Episode 14. Dog chooses owner

Dog chooses owner
June 14th
When I woke up the next morning, I felt better and lighter than I’d done in ages. We hadn’t discussed my predicament any further after entering the restaurant and that was fine with me. I felt safe in the knowledge that I had people around me who would help should things get ugly with my former step dad.
The food had been lovely. We’d shared a seafood platter for starters. The scallops, mussels, shrimps and crab claws had tasted amazing in that way only seafood just taken out of the sea could. Afterwards, I’d eaten fried flatfish with rice, and garden salad with pomegranate vinegar dressing. Markus had chosen a fish risotto. We had talked while we enjoyed the food and wine. And though I know it’s a cliché, it felt like we’d known each other for ages. When the dinner was over, and we’d paid our bills, he helped me get a cab, and kissed me briefly, but passionately on the lips before we parted.
It was only eight o’clock, but Emma was already in the kitchen when I got downstairs. The smell of waffles made my tummy rumble and when I entered the kitchen, Emma already had a few waffles spread out over kitchen paper.
“You’re up early,” I said.
“Good morning. How was your date?”
She’d gone to bed by the time I got home at eleven, probably exhausted from all her hard work with the forty years jubilee the day before.
“Actually, I can tell it went well from your face,” she said and gestured for me to put some more coffee on.
“We can eat some of this waffles now,” Emma said while I set the table. “But the rest, we’re bringing to Arlette. I’m really dying to meet her again. But before we go there, I’m taking us to the dog house.”
“The dog house?” I asked poring myself a cup of strong coffee.
“You remember my colleague Anita from the party?”
I nodded.
“She works for the animal welfare as a volunteer and since she and her partner have a reasonably large house, sometimes takes in stray dogs that need new homes when their kennels are filled up. And since I’d been thinking of getting a dog for a while, I thought I’d come today since she has five staying with her. «That’s exciting,” I exclaimed, reaching for a waffle. I absolutely adored dogs, but I’d never felt it was the right time to have one since I often worked long hours. Emma on the contrary, had not been a dog person at all, so the news that she wanted a dog came as quite a surprise.

The dogs were outside in the garden when we arrived. Anita and a man I assumed was her boyfriend sat on their veranda drinking Fanta with ice cubes and observed the dogs playing. There was a huge German shepherd laying under a tree not joining in at all, a Dalmatian and Irish setter rolling around on the grass, a poodle washing itself and a black Labrador chewing contentedly on a bone.
“Lovely to see you!” Anita got up and walked down the garden path towards us.
The Dalmatian and the setter were all over us as soon as we got inside the gate. The Labrador came to sniff, but the poodle and the German shepherd seemed completely uninterested in us. Emma backed away in horror as the Dalmatian jumped up and tried to lick her face.
“Nessa, down,” Anita commanded in an authoritative voice. “Nessa has been with me for a few weeks now and she’s a completely different dog from the quiet skinny one who had clearly been neglected by her owner.”
Anita Caressed Nessa’s head and Nessa waved her tail before running away to fetch a toy that was lying on the grass.
“This is Belle,” Anita said and patted the Irish setter. The lab is called Max, the poodle Alana and this here, “she walked over to the German shepherd who now appeared to be sleeping. “This is Mica. He came to me a couple of weeks ago and he has been very quiet all the time. He was found in an overheated shed in a back garden. Someone in the neighbouring house called to alert us that the owners had moved without taking the dog.
“That’s awful,” Said Emma and bent down to pat his soft head. He didn’t stir.
“I don’t know who to choose,” Emma said in the end. “What do you think Sandra?”
I passed in my playing fetch with Belle. “I don’t know,” I said. “But it’s going to be your dog, so you’ll have to make the decision.”
“That’s where you’re both wrong,” smiled Anita. The one who will make the decision is the dog.”
“How does that work?” Asked Emma.
“Pat the dogs you haven’t patted yet and then make out as you’re leaving. The dog, who follows you, is yours.”
Emma patted all the dogs in turn, except the poodle that seemed to be interested in only herself. When she was done, she started walking towards the gate. Anita and I watched with excitement as Mica, the German shepherd got up and started following her.
“Turn around,” we said in unison. Emma smiled as she watched Mica stop when she stopped and walk again when she started walking.
“Miracles haven’t ceased to happen,” she said when they’d both reached the gate. She entwined her fingers into his soft long hairs and he leaned his head towards her. “Because I never thought I’d A, get a dog, and B, get a big dog.”

Half an hour later, we were on the road. Anita had given us Mica’s bowl as well as his colour and lead. “The owners had the sense to microchip him. He’s been to the vet, and he’s physically healthy. I’m sure he’ll recover just fine with you mentally. «We were now on our way to Arlette. Mica sat in the back seat and stared out of the window as if he’d never done anything else in his life.
Arlette was sitting on the veranda listening to something through headphones when we arrive. She was overjoyed to see me again. And though she and Emma had only met a few times many years ago, they seemed happy to see each other as well. Even Mica, understanding that Arlette was family, came up to sniff her hand and he let her pat his head before he lied down gently at her feet.
Astrid came out and greeted us and then asked if we wanted something to drink.
“Most curious,” said Arlette after I’d told them about Clairvoyant Clara at the Hansen & Dale summer party. “I too would normally write off those fortune tellers as fake. But she seemed to know a lot of things about you that you could never have told her.”
“Unless,” I said. “And I know this sounds crazy, but maybe she’s in on the whole thing.” “That would be a really strange coincidence,” said Emma. Although the booking of her did happen in a very strange way, because she was the one who called us. She mentioned being a psychic and that her friend worked for us and had told her about the summer party. And would we need a fortune teller? You know, just for fun? I spoke to Hansen Jr about it before I said yes, and he was delighted at the idea. Not because he believed in fortune telling, but because he thought it would be a nice edition the women and children especially would enjoy.”
Sexist, I thought.
“Oh what a stupid man!” Exclaimed Arlette as if she’d read my thoughts.
“Emma laughed and helped herself to another waffle.
“He’s quite old-school in his thinking,” she added.
“Did Clairvoyant Clara give you the name of her friend, or her own real name in relation to that booking?” I wanted to know.
Emma shook her head. But I found her on some National Association of psychics website listed under that name. So I accepted her request to be at our party as it was just a bit of fun anyway.”
”I would check her out thoroughly if I were you,” said Arlette. There is something about this that really stinks and I don’t like it in the slightest.

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