Dachshund Chronicles:  Chapter 26

Dachshund Chronicles: Chapter 26

“What in the world is a ‘water horse’?!” Roper ranted. “And why does Harley need a building permit to add that much space to her Brownstone? It’s like she’s building a whole additional structure! And why is she even considering bringing something that clearly requires water – I mean it’s right there in the name, for Pete’s sake! – into the Under Dome? She knows darn good and well there’s a city ordinance that prohibits water being inside or anywhere near the city limits! She’s always been inconsiderate of others, but this really takes the rice casserole – I can’t let her just ignore policy this way. It’ll set a bad precedent, Harry. If the public finds out Harley has brought a water horse into town, it’s just a short way to a watertrough. Pretty soon, we’ll have voles wanting to add water features and water fountains to their yards. And before you know it, the whole Under Dome and all its Territories are completely underwater and we’ve all got webbed toes!” He glared at Harry and punctuated his words by flapping his paws in a swimming motion.

“Right, Sir,” Harry agreed, “webbed toes, Sir. A real threat, Sir.”

“But what can we do to stop her?” Roper whined. “I tried to deny her permit and she threatened to sue the City.”

“On what grounds, Sir?”

“On the grounds that she said I had no legal cause to deny her permit and if I tried to do it again she’d put an armadillo in my office.”

“I see, Sir. Have you considered finding out exactly what a water horse is, Sir?”

“Well, of course I have,” Roper huffed indignantly. “I tried to Voogle it but the security features I had the Vole Technical Squad install on my computer made it butterscotch as soon as I typed the word ‘water’. I tried going to the Library but Fluffy had the Vole-vo that day and I didn’t feel like driving the Tram all the way across town. Plus, you know the Library makes me uncomfortable. All those books – it’s just a paper cut waiting to happen.” He shuddered. “I tried calling Harley and asking her, but she said she was much too busy with her construction project to talk and she hung up on me. I thought I might be able to lure her to a meeting at the Southside Cafe so I could talk to her in person but then Fluffy said I go with her to take the twins to the bus station and see them off to New Vole City. And she wouldn’t take no for an answer. I’m just at a loss, Harry.” He hopped down from his chair and walked to the mini fridge where he extracted a bottle of mole waters.

“Well, Sir, if you’d like, Sir, I could go over there and see what’s going on, Sir,” Harry offered.

“Yes, Harry, that would be wonderful. I know you’d never allow Harley to bring water into the Under Dome and put all our lives at risk.” Roper sipped from his bottle then smacked his lip. “I don’t know where you found the imported mole waters, Harry, but this is so much more,refreshing than the domestic stuff I’ve been drinking. Let’s make it the official mole waters of the Under Dome,” he said.

“And all its territories, Sir?” Harry asked.

“Absolutely,” Roper nodded. “And all its territories. Now why don’t you head on over to Harley’s and find out what she’s doing over there, then report back to me in the morning? I’ve got to get home and console poor Fluffy who must be missing the twins horribly. I bet she’s just laying around the house eating Grub Butter Cups and crying. She’s probably been working all day to prepare all my favorite foods in an attempt to make herself feel better.” He shook his head in sympathy.

“What about the quadruplets, Sir?” Harry reminded him.

“Oh, they practically take care of themselves,” Roper replied breezily. “I’m sure Fluffy just puts them out in the yard and lets them play all day … no trouble at all.”

“Right, Sir,” Harry said skeptically. “I’m sure, Sir.” Shaking his head, he left the room to run his errand.

*****

The sound of the doorbell irritated Harley. She didn’t have time for visitors and as she hurried toward the front door, she went over her rehearsed statement to get rid of whomever it was. Opening the door, she began, “I’m sorry, no time to chat. I’m on a very tight deadline and you’ll have to make an appointment …” she broke off upon seeing Harry on the front porch. “Oh, Harry, it’s you. Hello. Let me guess – Roper sent you here to find out what I’m doing?” Harry nodded. Stepping back she allowed him entry. “Well, follow me,” she said, already moving back toward the source of loud construction sounds.

