Mabel opens her eyes and stares blankly at the new babies like they’re someone else’s. I want to set this notion straight, but the vet holds up a hand before I can open my mouth. Not that she could hear much of what I got to say about Mabel pulling herself together and acting like a real mother. This Mastiff boy saved her life so she could live to enjoy motherhood and take care of her own offspring. I stare at the vet and the next thing I hear is a stern voice hollering in my ear, “Be patient, Bernard. We have a situation here.” My head swivels around so fast, I nearly sprained my neck when realizing the animal doctor climbed on the dog grapevine without an invite and shouted orders for me to ‘be patient’. Who does she think she’s talking to? She can take the whole lot of feathers back to the clinic for all this boy cares. Lester and Bubba don’t know they’ve been rejected by their own mother so can’t imagine they would even care. “Nobody’s going anywhere.” I take my large paw and lift out Bubba and set him on his mother’s stomach. He has a conniption fit and starts squawking like I threw him in a bramble bush. Carries on until I can’t take the racket. Carl and Kahu come running in time to ask what’s causing the drama. Everybody looks at me. Miss Vet puts Bubba back in his basket and glares at me like I done something wrong. I’m finished with this shit and pick up the basket and carry it home. If the humans can’t act right, I’m not hanging in their company.

I shove the basket on the couch and lie down next to Bubba and Lester while they finish another meal. Soon the little guys settle under my neck ruffles snoozing along with their new mother. Welcome to my world. I shut the door to any of Miss Vet’s pleadings for me to bring them back. It’s like turning off a radio and enjoying the silence. This spares my nerves from every bossy fringe person feeling free to join the conversation saying much ‘ado about nothing.

My eyes spring open when hearing the melodious sounds of Bella. She’s telling me how much she misses me and asks if she can come over for a visit. This throws me into a tailspin of unmanly emotions. How can I tell her I’m babysitting two ducklings right now and the little peepers are attached to my body until they grow out of needing a mother? Mastiffs don’t have a girly side, especially this boy who prides himself on cutting a masculine figure and living up to his name. ‘Bernard’ means strong and brave, but I suppose taking care of Lester and Bubba despite the indignity of the situation could be considered brave if a sweet dog like Bella has it in her to get past the image of me on the couch mothering twins not even in our own species.

I may have overestimated her bounteous love for Yours Truly. When I explain the situation, she’s so upset about the idea of me acting like somebody’s “milkmaid” that she hollers something about our relationship coming to an abrupt end and would I please tell my “vegan Dog Dad to get his vegetables out of our refrigerator ‘cause if he can’t bite into a hunk of meat, he ain’t no kind of man either.”

Bella tosses out some more words like wimps and ninnies. Reckon this boy sidestepped a bullet. I confess to letting go of a tear and maybe dampening my babies who peep a few times before settling back down to take a snooze. One thing about this imprinting business, I don’t have to worry they will go anywhere.

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