Wolfhound Chapter 4

The girl feeding the hamsters at the front of the store did a double-take when Finch walked in with Reese.

“Is that a string of ties you have him on?” she asked with a growing grin.

“Uh… yes. We had a… slight accident with his leash,” Finch improvised.

Laughing, the girl said, “If he chewed through it when he was left alone, it’s probably because he was bored. Dogs need a lot of exercise, especially the big hounds.”

“I realize that now,” Finch answered ruefully. “We just came through the park for a change of scenery. Where do you have the collars and such?”

The girl not only helped him find the right aisle but also made a few suggestions.

“If he’s smart, he’ll be able to get out of that kind – you’ll probably do better with this brand. My own Sheltie is an escape artist, but this one has worked well for her so far. Which color do you like?”

“Well, let’s ask John,” Finch replied, holding out three. “What do you think?”

“Um… Sir, dogs are colorblind,” the girl reminded as Reese sniffed all of them.

“Oh… right… Well, John, this one’s blue, this one’s red, and this one’s brown. They also have a black one if you’d prefer.”

The girl stared at Finch as though he were not quite right in the head, but Reese pointed at the red one with his nose.

“Very stylish, Mr. Reese – I think it will look nice against your fur,” Finch commented, putting the other ones back. “Now we need a lead to attach to it.”

Somewhat surprised that the dog had seemed to choose one (despite being colorblind), the girl showed them the various kinds of leads, and Finch selected one that would extend from the handheld reel but had a brake button in case the dog took off running.

“I don’t want to cramp your style, John, but if you take off after someone – or something – into the street, I’d like to be able to stop you,” Finch explained.

“Woof woof,” Reese said in an obliging manner.

“Wow… You’d almost think he understands you,” the girl said in awe.

“Oh, I’m sure he does,” Finch assured her. “At least, much more than most people would give him credit for. Wolfhounds are one of the most intelligent breeds, in my opinion.”

Reese turned to smile at him, tongue lolling, recognizing the quote stolen from the gentleman they had just met in the park.

“Yes, you are, aren’t you?” Finch grinned back, scratching behind his ears. “Smarter than the average dog!”

“Woof!”

After getting a small tag engraved with his name and contact information, Finch removed the ties from Reese’s neck and put his new gear on. Then, when he began to pay for his purchases at the cash register, Reese grabbed the hem of his suit jacket and tugged.

“What? Am I forgetting something?” Finch asked.

“Wuff,” Reese replied before sauntering over to an aisle filled with rawhide chews and bones.

“Of course! I’m sorry, Mr. Reese – I’d forgotten after suggesting it myself,” Finch said apologetically, earning him another stare from the girl. The other clerk was also staring at them, but Finch didn’t notice, being overwhelmed with the choices of chewable items before him.

“Well… which one would you like?” Finch asked as Reese sniffed at the various packages.

“Woof,” he finally decided, picking up a large, shrink-wrapped bone in his mouth.

“We also have a special on Sunshine brand kibble,” the girl offered. “I’ll bet you go through a lot of dog food with this big guy!”

Finch turned to Reese, who looked up at him imploringly, his large eyes made even bigger by his expression. Finch had to suppress a snort.

“Ah, actually, John is on a strict diet of fresh meat and vegetables,” he informed her, pulling out his wallet again. “I’m considering entering him in the next dog show, so he has to be in top condition.”

“He sure is a good-looking dog,” she agreed. “So… is his name ‘John’ or ‘Mr. Reese’?”

“Ah… ‘Mr. John Fitzpatrick Reese’ as a matter of fact,” Finch answered, belatedly realizing his slip-up.

“Wow… That’s a long name for a dog,” she remarked as she slid his credit card through the register.

“Well, people often have three or more names, and John is a very special dog. At least to me… Although I suppose all pet owners think theirs is the smartest and best,” Finch said with a self-deprecating smile.

“And you know what, they’re all right,” the girl smiled back warmly. “Here’s your receipt. Have a nice day!”