Harry took notice of her dust covered fur, the hard had perched on her head and the clipboard she held in one paw. “I’m technically here in an official capacity,” he said to her back. When she nodded, acknowledging that she could hear him, he continued. “Though I must admit to being rather curious as to your plans. I want you to know that I will not take any information back to Roper that might jeopardize his emotional or physical well-being.”

“Well, that’s a good thing,” Harley snorted. “Because what I’m about to show you would most definitely put him into a butterscotch of epic proportions!”

Georgie Speaks

Georgie Speaks

This week, Mama Dog devoted an entire post to me on her blog. As is my due.

Being a generous, thoughtful, considerate, selfless, loving dog – I want to say a few words about her as well.

Where to begin …

Well, for starters, she never lets me out in the morning first.  She always goes to the bathroom herself, then comes to let me outside.  Which I find to be pretty inconsiderate.  Also, she doesn’t feed me before she puts me outside. Daddy Dog does, but he rarely gets up earlier than Mama Dog.  And she puts me outside even if it’s raining.  Or cold.  Or windy.  Or really hot.  Like I said, no consideration at all for my comfort.

Another thing about Mama Dog that really bugs me – she talks to me constantly.  As though I have the time or the inclination to converse with her all day long!  She tells me about her plan for the day.  (Like I care – I have my own plan.) She talks to me about her feelings.  (Ack!  Is there anything more gross?) She announces every little task or chore she’s about to perform.  (Seriously – I do not need to know that you’re pouring a second cup of coffee … it’s not like you share that hazelnutty, creamy goodness with me anyway.)

She’s very clumsy.  She’s always tripping over me or stubbing her toes on my shins when I stand in front of her.  It’s like she has no control over her gross motor function at all.  And even when I’m trying to move out of her way, she still trips over me by moving to the exact spot where I am.  And she blames me.  She says I’m like VISA – everywhere she wants to be.  Can I help it if she can’t step more carefully??  I’ll grant you, she does say she’s sorry when she kicks me.  But she never apologizes by dropping any of that food she’s carrying around the kitchen!

She never sits for very long in one place, either.  Like, if I try to give her support for her “frazzled nerves” and such by laying in front of her chair while she and Daddy Dog are talking in the family room, for example.  I’ll just get into a good, effectively supportive position under her feet when she decides she has to get up and go do something.   Or when she’s “working” at the computer and I lay on top of her feet to show how much I care … what does she do?  She has to go to the bathroom.  Or change over laundry.  Or take care of one of my human siblings.  It’s just rude, the way she jumps up and dislodges me quite brutally, leaving me lying on the floor only half-awake.

Some of her other problems, not necessarily in order of how much they annoy me …

  1. She’s a very neat eater, which means she almost never drops food.  Even when she can clearly see how very hungry I am.  
  2. She’s way too independent.  Everyone knows a Bathroom Supervisor is crucial to proper bathroom procedure.  But would you believe she tries to go on her own all the time?  And then I have to run in there after her to make sure she’s doing it right.  What a chore!
  3. She never takes me anywhere.  She claims that just because I get a little carsick that I shouldn’t travel much.  I only threw up that one measly time … and that was on Daddy Dog anyway.  If he doesn’t care, why is she making such big deal about it?
  4. She never wants to watch the television shows I want to watch.  “Zombeaver” looks like an incredible cinematic masterpiece and I think she’s being narrow-minded in not letting Bachmann and I watch it.
  5. She is CONSTANTLY taking pictures of me.  I can’t nap.  I can’t eat.  I can’t supervise my Companions without having her camera all up in my business.  I’m not sure what she does with all the photos, but so far, I haven’t seen a dime of compensation for all my inconvenience.

She’s not entirely bad, of course.  I mean, she does have a few good qualities.

For example, she tells me all the time how beautiful and smart and clever I am.  Which is all true, of course, but it’s good that she recognizes my attributes.  And she has an Amazon Prime account which means she can buy my cookies and get them delivered fast, fast, fast.  Because I don’t like to be without cookies.  She did set up this blog for me, too.  But it was all my idea so I don’t know if that counts in her favor – she might just be riding on my tail, so to speak.  Oh, and she makes sure I have clean water to drink.  So, you know, she knows how to provide basic care for another living being.  Woo hoo.

