As Franny and Leo sat in Marilyn’s garden, having the conversation they’d put off all summer, and Precious sniffed her old territory with deep satisfaction, someone watched from inside the house.
Someone watched as they scooted the lawn chairs closer together, as their voices lowered, and their heads bent toward each other. As Leo put his hand on Franny’s knee, as she moved it away, then took it in her own. As she used her other hand to wipe away tears, as Leo offered her a handkerchief, an old bandanna of dark blue patterned cloth, and as she blew her nose loudly in it, triggering laughter from both of them.
Precious the dog noticed the new scent, and turned toward the kitchen door. The odor was familiar, but not completely recognizable. Like a combination of moss, alcohol, and expensive laundry soap.
She whined. The humans didn’t react. She sniffed some more, making her way toward the door slowly, uncertain why her hackles wanted to raise themselves. Living with Marilyn, and then Douglas, and then Franny, and walking the comfortable neighborhood around Pine Street, Precious had rarely ever needed her hackles. She’d nearly forgotten she had hackles.
But yes, they were raising themselves. Precious now recalled that her hackles were attached in a deeply spiritual way to the low spot in her throat where her growls started. What reminded her of this connection was the fact that she was growling. Head lowered, one front leg raised, back legs tensed slightly, ready to pounce or run, she growled at the closed kitchen door.
Now the humans noticed. “Precious!” Franny called. “Whatever is the matter?”
Leo put his finger to his lips, indicating quiet. He spoke quietly. “Hey, Precious. What’s going on, huh?” He walked slowly toward the kitchen door, from the side, not directly on. “Franny. Do you have your phone with you?” She nodded. “Get ready to dial 911.” He took a big step toward the door and called out: “Who’s there?”