Short Stories by Austin T.

February 15, 2020

Journal Entry #3:

You want to know what is worse for a guy than to be in the “doghouse” with his wife and/or girlfriend?  Being put in the “doghouse” on Valentine’s Day.  Yep, I’m in it because I gave Janice a gift.  A gift she has wanted for a quite some time, but I guess you can say that the timing wasn’t the best.  She is upset with me to the point that flowers and chocolates cannot save me, not even Barry White.  I guess I’ll just stick with Barry Manilow and my dog walks today.  Hopefully, things will work out in the end.

“Will you marry me?  (I hear you have great healthcare.)”  That is the billboard I saw last weekend on my walk with Bella (the Cavapoo) as we made our way around her neighborhood.  Pretty creative and unique proposal, I think.  Today, I figured why not walk by it again to get a good laugh, but… the guy who made the billboard was in the middle of his proposal.  It was your typical, cliché moment where the guy dropped to his knees and asked “the question” while the young lady gets all teary-eyed and acts all oblivious – she was standing in front the billboard.  How do you miss that?  Anyway… I digress.  The two of them embraced each other, enjoying “the moment”.  The real kicker was that Bella and I were walking past them as they were hugging, and the young lady began screaming in excitement. 


I looked over, and she was staring right at Bella.  Without a moment’s hesitation, she ran up to Bella, and started petting and loving all over her.  Okay…What did I miss?  Bella surely didn’t care.  She was instantly infatuated with the young lady.  This “Trevor” guy looked at each other in complete confusion, not knowing what to do or say. 

“How did you know I’ve always wanted a Cavapoo?” she said to Trevor.

“Wait.  What?”  Trevor was extremely lost, but I knew what she was thinking.

“I’m sorry.  I’m just a dog walker walking this dog for the owner.”

The young lady’s face contorted into an “oh, crap” look, and she quickly shift gears to an automatic apologetic mode.  I could not help myself in that moment.  I busted out laughing in front of the couple.  Something like that doesn’t happen to you every day.  After doing the whole “congratulations” to both of them, Bella and I went on our way.

Once I dropped Bella off and headed home for the day, I decided to drive by the billboard again to reminisce what happened.  All I can say was Trevor worked quickly, the sign had the proposal on it, but he painted “She said YES” over it.  He was now a happy man – bet you he had to make arrangements to get a Cavapoo for his new finance though.  Best way to practice the saying, “Happy wife, happy life.”  Staring at that billboard, I got thinking…

I came home to a still upset Janice, but I quickly changed her mood with one little gift…a blue point Siamese kitten.  I could tell her heart melted as she pulled the kitten out of his crate and hugged him.  She and I have been talking about getting a cat ever since the Bonnie and Spartacus incident.  We felt like it was time to take our relationship to the next level.  I named the kitten Barney after the Neil Patrick Harris’ character in “How I Met Your Mother” – the ultimate wingman.  It is true.  Barney is my ultimate wingman because he got me out of the doghouse…and onto probation.

Short Stories by Austin T.

January 25, 2020

Journal Entry #2

“Whoa” is me.  The past couple of weeks have been inconsistent when dealing with the weather.  It was sunny one day with cool, clear air (reminds me of my trips to Colorado), then hellacious storms the next.  Weather is unpredictable, yes, but having a job to predict its forthcoming takes the concept of “job security” to a comfortable level.  In my office job, I can pitch a strategic business plan to my bosses based on the numbers I receive (financial costs, level of risk, market strategy, target audience, specific trends, marketing costs, etc.) and pray to God I am right.  If I’m not, you will see me back on LinkedIn with my updated resume.  Being a meteorologist, you can make those calculated predictions and still be wrong.  Yet, not one person will be upset with you in the slightest… but, I digress.

Over time, I have gotten a sense of who are my regular walks.  It is great because both the animals and myself know each other very well.  I have a German Shepard (Nala), Australian Shepherd (Hunk), Alaskan Husky (Rizzo), Cavapoo (Bella), and an odd pairing of a Golden Retriever (Bonnie) and an orange tabby cat (Spartacus).  All of them have their own unique brand of personality.  There are some other dogs and the occasional cats that pop up on my schedule, but those just mentioned are the main ones.