So.  There you have it.  Some words about Mama Dog, in return for the feature she wrote about me on her blog.  Good Day.

 

Dachshund Chronicles:  Chapter 25

Dachshund Chronicles: Chapter 25

Early Tuesday morning, Harley and B.H. were settled into their favorite booth at the Southside Cafe. Harley bit into a gravy-filled donut and smacked her lips in appreciation. “You really can’t beat a nice, healthy breakfast to get your energy up in the morning, B.H.,” she told him. B.H. nodded and eagerly tucked into his own breakfast – a stack of bacon cheese pancakes and gravy.

“I know things have been pretty chaotic around here lately,” Harley addressed the top of B.H.’s head as he bent over his pancakes. “I wanted to talk to you about, you know, things,” she added. “Like, are you feeling comfortable in your room? Do you like living with the Buffaloes and me? Things like that.”

B.H. looked up, mouth full and nodded happily.

“Okay,” Harley continued. “Well, that’s great, B.H., because we really love having you in our family.” She drank from her mug of gravy and belched loudly. B.H. giggled, drank from his own, much smaller mug, belched and giggled again.

Harley chuckled and patted him on the head. “Anyway, I know you were pretty scared back at Thanksgiving with that whole ‘Isis’ thing. And the parade last week was certainly more excitement than I bargained for,” she shook her head in disgust. “So, are you scared or worried or anything?”

B.H. shook his own head and kept eating.

“Oh, well, that’s good,” Harley signaled the waiter to bring another plate of donuts. “I want you to feel, you know, comfortable and everything. I don’t want you to think you’re in any danger or whatever. I mean, Roper’s kind of ridiculous and obviously Cookie – I mean, ‘Isis’ – is crazy, but that’s just sort of the way things are here. It’s perfectly safe – I’d never let anything happen to you.” She was watching B.H. earnestly, hoping to convey the care and concern she had for him without expressing any actual emotion – which made her very twitchy.

B.H. continued to chew his pancakes and looked at her, wide-eyed.

She drank more gravy and shoved another donut into her snout. Swallowing, she looked seriously at B.H. “B.H.,” she began gently. “I was thinking that you might be a bit lonely. You haven’t really made any friends since you came to live with us, and even though I’m very exciting and dynamic, the Buffaloes are pretty boring. I mean, Gordy likes to play board games and Prescott has that super cool button collection, but, well, I thought you might like to spend time with someone different once in a while. Someone you have more in common with.”

B.H. looked thoughtful. Then, he nodded his head excitedly before returning to his breakfast.

“Okay,” Harley declared. “Well, then it’s settled. I think we should get you involved in some clubs or maybe a sports team. Maybe you could enroll in a class or two at the University? Would you be interested in joining Vole Scouts?”

Harley and B.H. discussed a variety of social opportunities over the rest of their meal. Afterward, Harley paid the check while B.H. used the little vole’s room.

On their walk back to the Brownstone, Harley listened as B.H. chattered happily about the many exciting activities that had been proposed.

“You know what, B.H.?” Harley asked suddenly. “I think we should consider adoption.”

B.H. looked up at her questioningly.

“Well,” she explained, “we adopted you and that’s working out great.” B.H. grinned. “So I think we should adopt again. Maybe not another vole, though. I mean, voles are good and all, but we should diversify. Bring someone from another culture into our home,” she reasoned.

B.H. nodded.

“We’ll visit an agency after we talk to Gordy and Prescott,” she said. “Now, let’s go home and look at The Under Dome University course catalog. Maybe we can find a film class to enroll you in!”

B.H. giggled and turned in a circle as they continued to walk.

*****

After supper that night, Harley and B.H. sat with the Buffaloes in the family room and discussed their ideas for adoption. Harley also took the opportunity to tell them that she had enrolled B.H. in a class at the University. Upon further questioning, she informed them that he had been particularly interested in “Circus Stunts,” a semester long course that would prepare him for life under the Big Top. Gordy also thought the class sounded like fun and announced he was going down to the college and enroll himself. B.H. responded with much clapping and enthusiastic jumping up and down.

