A month or so into Wagz’s stay with Mina & Clareece, his new oddball foster parent & highly acclaimed piano-playing-Youtube-star Poodle “sister,” he had reluctantly cultivated a taste for silken bowties, fine imported liver “tidbits,” as his strange interim master called them, & most fur-raising of all: opera.
Each and every Friday, Mina would trounce gleefully into Wagz’s bedroom (Yes, bedroom.) donning a frilled, sequined, something-or-other with horn-rimmed glasses, a wide-brimmed mud brown hat, and, strangely enough, sensible shoes. The purpose of her spontaneous Friday visits was always to prime Wagz for the coming opera show she was about to sneak him into, spritzing colognes & dressing him in bowtie after bowtie till she came upon one that was, in her words, “fanciful with a touch of bland,” which naturally was often something bedazzled and the color of granola.
Clareece would stay home to brush up on her latest concerto, while Wagz & Mina mingled with high society in the balcony seat at the opera show. Somehow, Wagz would lower his lanky appendages to a crawl under Mina’s fluffy full-length skirt, concealing himself from operagoers and theater employees all the way to their seats. And once they found their spots, Mina would always deftly transfer Wagz to a large wicker tote, placing over him a lace coverlet, yet always leaving his trademark tail somewhat in view — a “furry ornament,” she called it. One day, however, Wagz truly arrived to the opera, leaving an indelible mark on Mina Trubaluzzi’s name and the ritzy theater itself.
It all started the same as usual. Mina trounced into Wagz’s lavish living quarters, bedazzled her canine sidekick, & off they went. A few minutes after huddling into their cab, rain began to hit hard, beating atop the roof like hands to bongo drums. Cars slowed to a creep as the slippery conditions spurred a collision up ahead. Mina remained unfazed, chatting away on her phone with Clareece’s agent, talking of a possible Wagz Youtube debut. She mused at the idea of a “brother sister” duo, Wagz playing the harp with his tail as his “big sis” pawed Beethoven on the piano keys.
“For now,” she proclaimed, “We’ll nurture his taste for music. Soon enough, though, this little guy will trade barking… for harping!”
Fifteen minutes late to the show, they arrived. Mina hustled as fast as she could to the ticket booth, Wagz struggling to keep hidden at her heels. But as the ecstatic heiress snatched her ticket and began to enter the theater, she lost her footing, falling into not one but two well known government officials, one senator and a state attorney, completely unveiling Wagz from under her skirt.
That’s where one of his most memorable encounters with the world began. As security attempted to close in on the startled pooch, all he could think to do was the same he did on the day he escaped from Vince Feldor: run. And run he did. He bounded from the booth through the main hall, shaking up bystander after bystander as they realized that a seemingly wild animal had broken into the opera. Enjoying these responses, Wagz howled, flying through the nearest door, one that had, unbeknownst to him, been opened by one of the main stars in the show.
What happened next is what catapulted Wagz to a brush with fame. The door he had gone through led to another door that led to backstage, and through each door he went, knocking over table after table and surprising human after human.
Some laughed; some shrieked. Whatever noise they made, Wagz tuned out, barreling by to evade the security guards just behind, soon gaining enough momentum to get out of their sight and almost to the main stage. Just as he reached the curtain to make the first of more than a handful of public debuts, the singers were yodeling away in front of a scenic backdrop, completely unaware of Wagz and the chaos behind.
Wagz slowed to a halt, realizing the opportunity ahead. Gaining composure, he then strolled nonchalantly to center stage, the singers still heedless of the wild dog & his antics. Wagz poised himself to a stately sitting position, prompting the audience to murmur with confusion and laughter.
And what happened next is legendary. He let out a melodious howl to the beat of the current song, his companions, looking back to realize the source of the commotion, not even flinching. In fact, they improvised, moving closer to their new friend, outstretching their hands further, singing as if nothing had happened. This went on for the rest of the song, and once it was finished, the crowd was brought to their feet.
Mina stood gazing from the back, jaw dropped, heartily clapping and whispering merrily to herself, “Oh… This is gonna be good.”