Forgive the Double-entendre above,
but Micah Writes Tuck’s Scenes
We’ve owned some brilliant dogs in our time, the smartest being Jamie (half border collie, half golden retriever). Close behind were purebred border collies Tess, Kate and Yancey and now border collie-Aussie Micah.
Micah is the least intelligent among this group — although he would strenuously argue the point — and yet he is the scribe, the one who chooses to write the scenes involving Tuck, the doggie star in my Thrill of the Hunt Series.
Tuck is the best pal and protector of Dr. Kat Cardova, our Yale University archaeologist.
It’s important to know that dogs are far smarter than most people realize. On average they can learn as many as 300 “people” words. Border collies can learn as many as 500 “people” words. My wife and I have had to continue coming up with synonyms or spelling our more commons words and expressions when around Jamie, Kate, Yancey, Micah and our other canines. (Use the word “pooch” around here and you’re in the real dog house.)
In our home “walk” becomes “stroll” becomes “hike” becomes “march” becomes “w-a-l-k” becomes “s-t-r-o-l-l.” “Car” becomes “vehicle” becomes “automobile” becomes “Escape” becomes “c-a-r.”
You get the idea.
So it was only natural that when I introduced the character Tuck into Chasing the Music, my first Thrill of the Hunt book, that Micah insisted on writing the Tuck scenes. Micah has no problem commandeering my chair — any chair, for that matter — and since he knows better how dogs think, hey, rock ‘n roll, bud.
Micah’s first attempt came early in Chasing the Music. Kat’s in Israel; Micah’s in America; and Kat calls her friend Alice, who is caring for Tuck. Our hero, black-ops veteran Max, hears Kat’s end of the conversation:
“Yes, it’s Kat … I just wanted to see how Tuck is doing.”
“Really? To the kids’ school?”
“No. No, I don’t think he’s ever been a ‘show-and-tell’ before.”
“Well, I’m not surprised. I think he knows half of what I say. I have to spell some words and he’s figured them out, so I go to the Thesaurus and find another word to spell—”
“You, too? I should have mentioned.”
“Yes, you, Bill and the kids will figure it out.”
“Can I speak to him?
Kat looked at Max and said, “You remember that old TV show ‘Are You Smarter than a 5th-grader?’ Well, I think Tuck is.”
Max laughed. “Of course.”
Kat held up her hand for silence. “Tuck?”
“Tuck, it’s Mommy.”
A bark. Two barks.
“I’m sorry, but I’ll be gone longer than expected.”
“I’ll bring you a gift.”
A low growl.
“You don’t want a gift?”
“Then I’ll just bring me.”
Kat looked at Max. “That’s my boy.”
Max chuckled. “And a lucky boy at that.”
Kat slapped his arm.
“Tuck, I love you. Be a good boy.”
Near the end of Chasing the Music it’s Kat’s birthday. Still in Israel, Max has a surprise.
Max dialed a number and when a woman answered, he asked, “Ready?”
“What are you doing?” Kat asked.
Max pressed SPEAKER and handed her the phone, certain she had no clue who was on the end of the line.
“Hello?” Kat said.
Her answer came quickly with three barks.
Kat’s face lit up like a candle. “Tuck!”
Kat looked at Max and whispered, “Thank you.”
Max smiled back at her, glad to read the delight in her face.
“Tuck, I miss you.”
“I’m sorry, but I won’t be able to get home when I planned.”
A low growl.
Kat looked at Max and said, “He’s displeased.”
“I can hear it,” Max said, trying to suppress a chuckle.
“No, I mean it. He is not happy.”
Max wiped the smile from his face.
“Tucky, I love you.”
A reluctant bark.
“I will get home as soon as possible. Tell Auntie that, okay?”
Another growl, followed by two barks.
“I can see him wagging his tail,” Kat said to Max.
Back to the phone, she said: “What a wonderful birthday present. Thank you, Tuck. You’re the best boy in the whole wide world. Bye-bye.”
In the second Thrill of the Hunt book, The Three Sixes, Max is in the Beinecke Library at Yale University and has yet to meet Tuck. When I let that cat (sorry for that)… When I let that information out of the bag, Micah again took over the keyboard. Here’s the result:
Wearing plastic gloves from the reception desk, Max began leafing through the Hadith Qudsi’.
[That book title is the one place I had to help Micah; he is yet to learn Arabic.]
A short, low woof broke Max’s concentration and he looked to the source. Three feet from him stood a handsome, almost regal, black-and-white border collie. The dog barked again, a low-decibel statement. Max cocked his head. The dog cocked his head. Max extended his hand. The dog retreated a step and woofed again, then turned to leave. He took a step, looked back over his shoulder, and woofed a little louder, a bit higher-pitched, adding urgency. Or exaggeration? Border collies, after all, were no-nonsense, used to being in charge.
Max grinned. He lifted the book from the nook and followed the dog, who was moving along at a good clip—purpose in his step. A few yards along, the dog again looked over his shoulder, as if he were making sure Max was tailing along. Max could have sworn he read a smile on his muzzle.
A right turn, a left turn, and they approached a woman seated in a corner nook. The dog turned and sidled up to the woman [Kat], his shoulder touching her leg.
Notice how Micah described Tuck as “handsome, almost regal.”
That’s kind of how Micah feels about himself.
Oh, and that phrase “used to being in charge”? Micah is every bit that.
I left Tuck out of Operation Jeremiah’s Jar, the third Thrill of the Hunt book, which again takes place in Israel. Micah’s reaction?
Well, let’s just say my next Max-and-Kat adventure will indeed include the, the … “the intrepid, the awe-inspiring, the transcendent”… (See there how he again took over my computer!)