“As the Lodge Turns” Episode 57: My Furry Valentine

On this episode of “As the Lodge Turns”…

Max likes…Scarlett?

Lucy’s words play over and over again in my mind, and with each repetition my surprise mounts. I’ve always suspected that they get along better than their antagonistic interactions would suggest, but I never would have guessed that Max had a crush on her! Surely I’ve seen them as often as Lucy has, but my beagle senses just aren’t the sharpest…

A thousand questions ready for immediate launch on the tip of my tongue, but my mouth only hangs open, utterly slack while my brain struggles to fill the gaps.

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“You’re taking this kind of hard, Bing,” Lucy says, her brows furrowed in a worried stare. “I’m sorry if I upset you…”

I quickly shake my head. “No, it’s not that, I just can’t make any sense of it! I mean, he’s always giving her a hard time and going out of his way to tease her. If he liked her wouldn’t he treat her a little better?”

“Max is still a puppy at heart. He does whatever he can to get her attention, and teasing is what he does best,” Lucy says, sneaking a glance at the fence.

Romeo’s song weaves clumsily through the air like a confused bumblebee, his squeaks and squeals rising and falling with chaotic pitch. But he’s trying his best, and I can’t help pitying him for wasting his efforts on Scarlett.

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Lucy and I watch as Max comes right to the edge of the fence, ears alert but twitching almost in time with Romeo’s singing. My heart nearly stops in my chest as I wait for him to speak.

Will he tell Romeo off? Or maybe he’ll declare his love for Scarlett!

Wow…I must really be in a romantic mood today…

“Hey, buddy, cool it with the love songs. You’re clearly talented, but there’s no point straining your pipes over a dog like Scarlett,” Max says, his bark devoid of its usual mockery.

Romeo looks up at Max with genuine disbelief, and for a moment it’s unclear whether he’s reacting to the compliment on his voice or the insult to Scarlett.

“How dare you insinuate that she is not worthy of my singing? Who do you think you are, speaking of Her Royal Highness in such an appalling way?” Romeo cries, the fur along his spine rising.

For a moment I consider rushing to Max’s aid, but the fence will keep them from coming to blows. My eyes dart back and forth between their faces, my breath stuck in my throat.

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“For the first, and hopefully last time, I quite agree with this foolish peasant! He is at least aware of the respect a princess such as myself deserves!” Scarlett says in a terse bark.

I might be imagining things, but she seems a little hurt by what Max said…

“Well, all I meant was that she told you to stop, and you didn’t. You’re not really respecting her wishes, and I can tell you now that she’s the most stubborn dog at the Lodge, maybe even the world, so you’ll never win her over. She’s funny that way,” Max says, sparing a sly glance at Scarlett’s irritated expression.

Romeo lets out a long sigh.

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“You’re right about that,” he begins, dropping his affected speaking style, “but tomorrow is Valentine’s Day. I have to find a girlfriend by then, and I’m running out of options.”

Scarlett’s jaw drops. “Options? Options?!”

Max’s tail swishes back and forth, nodding his head in agreement.

“Romeo, you seem like a dog with a lot of talents. You have an incredible singing voice, and you’re pretty good at chase games! Any dog would be really lucky to be your girlfriend. But Valentine’s Day isn’t all about getting a girlfriend or boyfriend – it’s about appreciating the dogs and people you already love. Show them how much you care instead of serenading picky princesses.”

Romeo’s eyes light up as he listens to Max’s words, and even Scarlett seems sort of touched.

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“Thanks for your advice, Max! I have to go find Emily and make sure she knows how much she means to me!”

As Romeo sprints off to find his favorite human helper, Max and Scarlett are left to themselves. They stare at each other, neither speaking a word.

“Do you think…?” I start to ask Lucy, but I’m interrupted when Scarlett finally opens her mouth.

“I suppose I should thank you,” she says in a quiet bark, shifting a bit on her paws.

“I’m all ears,” Max says, flicking his own.

Scarlett stares at the ground, her tiny body shaking with effort.

“…thank you…” she says, her bark a near whisper lost in the bustling noise of the yards.

Max smiles down at her, and to my amazement, there’s not a trace of that usual mischief hiding in the corners of his mouth.

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“You’re very welcome, Princess Scarlett.”

She suddenly looks up at him, her eyes nearly popping out of her dainty golden face.

“Oh, what a face for a princess to pull! Not very dignified,” Max says, staring at her with mock horror. “Better hope your Valentine isn’t around to see it!”

Scarlett seems flustered as she sputters a jagged retort. “My standards are far too high for anyone here to have met them!”

Max’s smile brightens. “So you don’t have a Valentine either?”

Scarlett’s anger melts in an instant. “I do not…”

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This is it – Max is going to ask her out in his typical roundabout way! Lucy and I lean forward, our attention focused entirely on this monumental event. And to think, half an hour ago I would never have expected to witness it!

“Romeo can’t have gotten too far away. I think you’ll be able to catch up to him if you start running now,” Max says with a laugh, his tail wagging at his own joke.

Lucy and I look at each other as our friends loudly return to their preferred method of communication.

“You know, I feel bad for Max. It doesn’t seem like Scarlett will ever like him back,” I say, shaking my head.

Lucy stifles a snort, turning away so I won’t notice. I’m not that clueless of a beagle!

“What’s so funny?” I ask with some trepidation.

“Bing, Scarlett does like Max! But if she plays any harder to get, Max might really miss his cue altogether!”

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Maybe I am that clueless of a beagle after all…

…to be continued…