Dachshund Chronicles:  Chapter 15

Dachshund Chronicles: Chapter 15

Harley bustled in the door of her Brownstone at just before 11:00 a.m. She’d spent the morning hurrying from shop to shop in Downtown Under Dome, trying to purchase all the necessities for B.H.’s impending arrival before they all closed at 10:43. She huffed out an impatient breath as she juggled various bags and boxes from paw to paw, finally kicking the door with her hind foot so it slammed shut.

“Prescott?! Gordy?!” she bellowed. “I’m back! Are you here? I could use some help with these packages!” She waited a brief moment and, hearing no reply, began to trudge slowly down the stairs to the guest room.

She dropped the bags on the floor and looked around the spacious room. While out this morning, she had ordered a bunk bed to be delivered before noon, along with a desk and chair, area rug and a cozy lounge chair that she planned to put in the corner and create a reading nook. She figured the vole would enjoy reading since that was one of her own favorite activities. She began rifling through the bags until she found the set of curtains she had found for B.H.’s window – they were brown with tiny pictures of voles playing sports and she had thought they would add a bit of whimsy to the room. After a few minutes of struggle trying to reach the curtain rod, she gave up. “Prescott can hang these when he comes home.”

She puttered with the remaining bags and boxes, then decided to wait until the furniture was delivered before trying to do any more decorating. She left the room and headed for the kitchen, muttering to herself. “You’d think Gordy and Prescott would be a little more excited to have a new family member,” she groused. She had decided that she would treat B.H. more as an adopted ward than an employee – she felt she had a lot to offer as a mentor and was looking forward to sharing her experience and philosophy with the young vole clone. When she had outlined her ideas to the Buffaloes the previous evening over dinner, they had snuffled and seemed less than enthusiastic about giving up the exercise room, but had agreed to help her decorate it for B.H. anyway. Now, she wondered where they were, and why they weren’t here to help her with the heavy lifting and reaching the tall places in the room.

As she prepared a light snack of cheese, thickly sliced meat, crackers and a tall mug of warm gravy, she pondered how her life would change with the addition of an assistant/roommate/family member. Would B.H. be as supportive of her as Harry was to Roper? Would he have a good sense of humor? Would he like gravy? She arranged the snack on a small plate and carried it to the eat-at bar. As she climbed onto a stool, she gave another brief thought to when Gordy and Prescott were coming back. Dismissing it quickly, because it made her want to bolt the snack rather than savor it, she returned her musings to B.H.

She wondered if B.H. would enjoy romping in the snow or swimming? She hoped Harry hadn’t accidentally (or on purpose) programmed any of Roper’s personality traits into the clone … she shuddered at the image of B.H. prancing into her life wearing a shiny purple jumpsuit with spangles and shouting, “Jazz paws!” every time she spoke. She took another thoughtful bite of meat and chewed slowly. It would be great if B.H. liked all the things she liked, she decided. But even if he didn’t, she would still be able to use him to help organize her activities and affairs. And maybe she could mold him into the kind of vole she enjoyed spending time with.

Finishing up her snack, she took the empty dishes to the sink, washed her paws and got a long drink of water. Feeling refreshed, she decided to work a little longer in B.H.’s room, and if the Buffaloes weren’t home by the time she was done, she’d call them and find out where they were.

She located a small step ladder in the top floor closet and carried it awkwardly down to the bedroom. She carefully climbed up and, using her “Super Do” Claw, she hung the curtains, adjusting them so they hung straight and even across the top of the window. She idly wondered if B.H. would notice it wasn’t a “real” window, but one of the many monitor screens in the house that could be programmed with the occupant’s choice of weather or other scenic views. It was at that moment, she heard the doorbell ring. Glancing at the wall clock, she saw that it was most likely the delivery voles with the bed and desk, and hurried upstairs to let them in.

She opened the door and ushered the four delivery voles through the entry and down the stairs. Two carried the bunk beds she had picked out for B.H. and the other two carried the small desk. She looked out the door and saw the desk chair on the front porch. She stepped out and picked it up then turned to back to the voles. Harley saw that they were each wearing an orange jumpsuit made from some kind of silky material and lemon yellow boots. On the back of each suit the name of the store, “Buy Furniture Here,” was embroidered in bright blue. Each vole’s name was stitched in the same blue on the front pocket of their suits. She read each name aloud, “Sebastian, Bunsen, Flannigan and Pete.” She knew that the furniture store was one of Roper’s many enterprises and that he would have designed their uniforms. Apparently, he had given no thought to the fact that the orange outfits made them look more like escaped convicts than helpful household workers. Maybe she should mention that to him. After all, it might drive away potential customers if folks thought they could be robbed or murdered by the delivery voles.

“In here, please,” she motioned the voles through the door of the bedroom. “I’d like the bed against that wall,” she said, pointing. “And the desk over there, under the window.” She watched as the voles carefully placed each piece of furniture, then nodded her approval when they turned to her questioningly. “Yes,” she said, still nodding her head, “that looks just right. I assume the lounge chair and area rug I ordered will be arriving in another delivery truck?” Pete nodded. When they asked if there was anything else they could do, she thought for a moment, then said, “No, I think everything else I was going to do will wait until my guest, I mean my roommate – no, that’s not really right, either – until my vole arrives.” She ignored their puzzled looks and showed them back out the way they came in. “Thanks a lot!” she called as they climbed back into their delivery truck.

Just as the truck pulled away, she saw Prescott and Gordy walking up the street carrying a large parcel between their horns. “It’s about time,” she muttered, watching them. As they arrived at the door, she started to reprimand them about being late, but was stopped by a hard look from Prescott. She chuffed out a breath and turned back into the house.

Gordy and Prescott didn’t speak, but walked directly down the stairs and into B.H.’s room, where the deposited their package on the floor. They looked expectantly at Harley.

“Well,” she demanded, throwing her paws into the air. “Where have you two been?! I waited and waited and finally ended up moving all the furniture and everything all by myself!”

Gordy looked at her steadily, his nostrils flaring every so slightly. Prescott raised his shaggy eyebrows and snuffled once.

