All the King’s Men, part 1

Up until his transformation into a corgi, King had not adequately considered just how much longer every trip took when you made it with shorter legs.  In the snow.  With no shoes.  He wondered how animals managed it, as his toes were numb and wet.  For the first week of regular play with Fox, King had gone home frozen, sore and stiff.  Trudging through the snow to Fox’s house, a short jaunt down two streets might have taken five minutes as a human, but it was approaching twenty.

Pete didn’t do anything to help alleviate it.  King was most upset about that; in his opinion, Pete made him and therefore should be responsible for his happiness.  King ought to be able to eat regular food, use the bathroom inside, and go to bed when he wanted.  While he was considering his happiness, Pete ought to give him a king-sized bed with full waiting staff, a wide selection of pretty girls, a removal of all pain permanently and a VIP pass to heaven.  If Pete was going to be messing with reality, he might as well be a wish-granting genie.

But even without the amenities, pets got those small things, at least in other households.  Most of the time dry kibble was to supplement a diet by offsetting the cost of meat, but pets had plenty of opportunity to eat regular human food, use a human bathroom, and receive an allowance.  Although, his pets didn’t receive that when he was a child, but that was because his family was poor.  He didn’t have any say in their treatment.

Though he couldn’t help but think that Pete was acting precisely the way King would if he were a human pet owner.  King could not help but feel that everything that happened to him, even outside the transformation and home life, was all Pete’s doing, and that it was all allegorical.  King might have pared down everything to terrible luck like he usually did, but it so happened that the very first friend that he made here was the one he had attempted to kidnap.

King sat down of the front steps to Fox’s house and stared out at the road.  He hadn’t wanted to kidnap Fox.  He argued against it, but he want along with it because he was not really sure if he cared.  That must have been what Pete was trying to teach him.  Or something.  Pete was not clear on what he was trying to teach King, or even if he was really teaching anything.  He was a little fuzzy on the details, which coincided well with him now being a little fuzzy.

He stopped trying to strangle himself for coming up with that stupid pun when Fox opened his front door.  King’s stomach leaped up into his throat and he choked it back down.  Though he’d known Fox for a week now, every time he saw him, he felt like he’d escaped from prison and was still human and Fox would run away, terrified.  Then his dad, Officer Bill, two hundred and fifty pounds of muscle, would beat the junk out of him for resisting arrest.  It was not the sort of mistake one wanted to make twice, even subconsciously.

“King!” Fox said.  He only wore his collar with the yellow bandana wrapped around it, making him look naked, since King had expected him to be wearing his bomber jacket so they could go out and play.  “Where have you been? Come on in, you’ll freeze your tail off.”

“Inside?” King swallowed.  “Isn’t your dad home?” King had always found the practice of pets referring to their masters’ as their parents a little weird.  He certainly didn’t think of Pete as his dad, but Fox had also said that not every pet did it either.  It was reserved for those relationships that were more parent/child than ruling overlord/terrified subject.

“Yeah, but we’re having a party today.  You wanna come in?”

King’s ears perked.  “A party?”

“Yes, a party—”

“With like, food?

“Yes, with fo—”

King barreled past Fox and hurried into the house, where the smells hit his nose like a runaway train with a thousand screaming passengers made out of deliciousness.  An assortment of snacks waited on the dining room table, beckoning—popcorn, peanuts, hard candy, Chex mix (the peanut butter kind but not with M&Ms), and the room flooded with the strong scent of cooking hotdogs and hamburgers on the indoor grill in the kitchen.  (Though Bill did not so much cook the meat as show it crude drawings of hypothetical fires.)

King’s mouth watered, and he climbed up onto the first seat he could and reached out as though touching a holy relic.  He heard a cough from behind trying desperately to be polite.  King turned, his mouth stuffed with a fun-sized PayDay.  Fox stood there, with his hands out in a presenting manner to the dog next to him.

“King, this is Fido,” Fox said.

“Hi there,” Fido said, offering his hand for King to sniff.

King froze.  Fido looked familiar.  Behind Fido in the living room, five dogs sat around.  They also looked very familiar.

King swallowed.

“. . . Fox?” King said, staring past Fido, “Who is this party for?”

“The local K-9 unit,” Fox said, “did I forget to mention that? Sorry.”

