Of all their activities Malcolm loved camping the best. Setting out into the outdoors with backpacks and a cooler of beer, water, sandwiches, and dog food, was the ultimate good time. Malcolm loved getting down and dirty camp side, rolling in the mud alongside the river, trouncing along the river’s edge in search of mouth-sized rocks, sleeping in the bed of pine-needles under a spruce, and drying his mud-caked fur to an odiferous ripeness. Hiking in the outdoors, treeing squirrels, and watching the chipmunks and other critters of the woods freed Luke’s spirit as well as Malcolm’s. Nightime was special: in the woods beneath the stars, man and dog were one.
But they wouldn’t be one for very long because one day Luke brought home a puppy who looked just like Malcolm. “This is Murphy, Malcolm.” Malcolm, at three years old, lay next to the couch, watching, analyzing the pup, falling over his own feet as he galloped through the living room. The puppy’s frenetic activity embarrassed Malcolm, especially when he went charging into Luke’s arms, slobbering him with big kisses. Murphy would need some lessons from Malcolm as to how to foster the proper Pyrenees sense of cool and detachment—that is, if he ever wanted to earn a man’s respect.
After several months Malcolm and Murphy became good friends. Every so often, though, Malcolm had to remind the pup with a nip to his rump that he, Malcolm, was the king of the patch. When Luke brought home dog toys, Murphy began jujmping, circling, and whining until Luke gave him the present. Then, no sooner did Murphy have it in his mouth than Malcolm got up, sauntered over, and snatched the toy from him. Malcolm didn’t really want the toy; he just wanted to show Murphy that if he wanted it, he could have it. It was a macho thing.
Murphy wasn’t Malcolm’s only animal friend. One autumn evening a rat terrier Luke named Flea showed up on their doorstep. Luke offered the little ratty-looking dog a home, and Malcolm accepted his company with aplomb. Flea immediately became enamored with Malcolm’s thick furry coat, sidling next to Malcolm and burying his bald face in Malcolm’s luxurious fur. Malcolm tried to discourage the ratty mutt’s snuggling, but Flea seemed not to understand canine gestures. Malcolm soon found it easier to put up with Flea than try, without success, to dismiss him. The newborn chick, Bob, was even harder for Malcolm to tolerate. Born sickly, Luke brought him into the house where the chartreuse chick decided to take up residence in Malcolm’s fur. No chick in the world had as fluffy and as warm a nest as Bob did.
By the time Bob graduated to roosterhood, Murphy had grown almost as large as Malcolm. Still, Murphy, with much instruction from Malcolm, had adopted only a fraction of his brother’s aloofness. He continued to drool and whine whenever Luke entered the room.
As Murphy grew, he became the perfect partner for Malcolm’s rough-housing. When Malcolm and Murphy play-wrestled in the living room, the entire house shook.
“Hey, take it easy, you guys,” Luke yelled from the kitchen as the vibrations from the dog’s wrestling match rattled the windows. Luke called in a motherly voice, “Somebody’s gonna get hu-u-urt. Next thing ya know, someone’s gonna be crying. And we all know who that will be.” On cue, Murphy yipped.
Murphy had the last laugh on Malcolm one Halloween. Mark had brought home a robotic candy bowl. From the back of a bilious green bowl loomed a skeletal arm that, when the bowl was touched, pounced on the person’s hand. Luke thought it would be fun to see how his Big Baby would react to the candy bowl, so he filled it with Malcolm’s favorite biscuits.
“Come here, Poopy Face,” Luke called.
Malcolm, at six years old, and being the dog-king of Castorville hoisted himself up to inspect the candy dish. Luke snickered. “Here you go, Baby. Daddy has some tasty treats for you. Go ahead. Help yourself.”
Malcolm looked up at Luke, smiled grandly himself, and then dipped his muzzle into the dish.
All hundred and ten pounds of fur-covered muscle and guts known as Malcolm the Great, Malcolm the Fearless, Malcolm the Willful, leaped straight into the air. He came down on all fours, too, like a cat, then whipped around to see what had smacked him on the head.
Luke and Mark were howling, holding their bellies tight. “Oh, GOD! Too much!” Malcolm stared at the horrid boney arm sprung back into position above the bowl of biscuits. Then, Malcolm strode back to his corner and lay down, a look of disgust on his face.
“Oh, he’s so pissed!” Luke laughed. “Look at him—if looks could kill. Trick or treat, Malcolm. Malcolm got the trick!” he sang. Then Luke took a biscuit from the bowl, the mad hand slapping Luke’s wrist, and he offered one to Malcolm. “Go ahead, take it, Malcolm. It was only a trick.” Refusing food, even if it came from a manic toy, was not Malcolm’s style, so he gobbled it up with little fuss.