Today we are featuring Inklings Book Contest 2016 finalist, Amy Gillson! Amy finished 4th grade this past school year. She wrote a short story about the perpetual fight between cats and dogs. We loved getting lost in the alternate pet world Amy created. Enjoy!
Bud and Marmalade
by Amy Gillson
Animals are smarter than humans think they are…
Bud, a black Great Dane, felt his earpiece vibrate.
“Neighborhood 56-57,” a dog blared through the receiver, “Newspaper alert! Newspaperman coming in 5, 4, 3, 2…” Bud raced to the door, barking furiously.
“Okay, okay,” the man Bud worked and lived with sighed, “Stop barking. What is it now?”
As Bud’s human opened the house’s blue door, Bud hardly noticed that under Andrew’s curly black hair and denim jacket, instead of wearing a dog shirt, he was wearing a cat shirt. As soon as the door cracked open, Bud raced outside, grabbing the newspaper and chasing the paperboy away. Then he ran back into the house, proudly finishing his daily job.
Suddenly, a movement caught Bud’s eye. Behind Andrew, Bud noticed a cat lurking in the shadows before disappearing again. This got Bud thinking. Andrew, a total dog person, was almost definitely wearing a cat shirt. And a cat was in his house! The two things had to be related.
A few hours later, when Andrew was at work, the cat came into view.
“Dog 44-68-6. I repeat, Dog 44-68-6. Cat at House 56-72. Roger that?” Bud yipped into his earpiece.
“Dog 56-72-1. I hereby grant you permission to growl and make your dominance clear. Nothing more,” the voice of 44-68-6 commanded. Although he sounded fierce, he was merely a small black Scottie dog.
Bud nodded approvingly; he agreed that it was best to show his dominance.
“Hello, Dog. How are you today?” Bud heard the orange tabby cat in front of him say snarkily.
The cat is in my house, raged Bud, I can’t let him live here, destroying my entire life!
Grrrrr, Bud growled menacingly. Even though he knew he wasn’t allowed to answer the cat, Bud did. “Get. Out. Right. Now.” he snarled. Bud’s fur stood on end, and he was about ready to attack the cat.
Just as Bud’s receiver buzzed, he realized his grave mistake. Oh no! Bud thought frantically. He had disobeyed a strict order! Now he really was in trouble. Finally, Bud answered the call.
“Dog 56-72-1. You disobeyed specific orders and therefore defied the Dog’s Code. This is your third act of disobedience this month. Come to the council meeting held tomorrow.”
“Yes, Dog 44-68-6 –” Bud started, but was cut off by his receiver giving a warning.
“Turning off in 16, 15, 14, 13…” Bud sighed and started pacing. He had never liked the feeling of being ordered around by a voice in his earpiece, but how else would he be able to stay at House 56-72 and keep living his easy life as a normal dog?
Just then, Bud heard a familiar mocking voice behind him. He had forgotten the cat was there.
“Oh, poor pooch. In trouble, eh? Cats never have problems like that.”
Bud didn’t choose to think about what he might have heard under the mockery: sympathy.
After a while of thinking, Bud was surprised to find himself questioning the Dog’s Code. Since it sounded like cats didn’t get in trouble very easily, why did dogs have to follow precise orders from their “bosses”? Bud didn’t have an answer for his question.
Realizing that Dog 44-68-6 wouldn’t be able to hear Bud talking to the cat, he growled, “Why are you here?” His ruff was bristling uncontrollably.
“Oh, didn’t you hear? I’m Andrew’s wonderful new pet.” The cat’s voice was sickly sweet, and for a moment Bud believed him. But then he came to his senses and realized the cat must be lying. Andrew would never switch his loyalties to the cats’ side.
“Prove it,” Bud demanded. He was looking for the special metal sphere that was given out to a cat or dog when they were adopted. The cat smirked and pawed the certificate hanging off his collar with glee, watching the giant, gaping dog towering over him with amusement. Bud had to live with a cat the rest of his life!
To try to get the astonishment out of his mind, Bud asked Marmalade (that was what the certificate said the cat’s name was), “Does your kind have a Cat’s Code? Because it seems cats are the most uncivilized animals on Earth to me.”
“Excuse me, but if I may say so myself, our great and amazing Rule of the Cats is much better than what your Dog’s Code seems to be, rude animals you are,” Marmalade retorted.