“Fine,” she glowered. “I had the furniture delivered from the store. But I put up the curtains!” she cried defensively. “And I had to climb up on a ladder! I could have fallen to my death!”

Prescott looked pointedly at his watch, then back at Harley. The look clearly said they weren’t late and there was plenty of preparation time left. Harley rolled her eyes and sighed. “Okay,” she said in exasperation. “We have plenty of time left before B.H. arrives.” She added petulantly, “I’m just excited, that’s all.” Prescott shared a look with Gordy, who then nudged the package with his nose toward her.

“What’s this?” she asked curiously, her previous irritation forgotten. She pounced on the package, opening the wrapping with her snout, tearing and shredding the paper enthusiastically, the contents forgotten in her frenzy. The Buffaloes watched her indulgently for a few moments before snuffling lightly.

Harley looked up from her task, bits of paper in her jaws, her ears perked, a glassy look in her eyes. Gordy shook his hump. Harley shook her head as if to clear it. “Oops,” she said sheepishly. “Guess I better be a little more careful, huh?” Both Buffaloes smiled and she turned her attention back to the package, gingerly nosing the paper out of the way to reveal a comforter set and sheets in a checked print of black and bright red.

“Ooh,” Harley breathed. “Buffalo plaid.” She rubbed the soft fabric with one paw while peering up at Gordy and Prescott. “B.H. is sure to feel like one of the family when he sees this!” She held each piece of bedding up and admired it. “Such soft fabric!” she said, impressed. “Must be mole-skin?” She looked at Prescott, who nodded. “Well, I think we need to get this put on the bed right away and then wait for Harry upstairs. He said he’d be here after lunch, you know.” She gathered up the sheets and proceeded to make up the beds. Gordy handed her the comforters and pillows, giving her a boost on his shaggy hump so she could reach the top bunk. Prescott snuffled lowly, then disappeared from the room.

“I hope he fixes a big lunch,” Harley confided to Gordy. “All this domestic stuff I’ve been working at all morning has me pretty hungry!” Gordy patted her head gently with one hoof and carried her back upstairs to the kitchen on his hump.

The View From the Family Bed

The View From the Family Bed

Life in the Family Bed can be hectic. Sometimes, I like to kick back with a puzzle and relax. But with all those Companions – well, it’s a challenge. I like to think that I’m equitable with the love and nurturing care I offer my Companions and that I don’t play favorites, but the truth is that there are some who require much more attention than others.  Such is the case with the Companion you’ll be meeting in this edition of The View From the Family Bed.

Today, I’m introducing you to Candace. She’s possibly the neediest member of the Family Bed, which I have attributed to her lack of balance. With only two legs, she’s quite a stumbler to say the least, and is constantly mooing for someone to help her stay upright. Tsk, tsk, tsk … she’s so clingy.

While Candace does try to manage on her own, she needs a lot of help.  A lot, a lot, a lot.  And I, along with my team of specialists, work with her about three times a week.  She runs line drills, the balance beam (which is really quite amusing, I must say) and other standard coordination exercises – all designed to help her stand on her own two hooves, so to speak.  Candace has been with me for about two years and in that time she has made no significant progress.  But I’m always hopeful that one day, she’ll be a self-supporting member of the Family Bed.  It would be such a help if she were less of a burden on me, personally and professionally.

A Little Known Fact

A Little Known Fact

While traveling in Egypt, Irish architect Onchu Mac Canaan was excited to have the opportunity to meet Imohtep, the multi-talented Egyptian whose reputation as a gifted healer, priest, scientist and architect had long been the subject of the Irishman’s admiration.

Mac Canaan met the Vizier at a potential building site for the royal tomb, which Imohtep had been tasked with designing and building. As the two men stood in the early morning desert breeze, Imohtep outlined his vision for a magnificent structure that would awe and impress even the most revered King. Mac Canaan listened as the other man described the huge spherical building balanced on a smaller, block-shaped base. It would be made entirely of granite, polished to a high sheen so that the brilliant North African sun would reflect off of it, creating a shining symbol of the King’s bright reign. Imohtep was extremely anxious to get started on the project as it would doubtlessly take many years to complete.

Onchu pictured the tomb in his head and wondered aloud if a spherical shape would present too many logistical obstacles for the construction workers. How would they get the granite pieces into the very top of the sphere, for example. And if the giant ball was not going to be solid in it’s center, how did Imohtep propose to support the interior of the structure? Would it not be most disastrous for the giant sphere to crumble in upon itself? Imohtep was  outraged by the Irishman’s gall. He was Imohtep, adviser to Kings, Architect to Royalty! But however angry he was, he grudgingly admitted that Mac Canaan had a good point. What was he to do? Imohtep had promised the King a monument that would shame all other monuments, and this had been his most remarkable design.

Mac Canaan immediately offered a number of suggestions. Imohtep could construct a domed structure, rather than a completely spherical one, for instance. Or perhaps the Egyptian had underestimated the inspirational qualities of a large block structure decorated with intricate carvings or artwork? He casually mentioned a revolutionary structure he had designed back home in Ireland that had seemed quite simple in design, but had been very striking once built. He called it a ‘pyramid’ and explained how a square base made it quite stable. Row upon row of ever-decreasing steps, he said, culminating in a point at the top, made it eye-catching and unique. It was, he declared, much easier to build because of the stepped walls.

Imohtep thanked his new friend for the many ideas but asserted that his original design would be the final choice. He would find a way to make it work. As the two parted, Mac Canaan wished the Egyptian much success with his project and Imohtep invited him to return to visit and see the progress.

Alas, Onchu Mac Canaan was never able to return to Egypt. Had he done so, he would have seen that Imohtep, upon realizing the folly and impracticality of his spherical design (and under threat of death from the King), had opted to steal Mac Canaan’s “pyramid” design instead and claim it as his own.

And so it was that the Irish had once again been robbed of their proper place in global history.

Dachshund Chronicles:  Chapter 14

Dachshund Chronicles: Chapter 14

Harley stared in amazement. “So, I guess you want me to use one of these clones as my assistant?” she said after a few minutes.

