The Master was sleeping in his chair, snoring in time with the clock that hung on the wall. The small mailman sat cross legged on the floor, trying to build his own compass while the radio played. The spot by Master’s feet should have been for Dug, but that spot was empty.
Alpha huffed. That was not right.
“Dug?” Alpha called up the stairs.
“Dug?” Alpha called out the window.
“Dug?” Alpha called under the bed.
“Alpha, stop yelling. I am focusing and cannot think when you yell like that.”
Alpha snorted and pushed the closet door open. Dug had been very particular about finding a good hiding spot for the puppies going back and forth from the pantry to under the porch for a week before finally deciding on the linen closet.
“You normally sleep by Master’s feet. You should be in the living room.” Alpha stated as though it was obvious.
Dug nosed at the smallest pup, whining when she continued to sleep. “I am naming the babies.”
Alpha’s ears perked. “Master always names the babies.”
“I want to name these babies. Master said I could.”
The pudgy pup, his eldest, yawned from the floor. “They sleep as much as you do.”
Dug’s tail began wagging ecstatically and Alpha knew he wasn’t going to win any arguments.
“What have you named them?”
Dug’s paw dropped gently onto the eldest, a boy with Alpha’s coloring and Dug’s wide nose. “Peanut Butter.”
Alpha looked at Peanut Butter who slept soundly, unaware of his parent’s conversation. He was lucky.
The next born had been a daughter. Alpha sniffed her out, half hidden under the blankets Dug had taken from the tiny mailman during a visit. “Her?”
Alpha sat back, stunned. “What?”
“It is from the book Master has been reading to us. I liked it.”
“Hufflepuff.” Alpha repeated, nudging his daughter closer to Dug. His second daughter bumped into her sister, whining in confusion. “And her?”
Dug sniffed her, as though to remember. “Honey Badger. From the nature show we’ve been watching. They are very strong. She is strong.”
Alpha remembered how his second daughter’s birth. How long it took before she started breathing. How loudly she yelped. “Honey Badger.”
Their second son had somehow wiggled behind Dug and took some time pulling him forward. “Sirloin.”
Alpha nodded. “A good name.”
“I thought so.”
His littlest daughter nudged up against his leg, whining for attention. Or probably for food. Still, he sniffed her over for any ills, reassured her he was there. “What did you name her?”
“Squirrel.” Dug looked far too pleased.
“You named our daughter after squirrels?”
“Russell said squirrels are cute and she is cute.” Dug said, obviously unsure of why that didn’t make perfect sense to Alpha.
Alpha sniffed each of his children. Their children. “Hello Peanut Butter. Hello Hufflepuff. Hello Honey Badger. Hello Sirloin. Hello Squirrel.”
The puppies didn’t acknowledge their father at all, far more content with their sleep.
“I shall tell Master their names.”
And a few minutes later the sound of laughter echoed from the living room, causing Dug to preen.
“Master likes your names.” Dug told the puppies.
If they had been awake they would have probably been thrilled.