"He's spoiled is what he is." Pepper, a mixed breed dog was talking with three other neighborhood canines. "He even sleeps in the bed with his Master!"
Jingo, a Jack-Russell Terrier said, "Because he's different ain't reason to bad mouth him."
"Who wants to sleep with humans anyway?" Pepper replied.
"Maybe you do," sounded the soft chuckling voice of Angel, a pure white Chow and diva of the group.
The deep country voice of Rucker, a Blue Tick Hound, drawled,
"I gets in da bed anytime I kin gets away wid-it."
Angel and Jingo both responded with hearty head bobs and, "Yeah, me too". Pepper crinkled his long, speckled snout, scratched at a flea and stated,
"That's okay for you slave dogs—you have Masters. But I'm foot loose and free. I'm my own boss. Aint no one gonna tell me what to do."
Pepper had lived on the streets from a pup, and was now five people-years old; thirty-five for dogs. Twice he'd been caught and sent to the pound and both times managed to escape; preferring to live without restraints.
Jingo saw through the homeless dog's facade. "Pepper, every dog needs a good Master to feed them and give them love."
"I do okay. The butcher leaves food for me, and I got love— how you think Panda-Poo got that litter of pups?"
"Procreating aint love Pepper. If you had a Master you'd understand."
Rucker spoke up with, "I love mah Mahstah— he's real smart, an he take gud care o'me. Most time, I doan unnerstan why I kaint do stuff, but he got gud reckon why— cuz he love me."
"You don't always do what he says though, or you wouldn't be here. Our Masters don't like it when we get together." Jingo opined.
"I reckon dats true, but Mahstah's reckon be better-n-mah reckon."
Suddenly, four dog's heads swiveled around to look down the street. A wafting enticement floated through the air, signaling their salivary glands to start pumping. Drool flew through air as four dogs sprinted down a back alley towards Reverend Parker's back-yard and the heavenly aroma.
Parker was just turning franks and burgers on the grill, as juices dripped, sizzling in the coals; supercharging the alluring odors. Rucker and Pepper hunkered behind a hedge, twenty feet from Mrs. Parker's flower bed, where Angel and Jingo had crawled, peeking through the stalks of greenery.
Speaking to a big yellow Labrador at his feet, the preacher said, "Here ya go Lanny boy. You've been patient long enough," then started feeding his loyal friend little orts of meat from off the grill.
Rucker whispered, "Benefits o havin a Mahstah."
"Sshhh! I'm gonna show ya'll how a street dog steals food."
Angel suddenly whispered, "Oh no!"
"What?" Jingo demanded.
"These are geraniums!"
"I'm aller...ah-ah-ACHOO! Allergic to geraniums!"
Parker hollered, "Who's there?" And he started walking swiftly towards the hedge.
Jingo realized Angel's loud sneeze had given away their presence, shouting,
Pepper and Rucker turned to take off, but Rucker's collar got snagged on a branch from the hedge.
"Pepper, help, I'm stuck!"
Rucker struggled frantically to get loose. Pepper was biting at the branch trying to get poor Rucker dislodged. The branch finally gave way at the same time the preacher rounded the hedge, grabbing hold of Pepper by the scruff of his neck.
"Why, you're that stray Lanny was with last week!" Then his toned softened.
"You look half starved."
Parker was an animal lover. Pepper's matted fur and scraggly appearance elicited compassion.
"Let's get you a bite to eat and maybe clean you up a bit."
There was much speculation among the dog-pack over what happened to Pepper. A week later he appeared. Angel was first to recognize him.
"Pepper?! Is that you? You look..." Jingo finished it with, "Clean". Rucker added, "We was worried bout ya boy."
Indeed he looked better than ever, well groomed with a shiny coat. He said,
"I learned obedience has great rewards. I have a good home with the preacher and Lanny, my new brother. Angel, I want to thank you."
"Being allergic to geraniums! Why didn't you guys tell me how great it is to have a Master to love you and take care of you?"
"We tried." Jingo said.
"But you didn't tell me about a lot of stuff."
"For one thing; belly rubs!"
Pepper trotted off towards home. Behind him he heard angel.
"God bless you Angel, God bless you."
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