The next morning, Harley and B.H. went to the Under Dome Rehoming and Adoption Center for Voles and other People. Harley explained that she was interested in the adoption of what the Center called a “Non Traditional” placement. Which was a snooty way of saying ‘someone who wasn’t a vole’, in Harley’s opinion. They looked at well over a dozen portfolios and finally narrowed the field to three potentials.

With the portfolios spread over a conference table in front of them, Harley and B.H. discussed each one carefully. Harley was prepared to defer to B.H. in the final decision, but wanted to make sure he understood the permanence of the adoption.

“Now, B.H.,” she said firmly. “I want to make sure you understand that which ever portfolio you choose is fine with me. But it’s not like when we go to the shoe store. You can’t pick out a pair of shoes and then take the shoes back in this case. Because we’re not really talking about shoes. We’re talking about people. And people aren’t shoes. I mean, you’re going to pick one and we’re going to take him or her home and you’re going to have be satisfied with that. We’re not going to bring them back and tell the adoption people that the shoes didn’t fit, or they weren’t the right color or they didn’t go as well with that pair of yoga pants as we thought they would. And we’re not going to be able to put them in a closet and leave them there until we have our spring yard sale, then sell them for fifty cents to the vole down the street who likes sparkly flip flops. Do you understand what I’m saying?”

B.H. shrugged and shook his head.

“Let me see if I can explain it this way, B.H.,” Harley tried again. “When we go to the shoe store and I buy you a pair of shoes, it’s because you like the shoes and I want to make you happy so I get you the shoes you want. But then, when we get home with the new shoes, sometimes you decide youdon’t like the shoes after all and so I take you back to the shoe store and we return the shoes for a different pair or sometimes I just get my money back because you can’t find a pair of shoes you really like. When that happens, we just go home without any shoes at all and then you don’t have any shoes. Do you understand, now?”

B.H. looked at her for a moment, then he untied his shoes, took them off and put them on the table in front of her.

Harley rolled her eyes. “No, B.H., I don’t want your shoes,” she said, handing them back to him. “I’m saying this is not like shopping for shoes.”

The vole shrugged again and began putting his shoes back on. He muttered something quietly.

Harley sighed. “What I’m trying to tell you, B.H., is that once you make a decision about who we’re going to adopt, you can’t change your mind. It’s forever. Like when we adopted you. We can’t send them back. So I want you to be very, very sure. Okay?”

Nodding in understanding, B.H. finished tying his shoes and then pointed to the portfolio lying open in front of him. He tapped it with his paw and smiled.

Harley looked over the information carefully. “Are you sure, B.H.?” she asked. “This is going to be a big responsibility, you know. Are you sure you’re ready for that?”

Grinning happily, B.H. nodded emphatically and tapped the portfolio again.

“Okay, B.H., let’s go let them know we’ve made our choice. We’re getting a water horse!”

Beaver Tales by Bachmann

Beaver Tales by Bachmann

A note from Georgie:

As much as it gives me pause to do so, I have consented to let Bachmann take another turn at having his own column on the blog.  I do not suppose that much of what he’s about to tell you is the truth – he’s a wily beaver – but we shall see.

Beaver Tales by Bachmann T. Beaver

Growing up on the Little Nokasippi afforded me many opportunities to commune and become one with nature.  One such opportunity was the time my friend Arlo and I decided to ‘tube’ down the river from the Big River (known to many as the Mighty Mississippi) west of Fort Ripley, all the way to Sebie Lake.

We knew it wouldn’t be just a single day trip, so we planned it over a long weekend in June, during the summer between our junior and senior year of college.  Arlo had this beat up old canoe he’d been fixing up since Beaver Day in February.  It was ugly as homemade sin, but he swore up and down on a stack of birch-bark that it would hold up.  I argued that we needed a backup plan, just in case, and so Arlo finally agreed for each of us to carry an inflatable inner tube in our packs.

At this point, you might be wondering why in the world two savvy aquatic mammals would want to travel over the water as opposed to under it.  I’ll admit that we are better suited to the submersible lifestyle, but we were looking for a real taste of Americana.  We wanted to experience the blue sky above us and the sounds of the insects and birds around us and the fresh air in our noses.  You just don’t see too much in the scenery department when you’re swimming under water.  This was to be our last Great Adventure before moving out into the adult world and starting our own colonies.

