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Champ In The House

It began like any other quiet afternoon. The two younger children, done with school for the day, were upstairs in their respective rooms playing quietly. Champ lay on the kitchen floor, his head resting on his front paws while his eyes watched the old woman sitting at the kitchen table. Nana, the family’s grandmother, spent most of her time during the day in the kitchen preparing food. Champ enjoyed the rich scents that filled the room, and so he liked to spend afternoons dozing there. From time to time Nana would look up from her task and toss a bit of food to the dog, who greedily gobbled the treat then looked longingly at the old woman for more.

It seemed like a long time since his last treat as Champ listened to the low growls emanating from his stomach. “I want another yummy!” he thought. He let out a whine without moving his head, and watched Nana.

The heavyset old woman sighed, slightly annoyed at the dog’s whining. “Blah blah blah CHAMP, blah blah blah YUMMY,” she said, and Champ sprang to a sitting position, his mouth agape in an anticipatory grin.

Frowning, Nana searched the crowded table for an appropriate treat for the dog then, finding one, tossed it to the floor. “Blah blah blah dog, blah blah yummy,” she said, and promptly returned her attention to the task at hand.

“I love on YUMMIES!” thought Champ as he dove for the treat, which was a delicious piece of meat that had been sauteed in some equally delicious sauce. Champ swallowed the yummy and licked the ground where it had been thrown. “Mmmm, I love on traces of yummy!”

The dog licked the floor thoroughly of all traces of the now forgotten yummy, so Champ sat and stared at Nana expectantly.

“I WANT MORE YUMMIES!” he barked.

“BLAH BLAH NO MORE, BLAH BLAH DUMB DOG,” answered Nana without looking at him.

“YUMMIES!” barked Champ again. “I LOVE ON THEM!”


Champ gave up his begging. From experience, he knew that when Nana said “no,” she meant no.

The sound of footsteps on the stairs caught Champ’s attention. He walked to the base of the stairs and wagged his tail. It was the girl, the youngest human child, noisily coming downstairs. She absentmindedly patted Champ’s head and said something to Nana in the kitchen that Champ didn’t understand.

Then she opened the front door and, telling Champ in a shrill voice to “Stay!”, clattered through the outside storm door and down the front steps out of sight. The front inside door remained open.

Champ stayed and watched the girl go. When the outside storm door slammed shut, the dog sniffed the carpeted stairs leading to the upstairs bedrooms to see if the girl had dropped any food. Disappointed, Champ sighed when he found none. He padded slowly into the kitchen and lay down in the corner to resume his vigil.

The next hour passed quietly. Champ lay on the floor and eventually dozed off, lulled to sleep by the delicious smells of food preparation.

He began to dream.

In his dream, Champ was frolicking in the back yard, free of the hated chain. The sun lit the yard in an unearthly golden glow, and flocks of birds flew round and round overhead. Dream Champ looked up at the birds and licked his chops – “I LOVE ON BIRDIES!” he barked at them. As if in response, several of the fowl landed on the shining grass near the dog. He pounced on the birds this way and that way; they kept landing near him, giving him more birds to play with. “I LOVE ON BIRDIES!” he barked happily, enjoying the soft feel of the birdflesh in his jaws, shaking each bird back and forth then tossing them aside. What a fun game!“Play with us Champ!” the birds cackled happily, “Play with us!”“I WILL PLAY ON YOU!!” the dog answered eagerly. Champ chased after one group of birds who squealed with delight has his canine teeth broke first one then another in his drooling maw. Human voices added to the growing cacophony of bird squawks and dog growls – “Good dog, good CHAMP, GOOD CHAMP!” and pairs of familiar smelling human hands patted and petted the happy dog. In his dream, Champ was a happy dog. The sunny glow was now partially obscured by a riot of feathers, frantic flying birds, and loving human hands. A dull roar sounded in the distance. Dream Champ continued his mindless frolic and the roar grew louder. The sound of a truck was unmistakable. The truck pulled into the dream yard, scattering Champ’s bird playmates. It was the Mail Truck!Champ hated the Mail Truck. The mailman emerged in his short-pants uniform with his mail sack over his shoulder. “Good dog good dog,” he spoke haltingly. Champ sniffed and smelled the man’s fear. He growled. “I do not love on him,” he thought, and crouched defensively.

The sound of screeching truck brakes woke Champ up with a start. He ran a few steps toward the front door. The mailman was ascending the front steps. What was this?The mailman was approaching his house?Champ was confused. Where were all the friendly birdies?The loving petting hands?He grew angry at the lost dream and began to growl. “I will bear my uppers,” he thought.

Now, normally the inside front door was kept closed so Champ rarely got to see the mailman walk up the steps to the house and deposit the family mail into the mailbox, which like all the houses in the neighborhood, was located next to the front door. But the human girl had left the inside door open and Champ had a clear view of the hated stranger.

“BLAH BLAH COME CHAMP!” yelled Nana from the kitchen. Champ ignored her.

“He is coming closer! HE IS COMING INSIDE!!”Just as the mailman reached for the mailbox, Champ jumped at him, not realizing that there was a clear storm window in his way.


The storm window shattered on impact and Champ groaned at the sudden heat in his paws. The dog retreated in pain and fear, forgetting all about the hated mailman. The poor mailman was stunned and surprised, and ran back down the stairs to his truck quickly. The boy ran downstairs when he heard the crash and yelped in surprise. “CHAMP BLAH BLAH BLAH!!! BAD BOY!!” he was yelling. Champ cowered in a corner.

The rest of the day was a blur for Champ. The window glass had left him with cuts on his paws. The older boy had arrived home soon after the incident and the two boys drove the injured dog to the vet, who gave Champ a shot of something that made him very sleepy. He must have dozed off because when he finally awoke later he found himself at home, his front paws bandaged and pulsating in dull pain, the children paying him extra attention.

He thought about the open front door and the approaching mailman. The image replayed itself over and over in his dogsbrain, causing his anger to rise. “I do not love on him,” Champ thought amid the children’s cooing. Champ stretched out on the floor and enjoyed the attention. “Next time I will hurt him with my uppers,” he thought.


© 2006 Michael S. Cohen

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