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Dog Talk & Ripov/1
by Albert Russo

On Wednesdays, Ripov walked Toby, Mrs. Lippincott's terrier. Mrs. Lippincott often complained about her dog, saying things like, “He's a monster, yesterday he barked at my bridge partners and scared them away. I had to lock him up in the cellar.” Or, “Now he refuses to touch canned food... goes and steals my Swiss chocolate from the pantry. With all the pains I took to train him!”

The last time Ripov picked up the terrier, Mrs. Lippincott threw a fit: “The bastard! He relieved himself on my Chinese carpet because Mister couldn't stand the presence of my new boyfriend. Take him away, for God's sakel To a witch-doctor, to a mental institution, anywhere. Better an alley cat to this, this....” And she slammed her front door on Ripov and his growling protégé as though they were two accomplices.

Ripov knew Toby to be a gentle animal, with him anyway. Toby was still shaking with anger, then, after having crossed over to the opposite side of the street, he bristled his hair and gave a ferocious bark in the direction of his mistress' apartment.

Ripov waited until Toby let off the steam he had bottled up during the last seven days. They were both deep inside the park when Ripov addressed his four-legged friend. He wanted to hear Toby's version of the events.

Was it true that Toby did all the things Mrs. Lippincott accused him of? Yes, indeed. Shouldn't he be a little more indulgent towards humans? This wasn't the problem: Toby held no grudge against mankind. It had to do with the Lippincott person only.

Ripov knew a gentle vet who could give Toby a treatment of sedative cookies. Toby started growling again. His nerves were on edge because of the Lippincott creature. Otherwise there was nothing wrong with Toby's health. She was the one who needed a mental institution.