The PayDay tumbled in slow-motion out of King’s hand and clattered against the floor.  He almost felt naked, but he was naked, and that was the sort of thing one could get used to.  What he couldn’t get used to was the feeling that someone would notice at any moment that he was not used to being a dog, and that a supernatural being had transformed him into a dog, and that he had been a PETA member for a brief stint in his former life and the dog standing in front of him right now was the one who recaptured him after resisting arrest and he would know.  King knew already that he was giving off at least a dozen reflexive tells, and absolutely every single one of them would point to his former life of misplaced anger that resulted in poor life decisions which somehow led to a life of crime.

“Uh, you don’t have to look guilty,” Fido said, “It’s a party, so it’s not really sneaking food.”


King swallowed nervously. “Eh yeah that’s a real funny thing aha ha ha ha! The thing you said.”  He mustered up an insincere smile that displayed his molars.

“His owner doesn’t really let him have those kinds of snacks,” Fox said solemnly.  This resulted in a glance, a glance that said You poor thing, I’m so sorry! with all due sincerity.  Fido lifted his hands ready to give King a supportive hug.  King twitched in a run-away-as-fast-as-possible direction and fell off the chair he stood on.

“Ha!  Some police dog.” said a small voice that was not Fido’s but came from his direction.  The tuft of fur on Fido’s head moved to the side and revealed a particularly tiny mouse, who leaned on it.  King remembered the mouse too, making snide little comments that didn’t particularly coincide with the situation.  It was like the mouse was trying hard to justify his home on the police dog’s head by being clever all the time.

The mouse knows too.

Fido shoved the mouse back with his pointer finger.  “He’s not a police dog, he’s here as Fox’s guest.  Like you’re here as a guest of mine, mostly because you won’t stay home.”

“That cuts deeply,” the mouse said, “you’ve hurt me Fido.  You’ve hurt me badly, I am not sure if I could ever recover.  Say, if he’s not gonna finish that PayDay . . .?”

Fido sighed and picked up the candy bar from the floor and offered it back to King.  King shook his head vigorously and scooted backward a foot.  Fido then broke a piece off and handed it to Spo.

King composed himself and got to his feet.  He supposed then that there was nothing to worry about, though the warning signs still flashed in his brain as surely as he had just thought them, but he forced them down.  Perhaps it was part of small dog anatomy to be really nervous and aggressive about potential threats.  It was all adrenaline.  He would have to work on keeping it from overpowering him.

Fido turned to the living room.  “Kevin, come out here an meet King!”

Immediately King was tackled by a huge Doberman, sailed across the dining room and into the kitchen until they crashed into the far wall.  “HI KING IT’S REAL NICE TO MEET YOU!” The doberman shouted in his face.

AAAAH!  AAAAH!” King screamed.  He scrambled to pull away from the nightmarish déjà vu that had him in a vice grip.

“Hey boys, play nice,” Bill said without looking up from the grill.

“King!” Fox scrambled to the other side of the kitchen and pulled him out of Kevin’s grip. “Get a hold of yourself!”

King clung to Fox and shuddered violently.

“Kevin!  Bad dog!” Fido said, “no tackling dogs who are smaller than you!”

“Uh, sorry,” Kevin said, getting up, “I thought you said no tackling dogs bigger than me.”

“No!  Any tackling is for specific contexts only!”

Fox wrenched King off of his chest and dragged him into the laundry room and closed the door.  He sat King down on a basket of dirty laundry to put him at eye level.

“King, are you okay?” Fox asked.  He sniffed at King’s collar, but King pushed Fox’s nose away.  He telegraphed his feelings in body language, but dogs always wanted the scent first.

“No I’m not okay,” King said.

“What’s wrong?”

“I had a—” King paused a moment, and considered who he was and who he was talking to.  A lie would be far more appropriate.  “I was . . . bullied . . . by police dogs . . . when I was a pup?”

Fox sighed.  “They mean well.  Don’t let it get to you, alright?”

King considered how far he would have to push this lie, then bit his lip.  “Kay,” King said.

“Now come on, you need to meet the rest of them—”

“NO,” King said too fast.  “Uh, no, could we just . . . get me some junk food and then I’ll just go back home or something.  I really have been wearing out my welcome aha ha ha!  Ha.”

