There is something terribly undignified about wanting to put one’s nose to the hindquarters of a complete stranger, but in this moment, Arthur can’t quite help himself.
“Oh!” Mother sounds delighted. “Why, mon loup. Have you found a friend?” She smells like dark-bitter-cream-sweet and faintly, like the goodies Arthur knows are hidden in her coat pocket.
Father insists Mother spoils Arthur, but Arthur doesn’t see why he shouldn’t be rewarded for his good behavior. After all, it only seems right. Not to mention that Mother is getting bigger in the belly, so why should Arthur care about getting a bit rounder about the middle?
But as soon as the stranger turns, curved tail wagging, Arthur involuntarily stands a bit taller, nose lifting, and wishes his figure were as sleek and regal as it had been before the discovery of peanut-butter bacon treats. Mother tells often tells him that his is a noble ancient breed, helpmates who worked alongside the Vikings warriors, Arthur has learned, and he fully understands the importance of good behavior and keeping up with appearances. He’s a handsome dog, very intelligent and hard-working, and he should not be feeling like he’s a wobbly-legged puppy as the stranger shakes out an impressive golden coat and pricks his ears.
“What a handsome boy,” Mother says. Arthur agrees, but he turns up his nose with a dismissive sniff. He is supposed to be the only handsome boy Mother notices.
“Oh, thanks! Eames, sit,” The definitely-not-that-handsome golden stranger’s human says, tugging at the leash, and Arthur delicately takes a step away from the other dog, as if his nose hadn’t been curiously leading him on in the first place. “Sorry; he gets excited easily. Come on you scrappy thing, be good. Sit! Sit.”
Hello, there! The dog barks, still straining toward Arthur. What ill manners. I’m Eames.
Arthur ignores him. Eames’s human smells like pencil shavings and has put a silly little scrap of cloth around Eames’s neck in the shape of a bow –
Oh, don’t be shy, darling, is all the warning he gets before there’s a wet nose touching his, and Arthur pulls away, growling, hackles rising.
“Arthur!” Mother scolds, and Arthur’s ears flatten with a whine.
Eames, though, merely lets his tongue loll, head tilting. Arthur, what a lovely name. Pleasure to make your acquaintance.
Arthur scoffs, and turns his attention fully toward making it up to Mother. But she gives him a disapproving look. “I’m sorry; Arthur seems to have forgotten his manners.”
“Oh, that’s okay. Eames thinks everyone is his friend; the doof. Is yours a husky mix?”
But we are going to be friends, aren’t we, Arthur? Eames’s human has come closer, giving him a little slack on the leash, and Eames starts to sniff closer again – and because Arthur does have manners, he stands very still and dignified, holding in his belly a little.
Fine, he allows, begrudgingly, and tries not to let his tail move a single hair when Eames winks at him.