Shark was observing Duke’s gang. His eyes were locked on the main dog’s eyes. 

Duke’s eyes were looking for his next rampage from the nearby bakery that used to throw previous day leftovers around 3 am when the next day shift turned the oven on. The smell of freshly baking bread was a surefire sign that the back bins are now getting filled with leftover riches, marking the moment to start the scavenging. 

Six more dogs accompanied Duke, all with open muzzles, hungry to start chewing upon the hardened Friday morning pretzels thrown in the bins. If they got lucky, they would find the cheesy pita bread. It was their favorite. Not too hard to chew it tastelessly for hours, and not too soft to let it melt between the teeth without satiating the day-long hunger, Duke and his gang were the biggest fans of the pita leftovers. It was a treat; rarely their food included anything else than pure dough, cheesy fillings were a welcome extra and a nice surprise.

Aggression grew strong any time the competition showed up. This night’s prospects of an easy fight for food were dire; Shark’s powerful muzzle sniffed something else – it wasn’t the familiar smell of Isaac or Marshall, not even the smell of the Pixie’s pack or gang, as dogs used to call it among themselves. It was rather a weird new odor, a combination of the outers’ gang with something quite new. 

Shark couldn’t get the hold of it, growing more worried, and his previous confidence dissipating as the old wounds crept back in. “What if we fail in the end? The start of this cohabitation was easy. What happens next is what worries me”, he reflected on the day so far, as a troublesome thought passed through his head, raising his pulse and instilling speed into his legs.  

He rushed back to Marshall and Isaac, who decided to take a short nap together, happy with the success of the initial cohabitation. He woofed heavily, waking up the basset and the pug, as well a few others that shared the same roof.

“Wake up, Isaac! You have to wake up! I have to tell you something! Marshall, you too! Wake up! Both of you wake up!” Shark was barking louder, as Isaac hopped on his legs and Marshall slowly lifted his head. 

This was not the first time a younger dog woke him up in the middle of the night in panic mode. Marshall was used to it. “Take it easy, dog! I know corgis are supposed to be working dogs, but it’s night time, what’s gotten into you so late? It can’t be that terrible, can it?”

“Yes, buddy, what’s up? Why are you all gasping for breath and brewing underneath? Did something happen? Is it Duke?”, went Isaac.

“Nope, not yet, but it can happen. Listen to me – Duke’s gang is out, scavenging around the bakery and waiting for the Chinese place to close. You know they give us the problems every weekend, but nothing we’re not used to. That’s not what worries me. I’m more worried about something else.”

“Well, spill it out, then, bud, what is it?”, asked Isaac.

“You know that Pixie has joined us in the cohabitation experiment? Well, her shenanigans put her in a vet’s clinic. She did inhabit Charlene, just as Isaac inhabited Daniel, but she is now spending the weekend at the vet’s place and her gang is without a pack leader. And you know what happens when a pack is left without a leader.”

“Hm, I haven’t thought of that,” added Isaac, pointing his big basset eyes to the pug’s face, looking for answers. 

The basset contemplated Pixie’s move, questioning his ability to make a good judgment of character. Perhaps it was too early to involve Pixie in such a complicated experiment. Perhaps he made a mistake.

“I have.” Marshall paused for a moment as he seemed to gaze in the dark in front of him, surveying the possible sequence of events as he was watching an invisible movie display. 

“These things tend to solve rather quickly, boys. Dogs are not the greatest fans of conflict. They prefer order so someone has probably already taken Pixie’s place in the pack. I doubt we will see longer fights and an endless quest for power. That’s people’s business; many of them usually think each and every one of them deserves the first place and that’s why they suffer so much”.

“I hope you are right, Marshall”, worryingly said Shark. 

“But I wouldn’t be so sure that the order gets established tonight. It’s getting incredibly crowded in front of the “Demure”. There is so much reckless energy brewing under the surface. Drunk people and hungry dogs don’t make for a peaceful combination”. 

Featured Image: Tatiana Rodriguez on Unsplash

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