As the insults continued, Bud started to get more and more worried about the council meeting.
Eventually, Bud heard his earpiece turn on. “Turning on in 16, 15, 14…”
Immediately after the countdown ended, Bud talked into his earpiece. “Dog 44-68-6. I request permission to talk to Dog 56-73-2 at House 56-73, my neighbor, for twelve minutes,” Bud said.
“Dog 56-72-1. I hereby grant you permission to talk to Dog 56-73-2, although you must be supervised. I will be listening,” was the reply.
“Thank you, Dog 44-68-6. This time, I shall do exactly as you say.”
As Bud walked to the other side of his yard where the fence was separating House 56-72 from House 29-73, he started to wonder why he wasn’t called Bud, and was called his House numeral followed by his dog number instead.
As Dog 56-73-2 saw Bud coming, she muttered some unintelligible words into her earpiece before looking up.
“Hi!” Dog 56-73-2 exclaimed. She was an ecstatic border collie called “Coco” by humans.
“Oh, hi. Did you hear? I broke the Dog’s Code and so now I must go to the council meeting tomorrow. Wish me luck.”
“Oh, that’s so sad! I hope nothing too bad happens. But after all, you did break the Dog’s Code. What happened to make you break it?” Dog 56-73-2 asked.
“Well, Andrew, the man running my household, adopted a cat. The cat had a certificate and all. I had been told only to make my dominance clear by Dog 44-68-6, but I told the cat to get out of the house anyway. It’s good I was caught, though, because if I wasn’t I might of started to break other parts of the Dog’s Code that are even more important.” Bud only said the last part because he knew Dog 44-68-6 was silently but intently listening at the other end of his earpiece. Bud could tell Dog 56-73-2 was having a hard time containing her words, too.
After a few minutes of them both whispering into their receivers, Dog 56-73-2 blurted out, “I have the most fantastically fabulous and amazing news! I had puppies!”
As if on cue, five adorable little border collie babies ran up to the fence. They were so young, Bud realized that they still didn’t have earpieces.
“This is Tory, this one Belle, then there’s Spot, Wags, and Muttles.” Coco rested her paw on each of their heads as she said their names. Dog 56-73-2 looked proudly down at her puppies before saying, “They don’t even have their dog identification number yet, the wee little ones.”
“Congratulations, but I need to leave, Co–uh, Dog 56-73-2. I have some business to do at home. Goodbye.”
With that, Bud rushed to his house, quickly found a satisfying spot behind a tree, and promptly pooped. Then, Bud slid his paws through the wet lawn before finding Marmalade smirking at him.
Is a dog allowed to have some privacy? Bud almost muttered before remembering his earpiece was on. What is with me today? Bud wondered. I’ve been breaking the Dog’s Code, almost speaking without permission, and questioning the Law.
“Dog 56-72-1. The man living with you is home. Go greet him in 5, 4, 3, 2…” Dog 44-68-6’s voice blared through Bud’s receiver.
Bud raced to the door and started barking enthusiastically before jumping up and licking Andrew’s face once the door was opened. Then, Bud followed Andrew into the kitchen for his food and a drink, where he found a cat food and water bowl next to his. Andrew then displayed what he had bought at the store, which consisted mostly of cat toys.
“Do you like Marmalade, Bud? I hope you do. You’ll be living with him for a while,” Andrew said casually.
The rest of my life! Bud thought bitterly, aghast at being reminded of the thought. Then a thought occurred to him: dogs didn’t need to be enemies with cats. Bud slowly ate his food, barely tasting his usually delicious kibbles before lying on his dog bed, thinking about all the things that transpired in the last day.
The next morning, Bud woke up to the sound of a cat clawing at a scratching post and his earpiece blaring.
“Turning off due to the council meeting today. I repeat, turning off due to the council meeting today. Turning off in 16, 15, 14, 13…”
Bud sighed. He decided he should ask Marmalade about the Cat’s Rule while he could so he knew the differences between it and the Dog’s Code in case some of the information could help him have a shorter sentence from disobeying the Dog’s Code.
“Hey, dog,” Marmalade smirked. “I hope you have fun at the council meeting today. Maybe you could–”
“I was looking for you,” Bud interrupted. “I was wondering about the Cat’s Rule.”
