Watching Aggie introduce our dogs to my house was killing me. She was like a damn kid at Christmas, running around the house, the big dog and little one trailing her.
“And this is where you’ll sleep. And this is my room. And this is Ice’s room. And this is the bathroom. And this is the kitchen. And this-“
I settled on a kitchen stool and made a list of shit we’d need. Beds, bowls, food. The size of King meant I’d need to invest in a goddamned shovel to scoop his shit, but I was cool with that. Anyone coming would take one look at him and think twice.
The volunteers had given us collars and leads for them, but they were ratty and old. I added that to the list.
“Ice?” I looked up, seeing Aggie standing in the doorway, dancing from foot to foot. I raised an eyebrow, letting her know she had my attention.
“Umm… I… Ummm…” She looked nervous. “King won’t get off the couch.”
I shrugged. “And?”
She blinked. “Your couch is nice. Aren’t you worried about dog hair?”
I shrugged again. “Hair comes out. The dude ruins it, I buy a new one. It’s his house too, Aggie.” I looked back down at the list, ignoring her intake of breath.
“OK.” Her voice was warm. “Whatcha doing?”
“Shopping list.” I grunted. “Need shit for them.”
“Oh.” She came to me then, placing a hand on my back and looking over my shoulder. “You haven’t got toys on that list.”
I paused. “Do they need them?”
I wrote toys down.
“We should take them with us.”
“They ain’t going to let dogs in a store.”
“In a pet store they do. There are Youtube channels dedicated to it. You take your dog, let them pick whatever they want.”
I sighed. “Fine. Get the damn dogs.”
She beamed at me, turning, calling. “Puppies! Walkies!”
Kill me now, I was pussy whipped.
The store was more like a warehouse, large with concrete floors and rows of industrial shelving packed full of everything you could need for every type of domestic animal.
Aggie handed me the dogs and grabbed a trolley. They weren’t bad dogs, King was good on the lead, Queenie pulled, darting about wanting to get in everyone’s way. I bent down, scooped her up and tucked her into my chest, ignoring her tongue which immediately commenced to licking the bottom of my jaw.
“Lord have mercy.” I looked over at Aggie who had her phone out and was snapping a picture.
“I’m sending that to Flo. You put that on Tinder as your profile picture and the girls will come flooding in.” She informed me, texting.
I rolled my eyes, heading to the bedding aisle, King lumbering beside me. People were giving us a wide birth, their eyes taking in my Cut and King’s size. Aggie followed, pushing the cart, throwing things in with wild abandon that caught her attention. My eyes scanned the bedding and I pulled three from the shelf, threw them down and then looked down at King.
“Bed.” I ordered. He looked at me, lumbered over to them, sniffed at each then settled into one.
“That works.” Aggie laughed. “Think it’ll work with Queenie?”
“Your dog, your rules.” I said, aware of the struggling bundle in my arms. I put her down, turning the lead over to Aggie.
She pulled some beds off the shelf while I put the rejected ones back and threw the chosen one into the trolley.
“Queenie, bed! Bed, Queenie! Bed!” She told her, gesturing towards to the bedding. Queenie ignored her, pulling towards the opposite end of the aisle. “No, Queenie. Bed! Bed!”
My mouth tugged up at the corner. “I’d say no is the answer.”
Aggie blew out a breath, causing loose hairs to flutter. “She’s poorly trained is all. It’ll be fine. She just needs more love and time.”
I smiled, “OK, babe.” I snagged one of the beds and threw it in.
“What is she doesn’t like that one?” Aggie asked, her nervous dance back.
“We come back and buy another one.”
She worried her lip. “But that’s time and money and I don’t have a car…”
I shrugged. “You use mine. I have the bike. It’s not a problem, babe.”
“‘Kay.” She didn’t sound convinced, but I was over it. I pushed us further into the rabbit warren, grabbing the food, bowls (where a store clerk informed us they could personalise them in-store, so of course Aggie insisted we do that shit), collars and leads and bones and dental stuff and shampoo and coats (dogs need coats? They have fucking fur.), before we ended in the toy aisle.
I don’t know what to say except I wasn’t expecting the reaction I got from either dog. Queenie went mental. She immediately dived into a pile of squeaker toys, emerging moments later to destroy it on the floor of the store. Turns out, little dogs are blood thirsty fuckers. I could grow to like that one.
King though. He sat at the entrance and looked at me. I crouched beside him, hand on his head. “You wanna play, buddy?” Slowly, as if not believing his luck he lifted up, taking on step forward, his head swinging back to look at me.
“Good boy. Go on. Fetch buddy.” I dropped the lead, but followed closely, watching to see what he would do. In a surprise move he ignored all the balls, frizbees, and squeakers to head straight to the soft toys. Gently he reached into a big and ruffled about pulling from it a stuffed fluffy bright pink lamb.
“Awww. Your dog is a lover.” I heard Aggie melt behind me. I sighed.
“Really, bud?” He immediately lay down, licking at the lambs head. I closed my eyes, knowing I’d forever be losing face when the guys came over. “Fuck it. OK. But we’re getting you some goddamned tennis balls and shit. And you better make those mofos lose their shit first time they see you.”
King just kept licking.
“Let’s go.” I stood, collecting King’s lead and caught a glimpse of Aggie’s face. “What?”
“I want to kiss you right now.”
I rolled my eyes. “Over a pink lamb?”
“Panty-melting hotness.” She nodded.
“Your dog is murdering another toy.” I pointed out.
“Queenie!” She spun, turning to the vicious psychopath.