Fox crossed his arms and glared at King.  King’s ears fell.

“Yeah alright,” King said.

“It’s not alright,” Fox said, “you have a serious issue here.  You’ve told me about your dad, and you’d rather go home than hang out here for the rest of the afternoon?”

King winced.  It was true.  Pete, who was bullying him now, was certainly the worse of two evils.  He had a nervous twitch in front of the police dogs, but he couldn’t help it—these were those same dogs that arrested him, in the house of the man who arrested him, who owned the dog that he attempted to kidnap.  But it wasn’t as bad as Pete; none of these dogs recognized him, because he had changed so much since.  At least on the outside.  He was exactly the same on the inside and he thought they’d know.  Dogs had more senses than humans knew.

“Alright,” King said.  He hopped off the laundry basket and willed himself to be calm.  He felt himself relax—fresh laundry smells tended to help—and he felt a genuine smile creep back onto his face.

When Fox opened the door, King immediately smelled the scents of the dogs who had terrified him the moment before.  King’s ears dropped, his pupils shrank, and he jumped inside the laundry pile and hid.

“Oh no you don’t!” Fox said.  He grabbed King by the stubby leg and yanked him out and dragged him across the kitchen floor.

I changed my mind!” King yelled, scraping at the linoleum floor, “Lemme go home!  I don’t wanna be here!

Fox dragged King into the living room with him still clutching a single black sock.  He sat King down on the couch, pinning him to the cushion.  The police dogs approached and crowded King’s personal space.  He panicked, and curled up in a ball as a half dozen noses poked him.

He was introduced to Sergeant Ralph, the German shepherd and unit leader, in whose police car King had ridden to the police station.  Fido was directly under him, both physically and in the hierarchical sense; an Officer First Class since ‘Sergeant’ was the highest rank a dog could attain in the police.  King learned all of this as everyone tried to introduce themselves at once, but their scents all in close proximity only served to make him feel like a small lump of Jell-o.

Then everyone went back to what they were doing.  It felt suddenly wrong to King, who sat up on the couch, still clutching firmly to the black sock.  Now, when he was not the center of attention, his desperate fear subsided into a mere lingering paranoia.  Fido was insisting that everyone play a parlor game of some kind.  Everyone booed; they were police dogs after all, and they preferred sports.  Kevin wanted to play tackle Frisbee outside, but the snow was laid down thick and that was more of a sport for summer.

Kevin folded his arms and grumped.  “Okay, what’s your stupid game?” he asked.

“It’s called I Have Never.  Everyone gets three markers.” He handed out toothpicks to everyone, including King.  King looked at the toothpicks.  Were they seriously about to play a parlor game?  This reminded him of visits to his Aunt Clarabelle’s house.

“What is this, an old person game?” the mouse on Fido’s head said, “I could have sworn that I played this at my aunt’s hole this one time.”

“Spo hush,” Fido said, “let’s just try this once and then we can do something more physical, like Hide and Seek.”

“Tackle Hide and Seek?” Kevin asked, ears up.

“We are not going to destroy Officer Bill’s furniture!”  Fido said, “do you remember the last time you added ‘tackle’ to an indoor game?”

Sergeant Ralph sniggered.  “Are you kidding?  Tackle Candyland actually made the game fun.”

Fido glared.  “Now . . . we go around in a circle,” Fido said, “and you must say something you have never done.  Then everyone who has done that thing gives you one of their toothpicks.  I’ll start so everyone gets the hang of it.”

Fido contemplated it for a moment, then said, “I have never chased my tail.”

Everyone but King and Kevin tossed a toothpick toward Fido and he gathered them up and smiled.  “You see?  That’s the sort of thing you’re supposed to say.”

“But I don’t have a tail to chase,” Kevin said.  From his looks, he was raised to be a police dog, with his ears and tail all cropped.  King craned his neck around.  Even if he had not only just received a tail a few weeks ago, his was stubby and not very chaseable.

“I got it,” Sergeant Ralph said next, “I have never worn my sunglasses at night.”

Everyone but King and Fox grumbled and handed Ralph a toothpick.

“It’s true,” Sergeant Ralph shrugged.

“I have never chased a Frisbee!” Kevin said.

