Gerald’s Talking Dog
By Sally Cook
Gerald’s Talking Dog loves cherries. That’s all he ever talks about, but that wasn’t always true. He used to ride with his paws on the dashboard chattering about everything he saw. And he was so opinionated! Some days Gerald wished he’d never picked up the stray Basset Hound.
The dog’s cherry fixation started the summer Gerald moved into his family’s run-down cottage on Platte Lake. They went to look at the place in July, and on the way north, Gerald bought a box of washed sweet cherries. It’s bad when a dog stares at you while you’re eating. Worse if it begs, “C’mon, gimme,” over and over, for more than a hundred miles.
Now cherry season was long past. It was November. Gerald found a space heater in a closet and spent most of his time near it, even though the lights dimmed when he plugged it in. The quiet was killing him. When the dog asked, “When will cherries be ripe, huh?” one too many times, Gerald pulled a dusty encyclopedia off the shelf, opened it to the entry for cherries, and plopped it on the floor. It turned out the dog could read too, and after that Gerald’s talking dog had even more to say.
At the grocery store, after filling his cart with comfort food like Pop-Tarts and Nutella, Gerald picked up a copy of the local newspaper. There was going to be a Pub Trivia contest, and the topic would be cherries, in honor of the pub’s Belgian Rye Dubbel, fermented with sweet and tart cherries. God knows, he thought, I’ve heard enough about the accursed fruit to call myself an expert.
Gerald didn’t have a team, so he figured he’d sit at the bar, play alone, and enjoy a couple of drinks. The dog insisted on coming along. He’d wear the orange vest Gerald got him for hunting season, and pretend to be a service dog. He swore he wouldn’t cause any trouble. The pub was packed, and the ale warmed Gerald in a way the space heater didn’t. The quiz was going OK too. He knew there were more than 1000 different varieties of cherry trees and that the Pilgrims brought cherries to North America in the 1600’s.
Towards the end of the night, he was in second place with only two bonus questions left. He remembered the average tree produces about 7000 cherries in a good year, but what was the record distance for spitting a cherry pit? He was stumped! He dropped his pen, and bending to pick it up, he muttered the question. The dog opened one eye and said, “Halves.” Gerald was afraid he’d gone back to sleep until the dog snickered and whispered, “93 feet.”
Gerald won Trivia and knew where he’d be spending Wednesday nights. Best of all, the prize was a growler full of the new Cherry Ale. Half was better than nothing, and the dog’s share should keep him quiet for a long, long time.