It very quickly becomes apparent that Peter Rabbit is not going to be easy to find. He didn’t just get left behind. He didn’t wander into a different room by mistake – or at least none nearby. Bruce whines, low in the back of his throat, and says, “I can still smell him but…”
Jack fluffs up his feathers, clacking his beak nervously. “But what? I don’t like the sound of that!”
“But I can smell a human, too.” Bruce sniffs the air, loud, in a series of short little huffs. “And Peter Rabbit smells scared.”
Jack asks, “do you think that the person was in trouble?”
Bruce sniffs again, harder and faster yet.
Jack isn’t very good at smelling things. Most birds aren’t, you see. He can’t do anything but wait while Bruce sniffs around, trying to figure out what might have happened.
The waiting makes him anxious. It creeps into his heart like a shadow, unrelenting and unwilling to leave. After a few long moments have passed with no answer, Jack prompts, “Bruce? Do you think that the human was in trouble?”
Bruce whines. His tail tucks down tight between his hind legs. “No…I think the human was trouble. We’ve gotta find Peter Rabbit. This is why the Room wanted us to find Peter Rabbit. Not because of the ring, but because he needs our help.”
The words settle into the air between them, making the room feel cold. Jack’s never been in a situation like this before, where they had to – what, save a Presidential Pet from a human?
The very idea of it’s ridiculous!
But he can tell that Bruce is right.
The dog looks honest and sure of himself in a way that can’t be faked. Jack trusts him.
“Okay,” says Jack, with a low, worried gobble. “I suppose it’s a good thing I’ve got you on my side then, huh? That big sniffer of yours is going to be perfect for the job.”
Slowly, Bruce’s tail raises up to half-mast, giving a few wags. His ears pin back to the side of his head, curling happily. Bull Terriers have very clear emotions. It’s easy to tell when they’re happy, when they’re sad, or when they’re uncertain. They’re very motivated by praise, too, and Bruce is clearly thrilled to have someone compliment him.
“I’ll make sure to find Peter Rabbit,” promises Bruce. He gives the air a few more hard sniffs, and then says, “this way! Follow me!”
And just like that, the duo are off!
Katelynn E Koontz – Author