“Um, no Kevin,” Fido said, “It has to be something you haven’t actually done.”  The mouse on Fido’s head giggled.

“Oh.” Kevin scratched his head.  “Then how would I know if I haven’t done something?”

“Probably because you don’t have any memories of doing it?” Fido suggested.

“Oh, in that case, I never knew my own mother!” Kevin said.

King had known his mother, of course, so he tossed a toothpick at Kevin.  Kevin gathered up the toothpicks—both of them.  Fido was the only other one who lost a point.

“Uh,” King said, “I take it this is a common occurrence?”

“Most of them went straight from obedience school to the academy,” Fido said.  “Nice one, Kevin, nice one!” He clapped, and everyone else clapped half-heartedly.

King sat back in his seat, suddenly very self-aware.

“I’ve never been to the academy,” Fox said.

“Awww!” All the police dogs said.  The other three that King didn’t know were now out, having run out of toothpicks.

“This is bogus,” said one who didn’t get a turn, an English Spaniel with a proper accent, “Come on, let’s see what video games they have.”

The three vacated the room, and Kevin looked sad as he stared at his toothpicks.  “Fido, can I go?  This is dumb.”

Fido rolled his eyes.  “Okay, okay, but let’s see if King could at least have a turn then.  King, do you wanna go?”

King thought escape, but then shook his head.  “Well . . . alright.”

He was trying to socialize as much as he could, to try and take the edge off the paranoia.  But the more he said, the more he felt starkly contrasted to the dogs.  But if he always kept quiet about himself, they would think that he was hiding something.  He was already the new dog, and he didn’t want to remain an outsider, not when they were trying to be friends.

“I have never . . .”

He closed his eyes and thought: what did dogs do that people didn’t?

“. . . sniffed anyone’s rear end.”

King opened his eyes and looked around.  Everyone was stone silent.  Fox turned his head.  Fido’s mouth was open.  Ralph dropped his toothpicks.

King then realized the implications of what he said, and his lingering paranoia shot back up to full fear.

“Hey!” Kevin said, “What if we played tackle whatever this game is?”

Discussion (76) ¬

  1. Ebly

    That would be awesome, Kevin.
    That would be awesome.

  2. Wolf Pup TK

    Read the whole thing. Definitely a surprise to see a written story pop up in here. I had a little trouble placing images to all the faces (Have they all appeared in the comic? I wasn’t familiar with some…) but none the less I enjoyed it and want to see or read more. :3

    • GameCobra

      i read the whole thing too. i really wanna read more! =)

      Loved the ending too.

      Fox: “I hope that’s not the reason he fainted…”

    • Ebly

      Well, it was promised!

      Which names are you confused on?

  3. Rahiros

    I applaud you. Very well-written (and drawn!)

  4. Buckdida



    Nice short story, Rick. I enjoyed it! Can’t wait for part two.

  5. EchoFireant

    i can just imagine the looks the k-9 unit is ging king right now :D

    • EchoFireant


  6. Valerio

    Good story
    Well written.
    Easily to visualize.
    What more could a fan ask for?
    More of this story of course :D
    Bravo Rick!

  7. Kalvin

    Truly awesome story. I could probably go on for awhile so I’ll just leave it at that.

  8. JasonF

    That was great, Rick! An in depth look at what makes King tick, but too much to work out in a few simple strips. Those who take the time to read this will have a deeper understanding of future strips. Great idea…. :)

  9. Darian

    Awesome, my friend. I read your comic all the time and I love it. I hope you do more on this short story.

  10. DZ

    Poor ‘King’ and all his neuroses.

  11. Maark30

    Rick you have found a way to take cute and fuzzy characters and make them interesting, 3D beings. I have found myself becoming emotionaly attached to them. This short story just increases that. great job.

  12. Rider098

    A very nice read Rick, interesting to see this series in another kind of medium. It all feels exactly what the characters would do and I was imagining what it would look like in comic form the whole time. I’m not sure if “want” was the right word in the 5th paragraph, but that’s my only minor nitpick to this story. Again nice work Rick, looking forward to more readings from you!

  13. gatherer818

    yeah, wow. I’ve seen Erfworld have a huge success with their text updates, because you can get a lot more in depth with the characters, and never thought to expect it here; but it WORKED and well. Awesome job, Rick.

