I am dog-frisked as I enter The Backstory Cafe today. Indy, the stray pooch who has appointed herself hostess around here, sniffs every inch of me from the knee down, paying special attention to the scent of my left flip-flop. I’ve gotten used to the pudgy cinnamon colored chow’s greeting and since her arrival earlier this summer, Indy has won me over with her uncanny ability to please my palate. Luckily I’ve started exercising more and feel less guilty about indulging in Indy’s scrumptious selections.
Indy walks me to the large bakery counter, then sits beside me. With the grace of a much more athletic dog, she hoists her body upright and sets a paw on the glass nearest the third shelf, center.
“You’re right,” I tell her. “I should go with the chocolate croissant.” Although anything in the case of delicious treats would have suited me, Indy’s suggestion is suddenly the exact thing I want to snack on.
Indy sits by my side again, and with a sharp bark to the ceiling, brings our barista Jane from the back room. Mostly deaf, this cafe canine has no idea how loud she is. Indy is so much better than a little silver service bell.
“You’ll need a latte to wash it down,” Jane tells me as she plates up the delicious looking pastry. I can tell she wants to show off something new she and Indy have worked on. She nods to Indy, a silent command conveyed. Without further instruction, Indy walks to the selection of cups on the counter, passes the insulated cups, and stops in front of the clear plastic tumblers. “Iced,” Jane interprets. They both watch my reaction.
“Perfect,” I tell them.
I do a quick calorie calculation as Jane works her magic with the big coffee machine. Walking a few times a week won’t be enough if I let Indy pick out a treat for me every time I come in here, so I’m glad my latest research project will help me keep my waistline in check. I’m studying local petroglyphs and will be hiking to sites in the Sedona caves soon. I take out my notebook and look over my notes from yesterday.
Jane sets the chilly coffee drink on the counter between us, closer to herself than me. I sense she isn’t ready to hand it over, she wants to talk first. I smile and wait for my friend to begin. “Indy is an actress,” Jane says. “I swear.”
“I don’t know who trained her, but I think she used to be one of those dogs in Hollywood movies, I’m sure of it.”
“Okay,” I say. “That’s cool.” I reach for the latte, but Jane leans in to tell me more.
“She doesn’t even need to hear me to understand what I want. Maybe it’s even better than just training, maybe she’s psychic.”
“A psychic dog?”
“Yes,” Jane says nodding. Her face is serious. “Wouldn’t that be something in your next book?”
Ahhh. Jane wants to bring Indy along for the next novel project. “She doesn’t have to be psychic,” I say. “Indy is great just the way she is.”
“Great for your book?” Jane hovers over my latte with Indy at her side.
I glance at my notes and then back at the hopeful faces before me. What else can I say?