Dachshund Chronicles:  Chapter 29 Adoption Day Part Two

Dachshund Chronicles: Chapter 29 Adoption Day Part Two

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.”

Dachshund Chronicles:  Chapter 28

Dachshund Chronicles: Chapter 28

Adoption Day had finally arrived and Harley, Gordy and Prescott were having a difficult time keeping B.H. calm. He had leaped out of bed at 5:20 a.m. and raced into Harley’s room. He’d proceeded to jump on her bed, shaking her out of a sound sleep, which had not pleased Harley in the least. After shooing him back to his own room she’d tried to get a little more sleep, but found it difficult to reclaim the totally relaxed state of rest she’d been experiencing.

When she finally gave up on sleep and trudged slowly into the kitchen for a mug of gravy, she had found Gordy and Prescott, each of them in a similar state of bleary-eyed exhaustion. From their snuffling and hump shaking, she determined that B.H. had visited his overwhelming excitement on them, as well.

Now, after she had finally managed to settle B.H. enough to eat some breakfast and brush his teeth, she was trying to wrangle him into his ‘going somewhere’ clothes so she could comb his hair. “Darn it, B.H.,” she said crossly, “hold still. I can’t tie your shoes if you keep wiggling and jiggling around so much.”

B.H. ceased his fidgeting briefly, but was soon overcome with excitement again and he began to squirm and bounce, chattering about how much fun the new hippo was going to be and how much he was looking forward to having a playmate.

Exasperated, Harley jerked off the still untied sneakers and went to B.H.’s closet. “Here,” she said, turning back to the vole. “Wear your cowboy boots. Then I won’t have to fight with you over tying your shoes anymore.” B.H. happily pulled on the bright blue boots, all the while continuing his happy jabbering.

After several minutes of dodging and ducking, B.H. finally held still just long enough for Harley to swipe a brush over his head. The vole’s fine hair went smooth for a short minute before springing back up in an unruly looking wave over his forehead. “This darned vole-lick of yours won’t lay down, B.H.,” she muttered, trying to smooth it down again with first the brush, then her paw. Finally, she sighed. “I think that’s as good as it’s going to get, B.H.. Maybe you should just wear a hat.” Shaking her head, she took his jacket down from the closet and handed it to him. “Better wear a sweater, B.H., that adoption agency is always really cold.”

At last, the family was loaded into the van. Prescott was driving while Gordy had claimed shotgun. Harley snapped B.H. into his seatbelt and then, adjusting her own, announced, “Alright! Let’s get this bionic waterhorse show on the road!”

Traffic was light and the drive unremarkable as the van wound its way through the carpeted streets of the city. B.H. had suddenly stopped his excited chatter and now sat quietly, looking out the window of the van with big eyes. Harley noticed that both Buffaloes were unusually quiet, as well. She felt her own excitement turn into something more like nervousness as the van turned into the parking lot of the Under Dome Rehoming and Adoption Center for Voles and other People.

Prescott parked and turned off the engine. The group sat in silence for a few moments. Harley looked at B.H., who was quietly working at the buckle of his seatbelt. She watched Prescott adjust his tie in the rearview mirror and saw Gordy pull down the sun visor to check his hump and swipe a hoof over his beard. Harley unlatched her own seatbelt and smoothed her eyebrows with her paw. “Are we all ready?” she asked anxiously.

Each of the others nodded and the group left the van, walking quickly toward the entrance of the building. Prescott held the door open and Harley and B.H. entered the lobby, looking around curiously. Harley spotted the manager coming toward them and bent down to speak to B.H. quietly.

“Are you sure you’re ready?” she asked. B.H. nodded solemnly. “Now, B.H., this is serious – we can’t bring him back once we take him home. So if you’re having second thoughts or want to adopt something else, now’s the time to speak up.” B.H. shook his head and whispered that he was very happy to meet his new hippo. “And you’re sure about the name we picked out?” Harley added. B.H. grinned happily and nodded again. “Okay, then, here we go,” Harley said firmly, straightening up to greet the manager, a slightly overweight but attractive vole.

“Hello there, you must be the Harley Bishop Family,” the manager extended a neatly manicured paw. “I’m Noreen.” Harley shook her paw, as did the others. “I know this is a big day for you, but there are just a few details we have to take care of before you can take the newest member of your family home,” she smiled. “If you’ll just follow me, Harley. The rest of you can wait right over there.” She pointed toward a seating area filled with comfortable furniture, a book shelf and a large television. B.H. scurried over and plopped onto a fluffy chair. He located the remote control and immediately turned on the TV, settling happily into his seat. Prescott and Gordy each patted Harley on the head and went to sit with B.H.

Harley followed Noreen into a small but neat office and sat where Noreen indicated she should.

“There are just a few papers that we need to review and sign and then you’ll be all set to go home,” Noreen explained, shuffling through a stack of files on her desk. “I understand that you’ve been told about your hippopotamus’s special needs?” She slipped on a pair of reading glasses and looked up at Harley.

