Lily was picking at her breakfast when her husband Andy came back from walking the dog. Poor old Riley went straight to his basket and lay down with a heavy sigh, his greying muzzle resting on his paws.
‘How’s my favourite wife?’ Andy asked, dropping a kiss on Lily’s forehead. ‘And bump, of course.’
Lily smiled. ‘Your wife is fine. The bump is kicking and kept me up all night.’
‘You should try and get some sleep,’ said Andy. ‘After all, it’ll be in short supply in a week or so. OK, see you later.’ He glanced over at the elderly Alsatian. ‘Take good care of them for me, boy.’
Another kiss and he was gone, leaving Lily alone with the dog.
‘Love me, love my dog.’ Wasn’t that how the old song went? Well, Lily and Riley both loved Andy. But loving each other? Not so much.
‘You can’t teach an old dog new tricks.’ That was another doggy saying. Lily suspected Riley just had no interest in accepting her into his life.
But then that went both ways. Riley was, and always would be, Andy’s dog. He was the one who fed him, the one who walked him and the one Riley waited for by the door.
To be honest, apart from the sheer amount of space the big dog took up, he hadn’t really intruded into Lily’s life – or, at least, not while she’d been going out to work. Now that she was on maternity leave and at home all day, though, Lily suspected they were each beginning to get on the other’s nerves
From his basket, Riley sighed heavily. That was unsettling, too – the way he seemed able to read her mind.
‘It’s all right for Andy, out at work all day,’ she muttered, staring at the inert animal.
Riley didn’t open his eyes, but his twitching ears told her he was listening.
She washed up the breakfast dishes and put some laundry away. The house was already spotless, so she considered phoning work to see how things were going, but she knew they’d be busy. Unlike her.
Thankfully, her mother called, as she did each day now, and they talked babies happily for a while.
After the call ended, Lily dozed off for a bit, then woke with a start when the baby kicked extra hard. The only sound in the house was the clicking of Riley’s claws on the hardwood floor as he came into the room to look at her.
Lunchtime, she realised. She made herself a sandwich but, worried about heartburn, only ate half. Riley was too well trained to beg, so the leftovers went straight into the bin.
Lily put on her jacket. That was Riley’s cue to bring his lead, and he stood patiently while she clipped it on. Lily knew their daily walk was good for her and the baby, and was grateful to the dog’s presence for forcing her to make the effort.
‘Hello, Mrs Ashton!’ she called to an elderly neighbour who was out in her garden speaking to a workman.
‘Hello, dear. And Riley!’ The dog wagged his tail. ‘Sorry, no biscuit,’ Mrs Ashton told him regretfully. ‘Andy’s told me off.’
‘Having some work done?’ asked Lily.
‘Just getting the drains cleaned, dear.
Apparently, they were in a dreadful state. Luckily, Mr Pearson here was working in the neighbourhood and stopped by.’
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