Word Count 497
By G. Ackman
The sun’s rays tickled her eyes awake. She jumped up, shook, and just like that, she was ready for what the day would bring. Outside for her business , a quick breakfast, and it was time for her favorite part of the day. Training. Some might call it work, but she never did. It was intense and required focus, but that was part of the fun. And the rewards afterwards were worth it.
Today’s task was technically called sensory discrimination, but she preferred her own name for it – guess the smell. It involved several little bowls of all sorts of intriguing smells. Her task was to distinguish the special smell from all the others and then “alert” – lay down and point her nose at the right one. She was pretty good at this, if she did say so herself. And Tom, her human, always told her she was a “good girl” when she got it right. She liked being “good girl.” When she didn’t get the right answer he said “let’s do it again” in his patient voice and she knew she wasn’t “good girl” yet. So she would try harder next time. Her bushy brown and white tail flagged its approval as she got the right bowl time after time today. She could tell Tom was pleased with her but he had a layer of sad there too and she didn’t understand. Was she not doing something exactly the way he wanted? She decided to be extra sharp and fast. After she hit on the right bowl while he still had them all up on the counter, he knelt down and hugged her tight. His words said “good girl” but his body said something was wrong. She licked his face and he laughed, held her head close in both his hands and looked deep into her eyes.
“You’re ready,” he said. She knew that. Let’s do it again, her tail yelled. But Tom had other things to do. The next morning, Tom was bustling all around but didn’t get out her bowls for “Guess the Smell.” She knew what that meant. He was going “to work” and she would curl up on the couch and wait for him to get home. Then they could do Training.
But that isn’t what happened. A knock on the door meant visitors. A man, a woman, and a little girl, who immediately knelt down and hugged her. That was pretty okay. They sat at the table, so she knew that meant for her to go lie down, but wait, something was….that was….oh, they were playing. There was that smell. She alerted and the humans all stared. Suddenly she was “good girl” “good girl” “good girl.” Now she got it. That little girl human had the smell and she was supposed to tell them. She understood now. That’s what she had been training for. She would be a very good girl from now on.