Title: True Love Is Puppy Love
Characters: Arthur, Percy
Summary: Arthur decides to adopt a pet.
Word Count: 1129
Prompt: 443, pet
AN: Have a dose of pure, unadulturated fluff.
Arthur had decided he’d had enough of the solitary life, and since his love life resembled a farce more than a romantic comedy, it was time to look into getting a pet. He knew plenty of friends and acquaintances who were happy to give him the names of the top breeders in the country. After all, a perfectly respectable gentleman should have a perfectly respectable dog to lovingly neglect and show off. Too bad for them his assistant had been showing off pictures of the fluffy puppy he’d gotten from the local shelter for the last month.
Arthur would never tell Merlin that he thought the puppy was the most adorable thing he’d ever seen, of course. That would just encourage the man. But Arthur felt a pull every time he looked at the pictures. If he didn’t know better, he’d almost call it a need. No, it wouldn’t hurt to stop by after work and see if there were any vaguely proper dogs for him to adopt.
The next day he made sure he left a little bit earlier than usual. It was Friday afternoon, after all. He used that as his excuse to leave an hour before the shelter closed, arriving there almost half an hour later thanks to the snarled traffic.
“Can I help you?” A massive man sat smiling behind a counter doing paperwork. Arthur could hear barks and meows through the door behind the gatekeeper.
Arthur smiled back. “I was thinking about adopting a dog. I quess I just want to see if I hit it off with any of them.” He’d thought it over and that seemed to be the safest bet.
“Puppy or older dog?”
Arthur had thought about that, too. “I work quite a bit. A puppy might require more care than I can give, so an older dog?”
The man nodded approvingly. “You’ve thought about your lifestyle, then. We have a questionnaire for you to fill out. We close in half an hour and the paperwork is a bit extensive, so you might want to take it home and come back tomorrow.”
Arthur grimaced a bit. “Sure, but can I see if there are any that seem to call to me? Maybe pet a few?”
The shelter worker looked Arthur up and down then smiled. “Yeah, come on. I can give you the packet to take with you.” He stood and waved Arthur through the door. “I’m Percy.”
“Arthur. How do you do?”
“This way.” Percy led Arthur down a hall with doors that jutted off. “We have the animals separated in different wings. That one is for the senior dogs. Have you had a pet before?”
“My father keeps hunters, but I never really had much to do with them. I guess you could say this will be my first pet.” Arthur knew how that sounded, but it was the truth and he wasn’t ashamed of his upbringing.
Percy just nodded. “Well, seniors need a good bit of work. I think a dog a few years old might be better for you. Still a bit of a puppy, but technically an adult.” He thought for a second. “If you’re very busy, have you thought about a cat? They’re more independent than dogs.”
A cat? Arthur would never have a cat. Gentlemen had dogs, not cats. “No, a dog, please.”
Percy shrugged. “Here we go. Most of them will lick you to death if given a chance, but we put them through some basic obedience training while they’re here. Just enough to get them started. You’d have to finish it.”
The large room he led Arthur into was loud. All of the dogs were barking to get their attention. His heart almost broke in two and he surprised himself by finding himself wanting to take every one of the dogs out of their cages to just cuddle with. Arthur was not a cuddly person by nature.
Percy led Arthur to one of the cages halfway down the room. A short, stout dog was laying its wrinkled head on its front paws. “This is Max. He’s an English Bulldog. He’s one of the few dogs we have right now that I would say would do well being with a working singleton.”
Arthur looked at the wrinkly face and put his hand to the cage door. Max looked up at him, then at Percy, and then back at Arthur’s hand. He raised his head and sniffed Arthur’s hand cautiously, before darting out a small tongue to lick it. Arthur smiled, and kept his voice calm as he asked, “Why is he so skittish?”
Percy winced. “He was returned by a couple of people because he snores like a freight train. I think he’s just been burned.”
Arthur frowned a bit. “Snores?”
Percy chuckled, “Oh, yeah. He’s louder than my boyfriend.”
Arthur tried to smooth his frown away when he noticed Max was backing up a bit. “Did someone hit him?”
“We can’t prove it, but I think the last person who adopted him did, yes.”
Arthur reached for the latch to the cage, “May I?”
“Let me. You’re not technically allowed to open the cage.” Percy opened the door so Arthur could carefully reach inside, letting Max’s reactions dictate how fast he moved.
Max’s coat was surprisingly soft, and the scratch Arthur gave him behind his ear sent the dog’s eyes closed and set his little stub of a tail wagging. He crept forward a little to get closer to Arthur. After a few minutes of serious petting, Arthur realized he was grinning. This was what he had been missing.
He looked back up at Percy. “I hope I can see him again tomorrow?”
Percy had a soft smile on his face. “Yeah. I have to close up now, but bring the paperwork back tomorrow and you can visit him. It’ll take a few days for the background and reference checks to be completed. If everything comes back clean, and you two still seem to be hitting it off, you can take him home.”
Arthur gave Max a final healthy scratch behind the ear and sadly pulled his hand back, his heart breaking a little to see the bulldog's squashed face sadly shut behind the cage door again. He followed Percy back toward the reception area, where he got a packet of information about bulldogs and their care along with his application, “Just to make sure you know what you’d be in for.”
A little more than a week later Arthur took his first picture to show off to his annoying assistant. Max was splayed out on Arthur's expensive couch, snoring away, an odd whistle accompanying the inhale. Arthur didn’t think he’d ever been so much in love in his life.