  14. falcon01

    very well done!

  15. ReCreate

    Interesting… but when will part 2 be out?

    And awesome, the “Its a wonderful dogs life” arc is my favorite. :D Its nice to see its storyline continued! :)

  16. Kitnomara

    That was really great. You know I think you could proble write pridelands if you wanted to. That would be rather awesome. ^.^ *giggles with glee*

  17. Zoe

    LOVED IT! Left me hangin’ though, I hate that! What happens next? Will this turn into a comic or will there be a sequel story? And oh man, it would be so cool if you wrote a story about King’s childhood and his pets and their “adventure”, If I said this before already, sorry.

  18. Phife
    Panel 1: Ralph?, (Cocker Spanel?), Kevin, and Fido.
    Panel 4: KEVIN! Love the red eyes.
    Panel 1: Ralph?
    Ralph?, Fido, and Kevin

    I had to find these because I needed the mental images! I knew I’ve seen the mentioned characters! It amuses me. … buff. win. *hugs Fox, Fido, and Kevin* King has a charm to him that just makes me wanna hug him!

    I love the story and “Part 1″ tells me that there will be more!!!!

  19. gagi


    there needs to be more .. it can’t end like this … arffff …. rick that’s mean … but still awesome … but mean …. but even more awesome ..

    well i wish to see more snippets from kings life like this.

    Rick, you are a genius. Thank you for brightening up my dull Saturday morning.

  20. Draco_2k

    More, please.

  21. Corpy

    An excellent piece of writing. I think that the other dogs just kind of see King as the “emo kid” rather than suspecting anything, but that’s what makes the story great.

  22. shenhibiki

    Well, Tackle Tag DOES work, believeme! ^^

  23. ferretwithaspork

    Great story! If you ever wanted to start a spin-off the adventures of King would be awesome :D

  24. NobodyYouKnow

    more characterising
    lasts longer than a strip
    flows well

    long (im not complaining, though!)
    question of “what comes next”
    arc disruption?

  25. The game

    This was really good! Cannot wait for part2

  26. HonorèDerazey

    Awesome read. I image this was actually more EASIER to work with. You have a lot of room to be descriptive while, when drawing comics, you usually only have 4 panels.

    There’s no a whole lot of comments though. Hmm, maybe Rick wrote this so everyone wouldn’t try to be 1st and couldn’t be 1st… 1) Because a lot of people don’t like to read 2) Everyone’s speed they can read at is varied.

    Anyways, can’t wait for part two!

    • HonorèDerazey

      Arrrrgh! Typo, AGAIN! *There’s NOT a whole lot of comments…”

  27. Chip Uni

    One minor quibble: There’s a table filled with food… that the dogs all KNOW they can eat… and not one of them has glutted himself? I’ve known a few dogs who can resist all-you-can-stuff-in-your-mouth food… but not many.

    But these dogs walk on two legs, speak English, and have been well-trained… so they might have other differences, too.

    • Ace

      Maybe it’s because since they KNOW they can have it, and it’s open to them for as long as they want, it’s not as alluring?

  28. Two_Twig

    Stupendous work Rick! I can’t wait to see part 2.

    • ReCreate


  29. Ekevoo

    Poor King. He was a bit dumb not to think of this turn since the beginning though.
    Really good story! :)

    • String Petoun Ping

      He probably hoped that the game finish beforehe had to tell something. It almost happened. Or maybe he couldn’t find anything else, he was too stressed to think to anything good. I know many persons that have a writer block if they are under pressure.

      • Ekevoo

        Well it’s just thinking ahead of a situation that is not unlikely to happen…

  30. Frank

    What do you know? You did it! Congratulations to you! This is great! Will there be a part 2?

    My quibble is spelling: in ” He argued against it, but he want along with it because he was not really sure if he cared.” I think you mean “he went along with it”

  31. Erkhyan

    Aw, King, you poor, POOR paranoid thing.

    Definitely a nice read there!

  32. Salenstormwing

    Poor King, he needs a Pet Psychiatrist. Poor dog’s gunna worry his little head off.

    But YAY! More King, even if it’s in story form, which is awesome! More Please!

  33. wingedwolfgirl

    Nice, very entertaining.
    I am wondering how you play Tackle Candy Land though.