*As a sidenote, to this day, neither Arlo nor myself has settled down into domestic beaver bliss. I can’t speak for Arlo, but I’m certain I don’t have any wayward kits roaming around North America, either.  Of course, this is by my own choice – I could have my pick of lady beavers if I wanted.  Arlo, however, has probably never settled down mainly due to a slight physical deformity that renders him incapable of , well … let’s just say he can’t build a dam to hold water, if you get my meaning.  Also, Arlo doesn’t like to bathe, brush his teeth or practice any sort of personal hygiene.  I believe it’s a factor in his pursuit of female companionship.

Now right away, I knew this trip was going to be difficult.  Poor Arlo chipped a tooth right off the bat while trying to push the canoe into the water.  He tripped over this backpack straps and went head over asphalt into the nose of the canoe.  I took out my trusty Minnesota Beaver Scout knife with 17 different tools built in and filed the tooth down as smooth as I could.  But it was still causing him some trouble, as it was uneven.  And it’s awfully hard to gnaw with an uneven bite.

After we finally set sail, so to speak, and had been out in the river for a few hours, Arlo remembered that he’d brought along a deck of playing cards.  We began to play Gin Rummy, but Arlo quickly got tired of that — I won every hand.  I have a real knack for cards, you know.  We played Hearts, Crazy Eights, Blackjack … Arlo lost every time.  He got pretty frustrated and suggested a game I’d never heard of before – 52 Pickup.  In the interest of keeping harmony in the canoe, I figured I’d be smart to go along with whatever Arlo wanted at that point, so I said I’d love to play.  As it turned out, 52 Pickup wasn’t much of a game and after Arlo had scattered those cards all over the water, I inquired as to who was the winner.  Arlo is something of a poor sport and he started ranting and raving, jumping up and down in the boat.  I took that to mean I had won, but it was sort of a hollow victory.

All his yelling and screaming drew quite a bit of  attention from the local Nokasippians.  One old-timer, a muskrat who called himself ‘Pete Pete’, even threw sticks at us as we sailed by and shouted out, “Beaver punks!”  Now I’m not sure whether he was offended particularly by Arlo’s outburst or beavers in general, but he was adamant either way.

We managed to make it around two bends of the river in that canoe before it finally sprung multiple leaks right before we met the Mississippi Fork.  It was there that we had to abandon ship and scramble into our inflatables before a real Titanic moment was upon us.  Arlo argued that we could tow the canoe the rest of the trip and repair it once we landed at Sebie Lake, but I thought that was a real bad idea.  Before I had to present my own dissenting opinion on that subject, what was left of the canoe was caught in a wayward current and swept down the right fork and on down the Mississippi River.  For a minute, I thought old Arlo was going to swim after it so I stayed ready to grab his tail and prevent him from doing something foolhardy.  Just as Arlo lunged for the nose of the canoe as it disappeared into the Big River, though, his field glasses started to slide out of one of the pockets on his fishing vest.  He made a grab for them – they were special because they’d been a gift from his great uncle Gene – and missed his opportunity to grab hold of the boat.  He groused about losing that boat for months afterward.  And I’m not sure Arlo really ever got over it.

Anyway, there we were, two madcap young beavers in the open water.  My inner tube was just as comfortable as my own bed.  I’d found it in an old salvage yard for farm equipment and I think it must have been from a tractor tire.  It was spacious and stable on the river.  I even had enough space to string up some netting I’d stuck in my pack to make a cover over the center hole.  I tacked down a handkerchief or two so I had somewhere to lay my belongings, and the rest made a very comfortable relaxing surface.  Many an hour I was lulled to sleep by the gentle bob and sway of the water.  There’s just nothing like it.

