Mrs Mutt spent much of her days taking Florence for long walks around the suburb where they lived.
Florence called these outings ‘walkies’.
“I’ll get da leash!” she always said. But there was no leash. The Mutts had no use for a leash because they had NO ACTUAL DOG. Still, Florence wanted to feel like a real dog. So she keep a supply of doggy-poo bags in her back pocket, just in case. She did not tell her mother about those.
Mrs Mutt told Florence not to bark at dogs behind fences but she did let her run up and down the fence lines, hoping to tire her out.
Mrs Mutt spent many afternoons in the garden throwing beat-up tennis balls. Florence refused to catch balls in her chubby little hands but was very good at catching them in her mouth.
One day, when Mrs Mutt was in the kitchen making herself a cup of coffee and chatting on the phone to her sister, Florence finished off the digging hole and… voilà, there she was, on the other side of the fence. An escaped tennis ball was hiding over here somewhere. Florence was going to retrieve it.
She could smell her own slobber on it, her mother’s hand moisturiser and eleven varieties of grass.
Astonished at her newfound freedom, Florence dropped down onto all fours and sniffed the grassy ditch. She was never allowed to do this in public. But wait! Her mother was not here. Florence was free! Free as a stray!
Forgetting the ball, she trotted off, following her nose-snout around the neighbourhood.
On all fours, your nose is closer to the ground. The world smells amazing like that. Florence followed the trails of dogs who had passed by since the last downpour. She imagined she were a detective dog — a highly-trained beagle, with a police dog handler of her own.
What was this new smell? The smell became stronger and stronger as she ran. This was the beautiful aroma of another dog.
This stranger-dog had left messages along his journey. Most recently on this here wheelie bin.
Florence already knew quite a bit about this dog.
For example: He had recently let off a small fart, which carried on the breeze like a spring day among roses.
According to the fart, he was currently digesting one small helping of Fido’s canned dog food.
At first Florence mistook him for a tumbleweed of seeds, blowing towards her like a million dandelion clocks rolled into one.
The ball of fluff grew bigger and fluffier until here he was. Tumbleweed turned dog.
This was love at first sight.
Where’s your human? Florence asked, without saying a word.
“I myself am a human,” replied the dog in human words, though he was obviously no such thing. “Look at me. I can stand on my two hind legs.”
“Hmph,” said Florence, not impressed. “If you really were a human you’d call those plain old ‘legs’. Only a dog would call them ‘hind legs’, to tell them apart from ‘front legs’.”
This show-off shaggy dog dropped back down onto all fours and looked forlorn.
“There’s nothing wrong with dog legs, though,” added Florence. “We dogs should be proud of our dogginess.” Her doctor had said something nice about dogs once, and Florence quite believed it.
Next Florence sniffed his butt. Yes, he was most probably definitely a dog.
“What’s your name, anyhow?”
“Fluffy. They call me Fluffikins for short.”
“How is Fluffikins short for Fluffy? Fluffikins has three syllables and Fluffy has two.”
“I know. It’s irritating. So I ran away. I ran away, and here I am.”
Thusly, Florence Mutt ended up with a dog friend after all.