Young man Max has recently moved into Phil's apartment complex and he loves helping out his new boss. Phil knows Max's true self, that he's a pup at heart. One day on a walk in the hills, Phil helps Max embrace his pup-self, running around on all fours and acting just like an eager pup should do on a walk. Phil buys Max his first pieces of pup gear, and pup and his Handler have their first play time together where Max is learning the ropes of how to pup.
Learning to Pup is a 6,700 word short story.
Puppy Max prided himself on being a very good boy. Like all puppies, he loved to run around, he loved to paw at things, to sniff things, and of course, play with his owner, Handler Phil. Puppy Max was quite new to being a pup. In human years, Puppy Max had just turned twenty-one. Handler Phil liked to say Max still had a lot of growing to do. He was quite short, about five foot eight inches, and light enough that Handler Phil could easily scoop Max up in his arms when it was time for a bath, or to get put to bed.
Although he was twenty-one in human years, Handler Phil liked to say Puppy Max was only three in doggy years. But the truth was Puppy Max was even younger than that. About six months. That’s how long he had been a puppy for. Not only did Puppy Max have a lot of growing to do, he also had a lot to learn about being a pup.
Max had been a stray pup. He’d been left behind by those people who were supposed to care for him, and not treated very well when they did remember he existed. That was back in the country, with its open roads and endless fields. Lots of places for young Max to get lost in, but it was lonely being the pup no one wanted. So, Max had run away to the big city. He’d lived in alleys among the cats of the big city, but at heart, he was a pup who just wanted a loving home, and someone to love him in return.
By chance, Max had stumbled into Handler Phil’s life. Handler Phil owned and ran an apartment complex downtown. It was nice and modern with a pool and a gym for guests who would stay a week or two, sometimes a month or two. Max had stumbled into Handler Phil’s open office door one day. He’d been following a help wanted sign, but Handler Phil had known in an instant Max was truly a Puppy. Like many pups without homes and handlers without pups, they were quickly drawn to each other. For instance, Puppy Max’s pup-tail had instantly grown stiff the moment he saw Handler Phil. Like at the pound, in that brief interview in the office, Phil had seen how excited Max’s pup-tail was, he practically wagging it at the thought Handler Phil might take him home.
But Handler Phil was a good man. Although he knew Max was a pup, he also believed pup’s had rights and should have independent lives. Handler Phil offered Puppy Max a deal. It was hard to run a twenty-apartment complex by himself. He needed some help. He needed a pup who could sniff out bad people, clean up the crumbs left by the other guests, and, one day, grow from a pup into a fully-fledged guard dog. Maybe in the future with some pups of his own.
Handler Phil gave Puppy Max his own apartment in the complex, on the ground floor near the gate and the pool. That was so Puppy Max could learn to keep a watch out for intruders and bark at them if needed, while Handler Phil was back in his office or asleep in his penthouse apartment. They called Max’s apartment the kennel. It was the smallest of all of them, but pretty. It had a lot of light, a kitchen, a bedroom, a playroom and all the amenities a puppy could want in his very own kennel. Not to mention it didn’t cost Max anything, and Handler Phil paid Max a wage for his services cleaning the common areas, the apartment, and keeping an eye on the guests when Handler Phil was out on business.
Soon after they’d found each other, Handler Phil bought Puppy Max his very first puppy hood. Max didn’t know what it was when the wrapped-up gift was on his doorstep. He found it with a note which said: Come and play?