“Well,” Roper began, relaxing in his chair, “I – I mean we – thought you’d like to choose some of the final characteristics.” He pointed to the nearest stasis chamber. “This clone is almost finished baking and there’s time for you to have some input on personality and that kind of thing. You know – like, do you want him to be musical? Harry has a wonderful singing voice – he’s always singing me to sleep. Very soothing.” Roper chattered on while Harley looked to Harry for direction.

Harry motioned for her to follow him and they walked to a small console that resembled one of the fancy computerized menu machines at a fast food restaurant Harley had protested earlier in the week. On the console were several buttons, each labeled with a word or phrase.

“Sense of humor, taste in clothing, movies, books …” she read out loud. “So I can, like, program a personality into my assistant?” she asked. “If you had this technology, why didn’t you program a personality for Roper?” she added with a snort. Harry looked at her dispassionately. “Right,” Harley smirked, “Roper has a personality. Sort of.” She shifted her eyes sideways to look at Harry and, seeing his disapproving expression, sighed. “Fine,” she huffed, “let’s talk about my clone.”

Harry handed her a glossy brochure. On the front were the words “Clone-O-Matic 1000” and underneath, the slogan “Own a clone today!” Harley opened the brochure and began reading silently. She wasn’t surprised to read that the technology had been developed by Roper’s technical voles – they were quite brilliant, although very weird. What did surprise her, was that Roper had been able to keep this project a secret for what appeared to be a good long while. Normally, he blurted out whatever thought happened to bubble through his empty little head.

He was especially vocal about his fantastic ideas that eventually turned out to be the cause nearly apocalyptic disasters.  For example, his fitness drink, “Roper-ize,”  which was supposed to build haunch muscles and make the drinker’s coat gleam like Roper’s but instead had ended up causing voles all over The Under Dome to develop bald patches and explosive diarrhea.  Or his fragrance line, “Butterscotch Musk,”  a pungent, overpowering cologne that had the eyes of every citizen in the Realm watering non-stop and had almost caused an ‘incident’ with the Beaver Contingent when the stench traveled into their territory.  Harley shook her head remembering Roper’s most insane and deadly invention – “The Live Wire Night Suit,” to which he’d assigned the slogan, “Never be afraid of the dark again!”  The design was simple – a rechargeable battery-powered suit which would keep the wearer warm and  ‘lit up’ for 12.2 hours at a time. Hundreds of those death traps had been sold.  It was known still as “The Night of a Thousand Twinkles.”  In that one night, the emergency room at Under Dome General Hospital  had been swamped with vole and mole casualties, second and third degree burns over most of their bodies where the Christmas lights Roper had used inside the suit had melted into their tender skin.  There had been a swift recall of the remaining suits, but the damage to the population’s blind faith in Roper Lee had been shaken.  It had taken him months to convince the general population that it was even safe to turn on the lights in their homes.

But this, Harley, reasoned, had to do with Harry and Roper was incredibly possessive of Harry. So it was, she supposed, the main motivation for him keeping quiet. She read on, raising her eyebrows at the long list of personality traits that could be programmed into each clone. This might take a while, she thought. She finished reading and looked up to see both Harry and Roper watching her expectantly.

“Well,” Roper demanded, jumping up from his chair to prance from foot to foot. “What do you think?”

“I think, as much as it pains me to admit it, that this is a fairly brilliant idea,” she said. “I like Harry’s efficiency, his attention to detail, his ‘get it done’ attitude … I’d like to have all that in my assistant. I won’t need the constant stroking, reassurance, coddling, fetch and carry stuff – I’d like my clone to be a bit more interested in life outside Roper – I mean, me,” she added quickly, when Harry and Roper both shot her slanted looks. “I mean,” she explained, “I’d like him to want to be around me, obviously, but I don’t mind if he has outside interests of his own. Like if he wanted to join a book club or something – I wouldn’t care.”

“That’s easy,” Roper declared. “Isn’t that easy, Harry?” Harry nodded. “So, just fill out this personality questionnaire and we’ll take care of the rest.” Roper scrabbled around on a nearby desk and produced a sheet of paper, handing it over to Harley with a flourish.

“This a list of all the personality traits I want the clone to have?” Harley queried, looking over the page.

“Oh, no, no, no,” Roper tittered. “It’s a personality profile for you. This way, we just input your information and the computer comes up with the personality that best compliments you. Easy peasy pie.” He added ‘jazz paws’ to emphasize the statement. “It’s like a dating service!” he squealed.

Harley rolled her eyes. “I’m not looking for a date, Roper. I’m looking for a personal assistant. Remember that.”

“Oh, yes, I know,” he nodded soberly. “I just meant that it would be a perfect match. Like Ropeo and Harriet. Hee hee,” he giggled.

“Right,” Harley muttered. “Just get it done quickly.”

Harry handed Roper a computer printout. “Well,” Roper said, reading the page. “It looks like, if you can get the questionnaire to us sometime today, we can have your clone up and ready by tomorrow afternoon … say, 1:34-ish?”

Harley nodded. “I’ll have it back in your tiny little paw before lunch,” she said matter-of-factly. “By the way, will I have to choose a name for my clone or does it come with one?”

Roper looked at Harry, then back at Harley. “Well,” he began tentatively, “we sort of came up with a system of naming the clones. I felt,” he looked to Harry for confirmation, “it was important to recognize Harry’s contribution to this project. I mean, after all, we used his VNA to start the whole process. So, I decided that each clone should have a name that includes Harry’s name. Beyond that, you can name him whatever you want. As long as it also rhymes with Harry.” Roper said the last bit quickly and very quietly.

Harley’s ears perked up and her eyes widened. “So I have to name the clone something that rhymes with the name Harry and also includes the name Harry?”

“Yes.” Roper replied. “Other than that, it’s totally up to you.”

Harley stared at him for several minutes before speaking. “Exactly what do you propose that I name this vole, then?” she said finally, paws up, shoulders shrugging.

“Well,” Roper stammered, looking at Harry and shaking his head. “I’m sure I have absolutely no idea what you’d like to name him!” he exclaimed innocently.

