Dachshund Chronicles: Chapter 29 Adoption Day Part Two
The ride home was a little tense and a lot crowded. Mandrake, the bionic water horse, was uncomfortably wedged into the third row seat of the van. The seatbelt wasn’t quite long enough to latch around his substantial middle, so Harley was laying on her back in the seat next to him, holding the buckle-end of the extended belt as tightly as she could. Her hind feet were braced against the side of the van, her front legs extended over the top of her head as though trying to execute a lateral pull down with the seatbelt. The strain of exertion was beginning to make her cranky.
“Are we about home?” she demanded, sounding slightly out of breath. “I’m not sure how much longer I can hold this belt in place.”
Gordy turned around from his position in the front seat and snuffled loudly.
“Well, that’s good,” Harley panted. “My legs aren’t long enough to have the proper leverage for this kind of activity. Also, I’ve got an itch on my snout but if I let go with one paw the ricochet of this seatbelt might kill someone.”
Mandrake reached over and gently scratched Harley’s snout with his hoof.
Harley started, then realized what he was doing and relaxed slightly. “Why thank you, Mandrake,” she said. “What a thoughtful young hippo you are!”
Mandrake smiled shyly.
B.H. turned around in his car seat to grin at Mandrake. Then he began to chatter away, telling Mandrake about the Brownstone, his room and how much fun they were going to have once they got home.
The van pulled to a stop in front of the Brownstone and Harley let go of the seatbelt. It zinged out of her grasp with lightning speed, arcing wildly toward Mandrake’s head.
“Look out!” Harley shouted, scrambling into a sitting position.
Mandrake turned his head sharply to look at her. As he did, the belt zipped by, narrowly missing his ear. He heard the whine of the fast-retracting belt, felt the wind rush by the side of his head and squeaked in alarm.
Harley leaped into his lap and began patting him on the head, face and shoulders. “It’s okay,” she murmured. “There, there, it’s all okay. You’re safe and loved and there’s no reason for you to become a cutter.”
Mandrake looked at her with big eyes, blinking slowly. He nodded, then awkwardly patted her on the head with his hoof. He snorted softly, indicating that he wanted out of the van.
“Okay, everyone,” Harley demanded loudly, “get out of the way. Traumatized hippo here! Make some room before he starts cutting!” She all but pushed Mandrake from the van.
Standing on the sidewalk in front of the Brownstone, Harley observed Mandrake carefully, looking for any signs that he might be feeling emotional distress. Satisfied that he seemed calm and happy, she took his hoof in one of her paws and B.H.’s small paw in the other.
“I feel like we should say a few words since this is such a special occasion,” she said. “Anyone want to, I don’t know … do that?”
Prescott and Gordy both turned away uncomfortably, snuffling and shaking their humps. B.H. whispered something too quietly for Harley to hear then looked intently at his cowboy boots. Mandrake gazed down at her, expectantly.
“Okay, then,” she muttered, “I guess I’ll say something.”
She cleared her throat, took a deep breath, then said dramatically, “Today, we welcome Mandrake into our family. We are a diverse and multi-cultural tribe of indigenous nomads who have come together to create an intricate and aerodynamic nation.” She paused as though collecting her thoughts, not noticing the odd looks she was getting from the group. She continued speaking, warming to her task. “Though we have many differences, we are one in spirit. As my Native American Dachshund ancestors believed, I, too, believe that we are all endowed with the gift of gab, the ability to come together as a family and pursue warm gravy. On this day, we bring Mandrake, a bionic water horse, into our family. Welcome, Mandrake. We are proud and glad to receive you into our clan. May your life with us be fulfilling and abundant and may you not become a cutter. Amen.”