Arlo wasn’t fairing as well.  He’d really believed the canoe would make it all the way to Sebie Lake so he’s skimped a little on the back up inner tube.  All he’d been able to find on short notice was the tube out of a bicycle – and a little bicycle at that.  Arlo said he’d nabbed it from little Marlen Nordsterson’s yard when Marlen’s daddy was changing the tires out on his tricycle.  Marlen was only 3 that summer, so he didn’t have a very big ride.  I doubt if that tire was even twelve inches across.  And it was skinny.  Arlo – not so much.  He’d put on the ‘Freshman 15’ and then some the first few years of college by eating in the school cafeteria all the time – loading up on all that rich rosewood pudding and mahogany fries really packed on the pounds.  That little bitty tire was really struggling to keep Arlo afloat.  I took his pack on board my own craft, but Arlo wasn’t sleeping much and I don’t think he much appreciated my attempt to help.

We sailed along for a few more days, finally making it to the sharp bend that flows right into Sebie Lake.  By this time, poor Arlo was pretty wild-looking.  He hadn’t slept for about 3 days and hadn’t eaten more than a few handfuls of wood shavings in that time.  Every time he took one paw off his tube, it tipped over and dumped him off.  I think he’d probably swum further than he’d floated on the entire trip, trying to keep up to his inner tube.

I knew the end of our trip was drawing near and I have to say, as much as I enjoyed the lazy days of floating peacefully on the water, I was happy for it to be over.  I’d made arrangements before we left for my brother-in-law Donald to pick me up at the Sebie Lake Marina.  I wanted to get back home in time for my mother’s birthday the following week.

As we landed on the shores of Sebie Lake, Donald was, indeed there to greet us.  He had a thermos of hot  sap and a copy of the latest issue of Beaver Illustrated, which was most welcoming.  I felt relaxed and refreshed in a way I’ve never felt since.  Even Donald commented on my vigor and good health.  By the time Arlo wandered ashore, Donald and I had deflated my trusty inner tube and stowed my pack in the back of his truck.  I offered Arlo some sap and he almost pulled my arm off grabbing at it.  If you ever seen someone who wandered in the desert for days without water drink upon their rescue, then you’ll have a pretty good picture of what old Arlo looked like sucking the sap out of that thermos.  Donald asked him if he’d like a ride home and darned if Arlo hadn’t decided to tube back to the Mississippi Fork and try to find his lost canoe!  I tried to reason with him, but Arlo is as stubborn a beaver as ever there was so I wished him fair winds and went on home with Donald.

When Arlo didn’t show up for the first week of classes Senior year, I got pretty worried and was about to take some time off from my own studies to launch a search for him.  But before I could get all the paperwork turned in, Arlo showed up at my dorm room door one morning, looking for all the world like he’d been a castaway on a deserted island for years.  His teeth were yellow and uneven, his eyes wild and hungry.  His fur was disheveled and overly greased and the beaver musk came off him in waves.  I’m ashamed to admit that my old friend scared the vanilla right out of me.

As I sat him down and gave him some refreshments, he told me his story:  He’d managed to locate a slightly more suitable inner tube in the Sebie Lake Marina, this time swiped from a 1987 Geo Metro in the parking lot.  He made it through the fat rapids area of the Nokasippi and ventured out into the Mississippi to find his canoe without incident.  But after four days on the Mississippi, he found himself floating through some golf course community near Brainerd and he’d completely lost the canoe’s trail.  He tried back tracking for a few weeks, but never found any trace of his beloved ship.  In despair, he decided to make a new life for himself in Crow Wing State Park, as a tourist attraction and naturalist.  But when the rangers there found him peeping on some female tourists in their campsite, he was thrown out of the Park and decided to come home to finish his education.  After graduation, though, Arlo put together a small band of hippie beavers and set out on another expedition to find that canoe.  He didn’t find it then, but that hasn’t stopped him from searching for it ever since.  I heard that last summer, he talked one of his relatives into financing a trip to the Yukon because he’d gotten news that a canoe had been spotted there.

Arlo and I haven’t maintained the best relationship over the years since then.  We’ve drifted apart the way friends sometimes do.  But I always think back on that river trip as one of my most defining moments in life.  It was there, as I floated peacefully on the great Little Nokasippi, that I knew I what I wanted from life – to never, ever, become so attached to material possessions, like poor old Arlo, and spend my days chasing a mythical canoe.