“How many Harry clones are there in circulation or whatever, out there in the Under Dome?” Harley demanded. “And what are their names?”

“Um, let’s see,” Roper looked at the ceiling and tapped his chin whiskers with one small paw. “There’s my secretary, of course – you’ve met Sharry. And Larry down in the mail room. Ah, Chef Parry over at the Southside Cafe – he’s responsible for preparing all my meals, you know. Um, Jarry, Carry and Garry, on my Vole Security Team. Marry, President of the Under Dome Chamber of Commerce and Tourism Director and Tarry, my stylist, Jose’s assistant. I think that’s everyone, don’t you Harry?” Harry nodded.

Harley sighed. “So you’ve taken Sharry, Larry, Parry, Jarry, Carry, Garry, Marry and Tarry? That doesn’t leave me many names to choose from, Roper. And no offense, Harry, but it also doesn’t sound like my assistant will have much of an individual identity, no matter what I choose.” She gave another disgusted sigh.

Harry leaned close to Roper’s ear and whispered something. Roper’s expression, which had drooped during Harley’s complaint, brightened again. “That’s a wonderful suggestion, Harry!” He clapped his paws together excitedly.

“Harley!” he said confidently. “Harry and I think you should name your clone/assistant Barry! Isn’t it a beautiful name?!” he cried gleefully.

“No.” Harley said petulantly. “But it’s better than Farry or Darry, which is all I could come up with.” She shrugged again. “Fine. Barry it is. But,” she pointed a paw sternly at Roper, “I’m not calling him Barry Harry. He can be B.H.”

“Fair enough,” Roper nodded. “Harry will program his personality and bring him to your house tomorrow afternoon.” He started to get up, but sat down again when Harry looked at him intently. “Oh, yes, that’s right,” he waved his paws in front of his face. “I almost forgot, Harry.”

“Now, Harley, B.H.,” Roper carefully enunciated the name, “will have his distinct personality and all the qualities that you requested. But what he won’t have, is a place to live. Will you be furnishing him with an apartment or something, or is he going to live with you?”

Harley looked thoughtful. “I hadn’t really thought about that,” she admitted. “But I suppose it would be a good idea for him to live with me and the Buffaloes. I have a spare room at the Brownstone … Prescott and Gordy have been bugging me to turn it into a home gym.” She shuddered at the idea. “But this way,” she rubbed her paws together and smiled, “I’ll have an unbeatable excuse! I mean, who would cast a poor, tiny, orphan vole out on the street just so you could have one of those awful elliptical machines?” she put on an innocent, sweet face, then laughed wickedly.

“It’s settled, then,” Roper said, rising from his chair and making his way toward the door. “Harry and B.H. will be at your house sometime tomorrow afternoon. I’ve got a meeting so you can show yourself out, Harley.” He turned back and said over his shoulder, “And Harley, you can’t tell anyone about Project Pardner … it’s a matter of Under Dome security.” He turned and was gone.

“I guess I’d better get going, Harry,” Harley said. “I’ve got a lot to do before tomorrow – a whole room to decorate. Or maybe I should wait and let B.H. pick out his own décor?” She looked at Harry questioningly. Harry shrugged. “Yeah, you’re right. We should probably pick it out together. I’ll just make sure he’s got the necessities and we can go shopping tomorrow or the next day.” Muttering under her breath about bedding, paint colors and no evil exercise equipment, she exited the lab and made her way out of the building.

Georgie Speaks

Georgie Speaks

Because of my rare and somewhat overpowering musk issue (brought on by an allergy/fungus situation which I won’t go into at this time), it has been deemed necessary by “Management” that I bathe twice a week with a “special” shampoo.  The Family Bed is required to be washed once a week, as well, so as to completely eradicate any lingering opportunity for me to ‘re-musk-u-late’, which I find terribly rude.  I find my aroma unique and pleasing … but they tell me I actually smell like feet.  Whatever.

As an unexpected stroke of good fortune, the water was off at our house on both of my weekly bath days this past week.  It makes Mama Dog really angry and she makes Daddy Dog call Water Guy to find out what’s going on.  She really gets worked up about it … apparently, she enjoys flushing the toilet, washing her hands and bathing.

Now, what they don’t know is that I’ve secretly sent Bachmann out into the water district’s pipeline system to see just what kind of mischief a beaver of his ilk can get into.  A broken valve here, a ‘mysterious’ leak in the line there … Bachmann has really been living up to his position as Right Paw Beaver.  No one seems the wiser and I’ve avoided a bath for 6 full days.  Day 6:  Musky Mix!

Today, the water seems to be flowing really well.  I guess it’s time to send Bachmann on another aquatic adventure.  Or perhaps I should send my new Companion, Platopus, into the watery breach … he’s a platypus and should be especially suited to such a task.  Either way, my finely-tuned dachshund instincts tell me a water shortage will be forthcoming.

“It’s your bath day, Georgie!” they’ll say.  Indeed.  We shall see.  Thank you for your support.

 

Dachshund Chronicles:  Chapter 13

Dachshund Chronicles: Chapter 13

At 9:00 the following morning, Harley walked slowly into Roper’s office. She wasn’t an early morning dog, unless the reason for the early morning was a) a large breakfast or b) a monkey romp in fresh snow. This morning’s meeting was neither and she had to keep reminding herself that she was here to get her new assistant (which was something she really,really wanted) so she wouldn’t turn around, go home and tunnel back into her warm, soft, inviting bed.

Not surprisingly, Roper was not yet present. If there was any dog who was less of a morning lover than Harley, it was Roper Lee. Especially when he had overindulged himself on mole waters the night before, which was pretty much something he did every night. Harley gave a brief thought to the notion that perhaps someone should say something to him about his clear dependence on the fizzy, refreshing beverage. But knowing as she did that Roper loved his mole waters beyond reason, she quickly dismissed the idea.

