Handsome looked around, confused, "Who said that?" Followed his tail a couple of times around and started shouting, "Hello? Hello? Hello? Hello?" While Madeline just stood there, bag in hand, surprised and shocked by this strange, talking dog. Finally, Handsome sat down and asked her, "Can you tell me who is talking?"
She blinked at him a couple times and said, "Well, you are. I guess you're a talking dog."
"Oh, I don't talk," Handsome insisted.
"But you just said that, right now," Madeline said. She frowned. Not only was she lost, but it seemed like this large dog wasn't very smart.
"Nope. I don't know how to talk. The big one never taught me to do that. So do you know who's talking?" Handsome said. He sat down, panting at her, looking for her to tell him something about the strange voice coming from his mouth.
Madeline did not know what to do. How do you convince a talking dog that he's the one talking? How do you react to a talking dog in general? Normally, these are not the type of things that you prepare for in third grade. She could spell "when", she even knew that it had an "H" in it, even though Susie Belcheck said it didn't, but she had no idea what to say to this animal.
"Um… Well, I don't know." she said, which is as good a thing to say as any when confronted with a talking dog who doesn't know he can talk, "but my name is Madeline. What's yours?"
"I'm 'Dumb Dog'!" Handsome proclaimed proudly.
"That isn't your name!" Madeline said.
"Yes, it is! When the furry-faced one or the long-haired one wants me to do something they say, 'Dumb Dog'! That means it's my name," Handsome said, "Don't your people call you by your name?"
"Um, well, yes…" Again, Madeline could see that this dog was not terribly bright and that arguing would not do much good, "isn't there anything else that they call you?"
"Yes. 'Get-out-of-the-way' and 'mangy-mutt'," Handsome said. "But I don't think that the last one is very nice."
"No, I should say not," Madeline replied. Then she had an idea. "What does it say on your collar?"
"My what now?"
"Your collar, the thing they put around your neck," she said. And as she said this, she reached up and grabbed his collar.
Right away, Handsome started to squirm, "Hey, what are you doing? Is it time for a walk? I like walks. Can I hold the leash this time?"
It was hard for Madeline to hold on, but she managed to get to his license, eventually. It was old and chewed, but it read, "Handsome Martin" and had his address on the other side. As soon as she let go, Handsome started jumping and spinning about, shouting, "Walk! Walk! Walk! Walk!" It took him a couple minutes to calm down.
"So, are we going for a walk?" He asked.
"I think we're already on one," Madeline answered.
"We are! Oh boy! Oh boy! Oh boy! Oh boy!" Handsome spun, again and again, chasing his tail and shouting. Finally, he stopped long enough to ask, "Um… where is my leash?"
Madeline did not know what to say. It was bad enough trying to talk with a dog who didn't know that he could talk, third grade definitely didn't prepare her to find his leash. Finally, she said, "I don't know. Did you leave it at home?"
Handsome stopped looked at her like she had just told him that they were canceling Summer vacation. He whined as he asked, "You mean we can't have a walk?"
"Well, we can," she said, "but we'll just go without a leash for now. Is that OK?"
"OK!" He said, springing up again.
"Do you know how to get back home?" Madeline asked. She was lost, but dogs were supposed to be good at knowing directions. She learned that in Library earlier that week.
"Let's go this way!" Handsome said, then charged off into the woods, off on some scent that only his nose could follow. It wasn't the direction they came from, but without a better idea, she just followed. It was hard for Madeline to keep up, especially with her backpack. He would jump over a log or run around a stump and Madeline would try to hurry over them, but she kept managing to get caught, or snagged, or slowed.
She was glad when Handsome stopped and she could actually catch up. But when she did, she only saw him rolling in the dirt, shouting "POOP! IT'S POOP! I FOUND POOP!"