The Mastiff Diaries; She Who Barks

She Who Barks

Mr. Big never complains. He never asks for anything. It makes me sick. Sometimes I just want to bite his nose off. And they love him ever so fucking much. He’s the favorite, I can tell even though the treat distribution is equal—except that his are always bigger than mine.

She calls me “Baby Girl”. As I weight nearly 200 pounds, this sobriquet is ludicrous. My real name—and job around here, actually—is She Who Barks. I’d prefer some respect around that.

Whenever she sits in the front room at her computer, my job starts. I’m never late for work. It begins with the Are You Awake bark. That is when I trot to the window—her computer sits in the front windows which are one of my work stations. As soon as she sits down, her back to the room where my bed is, I trot to the window and bark. There’s a space she leaves for me, just where I can stick my head to see if the guy across the street is getting into his pick-up, or the woman with the two little humans is walking past, or the Amazon Truck has pulled up.

Sometimes she barks with me. I love that. I don’t love it when she keeps typing or mousing or whatever she’s doing.

Mr. Big

Mr. Big now, he sleeps in the stationless room. That’s the room that she occupies at night, sitting on the big chair thing, staring up into a flickering light thing. So when I bark at one of my stations, I’m pretty careful about what I’m saying. For one thing, the Are You Awake bark generally translates to Hey, Maybe, Hey I Heard Something. I Think. Maybe and Mr Big just keeps sleeping. He’s a deep sleeper. Sometimes he howls in his sleep.

But Delivery Slasher!! will always wake Mr. Big up. And this is the point, because his bark is way deeper than mine. Humans take notice. Their eyes grow round, pupils dilate, they stiffen. Ah, it is so much fun to get that reaction. He’s the assistant barker; all he needs to do is stand behind me, and give out a regular deep Woof! Really freaks humans out.

I wait eagerly until she comes and opens the door and if Delivery Slasher is out there, I rush the door. Then she pushes her knee into my face and pulls the door shut between me and Slasher. I keep barking behind the screen, just so she and Slasher know I am doing my job as specified.

When she comes back in she is usually carrying a box. Sometimes the box is too heavy and she drags it inside. I stop barking because I have scared Delivery Slasher away and she is unharmed, even though sometimes she grunts as she pushes a box across the floor.

Then she mutters something stupid like, I’m going to punch you in all your noses, before rubbing my head and ruffling my ears.

Part of my job is to tail her around the house. If she goes upstairs, I have to go too. One of my stations is up there, another window that looks down onto one end of the street. That’s a great station. I can see all kinds of shit from up there. Humans, motorcycles, delivery trucks. When I say Guy With Dog, Guy With Dog, Mr. Big will trundle up the stairs and join in.

The problem with this station is Him—not Mr. Big, but Him. He’s usually in the upstairs den, a place I don’t go into very much because there’s never any food up there. And they got a new covered cat box up there so I can’t even nose around for snacks. When He barks I always stop. There’s something about His bark—it’s deep and sharp. He’s saying Halt! Freeze! Hands Up! So I obey. Mr. Big will stand there quietly and never gets into trouble (butter wouldn’t melt), but sometimes I can’t help myself and I talk back. All He has to do is lean close and stare at me. He’s quite a guy. Real dominant. He’s the only one I will listen to because, of course, I feel like sometimes He doesn’t get that I have alpha responsibilities too.

I have only to do my job twice a day, anyway, exception being my occasional on-call duty issuing Delivery Slasher! alerts. I’m busiest midday after they eat breakfast, and evenings when they eat dinner, particularly when they eat outside because the back yard is one of my biggest stations.

And I don’t want to forget to mention our most important business: eating, a complex subtle skill involving sitting beside the dining table when both humans are there, staring, drooling, blinking, licking ourlips. When they issue words like oh god he’s so cute or I feel like a laser beam is on me, then it’s time to add the tail-wag. Works every time.

I just wish Mr. Big wouldn’t fart so much.



About Jill Zeller

Author of numerous novels and short stories, Jill Zeller is a Left Coast writer, 2nd generation Californian, retired registered nurse, and obsessed gardener. She lives in Oregon with her patient husband, 2 silly English mastiffs and 2 rescue cats—the silliest of all. Her works explore the boundaries of reality. Some may call it fantasy, but there are rarely swords and never elves. More to the point, she prefers to write as if myth, imagination and hallucination are as real as the chair she is sitting on as she writes this. Jill Zeller also writes under the pseudonym Hunter Morrison


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