She made her way to the corner of the office where a small kitchenette had been installed. It housed a toaster oven, well-stocked refrigerator, microwave, cappuccino machine, dishwasher and sink, as well as a small set of cabinets containing dishes and glasses, cups and other small cookware items. Harley knew Roper had no idea it was even there – if he had known there was (as he called any sort of cooking apparatus) an “incendiary device” located in such close proximity to his boys he would refuse to come into the office until it was gone. But given Roper’s penchant for oddly-timed office hours and meetings, it was as likely as not for Harley or any of Roper’s other friends, family or business associates to be in the office during meal or snack times. Harry had graciously (and discreetly) added the little kitchen in an unused corner of the room and put up a room divider to hide it from Roper’s view. To keep him from looking too closely and discovering the snack center, Harry had told him that what lay behind the divider was a maintenance access door that led directly to the surface. Of course, Roper was assured, it was securely locked and only Harry held the key, but it was a sufficient deterrent to Roper’s further exploration of the area. He had hired an artist to paint a portrait of himself on the divider and pretended there was nothing beyond it.

Harley busied herself with making a second breakfast: She toasted an English muffin and added a thick slice of the real (not grub) ham and cheese she found in the refrigerator. “Oh, God bless you, Harry,” she murmured gratefully. She also found a mug of gravy in the cooler and heated it in the microwave. Grabbing a cloth napkin from the basket on the counter, she took her snack back into the main part of the office and settled into a chair near Roper’s desk to eat and wait for him to arrive.

At precisely 9:12, Roper pranced into the office, closely followed by Harry. Today, Roper was wearing a lime-green sateen jumpsuit with a wide, jewel-encrusted belt around his middle. The top of the jumpsuit boasted a wide collar attached to a deep V-neckline which showed off Roper’s (in his mind) well muscled pectoral area and his butterscotch chest fur. The long, puffy sleeves ended with ruffled cuffs which nipped in to hug his dainty forepaws. Each sleeve shimmered with an iridescent sherbet-colored overlay that fluttered when he walked. Over each of his haunches was a cut-out, outlined with an embroidered vine-like design in neon yellow. The legs of the suit were also overlaid with the iridescent fabric and they, too, gathered in closely around his hind feet and ended in a wide cuff studded with sparkling stones. On his feet were shiny patent leather ankle boots in eye-searing orange with a modest heel and bright green tassels attached to the zipper pulls on the inside of each boot. He wore a fedora-style hat in the same orange color, with a lime-green hat band. It was perched on his head at a dashing angle and the candy pink feather with which he had adorned the band waved jauntily as he walked.

Harley stared, open-mouthed for several seconds before swallowing the mouthful of food she had been chewing. Shaking her head and rolling her eyes she let out a loud, barking laugh. “Good Lord, Roper!” she exclaimed, “You look like a color blind genie in that get-up!”

Roper glared at her from under his hat brim. “I’ll have you know this is the peak of fashion in Europe!” he huffed indignantly. “All the most stylish people are wearing jumpsuits this season,” he added with a sniff.

“Uh huh,” Harley remarked dryly. “So the ‘Technicolor Pimp’ look is popular?” She laughed again when Roper gave her a sour look.

“Well, I’m sure you’ve made yourself at home in my office,” he said, looking pointedly at her empty plate and mug. “Thanks ever so much for stinking up my private space with your breakfast.” He made a production of settling behind his desk, smoothing his jumpsuit, puffing his sleeves and adjusting his hat.

“No problem,” Harley replied. The best way to deal with Roper when he tried to be all sarcastic and snooty was to take everything he said literally. It always had the added benefit of making him even more irritated and was something of a habit Harley had developed over the years. “So, what’s the plan to help me out with my staffing issue?” she asked abruptly, not wanting to give Roper more time to primp and ponce before getting down to business. She was, after all, a busy dachshund.

Roper looked up sharply at her sudden change of subject. “No time for even basic courtesy or small talk, Harley?” he said. He mimicked Harley’s voice, “My, Roper, you’re haunches certainly do gleam this morning.” “Why, thank you, Harley,” he went on in his own. “I had a vole squad come in early this morning to give me a haunch massage and get the circulation going. You know that’s one of my little beauty secrets – regular massages – don’t tell anyone,” he confided.

Harley snorted rudely. “Don’t worry,” she retorted. “I never talk about your ‘beauty secrets’. It’s weird that you even have beauty secrets.”

She waited a moment longer for Roper to settle himself and take a healthy gulp of mole waters before asking again, “So, really, Roper, what’s the deal? I don’t have all day to piddle around and watch you groom yourself and drink mole waters.”

Roper glanced at Harry before speaking. “I think it would be better to showyou what I’ve been working on instead of telling you,” he said, suddenly all business. “Harry, let’s take her down to the lab.” He put down his mole waters and stood, waiting for Harley to get out of her chair.

Harley blinked at the sudden change in Roper’s demeanor. Normally, he was, at best, ambivalent about business matters. Now, he seemed not only interested, but well informed and professional. She shrugged. It was odd, but so was Roper. She got up, collected the go-cup of gravy Harry had placed on the table beside her and prepared to follow Roper and Harry out of the office.

Harry led them down a series of hallways to an elevator. Pressing an amber button marked with the letters “T.U.R.D.,” he motioned them inside when the doors opened.

Harley looked at Roper with concern. “Where are we going, Roper? What is ‘turd’? Some new snack bar you’ve opened?” she asked hopefully.

“The Under Dome Really Deep,” Roper began, aiming a condescending look at his sister, “or ’T.U.R.D.’, (he raised his paws to make air quotes around the acronym) is the top secret laboratory facility where Harry and I have been working on ‘Project Pardner’ (more air quotes). Some time ago, I realized that Harry was not only my best friend,” he directed an adoring gaze at Harry, “but also the most valued member of my government. Without him, I wouldn’t be able to effectively run The Under Dome and all its territories. He keeps me organized, gets me to events on time and makes sure I always have mole waters.”

The elevator stopped and the trio exited the car. Harry led them down a darkened passage way while Roper continued to speak.

“So one night I had a dream – a nightmare really – that Harry was gone and I was all alone. It was so horrible,” he shuddered at the memory. “I knew I had to make sure nothing could ever happen to Harry. That’s when we developed the idea for ‘Project Pardner’.”