As they walked back through the park, Reese pulled on his leash, trying to go across the grass.

“I don’t do well on uneven surfaces, John,” Finch protested, but Reese only woofed at him and continued tugging in that direction. Relenting, Finch followed after him, letting out the lead so Reese could move on ahead. Much to Finch’s consternation, Reese trotted up to a picnic blanket and nudged one of the people sitting on it.

“Whoa! Hey there, big guy,” the teenage boy said when he turned around and found Reese’s shaggy face near his own. “Where’d you come from?”

“Taylor,” Finch gasped, then saw the other person behind him on the blanket. “Detective Carter…”

“Well, if it isn’t Mr. Mystery Man. Should I call you ‘Harold’ today, or do you prefer ‘Norman’?” Carter asked. Despite the sarcasm of her words, she was smiling and looking more relaxed than usual – possibly because she was wearing jeans and a sweatshirt.

“Please, Detective – just ‘Harold’ is fine,” Finch said with a little sigh.

“Cool dog,” Taylor said, already scratching his head and getting sniffed in return. “What kind is it? He’s huge!”

“Irish Wolfhound. You’re welcome to take him for a run, if you’d like. I’m… limited in my mobility, and he needs to get more exercise than I can provide for him.”

Reese gave Finch an amused look, then returned his attention to Taylor as the boy rifled through his backpack and produced a stress ball, which he showed to Reese. He sniffed at it with interest.

“Does he fetch?”

“I’m sure he can,” Finch said dryly, unlatching the leash from Reese’s collar when he observed that his tail was beginning to wag. “The real question is, can you throw?”

Grinning, Taylor got up to find a less populated area of the park, with Reese following expectantly at his heels.

“Would you like to sit down?” Carter asked.

“I suppose I might as well… although I may need some assistance getting back up again,” Finch admitted. “It looks like John will be engaged for a while…”

“‘John’? You named your dog, ‘John’?”

“That’s his name. He came with it,” Finch replied, considering how much he ought to tell her. She shook her head in disbelief, although she was still smiling.

“What does the other John think about that?”

Finch swallowed, then glanced over to where Taylor had just thrown the ball – as hard as he could – towards a grassy patch. Reese took off like a gray lightning bolt, galloping across a field and leaping into the air to catch it in his mouth. Then in a fluid motion he turned around and trotted back to Taylor, releasing the ball immediately in a way that only the most well-disciplined of canines would.

“I’m not sure how to answer that,” Finch began slowly. “Detective… how much do you know about the Haitian practice of Voodoo?”

“I beg your pardon?” she said, raising an eyebrow. Finch nervously fidgeted with the handle of the lead for a moment before looking her straight in the eye.

“I know this sounds incredible, and you might be tempted to lock me up in some… mental institution,” he finally confessed, “but that is John. He was… assaulted, for lack of a better word, by the aunt of that young gang member he left for the police to find last night. I thought he was free and clear of the whole incident, but this morning he… showed up, at our rendezvous point, in that shape. Now, I’m more skeptical than most people, Detective, but when he tried to communicate through my computer keyboard, I put together another one that was more suited to his… current condition. He is capable of typing out entire sentences – coherent ones – in response to my verbal questions, and he knows things that only John would. Plus he had John’s wallet with him. You may find it hard to believe, even impossible, but I’m convinced that that dog is John himself.”

Carter had scrutinized Finch’s face during his explanation, and she was wearing a frown on her own now.

“I may not believe what you’re saying, Harold,” she responded, “but I’m afraid that you believe your story… Have you considered getting checked out at a hospital?”

“Well, no… I didn’t think it was necessary. But perhaps John can prove it himself,” he suggested. They both looked over at Reese, who turned into a gray blur as he streaked across the grass in chase of the ball. When he trotted back to Taylor, Finch called out as loudly as he could.

“Mr. Reese, could you join us for a minute?”

Reese instantly dropped the ball at Taylor’s feet and bounded over to them.


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