“Aww, look at the little doggy!” Ruth said, her eyes hidden by sunglasses, her wrinkled skin exposed by her shorts and t-shirt. “You want a treat little pup? Here, have a treat.” She reached in to her fanny pack and pulled out a piece of a granola bar, coated with chocolate, or what passed for chocolate in her home country.
“Dear, I think it’s a stray,” John told her. “Leave it alone, or we’ll get fleas on the ship.”
Stepano grabbed the piece of food quickly, causing Ruth to jump back in fright. He didn’t get her skin, but it was close, and there was drool on her thumb now. “You’re right, John, and he nearly took my finger. Get out of here, you mangy mutt.”
Stepano backed away, eyeing the two as he ate the bar. Not tasty, but nourishing. Something gross on the outside, but it won’t hurt, he thought. He turned around the corner, heading behind the restaurant to the garbage cans, his original destination before the distraction. A quick check to make sure the alley was clear, then a jumping up on to hind legs brought him access to the sweet discarded leftovers. Tomato bits, moldy cheese, discarded cuttlefish, all part of his meal.
When he had his fill, Stepano dropped back to all fours and trotted back to the side. He poked his head around the corner, making sure the tourists were gone, then made his way out toward his home.
The garden of one plant was doing well, having nearly doubled in size since he adopted it. It was no longer poking up, but had bent over, extending about a foot along the small dirt patch in which it was planted, and which he tried to add a little more to every day, though finding dirty in the city was a challenge, as was carrying it in his mouth. Still, he did what he could, and his little plant seemed healthier for it.
When he rounded the last corner to the garden, it was in good order, and largely undisturbed, but for one small change; the plant had a little bud, not yet open, just poking out from the stem.