To be quite honest, I was just as upset as the rest of the council when the human insisted on bringing an animal of another species, an unintelligent one at that, to the meetings. These were extremely formal proceedings, with traditions and customs that went back centuries. To disrupt all of that for one pet seemed outrageous.
Unfortunately, the human was one of two that had been elected to the council democratically, as was customary on Earth, and there was absolutely no way around that. So, in the end, we had an extra occupant in that room, around that expansive table. And I was stuck next to them. Even so, I still had no idea what the animal’s purpose was, and it felt rude to ask.
When I’d first heard tell of the animal, I was terrified, though it was mitigated by the fact that I knew humans were a reasonable species overall. When I first saw the photo of the yellow-haired beast, I was concerned of the size, but it seemed, while walking on all fours, not to come up any further than the human’s waist. The teeth and claws concerned me above all else, but the video the human sent of them playing together put that part of my mind at rest. I had no doubt these animals could be used to protect their owners, but it seemed this particular dog was…joyful, I think was the best word for it.
Despite my best efforts, I was desperately curious of what the reason was for the male human’s pet. He had a female companion, the other half of the pair of Earth representatives, so it wasn’t company from home that was the issue. Nor was it made obvious during the first few meetings; the animal curled up beside the human’s chair and slept for the duration. And I must comment here that it was quite adorable when, on rare occasions, the human subtly bent down to wake him when small, panicked squeaks came from his mouth, the result of a bad dream.
At the fifth meeting, the answers became clear. Or rather, clearer, since when the incident occurred, it prompted many more questions.
“Shall we put it to a vote then?” asked Vitinu, a colleague of mine from a neighboring star system. His voice spoke into a microphone in front of him, translating into the earpieces of each species present. “If there are no other-”
That’s when it barked, repeatedly. To say the others were flustered was an understatement. Shock was the first reaction, then outrage, and voices started speaking back and forth immediately.
“I knew that creature wouldn’t last long here!”
“That noise is unspeakably loud, make it stop!”
“Senior Counselor, can you order it removed from chambers?”
The human, however, did not look distressed in the way that I would have expected. He wasn’t embarrassed and didn’t move to hush the creature, only to stand up from his chair, leaning down to the microphone. “My apologies to the council, I appear to be experiencing a medical emergency.” His voice managed to cut through the cacophony just enough to bring a hush to the crowd. The man turned to the woman, nodding once in the direction of the door. “I request a brief recess, after which we can resume the meeting and go to a vote.” The woman stood as well.
“Of-Of course,” the Senior Counselor managed. “Is there anything we can do to assist in this medical emergency?” He seemed as confused as I was, since it appeared the human was fine.
“No, I just need to-” He stumbled and the woman caught him.
“You’ve got to lie down, it’s coming on quick,” she snapped at him, helping him down to the floor. He twitched and jerked and I saw the woman reach into a bag she’d brought with her, taking out a pillow and placing it under his head. She gently turned him on his side, helping keep him in place.
The animal, the creature that had been subject of so much concern and anger, merely lay beside the man, almost at attention as a military officer would be. And I gasped as I saw what continued to happen. The human male’s body lurched and spasmed, making the reasoning for the pillow quite clear. His eyes rolled back and closed, the female’s hands gentle on his back and shoulder.
The room had gone deathly silent aside from the human’s thrashings and hushed voices from those too far from this edge of the table to see what was happening. I noticed the woman checking something on her wrist, and after some examination, I realized it was a small machine to tell time. I tensed. How long would this episode last? Could he injure himself? Could he die right in front of our eyes?
Finally, the man’s movements ceased, and his body relaxed. The woman slowly rolled him onto his back, speaking to him softly. He nodded and spoke back. Gradually, bit by bit, the woman helped him to a sitting position, then he stood. She held his arm, though it was unclear whether he needed assistance standing, and helped him back to his chair.
Once seated, he turned to his dog, which had been standing by and keeping a close eye on the man, and he tenderly pat its head and rubbed it behind the ears. “Good girl,” he said softly. My spirits lifted at the sight, and at the animal’s tail, which had started wagging back and forth, a sign of happiness, I’d been told.
“It’s what’s known as a seizure,” the man explained into the microphone to his stunned colleagues. His eyes looked bleary, his stance no longer confident and straight, and he leaned his arms on the table for support. “They’re quite rare for me, but I couldn’t take the risk I would have one here and not know it was happening ahead of time. That’s why my dog had to be here. It’s…a personal health problem, so I was reluctant to share it. But I suppose the secret is out now.”
The Senior Counselor was the first to find his voice. “Of course, we understand. That is truly a fantastic gift that animal has, and I’ll be doing some research on…what did you call it?”
“Seizure. I’ll ensure our medical personnel has my own personal account of what was experienced here to add to our emergency procedures. It looked terrifying.”
“There are different kinds, different levels,” the man explained. “Some people don’t shake at all. And I’m sure most of your medics know procedures. Still, that’s very kind of you.”
“One thing I will absolutely make sure of is that assistance animals such as yours have no difficulties accompanying their humans to any governmental meetings,” the Senior Counselor added with a decisive movement of one of his four arms.
The man nodded. “Thank you. We can continue the meeting, I’m feeling well enough to do so,” he spoke. I doubted that from the look on his face, but I wasn’t about to object and cost the man his honor. “I’ll just…be taking a nice long nap when I return to my ship.”
Republished with permission from the author, karenvideoeditor. Image created using Stable Diffusion.