The big German Shepard performed with precision, ears and tail up, almost prancing as if he was in a dog show. He leaped from the back of the truck, then reared back on his hind legs, barked three times, dropped forward, and trotted halfway to her. Then, responding to more gestures, he turned around three times, sat down, got up again, ran to her and ran circles around her and Hal, weaving in and out between them twice. Hal's jaw was nearly dragging on the parking lot pavement by the time Argus finished his performance and sat down. Anne was grateful the parking lot had been scraped clean and was only a little slushy, as she bent down to hug and stroke Argus, praising him.
"How long did it take to teach him all that? What language were you using?"
"That's classified data. If I told you, I would have to kill you," Anne responded, keeping a perfectly deadpan expression.
Hal grinned, obviously thinking she was joking, but his smile faded after a few seconds when she didn't react. Then Anne laughed and he joined her, looking more than a little relieved. She answered some of his questions as they headed around the front of the building to go back inside.
"Our head of security trains our dogs. He also teaches us self-defense and gives us a refresher course every time we go home, beating us black and blue most of the time. Many of our dogs are born at Quarry Hall, our headquarters, but we get a good number from places like the DEA, ATF. We have a couple cadaver dogs, bomb dogs, border patrol dogs."
"I can't imagine road work for a philanthropic foundation can be that dangerous," Hal said as he pushed the door open for her.
"You'd be surprised how nasty some people can get when you come between them and the innocent and defenseless. It's like they think their rights are being violated."
"Uh huh. Not sure we want to put that in the story. If we run the story."
"We'd prefer the enemy not to know we're prepared for them," she offered with a half-smile, as she reached forward and pushed open the door into the front of the office suite. Her smile widened as she thought about the receptionist's reaction, wondering how she had gone into the back and then appeared at the front of the office without going past her.
Argus growled and pushed past her, sliding through the gap between door and frame before it was wide enough.
"What's--" Hal began.
A gun fired.