Background: Pet Sitter Daphne Templeton is having a difficult time controlling her exuberant, one-eared foster Chihuahua, Artie, at a dog agility trial. And things are about to get worse for Daphne and her sidekick, introspective basset hound Socrates...

                                                                                                             Chapter 7

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I seriously doubted that a thrice-abandoned Chihuahua had ever been offered formal agility training, but what Artie lacked in experience he made up for in exuberance.

 As I climbed over the low white fence that defined one of the two courses, he gleefully navigated one obstacle after another, first launching himself through the colorful, hanging hoop, like a lion at a circus, then climbing the A-frame, where he stood tall, his tail wagging with excitement.

“Artie, get down from there,” I said, catching a glimpse of Piper, who stood outside the ring, shaking her head with disapproval.

I wasn’t sure why she was so unhappy.  The event hadn’t officially started yet, and Artie wasn’t hurting anything.  In fact, some people seemed to find him quite entertaining.  A small crowd was gathering.

Still, I didn’t want to make Piper mad, so I called to Artie again.  “Come!”

No one knew much about why Artie had been given up several times, but I suspected that it had something to do with his lawless, free spirit, which I admired.  Although, at that moment, I would’ve preferred that he listen to me, as opposed to dart down the A-frame and duck into the long, red tunnel.  I waited for a moment, but apparently Artie thought he’d found a pretty nifty hiding place, because he didn’t emerge from the other side. 

“Daphne...”  I heard warning in Piper’s voice, and more laughter from the people who’d gathered around the ring. 

“I’m getting him,” I promised, with a glance down at Socrates, who’d joined me on the course, too.  “Do you want to bring him out?”

Socrates looked genuinely offended by the suggestion that he debase himself by walking into a tunnel.  In fact, he lay down and yawned. 

“Daphne!”  Piper’s voice was sharper, and I looked over to see her scowling at me and pointing to her wrist, although she wasn’t wearing a watch.  “The trial starts in five minutes!”

“Okay, okay!” 

Apparently, I would have to debase myself.  Getting down on all fours, I crawled until I could poke my head inside the tunnel.

“Artie, come over here...”

I started to summon him again, but suddenly my throat got very tight, making it difficult to talk, because Artie wasn’t alone inside that obstacle.

I froze in place for a second, then backtracked slowly on my hands and knees...