The sun had barely come up and Willa Davis was already elbow deep in puppies and poo—a typical day for her. As owner of the South Bark Mutt Shop, she spent much of her time scrubbing, cajoling, primping, hoisting—and more cajoling. She wasn’t above bribing either.
Which meant she kept pet treats in her pockets, making her irresistible to any and all four-legged creatures within scent range. A shame though that a treat hadn’t yet been invented to make her irresistible to two-legged male creatures as well. Now that would’ve been handy.
But then again, she’d put herself on a Man-Time-Out so she didn’t need such a thing.
This from one of the pups she was bathing. The little guy wobbled in close and licked her chin.
“That’s not going to butter me up,” she said, but it totally did and unable to resist that face she returned the kiss on the top of his cute little nose.
One of Willa’s regular grooming clients had brought in her eight-week-old heathens—er, golden retriever puppies.
Six of them.
It was over an hour before the shop would open at nine a.m. but her client had called in a panic because the pups had rolled in horse poo. God knew where they’d found horse poo in the Cow Hollow district of San Francisco—maybe a policeman’s horse had left an undignified pile in the street—but they were a mess.
And now so was Willa.
Two puppies, even three, were manageable, but handling six by herself bordered on insanity. “Okay, listen up,” she said to the squirming, happily panting puppies in the large tub in her grooming room. “Everyone sit.”
One and Two sat. Three climbed up on top of the both of them and shook his tubby little body, drenching Willa in the process.
Meanwhile, Four, Five, and Six made a break for it, paws pumping, ears flopping over their eyes, tails wagging wildly as they scrabbled, climbing over each other like circus tumblers to get out of the tub.
“Rory?” Willa called out. “Could use another set of hands back here.” Or three . . .
No answer. Either her twenty-three-year-old employee had her headphones cranked up to make-me-deaf-please or she was on Instagram and didn’t want to lose her place. “Rory!”