They reached a door, guarded by two tough-looking voles dressed in black with ‘Under Dome Security’ emblazoned on their shirts. To one side of the door was a small electronic panel with a numbered keypad under a square paw-reader. Roper looked pointedly at Harley, “You need to turn around, this is a top secret facility, remember?”

Harley rolled her eyes and huffed, but turned around. After a moment, she heard a series of beeps and then a soft ‘snickt’ sound.

“Okay,” Roper said, “follow me. And don’t touch anything.”

They entered a room, dimly lit and lined down both side walls with what looked to be glass coffins. Inside, Harley could see that each contained some sort of body, shrouded in mist.

“This,” Roper said, grandly, “is ‘Project Pardner’.” He threw his paws out and made his signature ‘jazz paws’ motion with them. “Isn’t it neat?!” he exclaimed.

Harley gazed around the room, not sure whether to be impressed or terrified. “Roper Lee, what have you done?” she breathed. “What is this ‘Project Pardner’ of yours?”

Roper bounced excitedly on his hind feet and shook his front paws again. “It’s only the best idea I’ve ever had!” he crowed, gleefully. “Harry and I decided the best way to make sure that he never left me alone was to make a whole bunch of him … so we cloned Harry!” He danced around the room, twirling in a circle until he dizzily bumped into a lab table covered with equipment. The equipment shook, teetered and looked as though it might crash to the floor. Harry quickly grabbed Roper and gently steered him away from the table, then turned to still the wobbling objects. Harry sat Roper softly, but firmly down into a chair before giving him a look that plainly said, “Stay.”

“Oops!” Roper giggled, then sat, chastised, when Harry pinned him with another look.

“You’ve cloned Harry,” Harley repeated slowly. “So, all those coffin thingys along the wall are full of Harry?” she asked incredulously.

“Yep!” Roper nodded his head enthusiastically.

Georgie Speaks

Georgie Speaks

You may not be aware, gentle readers, that I am known in certain circles as Ar the Sun Dog. It’s an honorary title for the most part – bestowed upon me by an ancient Beaver Culture, the remnants of which make their home just outside Sheboygen.  They don’t worship me or anything like that, but they do send me small tokens and gifts throughout the year.  Nothing extravagant, mind you – shell necklaces, books of poetry, smoked meats.  It’s nice to be recognized, I must say.

My own love affair with the sun came at an early age.  I always knew the sun and I shared a special connection.  We both are warm, energy-giving points of light.  We both shine brightest around 2:30 p.m.  And we both find joy in just settling peacefully at the end of the day with a puzzle and a light savory snack.  Well, I don’t actually know for certain that the sun likes savory snacks – he may indeed have quite the sweet tooth.  But I am sure that he loves a good puzzle, just as much as I do.

The truth is, dear subscribers, that everything just feels better when one is in the sun.  Allow me to illustrate …

Here I am, basking in this particularly plush sunbeam.  Do you see how content and peaceful I look?  I remember it was a lovely afternoon and Mama Dog had left the curtains open so I could bask.  Delightful.

And this is me soaking up an early morning sunbeam and surveying my domain.  I look noble and majestic, don’t I?  (Mama & Daddy Dog have since replaced this sofa with a new one.  The new one doesn’t have cushions like this so I can no longer sun myself on a lofty perch.  Hateful humans.)

The health benefits of sun exposure are well documented.  I won’t bore you with the details, but I’ve read article after article stating that regular and prolonged sun-basking can eliminate cavities, strengthen tail-wagging muscles, cure warts, and even make one’s beard grow faster.

Ever in pursuit of health and wellness, I will continue to seek the healing and regenerative sunbeams, regardless of how inconveniently placed I might be.  My humans can walk around me or step over me.  It’s not like their legs are only 3″ long … Good day and Thank you for your support.

Dachshund Chronicles:  Chapter 12

Dachshund Chronicles: Chapter 12

The release of the ‘Do Claw’ ushered in a new era of entrepreneurship and productivity in The Under Dome. Over the following weeks and months, Harley became a celebrity and was hailed as a creative and technological genius for her invention. Requests for public appearances, interviews on daytime talk shows and invitations to author scholarly publications poured in. Harley became so busy trying to keep up with the demands on her time that she finally decided she needed an assistant to help manage her daily affairs. Knowing Roper was a bit put out by her own recent rise to fame, she decided to extend an olive branch and seek his advice on the matter.

Harley dialed the Roper’s private office phone number using a prototype device – a newer and more advanced version of the Do Claw, which she was planning to introduce into the market the following spring. She was calling it the “Super Do Claw” and had tentatively made arrangements to test market it at Under Dome General Hospital and Convalescent Center for Voles and Moles. The ‘Super Do’, as she referred to it, had more robotic technology and she felt it might have better application in medical and emergency services. Of course, she understood that as soon as Roper got wind of it, every Vole Squad and Super Vole Squad in the Kingdom would be equipped with the device as well. Military contracts notwithstanding, though, she was excited about the potential of the new product. As the line began to ring, she tapped the Brown Tooth device on her ear and settled back to schmooze Roper Lee into doing what she wanted.

********

A/N:  Just a word about Roper’s ‘deep shallow breathing’ … obviously, deep shallow breaths result in hyperventilation and sometimes loss of consciousness.  This state of self-induced (usually due to fear, worry or embarrassment) unconscious is what Roper refers to as ‘Butterscotching’.  He does this frequently and the reader will know a Butterscotch as happened when Roper makes a comment such as, “When I woke up.”  This is not something Roper did in reality, however, Roper’s desire to be held, have his head stroked and be called ‘Little Pardner’ does actually reflect a real event in his life.  His Grandpa used to call Roper Little Pardner when he was a puppy.

“Hello?” Roper answered the phone himself, whispering tentatively as though he expected the caller to jump out of the box. “Who’s there, please?” he asked, looking fearfully down at the phone.

“Roper!” Harley barked loudly, then laughed gleefully when she heard his terrified squeak on the other end of the line.

“Not funny, Harley,” Roper said sourly. “You could have given me a heart attack.”

“Ahhh, Roper,” Harley sighed, wiping a tear from her eye with her paw. “It was very funny. But, although scaring the butterscotch out of you is always entertaining – that’s not the reason I called.”