    • Chip Uni

      Every time your pieces line up… TACKLE

      • BlueAnubis

        I want to play tackle Candyland, but my brother is a real wuss. he only ever goes a few rounds and he hasn’t even broken anything yet.

  34. Wasd

    FINALLY. Been waiting for this since you mentioned it, a couple of months ago I think.

  35. Argent Stonecutter

    “a runaway train with a thousand screaming passengers made out of deliciousness”

    I want one.

  36. iHavezMyBirdo

    What I like best about reading what people write is picturing it all. Nicely done~

  37. ReCreate

    Though I see an easy way out of the last part – Something along the lines of “HA the expressions on your faces are priceless!”

    • ReCreate

      crap… it mistook w hat was after that as a tag. >_< Well im sure you can imagine what i mean. :P

      • ReCreate




  39. Barker

    Yay! I’ve been waiting for this since Christmas.

  40. ReCreate

    When did Rick promise that this would be done?

    • Frank

      around christmas. He was asked if we’d see more of King once the arc finished and said he had something special planned in prose

  41. Severedevil

    Now I really want to play Tackle Never Have I Ever.

  42. Alden

    Hahaha! I love Kevin.

    Nice story. I’ll be waiting for part 2.

  43. J.J.

    Oh man… KING!

    That’s like saying, as a Human, that your still a VIRGIN!

    • Dissension

      I don’t know that that is, in fact, the case. :/

    • tjprower

      O.k., since when was that a weird thing? Just cause you don’t exercise abstanence doesn’t mean that others don’t. XD

  44. Majin-Wolf

    Yeah can’t wait for part 2! Hey where did my other comment go? -_-

  45. Sleet

    I’m not saying anything about the quality of the writing, but I was having trouble getting into these comic characters being expressed in writing only. I don’t know if I’m the only one.

  46. Geemo

    Now I wonder if I’ve overlooked other short stories you’ve written! *goes to check!*

  47. FuRrY321

    You’re a very good writer, Rick! (Probably explains why the comic has such a great storyline!)

    I like this story; it’s a nice break from the storyline, now we just have to wonder if there’ll be a huge plothole as the story takes place while we’re reading this, or if you’ll pick up where you left off. I hope it’s the latter! :D

  48. akwolf

    Really liked reading this… it kind of seemed a little more personal compared to the rest of che comic especially for a side character king has made a very big spot in housepets. Actually, it seems like he has been given even more attention than peanut and grape lately which kind of disappointed me but I still like king too.

    The ending is kind of tricky.. I know the ending wanted to seem like it had a kick to the whole story but even if it seems odd for a dog to have not sniffed another dog like that I don’t think it could cause a direct implication that king is really a human with a bad past. Obviously this means he isn’t a normal dog but I don’t think that really means much considering the only way he became the lovable dog he is was through fantasy and when in what is (usually) a setting that isn’t so heavy on fantasy it seems extremely hard to just guess.


  49. Argent Stonecutter

    They need to be playing tackle iterated prisoner’s dilemma.

  50. JB

    I laughed at the end. The story is very entertaining and I got to know little bit more about Kevin, with his obsession urge to ‘tackle’ as he adds that word into almost every one of his sentences. He should join the football club or something. Can’t wait to read more. ^ w^

  51. Odones

    Thanks for doing what you’ve done so far.

  52. Squival

    wow! That was absolutely amazing, I love reading and this story was just perfectly told.
    I hope you do more of these (I guess not all the time) but every once in awhile because that was such an utterly enjoyable read :)

    Really wanna see where this is going, can’t wait to read part 2 ^^

  53. Legendario 777


  54. Kukyo

    Awesome read, can’t wait to part 2

  55. Darcin

    Well, this was a pleasant surprise. Good job!

  56. pikakitty

    this story is so engaging! thanks!

  57. Frank

    As usual, since we’ve gone to two pages, to make the old comments still available once the “previous comments” link disappears below, here’s the address:

  58. Anonymous

    In retrospect, he should have said “I have never tackled anyone.”

  59. Fuzzypaws

    The little fuzzy bit is the best line in the whole thing. *giggles*

  60. rWolf1991

    So when is part 2? I really can’t wait!!