Strange Dog in a Strange Land – a Bravest Warriors Novella by D.A. Stern.
…Something I forgot to tell you about Wallow. He was a big-time animal hunter.
No wait, that’s not right, I’m thinking of Hemingway. Wallow was a big-time animal lover. And they loved him right back. A lot of times, he would return from one of our heroic exploits with a stray critter or two in tow. Sometimes they would just show up at the breakfast table, these little scaly things, and nip at your toes, looking for love. I didn’t mind having those little animals around, even though they sometimes did things (ahem, Impossibear) like using up all the strawberry jam, so when you went to get your morning hit of sugary sweet, the jar you were looking for wasn’t there, and so you’d make a mistake, and use the marmite instead.
Where was I now? Oh yes. Animals, and Wallow. Why did they love him so much? My guess, they sensed in him a kindred spirit. The big fella had a special kind of innocence about him, like steel-cut oatmeal, which animals responded to. In addition to which, Wallow understood loneliness, maybe because his parents were trapped in the See-Thru Zone. Although, come to think of it, back then, all our parents were. Which made us all naturally solitudinous little critters, I suppose, howling on the front doorstep of life, hoping to find our way in. Like middle-schoolers.
Just like that little dog in front of the Invisible
Oh, he was a cute little feller. Big white beard, always had a witty comment, and…
Whoops. That’s Hemingway again, isn’t it? This little feller, the first time we saw him, he was as much floppy ear as he was dog. He was small, too, no bigger than an average-size rock squirrel. You could fit him right in your hand, and looking at him that first time, looking into his big brown puppy-dog eyes, I remember that’s exactly what I wanted to do. Pick him up, put him in my hand, and take care of him. There was a reason for that, of course, and I’ll get to it in a bit.
Uncorrected proof – Do not reproduce as final version may be different