This is the first chapter of Tracy: Family Affairs.  It tells how Tracy came to be employed at the Salvation Army Shop where he meets Lucy.  We can see how quickly this female German Shepherd became infatuated with the coyote who would become her best friend.

Job Application

June 1964

Lucy Williams couldn’t take her eyes off the coyote who was looking through the blue jeans in the males’ clothing section of the Salvation Army Shop.  By Dog, he was cute!  The young canine looked like he was about her age, maybe a couple of years older.  He had a slender build and an almost feral sort of quality that you never saw in the pure-bred dogs who attended her high school.

The coyote made a selection and walked toward the counter.  Lucy hoped that he hadn’t noticed her staring and pretended to straighten some items stacked beside the cash register.

“Pardon me, miss,” said the coyote with an accent (or lack of one) that indicated he hadn’t grown up around Chicago.

The young German Shepherd raised her eyes and tilted her head as if she just now noticed his presence for the first time.  “Yes, are you ready to check out?” she asked.

“Uh, I’d like to try these on first.  Is there a place I can change?”

“You don’t need to change.  You’re perfect the way you are.”

The coyote blinked.

Lucy giggled, “I’m joking,” she said to the cute canine, while inside she was telling herself that she was dead serious.  “There’s a fitting room just over there.”  She pointed to a corner of the store.

“Uh, thanks,” said the coyote as he retreated in the direction the young female had indicated.  After a few minutes, he returned and laid the blue jeans on the counter.  “I guess I’ll take these.”

Lucy, hoping to keep the attractive male a bit longer, asked, “Is there anything else you need?  We’ve got some shirts that you might like.”

“Not today.”

Lucy tried again.  “Do you like to read?” she asked, “we have a pretty good selection of paperbacks.  Most are only a nickel.”

The coyote stuck a hand into his pocket, feeling for loose change.  His ears drooped slightly.  “No, I better not,” he said.  The pretty female waiting on him looked disappointed.  All at once, the young coyote became aware of an opportunity.  His ears perked back up.  “Maybe there’s something else, though,” he said.  “Can I get a job application?”

The German Shepherd’s face lit up.  “Sure!  Come right this way,” she said, leading the way to a door with the word OFFICE painted on it.  She gave a perfunctory knock and pushed the door open.  “Daddy,” she called out, “this young man is here to apply for the job.”

The older G-Shep sitting behind the desk looked up in confusion.  “What job, Pumpkin?”

“You know, Daddy.  That job.”  Lucy, standing just behind the coyote, gave her father a pleading look.

Dusty Williams regarded his daughter.  At times like this, she reminded him so much of his dear Jessica, Dog rest her soul.  He cleared his throat with a deep rumble.  “Oh, yes.  Well, of course, that job.”  He looked the younger male in the eyes and scratched the back of his neck to stall for time.  “I, uh, should tell you Mister… uh…”

“Becker,” said the coyote, “Tracy Becker.”  

Dusty glanced at his daughter, who looked as if she was about to swoon, then back at Tracy Becker.  “I only have a part-time position available right now.  It could be a while before I can take somebody on full-time.”

Dusty expected the young fellow to decline, but to his surprise Tracy Becker replied, “I can start right away.”

“I’m sure tomorrow morning will be soon enough,” said Dusty, “if you can be here at seven o’clock?”

The coyote’s eyes sparkled.  “I’ll be here!”  He held out a paw.  “And thank you Mister…”

“Williams,” said Dusty.  He stood and reached across the desk to shake hands.  “You’ve already met my daughter, Lucy.”  The older male nodded his head toward his offspring.  “She turns 16 next month,” he added dryly.

Tracy seemed bewildered by that statement.  “Oh, umm…  Okay,” he said.  “I guess I’ll see you in the morning, then.  Thank you Mr. Williams.  Goodbye, Lucy.”

Tracy turned and headed for the front door.  Lucy watched him go.  As soon as the door of the shop closed behind him, she turned to her father with exasperation.  “Daddy!”

“Daddy, what?”

“Did you have to tell him I’m not even 16 yet?”

“Pumpkin, he’s a young male.  I used to be one myself not long ago.  I know how they think.”

Lucy practically wailed, “You chased him away!”

“I gave him a job,” Dusty pointed out.  “One that didn’t even exist five minutes ago, I might add.  He’ll be back tomorrow.”

“I hope so.”  Lucy pouted as she left her father’s office and returned to the front counter.  There, next to the cash register, lay the pair of jeans that Tracy had tried on then left behind.  Lucy wrote ‘Tracy Becker’ on a scrap of paper and used a safety pin to attach it to the jeans.  She carefully set the garment on a small table behind the counter and prayed that Tracy would return as he promised.