I smiled again, stroking the puppy’s soft head.
"Hey Jack." He reminded me of Jack Sparrow in that pirate movie with Johnny Depp. But he was missing a gold tooth. Ha! Imagine, a puppy with gold teeth. I giggled.
With a baby whimper, Jack climbed into my lap and started to nibble on my fingers. Awwww…
Just then the sound of loud barking came from the front of the store. A woman screamed at the same time a child started to cry.
"Get it away from my child!" she shrieked.
Oh no! What was going on"
Quickly, I put Jack back in his cage and ran towards the sounds of loud barking and crying.
"He’s trying to kill my baby!" a woman accused, finger pointed at a man with a large dog. And it looked to be true. A small boy, maybe two or three years old, wailed and screamed separated from his mother by a massive pit bull straining at the end of its leash.
I didn"t even pause to think. Immediately, my sneakers hit the floor, propelling me across the distance to drop next to the dog bristling angrily.
"It’s okay, boy," came my soothing voice. Moving slowly, I got close to the animal with one hand held out, calm and assertive. "You"re okay. We"ll be okay."
And gradually, his barking stopped, stopping instead to stare at me, drool flowing from his lips. I smiled.
"You didn"t mean to scare the baby, did you" He doesn’t have any reason to be scared of you, right""
Carefully, I approached the pit bull with my hand held out so the dog could sniff me cautiously.
"That’s right, boy," came my cooing voice. "We’re all friends here. Just be calm. Everything"s all right." The animal sniffed my hand tentatively again, hot breath puffing against my fingers. I held still as a statue, letting him take his time. And soon he nuzzled my hand and smiled a big sloppy doggie grin.
"Ruff!" was his bark, tail wagging like we were best buds already. "Ruff!"
I smiled back, leaning back on my haunches now.
"Well, aren’t you handsome"" came my friendly voice. "You"re a good boy, I knew it."
But Ruff and I weren"t alone. A deep voice penetrated my concentration then.
"Thanks," it growled. "That was a close one."
Only half-paying attention, I looked up from my new friend, now squiggling and worming around on the floor like a playful puppy. Who knew Ruff could be reduced to this"
But my head snapped around immediately, brown eyes wide. Because holy cow. The man attached to the pit bull wasn"t a man. He was a god. Intimidatingly tall and broad. Blue eyes. Black hair. Dressed in a perfectly-cut suit that only emphasized the power of his shoulders and the length of his legs.
How was this possible"
People who look like this don"t come into DoggyMart. Especially not dressed in suits.
But it was true. Here was a commanding alpha male, his hand on Ruff"s leash. And suddenly, I realized the leash was pink. Wait, was Ruff a girl"
Blushing, I stammered.
"It-it"s no problem," came my words. "No problem at all."
The man smiled again, so dazzling that my retinas burned. How was this alpha even real" He was like a prince, materializing suddenly in a little pet shop filled with suburban ladies and crazy cat grandmas.
"You just worked magic on this animal," the man rumbled again.
I straightened, blushing furiously. But this wasn"t going to do. I had a job and responsibilities. So standing, my back stiff, I tried to keep my voice even.
"Yeah, dogs really like me," was my reply. "It"s no problem at all."
And to prove my words, the pit bull snuffled my fingers again and I stroked his head in a reassuring gesture.
"This guy is just a little unruly. Nothing a little training won"t fix. Have you taken him to obedience classes"" came my gentle inquiry.
The dark man shook his head.
"Naw. Bowzer isn’t mine. I’m just babysitting him."
Oh okay, so Bowzer was a boy, even if he had a pink leash. But this was still a good time to suggest some classes.
"Well, maybe you can ask the owner to take him to obedience school" They"re not expensive and even seven sessions can work miracles. Here, let me see if I can find a brochure for you," I said busily, turning away. But my cheeks were flushing again. A tickling in the back of my throat warned me. Verbal diarrhea approaching in 3-2-1" Blast off! It never failed when I was nervous.
"I"ll give you some great doggie schools, call one and they might have an opening," came my rushed words. "It"s good to get dogs like this into training really quick. Even if they go when they"re older, it still worth it."
I kept babbling and babbling, providing far more information than was actually necessary. But the big man"s blue eyes gleamed, amused, even as I practically choked myself with sentences. Well, at least he was laughing at me and not high-tailing it out of here or making lame excuses.