I thought they were bigger

A few days ago, the boys and I finally managed to get my wife to go with us on the hike past the world’s biggest dogs. If you haven’t read that previous post, here’s the short version: the boys and I had a run-in with three gargantuan mastiffs that turned out to be friendly. Ever since then, the boys have been trying to get back to show the dogs to their momma.

As we hiked past the house, however, the dogs were nowhere to be seen.

“Aww,” my youngest said.

His older brother nudged me with a shoulder. “Call ’em, Daddy.”

My wife grinned. As much as she appreciates the boys’ unwavering faith in my mysterious abilities to make things happen, she much more enjoys watching me explain why said abilities don’t always work.

I shrugged as casually as a I could. The key with mysterious abilities, you understand, is to make them seem as though it’s no big thing. Call a pack of huge dogs who you’ve only met once and whose names you don’t even known? Sure. Of course. Do it every day. I tilted my head back slightly and gave my piercing “come here now” dog whistle. It’s pretty much the exact whistle everyone uses to call their dogs. I started using it back in the 80’s, so I’ve had a fair amount of practice.

There was a pause as we waited for the whistle to fade, then a disappointed meeting of the eyes between me any my sons when no dogs showed up, and then we kept walking.

My wife gave me a reassuring shoulder bump. Somehow, it’s worse when the kids don’t ask you why your mysterious powers don’t work.

Then the dogs appeared at a trot, coming around the bushes, and standing in the driveway. There were just two mastiffs this time, with their smaller companion dog.

“Hooray,” my youngest shouted, running toward them.

“Stop,” my wife barked, her eyes wide.

“Let them come to you,” I said. “Put your hand out and down, remember?”

“But they know us,” my oldest said.

My wife was standing very still, staring directly into the eyes of the daddy mastiff. He was standing on the edge of their property, staring back. You know Kiplings story about dogs not being able to meet a human’s gaze? Well, this guy apparently hadn’t got the memo. He and my wife were locked in a stare-down for the ages. “He’s huge,” she whispered.

The momma mastiff and smaller dog came out, tails wagging, and the boys gave them the appropriate loving.

The daddy mastiff stayed back, still eyeing my wife. His tail was confusing. One moment, it was wagging. The next, it was stiff and straight. I noticed that my wife had edged a few steps backward.

“You did it, Daddy,” my oldest said. “They came to your whistle.”

“Yep.” I tried to catch my wife’s eye, to give her a victorious sort of smirk, but here eyes were locked on the daddy mastiff.

“They’re smaller than I remembered,” my youngest said, reaching up to scratch the momma mastiff’s chin. “I thought they were bigger.”

“That daddy’s pretty big,” I said.

The big dog still hadn’t stepped off the driveway, but was pacing back and forth, alternating between wagging his tail at me and the boys and staring fixedly at my wife. As if he knew what we were saying. he woofed. It was one of the deepest sounds you can imagine, and it puffed his jowls out to reveal some surprisingly large teeth.

My wife jumped, then tried to cover it with a cough.

“Bye,” I said to the dogs. “We’ve got to go.”

The kids gave some final pats, the daddy mastiff woofed again, and we walked away.

“That’s too bad,” my youngest said. “I really thought they were bigger.”

“I know what you mean,” his older brother said.

“Sometimes that happens,” I explained. “Things get bigger in our memories.”

“He was huge,” my wife said, glancing over her shoulder. “Did you see him woof? He was huge!”

The kids shrugged, still disappointed.

“I thought he was bigger, too,” I said.

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