Shaggy Dog

by Lisa Cristal

So I’m on the plane sitting in my aisle seat. I look over to my left and see a big fluffy collie in the middle seat and an older man by the window petting the dog.  The man notices me staring and says, “Yup, it really is. I need to straighten out a couple of things with the stewardess.  Do you mind watching her for a few minutes?”

“No problem,” I say.  I’m so excited to be near Lassie, and, as if she senses that, she nuzzles my arm.

I hear a voice say, “It’s nice to be sitting by such a big fan.” I look around, startled, and then hear, “Yes, it is me. I can talk to humans if I want, but don’t want my trainer to know. If he found out, next thing you know the scientists would lock me away for testing. Besides, I like to make my trainer feel like he is accomplishing something. Sometimes I pretend to be confused and then successfully complete the requested task. It helps his self-esteem.”

“Wow! I have two dogs myself.”

“I could tell you were a dog lover.  That’s why I decided to talk to you.”

“So tell me about your job. Do you like what you do?”

“As with any actor, the perks are great. But sometimes I wish I could show my acting range.  I mean, how many times can I rescue members of my family?”

“Of course,” I murmur sympathetically.

“Honestly,” Lassie said, “if it were up to me I would have left Timmy in the well.  What a brat!”

I responded,  “Timmy is totally annoying. But if he didn’t have so many issues, I guess you wouldn’t have your rescue moment on the show….I guess you know a lot of movie stars.  Have you become close to anyone?” If Lassie were a human, I would have sworn her eyes darkened.

“I guess you are referring to my early starlet days with Rin-Tin-Tin. Sure he was a lot older, but I loved him. But you know how it works, I became more successful and he couldn’t handle it. Can you keep a secret?”

I nodded.

“We did have a litter together.  Our trainers hid it from the world.  It was hard, but I know the pups went to good homes. In fact some of them also are in movies.  They aren’t pure breeds, so they will never be stars like their parents, but they make a good living.  You’ve probably seen some of them in Westerns,  resting with cowboys by the fire or doing stunts.”

As I opened my mouth to ask another question, Lassie’s trainer returned and silence ensued.

You know, my shrink told me to stop telling this story, but I thought one last time couldn’t hurt.


Lisa Cristal, an author of factual legal treatises, decided to try her hand at fiction though IRP’s Writers Workshop class. Thanks to the members of the class for their unflagging support