Bonnie and Spartacus are the weirdest, coolest duo of cat and dog I have ever gotten the good fortune of knowing.  If it were not for their different species, you would have thought they were from the same litter.  A true odd couple.  You cannot separate them and you sure as heck cannot begin to understand how in-synced their minds are with each other.  For instance, one day I was at the kitchen sink filling up Bonnie’s water bowl after our walk.  Bonnie was standing next to me waiting to get water – or so I thought.  Suddenly, I heard Spartacus darting across the kitchen floor, jump on Bonnie’s back, and then onto the counter.  You can definitely say I was a bit startled.  Very unusual and sporadic behavior to say the least.  But before I realized their true reasoning behind that stunt, Spartacus pushed the bag of dog treats I always give Bonnie after our walks off of the counter, to which it burst open onto the floor.  Treats went everywhere, and so was Bonnie as she frantically gobbled up as many as she could.  Cleaning everything up was a handful because Bonnie was adamant about eating every last piece of it.  Once the mess was taken care of, I looked back up at the counter to find Spartacus drinking out of Bonnie’s water bowl.  What amazing teamwork!

Now, because of Bonnie’s elderly age, she and I take it easy on our walks mainly due to of the arthritis in her back hips.  Some days, she is strong as an ox, but other times, she is weak.  For a while, I knew Bonnie was hurting more than she usually did, and I let the owner know about it.  Just last week, I received a message in the middle of the night from DiOGi Pet Services about Bonnie being taken to an emergency vet.  Deep down, I knew her time was almost up.  Just like the owner most likely felt, I selfishly did not want Bonnie to go.  So, I did something I had not done in a long, long time… I prayed.

For the next week, I spent extra time with Spartacus during my visit with him.  You could see the excruciating pain filling his eyes as well.  I too was losing my composure.  It seemed like a matter of time to find out if Spartacus lost his best friend.  By lying on the floor next to him, it brought him some ease because he curled up next to me as if I was Bonnie.  Try not to cry thinking about that.  This morning, I get a message from Bonnie’s owner through DiOGi Pet Services informing me that BONNIE CAME HOME LAST NIGHT!!!  Talk about acting like Gene Kelly in “Singing in the Rain” – I was doing that.  I am well aware that Spartacus and Bonnie are someone else’s pet, but I have gotten to know them so well to the point it feels like they are mine too.

Walking into their house today, I expected the two of them just taking it easy with Spartacus curled up next to Bonnie resting.  Heck no!  The two of them were play fighting over a bean bag they both love!  Spartacus was buried in the bag to where I could barely see him with Bonnie jumping and running around it, like an excited puppy.  Whenever Bonnie put her face in the bag, I saw a cat’s paw (sometimes two) poke out to swat her on the snout.  Bonnie was playfully barking before she saw me walking up to her and dropping to my knees.  She ran over to me with her whole-body wagging in sheer joy and gave me a huge hug.  Then came Spartacus rubbing himself up and down Bonnie.  A true odd couple.  I took Bonnie out for our walk as Spartacus sat at the door and waited.  He did not move until we came back!

Short Stories by Austin T.

JANUARY 1, 2020

Journal Entry #1:

You want to know the most boring thing about a normal job?… Being there.  My goodness!  You park your car, walk into a building, and stay there for hours until it’s time to go home.  Office politics, gossip, taking tally of people’s patterns, or even staring at the clock (I named each minute on a clock on multiple occasions… that’s pretty sad).  There came a point where I started playing my own games to see who would catch on.  Just like in the movie “Super Troopers”, I was seeing how many times I could say, “Meow” before someone would notice.  You really find out who’s listening playing that game. 

