Barking While Black

The four neighboring houses match the style of their mailboxes: modern black metal, extravagant hammered copper with a lock, willow fishing creel, and discarded plywood slap-dashed into a lopsided box (ours). At the end of the workday, each house lets loose a dog as different as the dwellings. The playmates chases tennis balls and each other, frightening pedestrians, but the tongue-agog and high-tailed dogs are as harmless as teenage boys puffed up in oversized pants, ganged together for hoops.

A sleek coat hugs the biggest dog (a Spitz-Lab mix with a blue-striped tongue), while a thick pelt inflates the smallest (a Husky-Lab mix), so all four reach hip-height by bone or fur. Similar in beer-keg size and their solid, dark coloring, though otherwise as diverse in appearance as their respective mailboxes, all except one falls under the same description by the postal carrier who must traverse their rowdy mix. He scrawls on a stiff card meant for internal post office use:

BIG BLACK DOG!
MEAN! BITES! DO NOT DELIVER IF DOG PRESENT!
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