"Roger's your dog?" said Dr. Fraud, peering over the top of his Notebook a little cautiously. When he'd still been teaching at the Academy in Vienna there'd been an incident with a poodle, two oysters, and a head of cabbage that had left him with a slight fear of dogs. Luckily Roger, a King Charles Spaniel, was sat quietly on the couch licking parts of his anatomy.
"Yes," said the child sat on the floor beneath the dog.
"And you find your dog... erotic?" said Dr. Fraud even more cautiously, eyeing his new timer. The Father Time egg timer had been broken when Bethany had seized the scythe and tried to cut Dr. Fraud's throat with it. He'd replaced it with a scale model of the Liberty Bell, which gonged rather loudly when the patient's time was up.
"No," said the child in the patient voice that children use with grown-ups they find to be rather slow. "I think Roger's neurotic. Specifically I think he has an obsessive disorder. I'm always having to wash his paws for him."
"Oh really?" said Dr. Fraud, suddenly interested. He'd written a lengthy paper on obsessive disorders ten years ago in which he'd exhaustively catalogued all the literature on the subject. Its sole review, in the Journal of Pathological Psychologists, had commented that the paper was a perfect example of its subject which Dr. Fraud thought might be a compliment. "Do you wash his paws a lot then?"
"Six times a day, at least," said the child. "Whenever he thinks his paws are dirty I have to wash them for him."
"How does he tell you that his paws are dirty?" said Dr. Fraud typing rapidly into his Notebook. "Does he bark at you? Or perhaps he comes up and shows you his paws? I think I remember a case where a cat would leave messages on a recordable alarm clock... no, wait, I can't tell you about that until the book is published."
"No, nothing like that," said the child. A puzzled look crossed his face. "He just tells me."
"Tells you how?" said Dr. Fraud. "Have you trained him to do something when he needs to communicate with you?"
"He looks at me, and I know that he wants his paws washing."
"Extra-ordinary!" said Dr. Fraud. "I've heard tell that pets and their owners can share bonds that the rest of us can't understand. Does he tell you anything else? Does he, perhaps, tell you to kill people?"
"No!" said the child. "He's a good dog!"
"Oh," said Dr. Fraud not bothering to hide his disappointment. "Well. I think I'll need to do some research on this as I'm not a vet and haven't specialised in pet disorders. You'll need to come back this time next week, but I'll only bill you half for this session."
"But my mother won't be back to pick me up for another half-hour."
"Oh yes," said Dr. Fraud checking his Notebook for his email and briefly wondering why there seemed to be three new emails from an eHarmony profile called ButchSpanker4U. "About that. My secretary tells me that your mother was involved in a hit and run accident as she left my office earlier. You'll need to make your own way home."
He reached deftly out to the Liberty Bell timer and twisted the dial to the hour. The gonging of the bell drowned out the small child's tears and caused plaster dust to shower down from the ceiling like impromptu snow.