“As the Lodge Turns” Episode 45: It’s Not Such a Small World After All

On this episode of “As the Lodge Turns”…

“You call that running? Even a turtle could catch you!” Lucy calls back to me, tearing towards the other end of the yard at a diagonal.

Since the weather has been cooling down, we’re making up for lost time with a really, really long, drawn-out game of chase. Although I don’t think it would have been half this long if I weren’t so out of shape…

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“Cut me some slack! Your legs are much longer than mine!” I shout, wincing as I pick up my pace.

She smiles back at me before increasing her own speed.

“You’re right! And look at what these longer legs can do!”

Now she’s really rubbing it in…

“Show-off!” I call after her, pushing my legs as far as they’ll go.

Unsurprisingly, she makes it to the fence without being caught. I try to save a little face by speeding up right at the end, but I can’t deny that once again Lucy has completely outrun me. You might think that such an embarrassing loss would make me sad or frustrated, but there’s something special I get to see when she wins.

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Lucy beams at me with a proud smile, her tail wagging as she patiently waits for me to join her at the fence. Now that she’s my girlfriend – yes, I know, even I can’t believe it – I feel like we can be more honest with each other.

“Don’t feel too bad, Bing. I think you’re actually getting faster,” she says gently, pressing her nose against my side.

I love losing.

“I’m getting much faster, so you’d better watch out!” I warn, playfully nipping at her.

Just as our playing begins to turn into a mock fight, I notice a large, black dog having a conversation with Scarlett, of all dogs! And the most surprising part of this very strange sight is that Scarlett is the one doing most of the talking.

“What’s wrong?” Lucy asks, sneaking in a nip at my ear.

“It looks like Scarlett is actually talking to someone. I wonder who that dog is…” I say, barely aware of her teeth scraping lightly over my head.

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“Her name is Iris. She started coming to the Lodge a couple months ago, though I haven’t actually met her. You really don’t pay attention to who comes and goes here, do you?”

I flash her a guilty smile. “That’s why I count on you!”

“Let’s go introduce ourselves. Besides, I’m kind of curious to know what they’re talking about…” Lucy says, taking a step in their direction.

As we near the mysterious new dog, Iris, I start to catch traces of the apparently one-sided conversation.

“…Mother and I…skiing…superior…like to return…”

What could she be talking about…?

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Scarlett suddenly turns her little golden face towards us, her eyes widening with a mixture of horror and disappointment. Her captive audience of one, Iris, turns around to see us with a much less discouraging reaction. Now that I’m standing close to her, I can see that she really is a beautiful dog; her fur is thick, soft, and dark, with generous splashes of tan and white. That stunning coat probably gives her some trouble during the summer!

“Hello! I do not believe we have met,” says Iris in a friendly bark that sounds a bit different from the sort we normally hear at the Lodge.

“Hi! My name is Lucy, and this is Bing, my boyfr –” Lucy halts mid-word, sneaking a nervous glance at Scarlett.

We haven’t exactly publicized our relationship, but from Scarlett’s pinched expression I would guess that we haven’t exactly been keeping it a secret either.

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“It is a pleasure to meet you. My name is Iris, and I come from the country called Switzerland. Maybe you have heard of it?”

Country…? So she’s from a farm somewhere?

“I think so! It’s a place where there are lots of chickens and cows and pigs, and there are dogs that get to run around sheep all day!” I say, my tail wagging furiously at the pretty image of rural life in my head.

Iris tilts her head to the side. “Well…certainly there are farms in Switzerland, but I think perhaps you misunderstood me? I am from another nation, outside of the United States. I apologize if my English is a bit strange – I am still learning.”

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Another nation? She’s learning English? I thought we were all living in the same place!

“I was speaking with Princess Scarlett about a holiday she took in Switzerland last year. She was telling me that she even did some skiing during her visit! I did not know that they would give skis to a dog!” Iris says in her good-natured, lightly accented bark.

Lucy gives Scarlett a knowing look, and she quickly tosses her golden head.

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“Very well, so I embellished certain aspects of my trip! But Mother did go to Switzerland, and she did ski. And I did see a postcard of a snow-covered mountain. I may as well have gone on the trip!” Scarlett declares, her nose pointed at the sky.

What sort of a place is this ‘Switzerland’…? And just how big is my world…?

…to be continued…