“Well, yes, if you’re talking about his bionics and such,” Harley said. “Although I’m not entirely sure why it’s such a big deal.”

Noreen looked at her a moment before dropping her gaze to the now open file in front of her. “Well,” she began, “aside from the obvious issues presented with a bionically enhanced being – super strength and speed, enhanced motor function, increased appetite, and the like – there may be some emotional issues that arise. It’s very difficult for non-bionic people to understand the strain of maintaining the control necessary for a bionic – in this case a bionic hippo – to exist in a normal world. Chairs may not be designed to hold his heavier frame, for example. And a broken chair could lead to him feeling insecure about his size. We wouldn’t want him to begin to exhibit any self-harming habits such as eating disorders or cutting, for instance, as a way of expressing emotional distress. It’s very important that you recognize any signs of depression or trauma, therefore, and be prepared to deal with anything that arises.” She gazed at Harley expectantly.

“So you’re saying I need to watch him and make sure he’s happy?” Harley said.

“Exactly,” Noreen confirmed. “We do offer a series of counseling sessions for all our new adoption families, at a significant discount, of course. You’re more than welcome to sign up for them before you leave today, in fact. Most of our families have found the classes to be invaluable while integrating their adopted children – or whatever – into their households.”

“I think I’ll pass,” Harley replied. “We’re pretty laid-back at home and we’ve been doing a lot of research into what will make him feel comfortable. I think we’ll do okay on our own.”

Noreen pursed her lips in disapproval, but only said, “Well, fine, then. Sign here and you can meet your hippo.”

Harley scrawled her signature at the bottom of the page.

“By the way,” Noreen examined the paper, then looked at Harley, “have you picked out a name?”

“Yes,” Harley said, rising from her chair. “We’ve decided to name him Mandrake.”

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!”

Dachshund Chronicles:  Chapter 24

Dachshund Chronicles: Chapter 24

“I’m so exhausted,” Roper whined to Harry. “I had to come into the office last night, just to get some sleep, you know. Those new kids are so loud and Fluffy is still refusing to let me sell them. She won’t even let me send them to The Beaver Military Academy until they’re older.” He spun lazily in his chair, and watched Harry file papers in the cabinet near his desk.

Harry nodded sympathetically and continued to work.

“And now,” Roper tapped his foot in agitation, “the twins are saying it’s time they go out into the world on their own and Fluffy is all upset about that. I tried to calm her down and said it would be a great idea for them to leave because we wouldn’t have to mess with taking care of them anymore and she thumped me. Right on the snout!” he declared indignantly.

“Where are the twins planning to go, Sir?” Harry inquired, hoping to lead the conversation away from a rant about Fluffy’s abuse.

“Well, it seems that Griff has a school chum who lives in New Vole City. Griff says he wants to go there and be an international play-dachshund. I’m not sure exactly what that means, but it’s got his mother pretty unhappy.”

“I think, Sir, that it means he wants to move to the city and party all the time at your expense, Sir.”

“Oh, well. I don’t see why Fluffy’s so mad about that? Sounds like a greatjob to me!” Roper sipped from his mole waters. “What do you think, Harry? Doesn’t that sound like a great job?”

“I don’t think it actually qualifies as a job, Sir,” Harry pointed out, filing the last of the documents. “Perhaps that’s why Fluffy is less than thrilled?”

“She never wants anyone to have any fun,” Roper said sourly. “You get a new log and all you want is for her to help you test it out and she gets all angry and says you never do anything she wants to do. She’s so selfish – it’s no wonder she’s against poor Griff. The poor boy just wants a chance to live a little and there she is, squashing his dreams for a bigger, better log.” He gulped his drink and spun the chair.

“What about Taffy, Sir? What’s her plan, Sir?” Harry tried again to steer the topic to something less volatile.

Roper snorted indelicately. “She says she’s signed some sort of contract with a modeling agency in the city. She’s going to be on the cover of magazines and do television commercials and such. She’ll make tons of money. Says she’ll be wearing the latest fashions and have a team of professionals who follow her around making sure she looks good every minute of the day. Fluffy’s practically packing her bags to go along, she’s so excited over the whole deal. Can you imagine a more frivolous waste of time than spending day after day doing nothing but thinking about your clothes and how you look and having people chase around after you taking care of your every need?” He rolled his eyes. “Really,” he added, “I always thought she was the smart one!”

Harry’s tone was mild. “Of course, Sir. It’s terribly embarrassing. I don’t know how you’ll be able to show your face in the Under Dome in light of her mortifying shallow-ness.”

“Exactly,” Roper replied. “It’s humiliating. At least Griff will be doing something noble and worthwhile.” He shook his head. “Fluffy has her priorities all in a jumble.”

“Indeed, Sir, indeed,” responded Harry sardonically.