole reason she snurfled and snuffled: Because she’d been bread to half-suffocate, with her foreshortened nose and smashed nostrils. She’d heard her owner talking about how pugs now were being bread with longer muzzles. She was jealous of these new pugs.

Young woman and Viggo approached, Candy beside herself with circling.

“Hi there Candy,” Viggo’s owner said, warily. Then, over Viggo’s heightened whining: “Viggo! Heel!”

That was one of the worst of the human commands: Heel. So oppressive.

Viggo must have thought so, too, because he lunged again and freed himself. He shot toward Candy and smelled her privates. She would have smelled his, too, if she were tall enough. But she could see them well enough. Intact. He was too young to have gone under the knife.

Candy circled helplessly, her agitation rising past irritation toward a kind of ecstasy.

She chastised herself. Really, Candy? At your age, on your knobby legs? You’re having this response to an adolescent horse-dog?

But she was. There was no denying it. Her body wriggled with sensation. And before she could stop herself, she let out a howl. Viggo wagged his tail, pleased with the response he was getting, stirring up great whooshes of air above her. The whooshes cooled and agitated Candy at once.

She would have wagged her tail, too, but she didn’t have one. She had just a stump, but she wiggled that as best she could.

“Viggo! Viggo, get over here!”

Viggo tried and failed to mount Candy. He couldn’t get any leverage, not with the huge difference in their heights. He tried and failed again.

Candy was crushed. How she wanted him in that moment! Just his raw energy, his exuberance! Yes, his youth!

The young woman was almost upon them. Viggo tensed, apparently aware he had only seconds remaining.

“Candy! Viggo! Come on, guys, not again!”

Again? Candy didn’t remember much about her past. She didn’t remember whether she’d eaten yet that day, for example. Whether she’d already pooped. What her mother had looked or smelled like.

But she had feelings about things, and the feeling she was having now was that she’d never really let go of herself. This patch of sidewalk, for example. How often had she explored outside its bounds? What if she hadn’t ever? What if today was her chance?

The young woman’s footsteps pounded on the sidewalk, and Viggo was gone. Candy saw him loping across the street and then down the sidewalk on the opposite side.

Behind her, Candy heard the sound of her own front door opening and slamming shut. Her owner slammed out of the house, finally aware of what was happening.

“Candy!” he yelled at her. “What are you –”

And God help her, Candy’s legs began to move, too, a comical and stunted echo of Viggo’s gliding gait. They churned and clicked beneath her — those damn toenails, too long — !

But she kept running and running, wanting nothing in the world more than to keep up.

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