“Well, first off, spy on dogs when you want, be mean to dogs when you want, and all of that jazz. Then we have the stuff like be clean, be annoying, rip stuff when you feel like it, et cetera. And then follow important rule: be free…” Marmalade rambled on, but Bud got the gist of it. Cats were allowed to do anything they wanted to.
“Thank you, Marmalade. I will keep this in mind,” Bud said politely once the cat was done speaking. Bud had to admit, Marmalade was a bit sympathetic. He assumed that no cat would tell a dog their Rules unless they wanted to help.
Bud looked up at a clock stationed on the far side of the wall, and realized how late it was. Registering this, Bud quickly muttered to Marmalade, “I need to leave. Bye.”
Bud ran across the driveway and crossed the street without watching for cars. He had to make the council meeting on time! After swerving around people and passing large buildings that were skyscrapers to Bud, he rounded a corner and skidded to a halt. A rustling in a bush caused Bud to turn around, but then it was quiet. He shrugged to himself and walked towards his destination. Finally, Bud found it. In the otherwise empty clearing before him, a rusty old trashcan loomed ahead of him with dog kibbles strewn across the ground.
“In here,” Bud whispered to himself, “Just go in here and you’ll be escorted to the council meeting.” Bud started sprinting towards the trash can, trying not to inhale the revolting smell that was so disgusting, it blocked out the normally appealing trashy odor of old food and interesting human scents. Slowly, he came to a stop and poked his head in. With a sinking heart, Bud came to the conclusion that the trash can was the entrance to Dog Central, the location of the council meeting. He slid his body into the garbage and found himself scrambling down a steep channel and landed in a stuffy, underground den. Bud approached a dirt passageway leading to a long hall. As he stumbled towards the dark path, he spied a doggy door ahead of him. Once Bud arrived at it, he stuck his head and front legs through it, sniffing the air and looking at Dog Central with sheer amazement; the bustling main room was made of thick quartz with many intricate doggy doors leading to other rooms and halls. On every wall, the Dog’s Code proudly watched over the citizens and other dogs in the massive metropolis.
Suddenly, two guards appeared in front of Bud and demanded to know why he was there.
“I was told by Dog 44-68-6 to go to the council meeting taking place today. I am Dog 56-72-1, and live with my human Andrew and a cat named Marmalade.” The guards growled slightly at the thought of a cat.
“Well, where’s your Adoption Certificate?” one asked. Bud jangled the certificate hanging from his collar before following the two rottweilers to the council meeting, where around fifty dogs were patiently waiting for him to be seated. Bud seated himself quietly as the meeting started.
Despite having waited for him, the Dog Council proceeded to act as if Bud wasn’t there. “First, we have this cat issue. Many dog owners are taking in cats, too…”
“There are starting to be as many cat owners as ancient times, before dogs became a man’s best friend. We need to do something…”
“ … And that brings us to the issue of this dog here who has broken the Dog’s Code.” Bud’s ears perked up and he started listening attentively to the pit bull speaker. “Why is this, Dog 44-68-6?” Bud searched the crowd and spotted his “boss” in the front row.
“Dog 56-72-1’s owner adopted a cat to whom 56-72-1 then told to leave, disobeying my strict orders to only show his dominance. This wasn’t his first act of disobedience. We must punish him at once, as the Law states, but what shall it be?”
“He must go to jail!”
“Be deprived of any rights for a month!”
“Be deprived of treats for a week!”
Bud shuddered at the punishments, but knew what he had to do. Over the past day and a half, his views of things had changed.
“Fellow dogs!” Bud called, his voice reverberating off the walls. “I am as sane as you are, but you must understand something. I do not care what punishment you give me for saying this now, because my perspective has changed.” His voice wavered before continuing his speech. “Cats are free. Dogs are not. Why is this? Cats and dogs are enemies. Why is this? Why is everything so different between the two species? It seems much better to be a cat.”
Outrage broke out. Shouts of “Treason!”, “Silence him!” and “Grab him!” rang from the Council. Bud had never seen them so angry, but then true chaos erupted. Not only had Bud made them mad, but suddenly Marmalade burst into the room with a pack of dogs chasing after him.
“Nice speech!” Marmalade yelled provocatively as he proceeded to gain attention. Bud realized that for whatever reason, Marmalade had followed him. Not only that, but he either accidentally or purposely helped Bud. Bud raced after the horde of dogs, an idea forming in his mind. He reached Marmalade in record time and pretended to herd him towards the guards, but instead led Marmalade to the exit of Dog Central where they burst through the doggy door and departed the building, panting.
