Sergeant Ralph leaps on the dog grapevine the second I call his name. “Hey Buddy, you got a sec?” I see his handsome German Shepherd face staring at a monitor like a working dog who went to MIT along with his human brainiacs. His ears come forward the second he hears my voice. I never thought I would be calling him for a complicated favor involving a beagle and a bloodhound, both sniffer dogs who should be valued instead of being regarded as a family liability.

“Hey, boy, sup?” Ralph slings his words around like he grew up in the hood instead of a high-end kennel where they cater to the needs of hand-picked pups with a gift for cleaning up the mess of humans who don’t know any better than to take a hike in the woods without a compass, pack drugs in their suitcase and tell the authorities it’s a present for their sick grammas, and other walking biped disasters about to find themselves in a predicament not far from stupidity.

“Workin’ a case right now ya wouldn’t believe. Man done and got himself stuck in the city sewage tunnel.  No end of morons, Bernard, here on the city streets. Retirement’s comin’ up soon, boy. I be milkin’ that gravy train. You got some troubles?”

I plow through Ralph’s colorful use of metaphors and get the drift of what he’s saying about humans, but Ralph sees the worst of the worst while I live in the tree lush suburbs and spend most of my time on the dog grapevine. I go on to explain the predicament both Charlie and Otto are in due to no fault of their own. He gets excited over the possibility of using a bloodhound to find the lost soul of a beagle. “Logistics as I see it is our major problem, Ralph.”

“Where’s Otto hangin’ now?”

“Greenwich, Connecticut near a horse farm.” I feel hopeless for a second until I see Ralph hook into the Greenwich surveillance cameras.

“Got me some sophisticated equipment. Can find most anything from an ariel view if I got an eye on the proximity.” Ralph peers over his nose at the monitor watching the small town move across the screen. “Otto a big old bloodhound tied to a fence post lookin’ sadder than a snake at the bottom of a well? Yeah, I even see me some horses. Man, that one hillbilly dog. Worth a pretty penny if his nose in fine shape.” He leans back against his chair studying the street numbers. “10S. 425 Ducksbury Lane.”

“That real slick Ralph, but I’m afraid Charlie goin’ be a whole other problem. Don’t know his whereabouts.”

“Where the humans git him?”

“Kill shelter in Harlan County. Don’t see how you can find ‘im though.”

“No worries, boy, I got me some fine shit thought recognition software. This  mo’ was designed  for our Elite Canine Unit. We was trained to use this stuff since itty pups. Showin’ Harlan Dog Shelter. Charlie you say, beagle, about what date he left there?”

“Within this past year. He’s been on the grapevine for about three months tellin’ me how hard done by he is. Twerp living in the house shut him in the dryer and turned it on high. The Jamaican cook Charlie calls his Auntie keeps saving him and last I heard she wants to take Charlie home with her where he can live in peace.”

“Oh man, them twerps the worst. Junior versions of their ol’ mans who rape the land and don’t have no respect foh anyone not born rich even if their ancestors had to steal the family money from the poh people. All I got here is a woman pickin’ up a little beagle ‘bout to be put down with Rhode Island license plates. Her name’s Lucy Mann, Providence. Rhode Island. Ain’t very big. You think yer boy Otto up to findin’ Charlie himself or does he need the Boston squad?”

Once we settle on a plan, I tune into Charlie and calm his fears but know he shakes all over from being lost without food and no feel for the path he’s traveling. I let go of my thoughts and mosey out the back door to check the periphery and maybe enjoy the sunshine while feeling fortunate my butt’s sitting pretty in the lap of a good man, metaphorically speaking.

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