The only thing that is keeping my sanity intact from my office job is having my cubicle next to the window.  “Wanna get away?”  Southwest Airlines really knew what they were talking about in their commercials.  As everyone’s discussing their daily problems or trying to sell me crap for their kid’s schools, I’m watching the animals outside as they do their thing.  I get front row seats to Nature’s Comedy Show.  Check this out… There was this bird, a robin, sitting on a branch towards the top of this magnolia tree in front of the building’s entrance.  Whatever this little guy was going through, he looked exhausted.  He could not keep his eyes open or even sustain his balance.  Suddenly, this bird just conked out and did a nosedive disappearing into the tree.  I could not see if he woke up throughout his fall, but I knew where he was going.  The branches shook in descending order, like something you would see in Looney Tunes.  He was heading down!  The bird landed on his butt – a perfect score of 10.0… if we were judging.  I was the only one in my office who saw this, and I ROLLED OVER LAUGHING!  No one can come up with this stuff!  Animals are funny in their own right!  By the way, the bird flew away minutes later perfectly fine.

I decided to save my saneness and stimulate my wicked sense of humor by dog walking on the side.  You know, why not?  You get paid to help people out in times of need and gain some good stories while you’re there.  My girlfriend, Janice – yes, her name is “Janice”, but, luckily, she does not give off that horrific laugh like the one from “Friends” does – was the one who suggested that I dog walk.  So, I got hired by DiOGi Pet Services, and it has been fun so far.  Janice also advised me to write journal entries, like this, for remembrance.  Not a bad idea to say the least.

There is this one dog, an Alaskan Husky, whose owners are die hard Chicago Cubs fans.  They named the dog Rizzo after their favorite player, Anthony Rizzo.  Not a bad choice.  If I were to name my dog after an Atlanta Braves player, it would be after the TRUE homerun king… Hank Aaron.  Anyway, I digress.  I do respect those who love their sports and want to bring a little love of it back into the household.  When I started walking Rizzo, I noticed the true reason why he was named after that player.  The dog has charm!  The very same one Anthony Rizzo has that attracts the ladies while playing first base.  With his icy blue eyes, he has a look that cuts right through you in such a tender, dominate way.  Plus, he has a lean, muscular look to him.  Yep, chicks dig it.

Aside from all of the charisma the dog possesses that I don’t, walking with Rizzo happened to create a heartfelt story on this New Year’s Day.  With the weather a bit on the warm side, the best idea for a place to walk was at the park just down the street from Rizzo’s house.  As we were walking along the path, Rizzo and I encountered a few people.  The one that stood out was a group of three young ladies (college age) coming up to us, asking if they could pet him.  I obliged.  Two of the young ladies smothered Rizzo, but the third one (let’s call her “Jasmine”) was terrified.  Her body started to tremble, and her forehead broke out in sweat.  While Jasmine’s friends were being all lovey-dovey, Rizzo’s focus was more on Jasmine.  The two of them locked eyes, and Rizzo took a gentle step forward.  Jasmine took a big step back while vigorously shaking her head.  I did not want to invoke any more fear into this poor girl, so I tugged on the leash to bring Rizzo closer to me.  The two girls turned to Jasmine and encouraged her to at least touch Rizzo.  She was not having it.  Then, one of the friends reminded Jasmine that her new year’s resolution was to face her fears, which happened to involve dogs.  I decided to show her how sweet the dog really was by dropping to my knees and allowing Rizzo to kiss all over my face.  Timidly sticking her hand out, Jasmine started to move towards the dog.  I laid my arm down on Rizzo’s back and advised her to put her hand on top of it.  She did while keeping a watchful eye on Rizzo’s reaction.  He was patiently waiting for her to pet him.  I then told Jasmine, whenever she’s ready, to slide a finger off my arm and touch his fur.  Taking a deep breath of confidence, she slid a finger off my arm. Shortly after, another finger slid off, then her entire hand.  Jasmine did it!  She was petting Rizzo, and he was loving it!  Just thinking about it right now, I can’t help but smile.  I was sad when I realized my time with Rizzo for the day was coming to a close.  I let him say goodbye to the young ladies one last time, and we turned to head home.  Jasmine called out to me wanting a final moment with him.  Who am I to deny that?  She came running up to him and dropped to her knees.  Seizing the opportunity, Rizzo provided all of the kisses he could manage as quickly as possible.  Talk about a real Kodak moment.

So, there you have it.  The first entry of the new year.  Not a bad start so far.  Whatever uncertainties we face in the future, Rizzo and Jasmine bring a reminder that… everything will, somehow, be okay.