“Th-thanks,” Bud said.
“To you too,” Marmalade replied gruffly. It was obvious that he didn’t thank dogs much, or cats, for that matter. “Well, onward! To home!”
At House 56-72, or, as Marmalade called it, home, Bud and Marmalade tried to figure out a way to change the rigid Dog’s Code.
“…If we make a protest, will that work?” Bud asked to no avail. Marmalade didn’t have the slightest idea. “Let’s just try it, and see what happens. We don’t have any better ideas.”
“Excuse me, but I never said that. And anyway, who else would be in the protest?” Marmalade questioned with his usual arrogant flair.
Bud sighed. “Do you have any better ideas?”
Marmalade looked uncomfortable. “Uh… of course not! When did I give the slightest hint I had any…” Marmalade faltered, and Bud cracked up.
Bud’s face turned serious again and he said, “There is the issue of getting dogs for the protest. You most certainly won’t be there when we recruit dogs, Cat 56-72-2.” Bud snickered at the term before getting back to business. “We only have one hour before my receiver turns on, and it’s stuck. Literally. I haven’t been able to pull the thing off since last year.”
It was Marmalade’s turn to give an exasperated sigh. “Well, get-a-goin’ then. I’ll write the speeches.”
The first place Bud stopped was at Coco’s house. He knew the border collie well, and was sure she would be grateful for a change in the Dog’s Code for both herself, the other dogs, and most importantly, her puppies.
When asked if she would join the protest, Dog 56-73-2 answered immediately. “Of course! Who has already joined?”
“No one, yet,” Bud replied, “You’re the first one I asked.”
So then, the two trotted off twelve houses away to a Saint Bernard, pug, and Great Dane’s house. The three looked like promising contributors, although only the pug, Dog 56-85-3, or Fluffy, joined.
The tan Great Dane immediately denied the offer, saying, “I’m an ol’ dog an’ the rules keep from us doin’ bad things, like hangin’ ou’ with cats.” and he shot Coco, Fluffy, and Bud a look.
Fluffy argued, “The rules are too harsh, and y’all know it. I’m-a saying it right into ‘da earpiece, ya know.” That received growling and barking from the other end of his receiver, which could be heard from five paces away.
Half an hour and three blocks later, three chihuahuas, a crazy terrior, four labs, two pugs, six German Shepherds, a sheepdog, Coco, three dalmations (one blind), and a few others had agreed to the protest. It was a surprising amount of dogs considering they all agreed to having a cat involved and were all found in less than an hour.
Each one had memorized their lines by the time the dogs and cat had to leave for the board meeting. Every dog was lined up before the fifty canines in the Council, with the only cat, Marmalade, in the front with Bud.
The protest began. Instead of a raucous demonstration, the dogs spoke their case logically and passionately so the Council would see that dogs didn’t need a strict Code to remain dignified and well behaved. Every dog in the Council listened intently, because they had to listen to the twenty-six canines in front of them if the Council was to keep its own dignity.
After the protest, the Council talked for a moment.
Finally, one of them said, “We have made many considerations. Numerous canines agree, as we can all see, but this cannot be changed at this very moment; however, we will consider changing the Dog’s Code, soon, though.” The dog spoke gruffly. “And… Dog 56-72-1. Your punishment will be revealed tomorrow.”
Thirty dogs and one cat marched proudly from the council room, savoring their victory.
“Let’s go home, Marmalade,” Bud said. “We should rest.” Cat and dog walked home, curled up in their beds, and let sleep fall over them.
The next morning, Bud woke to the sound of his receiver saying: “Turning on in 16, 15, 14, 13…”
Dog 44-68-6 spoke immediately. “Good morning… Bud. The Dog’s Code is being changed as we speak. The Council has also decided your punishment. You and the cat must try to make peace between the two species. And… thank you for helping the Council realize that the Dog’s Code was too rigid. That is all.”
Bud could hardly believe his ears! Dog 44-68-6 (Bud didn’t know what else to call him) had both called him Bud, thanked him, admitted the Dog’s Code was too rigid and was being changed, and given Bud the best punishment possible!
Bud immediately told Marmalade, who was just as astounded. (Although Marmalade, ever the cat, complained that he had to have a “punishment,” too.)
That very day, the two friends started their work to help both dogs and cats see a new, better, and happier way to live.