Sparky’s daring performance at The Academy succeeded in more ways than one. Mr. Sheeler, who never liked dogs in the first place, retired. Apparently that incident was the final straw. He told Mrs. Baxter that “never in his 25 years as a canine disciplinarian had he encountered a creature as deranged, insolent, neurotic, and beyond all hope of reform” as my pal. Sparky, who showed no signs of being affected by the slanderous attack, determined Mr. Sheeler must’ve been jealous of his moves. “That’s the only explanation, Morty,” he said. Don’t get me started. Other enrollees were reimbursed the full amount of Sheeler’s tuition but Mrs. Baxter was not. A few weeks later she also received a bill for a new full brim hat. She promptly paid the full amount and sent it along with a letter of apology. Her hand written gesture was returned a few days later, unopened. Newsflash puppies: always pay your debts.   The other aforementioned success involves matters of the heart. That kind of mushy stuff isn’t really in my wheelhouse, but I was proud of Sparky. I gathered that in the frenzy following Mr. Sheeler’s fall, my pal had formally introduced himself to one very impressed Sally and the two really hit it off.  In fact, I spent much of the next few weeks pulling double shifts in the backyard in order to cover both of our anti-squirrel reconnaissance duties while Sparky snuck under a hole in the fence to continue his passionate courtship. I didn’t mind in the least—suffice it to say anti-squirrel reconnaissance is in my wheelhouse. Unfortunately, however, things took a turn for the awkward when, a few weeks into this routine, Mrs. Baxter answered a knock at the front door and a man appeared holding my pal by the scruff of his neck. He explained that he’d found Sparky doing “things he did not care to discuss” with his dear, sweet Sally. Poor Mrs. Baxter was mortified, though I didn’t understand the particulars. Later that night she had one more glass of wine than her usual single, told Sparky he really needed to get his act together and then took out her stationary to write the offended man a more proper apology.