Sniffing disdainfully, Roper straightened up in his chair and quickly pressed the button that would silently summon Harry to his office. “Well, why did you call then?” he snapped peevishly. “I thought your new “career” would be keeping you much too busy to bother with your only living relative.”

Harley rolled her eyes in exasperation, but said mildly, “Funny you should mention my busy schedule, Roper. That’s exactly what I wanted to discuss with you.”

“Do you need someone to start taking over some of your public appearances?” Roper asked eagerly. “Someone to be the face of the Do Claw?”

Harley snorted, “I’m the face of the Do Claw. And I’m managing my public appearances just fine, thank you.” She glanced at the clock on her desk and, noticing the time, decided she had better hurry the matter along before Gordy and Prescott came home. She doubted they would approve of the large basket of grub fries with gravy she was currently enjoying. “What I need from you, Roper Lee, brother of mine,” Harley crammed a forkful of gravy fries into her snout, “is staffing advice.”

Stuffing advice!” Roper repeated incredulously. “What in the world do you want to stuff??”

Harley swallowed, then growled lowly in frustration. “Not stuffing advice, you nitwit! Staffing advice. You know, as in a staff – personnel – people who work for you?”

“Oh.” Embarrassed, Roper fidgeted with the buttons on his vest before going on. “Well, you really should speak more clearly. It sounds like you’ve got a mouth full of – well, I don’t really want to know what.”

“Never you mind what I’m eating,” Harley said. She was certain Roper would snitch her out to the Buffaloes if it suited his agenda. She tried not to let him have any more leverage over her than possible, for safety’s sake. “I need a personal assistant. I’d like to hire Harry for the next few months.” She grinned wickedly and waited for his reaction.

“HARRY!” Roper cried. “You can’t hire Harry! He’s mine! I mean, he belongs to me! I mean he works for me.” Panicking, Roper looked around frantically for Harry, pressing the ‘Call Harry Alarm’ button repeatedly. “What makes you think he would want to come work for you??” When Harry didn’t appear in the office immediately, Roper panicked further, worried that Harley had somehow managed to sneak Harry away from him.

He began to chant quietly, “Deep shallow breaths. Deep shallow breaths.” When the breathing exercises failed to bring him to the sweet oblivion of a Butterscotch, he began to cry and whined, “Oh Harry, where are you? I need you?” More deep shallow breathing, then Roper wailed, “Harry!”

Harry silently appeared by Roper’s office chair, a tumbler of mole waters in his paw. He patted the now sobbing Roper gently on the head and held the drink to his snout. “Here, Sir,” he said soothingly, “Just try to take a little sip, Sir. There you are, Sir. It’s going to be fine, Sir.”

“Oh, Harry,” Roper wept, “I had the most awful dream! I dreamed you went to work for Harley and you left me all alone! It was horrible!” Roper continued to weep while Harry patted his back, continued to give him sips of mole waters and murmured ‘There, there, Sir’ – over and over.

Harley waited patiently for Harry to get Roper back under control. She munched her fries, did a quick inventory of her snack stash and then checked some emails on her computer before deciding Roper had melted down long enough.

“Relax, Roper,” she said finally. “I was just kidding around. I know how vital Harry is to your survival,” she added sarcastically. “I don’t want to hire Harry – but I do want an assistant who is just as efficient and qualified. But I think I want someone a little less, well,” she tried to think of a word to describe Roper’s vole without insulting him, “less Roper-oriented.”

Hiccuping, more from the mole waters than the crying jag, Roper answered, “That was just about the meanest thing you’ve ever done to me, Harley. I’m so hurt that you would treat me this way. After all I’ve done for you!” he slurred the last bit slightly, as the mole waters continued to work their relaxing magic on his tense frame. “But I’m a magnanamoose sort of fellow,” he continued. “I’m going to help you out, Harley. Because you’re my sister, and helping family is what I’m all about.” He looked at Harry, who nodded encouragingly. “I’ve got a little project we’ve been working on in the labs and I’m confident you’ll find just what you need. Meet me here at the office tomorrow morning at 10:38. No – wait – there’s a parade planning meeting then. Um, meet me at 9:12 here in my office. Roper Lee out.” Without waiting for a reply, Roper ended the call with a click.

Turning to Harry, he sniffled pathetically. “Harry? Would you hold me? Will you stroke my head and call me Little Pardner?”

The View From the Family Bed

The View From the Family Bed

On this visit to the Family Bed I’m introducing you to El Monterey, a rare Mexican moose. He prefers to be called Montey, though, so I humor him.  Here we are, Montey and I, after one of our ‘sessions’.  It’s important to rest and restore ourselves after such exertion.

Montey became my Companion a little over two years ago. Originally, I  planned for hime to provide a certain amount of multicultural depth to the Family Bed, but he American-ized really quickly. Now, instead of bringing a Mexican flavor to the table (pardon the pun), he watches Glenn Beck and demands pizza and imported beer at every meal. I recently had to block his internet access because he had subscribed to too many Libertarian websites, which resulted in the entire Family Bed being put on numerous Federal watchlists.  He’s also become increasingly involved as a volunteer for Ted Cruz’s presidential campaign. Even though Cruz is not Mexican, Montey says he feels a deep connection.  As long as it doesn’t affect his work here in The Family Bed, I’m fine with that.  I encourage all my Companions to explore their passions outside the borders of the Bed.

Interestingly, Montey’s most positive contribution to the Family Bed has been as a yoga instructor.

His utter spinelessness renders him unbelievably bend-y and his “small government” political philosophy allows him to really connect with the other Companions. I’ve noticed an improved sense of cohesiveness in the Bed since Montey began offering daily Hot Yoga sessions in the sunbeam near the sofa. And most all of the Companions have told me that at the end of our workouts they feel less stiff and sore than before, which I generously attribute to Montey’s flexibility training. Except for Bachmann, of course. That darn beaver takes every opportunity to cause trouble in the Bed… I don’t know why I keep him around. Gaaahhhh.

My own yoga training is much more rigorous than what Montey teaches the Companions … I have achieved true limber-ality.

