The chapter that follows is an excerpt from Book II: The Storm.  Here we learn a little about the relationship between the intelligent species of this world and their feral counterparts.

Dog Days

July 1970

Saturday in the park, I think it was the Fourth of July

Saturday in the park, I think it was the Fourth of July

People dancing, people laughing

A man selling ice cream, singing Italian songs

Eh Cumpari, ci vo sunari, Can you dig it (yes, I can)

And I’ve been waiting such a long time for Saturday

Saturday in the Park, music & lyrics by Robert Lamm, performed by Chicago

Roy flipped the baseball toward his companion in an easy underhand toss.  The coyote made as if to grab it with his teeth but, at the last instant, let the ball fall softly into his glove.

Tracy laughed, “You thought I was going to do it, didn’t you?”

“You joke about it often enough, I have to wonder sometimes,” said the bear.  “I’m ready for a rest.  How about that bench there?”

“Looks good to me.”

The couple took seats on the park bench and watched the crowd of visitors in Chopin Park: walkers, joggers, cubs playing and laughing while their parents looked on, a teenage tiger on roller skates.  It was a beautiful Saturday morning in Chicago.  The air smelled fresh and clean.  Roy and Tracy had visited the park the morning after they spent their first night together in Roy’s apartment.  They still enjoyed coming here on weekend mornings when Tracy didn’t have to work at the Salvation Army Shop.  Tracy found that their walks here helped ease the pain he still suffered as a result of his car accident two years earlier.

“There’s something you don’t see every day.”  Roy pointed toward a tall, well-dressed poodle, her hair carefully coiffed, and walking a miniature four-legged version of herself on a leash.  The sapient canine stopped while her pet sniffed around one of the trees. 

“Yeah, most dogs won’t make pets of their domestic counterparts,” nodded Tracy.

“Does it ever bother you?  The idea of dogs keeping dogs as pets?” asked the bear.

“No, it’s just the way the world is.  Intelligent and feral lines diverged in prehistoric times.  There are plenty of differences between us.  I’m not one for keeping pets myself, but it doesn’t bother me that some do.”

A rabbit came walking up the path from the opposite direction.  He was being pulled along by a determined dachshund that was making a beeline for the same tree the poodle was still investigating.  Tails wagging, the two pets greeted each other and promptly engaged in a familiar sniffing ritual.

“I’m sure glad you intelligent canines don’t do that,” said Roy.  “You’re a dog, can you explain that to me?”

“I’m a coyote, but I’ll forgive you just this once,” Tracy said playfully.  He thought for a moment.  “You know, there’s actually a very rational story behind that behavior.  Here’s the legend my mom told me when I was about five or six years old:

“Long, long ago, before the intelligent and feral lines split, all of the dogs of the world would get together each year for a meeting.  A Great Meeting Hall was built in the middle of the ancient lands for that purpose.  Upon entering the Great Hall, each dog would remove his or her tail and hang it on a hook in the lobby.  That was the custom in those days, you see.  One year, a fire broke out during the meeting.  In their rush to escape the burning hall, the dogs grabbed whatever tail was handy on their way out.  As a consequence, all of the tails got mixed up.  To this day, dogs sniff each other’s butts because they are still looking for their own tail.”


Roy laughed, “That’s interesting.  I’ve never heard that one before.”

“Well, it’s not as if you’re going to ever find a documentary on PBS about it,” said Tracy.

Tracy and Roy continued to watch as the bunny and poodle untangled their pets’ leashes, nodded a polite goodbye to each other, and headed off on their respective ways.

“So, you aren’t a pet guy,” said Roy, “but if you did keep one, what would it be?”

“Gosh, I don’t know.  A snake maybe?  How about you?  Have you ever had a pet?”

“Ha-ha!  Mama would have freaked out if I’d ever brought a snake home.  No, I’ve never had a pet, but I actually thought about tropical fish once upon a time.  A tank would look good in the living room, don’t you think?”

“Roy, you hate fish.”

“I hate eating them,” said the bear, “but I kind of like looking at them.”

“I guess they’d be safe from you snacking on them, at least,” laughed Tracy, “and the bubbling from the filter would help drown out the ticking of your wall clock.”

“You’re always making fun of my clock,” Roy gave an exaggerated pout.  Then suddenly his face lit up.  “Hey, speaking of snacks, there’s the hot dog vendor.”  Roy gestured as the familiar hippo approached, pushing his bright red cart adorned with a gaily colored parasol.

Tracy’s nose could already detect the savory aroma of the tasty sausages.  “Right on time,” said the coyote.  “I’m buying today.  Three Chicago style for you?”

“You better believe it,” said Roy as he rose to his feet.  “Come on!  Let’s get ‘em while they’re hot.”