I was awakened from a most tantalizing dream by an exciting indication through my nose.
Food. Specifically, the quintessential sometimes treat. My favorite thing! Where? Everywhere. In that room? I raced and skidded to a stop on the slick floor.
Yes! It’s here. I lift my nose for a lengthy whiff, several snorts following. Alpha stood by the tall surface, creating all manner of clunk noises. Whatever odd aroma she produced was nothing in comparison to what permeated the very air.
It was all around, teasing and encompassing all my senses. I couldn’t get a visual.
This particular scent, so pungent in the drop zone, must even reach into the upper dens. Could the source be hiding there? Buried away? I raced up the main obstacle, almost catching a foot on the final step.
First door. Closed. I lifted a leg to scratch at the sealed entrance. Omega Two howled his reply in the form of unintelligible garble.
(Not now, Pudge.)
I whine my discontent at his lack of proper diction. Had I not attempted to teach him to articulate on several occasions? Even a perfectly clear, short yip from my chest produced no more acknowledgment from within. Frustrating.
My ear pricked to the right. Movement? Yes!
I bustled toward the source of the squeaking. Omega Three's barrier moved aside. Wriggles from my core danced a path along my wrinkles to my miniature end. I shot into the room.
My tongue found Omega Three’s legs, her toes, and finally, her face when she crouched down to my level.
The resulting squeals of excitement also lacked any true form of communication—something we could work on at a later time. For now, I could tell she was also excited.
(Good morning, Pudge. Is Mama in the kitchen already? Haha, stop slobbering!)
I moved from her to sniff every inch of her den. Pile of outfits, foul-scented bottles, loud device, napping rug—nothing. No trace of the scent which I knew had an equally tantalizing flavor. My eyes lift. Nesting site?
With a hop from a box onto the mess of comfy snooze material, my sniffer was soon buried in folds. Digging. Snorting. Still nothing but stronger posterior scents of Omega Three.
A click from outside turned my head. The smaller den with the oversized water bowl! I had forgotten it. Darting to the barrier produced no favorable results. It was now closed to my short legs, trapping Omega Three beyond.
I whined and sat in a patient bunch, listening. Every inner detail was brought to my ears. A sniff. Rushing water…
Approaching footfalls? Where? My left? My ears prick as my head whips around.
Beta! My favorite thing!
My body’s wriggling goes out of control. I dart to the largest member of the pack, jumping a circle around him. He bends to pat my head, back, and my favorite place, my patoot.
(Pudge, you little rascal. Been a good boy? Who’s a good boy?)
“Me! Me! Please be me!” I call through a series of barks, my pack identification jingling in time to each motion.
(Did you wake the kids up?) Beta straightens and calls in his own odd language. His deep voice travels all the way down to Alpha. (Honey? How much time do we have?)
Alpha’s howl emanates from the lower area. (About five minutes.)
Though I run my nose along every possible inch of Beta in my reach, no tantalizing aroma is brought back to me. He pats my rump one last time and barks his garble to Omega Three.
Something’s about to happen. I can feel it in my chest all the way down to my claws. The excitement in the den is growing. What could Alpha have said? I had to find out.
Back down the main obstacle I shoot, slipping at the bottom until my legs flatten out on either side of me. It takes everything I have to get my flailing claws back under control.
(Pudge, calm down!)
Alpha’s voice. Is she beckoning me? I slide into her second den, hurtling into her leg and thunking into a cabinet. It doesn’t hurt, but Alpha bends to me.
(You silly boy, do you mean to knock me down?)
My mouth is wide open, salivating, anticipating, panting. Each draw of breath pulls in that overarching siren song of palatable glory. Alpha’s finger contains none of that magical scent. Where is it hiding? The anticipation prompts me to dance on my hind legs.
Alpha calls out once again. (Honey? Kids? Get down here!)
I sit in a disgruntled bundle. Even if I stretched myself as far as I could up the side of the high surface, I wouldn’t be able to see what she was doing. Instead, I put my ears to work.
Clicks, Alpha’s whimpers, a fuzzy sound? A voice! Who’s? Do I know it?
(Mom? Am I coming through?)
This unknown creature has even less vocal training than Omega Two and Three. Small, broken. Still, I feel I recognize something about the reluctance in that particular bark.
Alpha’s posture perks—same as mine when someone mentions a treat.
(I see you, honey. I’m just waiting on Laura, Mark, and your father. Breakfast is ready. See?)
I tilt my head. Oh, if I could only understand what ritual Alpha was performing, I would gladly take part. She is holding up the black no-no object I’m not allowed to wipe myself upon. Tilting it down.
I bark, stretching myself up as high as I can anyway. Alpha smiles down at me, bringing the object closer.
(Pudge misses you, too.)
I see him! Omega One! My favorite thing! I thought he had been lost on a mission scouting territory, or worse…absorbed into another pack. But, he’s there. Why can’t I detect his pungent odor? I’m wobbling out of control, sniffing at the screen as I recognize his voice.
(Hey, Pudge! Miss you, buddy. Have you been a good boy?)
“Good boy, yes! Always! Please, tell Alpha I’m deserving of the sometimes treat!”
I yip high and urgent. Overhead, the sounds of the pack stir and rush down the obstacle. My attention is split between Omega One’s disembodied voice and the patter of impending sometimes treat time. I can’t decide which way to tilt my head, so I frantically whip it back and forth.
Alpha barks her orders, and everyone gathers around the no-no object.
(Our first New Year’s Biscuit Breakfast with Collin at college. Everyone, get your biscuits ready.)
What’s happening? Excited feet rush by me. The small barrier inside the wall is brought down by alpha. My thoughts drift away with the release of the greatest of scents. I feel as though my body were lifted away, all thoughts leaving me for visions of that tantalizing strip of ultimate flavor. My mouth leaks down both sides.
I don’t even care that I can’t understand Beta’s barked warning.
(Careful, honey. Pudge is right under your—look out!)
Alpha yips high. I feel a bit of pressure on the right side of my body. And there…above me…I see a splash of liquid glory. A brown strip. My favorite thing!
Time has become a forgotten entity. All that remains in my vision are the plummeting sometimes treats. Not even a loud clatter beside me steals my focus. It’s there, all for me. I open my mouth.
A chorus of flavor bursts through my senses. The treat is quite warm, but I chew it with gratitude. All around me, more morsels await. And on a slab beside me, a puddle of savory delight.
I’m too busy accepting the blessing of my pack mates to discern the nature of their barks.
(You okay, honey?)
(Yes, but I guess we’re all having our biscuits and apple slices plain.)
Cackling howls ring out from the pack. I’m glad they’re every bit as excited as I am. To see Omega One again and then share in this divine bounty? What greater love is there?
(Nice save, Dad. Happy New Year’s Biscuit Breakfast, everyone!)