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Copyright by Pegg Thomas 2009-2015

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Jul 8, 2010
“Can I help you?”

Clarence glanced around and mumbled. “I’m here to look at dogs.”

“What?” The girl behind the counter asked.

Clarence sighed and leaned closer, “I want to look at the dogs.”

“Oh! You want a dog.” Clarence winced at her volume.

“Come with me.” She grabbed a set of keys reminiscent of those from a 1950’s jail movie. He followed her swinging ponytail into the next room.

The stench, a noxious combination of dog urine, bleach and unwashed dogs, hit him a beat behind the noise. Barking, whining, and yapping assaulted him from both sides. Hands over his ears, he plunged ahead with grim determination. Something in one of those cages should strike fear in the hearts of the squirrels.

“Sorry for the noise, they’re just happy to see us.” The girl shouted above the din. “We’ll take whichever dogs you like outside.”

Whatever dogs he liked? He didn’t any like dogs. He’d managed to reach the age of seventy-two without owning one.

“Do any of them hunt squirrels?” He yelled.

“We have three beagles. Beagles are hunting dogs.” She grabbed three leashes off a hook and gathered up as many dogs. They stepped outside, cutting off the noise when the metal door shut behind him.

“I’ll let them run.” The girl unsnapped the dogs’ collars and handed him one leash. “Bring back whichever one you like and I’ll take care of the rest.”

He watched her disappear through the same door, hoping she hadn’t locked him out here with the dogs. He looked around the fenced area; half expecting to see it topped with rolled barbed wire and cornered with block surveillance towers.

He didn’t know what to do and thought about making his escape when a cold, wet nose pushed into his hand. He jerked his hand up and looked down. Soft brown eyes stared up at him; one dainty paw rested against his knee. Unsure what to do, Clarence touched its ear. The dog’s tail started clocking back and forth.

“I guess you’re the one, eh?” He clicked the leash on and walked to the door, the little dog trotting at his heels.

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