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The Human Whisperer

by Jon Wesick


Drawing of a pet bulldog

Jon says: I host of San Diego’s Gelato Poetry Series and am an editor of the San Diego Poetry Annual. I’ve published two hundred fifty poems in journals such as The New Orphic Review, Pearl, Pudding, and Slipstream. I’ve also published over fifty short stories in journals such as Space and Time, Zahir, and Tales of the Talisman. I have a Ph.D. in physics and am a longtime student of Buddhism and the martial arts. One of my poems won second place in the 2007 African American Writers and Artists contest. Another had a link on the Car Talk website.

Mouth dripping after drinking from the toilet, Mugs the bulldog jumped onto the sky-blue couch and wiped his flat face on the fabric. Hildegard a Pembroke corgi looked away in disgust. She was everything Mugs was not polite and elegant with fine features such as a pointed nose and radar ears. While the two dogs differed in looks and personality, they agreed on one thing.

“It’s our human, Gabe,” Hildegard said. “He’s become a discipline problem

“Gabe’s very territorial,” Mugs added. “If he sees us on ‘his’ couch, he yells and hits us on the nose.”

“Not a good pack member at all,” Hildegard said. “We don’t believe in biting but we’re at our wits’ end.”

The door opened and a thin, balding, ginger-haired man with shoulders that sagged after a long day at work and punishing commute entered. His dress shirt was a white flag of surrendered dreams. When he saw the dogs on the couch, his face grew red.

“Get down!” Gabe shook his index finger as if it were a .38 police special.

Both dogs jumped to the floor and hung their heads in submission.

“Better not see you get back up there.” Gabe set his laptop on the coffee table and entered the kitchen.

The dogs followed and stared at their empty bowls while he micro-waved a bowl of chili, topped it with hot sauce and cheddar, and sat down to eat. When he finished, Gabe belched, and refilled his bowl.

“That’s it! I can’t take it anymore.” Mugs began barking.

The other dogs in the neighborhood joined in, relaying Mugs’ message by canine telegraph. Within minutes a scratching could be heard at the front door. Gabe answered and a golden retriever sporting a blue bandana around his neck entered. Caesar, the human whisperer, had arrived. Wasting no time Caesar trotted into the kitchen and sat below the table. With his brown eyes set to their most soulful, he first looked at Gabe, then at the chili, and finally back at Gabe

“You hungry, boy?” Gabe spooned some chili into Mugs’ bowl.

“And that’s how the look is done.” Caesar swallowed a mouthful and turned to Mugs. “Now you try.”

Mugs’ whining drew only a stern, “No begging!” from Gabe.

“Mugs, you shouldn’t negotiate out of weakness.” Hildegard stepped forward. “You have to appear in control like this.”

She sat at Gabe’s feet, looked up at him, and licked her lips.

“That’s good,” Caesar said. “See how she remains calm. Humans are filled with anxiety about things that may never happen. We need to reassure them and make them concentrate on the here and now.”

“I’m fed up with both of you.” Gabe opened the sliding door.  “Outside! 

Before Gabe could hustle the dogs into the yard, Caesar dropped a soggy tennis ball at his feet, made a play bow, and wagged his tail.

“See how I interrupt his bad behavior,” Caesar said.

Instead of throwing the ball Gabe went into the living room and turned on the TV.

“This case is more difficult than I thought,” Caesar said. “I’ll have to introduce Gabe to my balanced pack.”

Caesar howled. Minutes later the doorbell rang. Gabe answered and found a fat man and a willowy blonde woman in a print dress on his doorstep.

“Hi, I’m Art Chepeska and this is my wife June. We’re wondering if you’ve seen our dog, Caesar.”

“Oh, there he is!” June got down on her knees when Caesar approached. “Who’s my good boy? Who’s my good boy?” She threw her arms around his neck and kissed him on the snout.

“Say, we bought a nice Pinot.” Art held up a bottle. “What say we come inside and open it up?”

“Oh no, I…” Gabe stammered.

“How do you like the new Android?” Art pointed at the smart phone on Gabe’s belt, stepped past, and entered the living room. “I’ve got an iPhone, myself. Now where do you keep the glasses?”

Hildegard and Mugs watched in disbelief as the humans engaged in their vulgar social rituals.

“So, eh, Gabe, what do you do for a living?” Art asked.

“I’m a customer support rep over at County Bank. How about you?”

“Art founded the company that makes the encryption software used for most Internet commerce.” June rested her hand on her husband’s forearm. “He retired after the IPO.”

“Now I mostly do charity work – chartering planes to fly supplies to starving children in Ethiopia and that sort of thing.” Art sat on the couch.

“Now that Art’s established dominance, he can begin with the behavior modification,” Caesar told Hildegard.

“Those sure are great dogs you have there!” Art pointed to Mugs and Hildegard and patted a space on the couch next to him.

Gabe could only watch as the dogs jumped on the couch and rolled on their backs to let Art rub their bellies. Their rear legs twitched with pleasure and they squirmed to rub shedding fur all over the fabric.

“Isn’t that sweet?” June refilled Gabe’s glass with wine.

Next each of the properly trained humans grabbed Gabe’s shoes for impromptu games of tug of war. June challenged Hildegard while Art took on Mugs. As was only fitting the canines won both contests and the humans rewarded the victors with dog treats and pats on the head.

Once the wine was finished and the lessons taught, Caesar barked at the door to inform his humans it was time to go. Unwilling to say goodbye Hildegard chewed on Art’s pant legs and used all the strength in her stubby legs to pull him back inside.

“Hildegard,” Caesar said, “I need these humans for my next mission. Your Gabe can learn to behave as well as Art. Just remember that training a human takes patience and persistence.”

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