Anyway … Montey may not be serving the Family Bed in the way I originally envisioned, but I think he’s proving himself to be an important part of our mission.

Dachshund Chronicles:  Chapter 11

Dachshund Chronicles: Chapter 11

Roper Lee was enjoying a quiet breakfast in his office the next morning when the door burst open and Harley charged in shouting his name. “We have to talk,” she cried. “Now! So put down your sissy coffee and listen up.” Behind her, the vole Roper employed as receptionist scuttled into the office, then seeing that Harley had already announced herself, scuttled back out closing the door softly.

Roper was so startled by the intrusion that he almost spilled the contents of the cup he was holding. He set it down on the desk quickly, so as not to lose a drop of his morning mole waters, then looked at Harley with irritation.

“For your information,” he snipped, “I don’t drink coffee. Too much caffeine tends to make me jumpy. This,” he pointed at the delicate tea cup on the desk, “is mole waters. It’s a wonderfully refreshing way to start the day. What do you mean barging in here so early in the morning and upsetting my routine, Harley? You should have scheduled an appointment with Sharry.” He brushed some crumbs from his sleeve and settled back into his chair. “I’m very busy this morning and I don’t have time for one of your rants about Under Dome policy.”

Harley shifted the briefcase she carried under one foreleg then flopped into one of the soft chairs in front of the desk. “I’m not here to rant about Under Dome policy,” she said dismissively. “Since you obviously forgot at last night’s council meeting, I’m here to discuss my big announcement. And for your information, I know you aren’t busy – the only thing you have going on this morning is getting soused on mole waters then making prank phone calls to New Money. It’s Friday and that’s what you do every Friday.”

“Well,” Roper sniffed, “be that as it may, you should still have called ahead. I could have been busy.” He picked up his cup daintily and took a sip before nodding at his sister. “So what is this big announcement you have to make? Getting a new buffalo?” He chuckled at his own attempt at humor.

Harley sent him a sidelong glare. “No. This is big Roper. Really big. Like change the world big. I, along with one of your super geeky technical vole squads, have come up with an invention that is going to revolutionize dog-manity.”

Roper looked at her with interest. “Well, what is it?” he demanded.

Harley opened her briefcase, took out a bound report and handed it to him. “This is the ‘Do Claw’,” she said. “You’ll find all the details in that report, but essentially, the Do Claw is a prosthetic device worn by dogs or other thumbless animals, I guess, that will allow them to have the same mobility they would have if they had an actual thumb and finger. Imagine the possibilities! We can now play the guitar, race RC vehicles, play Candy Crush on a cell phone, weld, hitchhike – we can achieve total world domination!” She stopped to let the implications sink in.

Roper sat up straight in his chair and clapped his paws together excitedly. “We can finally form an Under Dome curling team!” he squealed. “All this time we’ve been trying to teach the voles to curl, but they just aren’t big enough. They always end up just riding the stones in circles, getting dizzy and then crashing into each other. It’s an ugly mess, is what it is.” He shook his head. “But now,” he went on, “now we can do the curling ourselves! You, me, Fluffy, Cookie – it will be brilliant! The Under Dome is finally going to be an Olympic contender! This is wonderful news, Harley. Just wonderful!” He grinned widely, his upper lip slipping up over his gums allowing his teeth to show fully. “Well done, Harley. Well done.” He ran his tongue over his teeth several times, attempting to get his lip unstuck.

Harley rolled her eyes and said derisively, “This is about more than just your silly sports team, Roper. Think of the opportunities.” She pulled more papers from her briefcase in preparation to list the potential activities made possible by the Do Claw.

Roper sat back in chair, displaying his boys. “Now,” he interrupted her. “As co-owner of the Do Claw, I say we start production right away. We’re going to need a marketing slogan, too. It should be catchy and easy to remember and really product-oriented.”

Harley opened her mouth to tell him about the slogan she had come up with but he cut her off.

“I’ve got it!” he announced. “Buy the Do Claw and you can do all the things that you couldn’t do without it!” He looked at Harley triumphantly. “It’s perfect!”

Harley stood up and looked down at Roper. “Co-owner?!” she shouted. “Since when are you the co-owner?! You didn’t come up with the idea! You didn’t come up with the name! And for your information, that is the stupidest slogan in the history of slogans! My slogan is much better!” She began to stomp back and forth in front of the desk.

“Well,” Roper said imperiously, “you did use one of my technical vole squads to develop the thing. That vole squad belongs to the Under Dome, which belongs to me which means the Do Claw is part mine.” He looked at his toenails and continued, “I’ll give you 32.13% of the profits.” Looking up to see her reaction, he quickly added, “I think that’s a fair division considering how much effort I put into coming up with the marketing plan.”

Harley snarled and stalked around the desk, staring down at Roper until he squirmed uncomfortably. “Okay,” he squeaked, splaying his paws out in front of him. “How about 46.8%?” Harley continued to glare. “79.6%?” he whined.

Harley growled deep in her throat. It was a sound Roper recognized – the same one she made when someone tried to take a plate of food away from her before it was empty.

“Okay,” he whispered, “102%, but that’s all I’m willing to give you. You can’t just pirate my vole squads for free.”

Harley backed around the desk and sat down again. “Fine,” she said, gathering up her paperwork and tucking it back into her briefcase. “I take 102% of the profits, I retain 100% ownership of the the Do Claw, I supervise production and marketing and I add a notation on the packaging, in very small print, that the Do Claw manufacture was made possible by the Under Dome University Technical College. Your name is mentioned nowhere. Isn’t that what we agreed?” she smiled sweetly at Roper as she shut her briefcase with a click.

Roper gulped. He reached for his mole waters and took several deep drinks. He wiped his mouth on the back of his paw and nodded meekly. “Yes,” he said hoarsely, “that sounds more than fair. Thank you for the opportunity to share in this amazing invention.” He smiled wanly at her as she strode purposefully to the door.

Turning, she said briskly, “It’s always a pleasure doing business with you, Roper.”

Waving weakly as the door banged shut behind her, Roper reached for his intercom. “Harry, I’m going to need more mole waters.”