Therapy

Out in the yard while doing waste cleanup, I spot Fleegle chomping on something. “Fleegle, what are you eating?”

He looks up at me and continues to chew. “Well, a few days ago it was Franny’s kibble with a few biscuits mixed in for tricks well done.”

“What do you mean ‘a few days ago’?”

“Raud, you’re usually quicker than this. What I mean by ‘a few days ago’ is that now, today, sitting on the lawn, duh, it’s poop.”

“Fleegle, don’t you eat that.”

“Just because it doesn’t look like kibble and biscuits anymore doesn’t mean it isn’t. It still is, but with Franny’s personal stamp on it. I could say that about half the things you eat.”

“I don’t eat poop.”

“How would you know you? You haven’t smelled your food like I have. Remember that my nose is so sensitive I can smell a mouse fart under the house. It’s not like Snickers or whoever are going to be honest about the ingredients in your candy bar and actually put rat droppings on the ingredient list.”

*   *   *

Fleegle and I get in the car.

“Why isn’t Franny coming with us?” Fleegle asks.

“Because she doesn’t need therapy.”

“You’re getting therapy? That’s good, Raud. I’ve thought you could use some of that for a long time. What kind of therapy are you getting? My favorite is massage therapy.”

“Not me, you.”

“I’m getting massage therapy? Oh goody.”

“No, you’re getting psychological therapy.”

“They have those kind of therapists for dogs?”

“Well, sort of. I found the next closest thing.”

“Why do I need therapy and not you and Franny? If anyone needs therapy it’s the two of you. Maybe this is a case of displacement and you’re taking me to therapy because deep down you know you’re the one who needs it most?”

“I’m not the one eating poop.”

“You’re taking me to a poop therapist?”

“No, I’m taking you to a therapist for eating poop.”

“Why? Does the therapist like to eat poop too?”

*   *   *

We pull into the mini-mall parking lot and find a space close to the building, a single story affair with a row of office fronts.

When I open my door, Fleegle says, “This place smells wonderful. Are you sure this isn’t a poop therapist? That sign in the window is offering two for one coffee enemas until inauguration day.”

There is indeed a sign offering that in the window next to a door labeled, Colon Hydrotherapy. Only in Portland, I think and point to the door next to it. “We’re going in that one. The one that reads animal psychic.”

“The one with the neon tarot card in the window?”

Feeling ridiculous as I get out of the car, I say, “Yes.”

“So the poop therapist, with a freshly caffeinated colon, is a psychic who’s going to predict my future?”

“I want to know if you’re acting out your mommy issues by eating poop.”

“You mean I eat poop because of something in a past life?”

I turn and look at Fleegle. “This is pretty stupid, eh?”

“Maybe you should consult your higher self, but I predict the psychic will forecast poop in the future.”

“Why do you say that?”

“Because there is poop in everyone’s future, even the psychic’s. Poop is the backside of life, it’s what gives the universe balance to that burrito joint we passed down the street on the way here. You know, they have a two for one burrito special going on too. Maybe after this we could stop there for lunch on the way home.” He jumps out of the car. “And get one to go for Franny so I can have burritos again in a few days.”

Previous Bartering with Biscuits – Pickled

First Bartering with Biscuits – The Puppy

Pickled

I used to go to Starbucks to write until they replaced the comfortable leather chairs and couch with little round tables and hard wood dining chairs. It’s an ingenious way to keep customers from hanging around too long. No one will nod off while their butt s getting sore from sitting. The chairs were the last straw in list of annoyances that led me to dropping Starbucks, though to be fair to them it doesn’t take much to annoy me before I’m properly caffeinated. But not going to Starbucks to write has led me back to what, or I should say, who, led me there in the first place.

Fleegle.

In the summer I sit outside to write while Fleegle entertains himself with chewing on sticks, and now with Franny chewing on him, but with fall temperatures dropping and the rain starting early this year, we’re all inside in my den. I keep the clutter out of my den because when I sit down to write I’m easily distracted by anything, loose books that need to be shelved, dog fur on the floor that needs to be swept, anything that gets me up out of my comfortable leather chair.

I’ve tried to make my den free of distractions, so there is no desktop computer or internet, only an old laptop used to store and play music on, but some distractions can’t be avoided, like the rubber pickle just dropped into my lap.

“Raud, I’d like a refill, please,” Fleegle says.

I pick up the pickle. “Well, since you said please.”

Franny walks into the den. “Oh, cool, Fleegle, you found my pickle.”

He shakes his head. “Nope, that’s my pickle. I still haven’t found yours but you’ll be the first to know when I do, that is, after me, of course.”

Next Bartering with Biscuits – Therapy

Previous Bartering with Biscuits – Inspector Fleegle

First Bartering with Biscuits – The Puppy

Inspector Fleegle

As I sit in my den waiting for Windows to finish updating itself so I can listen to some music on the computer, Fleegle walks slowly into the small room, nose to the ground, sniffing. He does a circle around the edge of the room, then starts to leave.

I’m almost afraid to ask. “Fleegle, what are you up to?”

He stops sniffing and lifts his head at me. “I’m on a very important case.”

“A case?”

“Yes, get your pen out. This is the case of the missing pickle.”

“A pickle is missing?”

“I’ve been hired by a rather young and stupid blonde to find her pickle.”

Franny pokes her head around the door jam. “I am not stupid, inspector biscuit breath. I just can’t find my pickle.”

Fleegle shoves her out of sight with his rear. “As you know, I don’t normally take on such mundane cases that the local constabulary can solve, but this case is quite fascinating because I swear I saw the pickle only moments ago.”

“We are talking about the green rubber pickles I stuff with treats for you guys, right?”

“What other pickles are there?”

“Never mind,” I say, not wanting him to learn of Clausen’s or sweet pickles verses sour pickles. I’ve really gotten hung up in the pickle aisle at the grocery store trying to decide which to buy. Fleegle will want to taste test all of them, and then he’ll learn of relish. Sweet relish, hot dog relish, and that will lead to sauerkraut and kimchi, and I’m afraid what all of that will do to the quality of the air around him.

“So grab your pad and pen, Watson, and start taking notes so you can accurately record the case of ‘Fleegle Holmes and the Missing Pickle’.”

“Umm… Sure thing. I’m right behind you,” I say, not having the heart to tell him it was me who hid the pickle from Franny up on the top of the bookshelf because I was tired of her dropping it in my lap and asking for refills. Three refills is enough for her waistline.

Next Bartering with Biscuits – Pickled

Previous Bartering with Biscuits – Rage

First Bartering with Biscuits – The Puppy

Rage

After a trip to the park, Fleegle asks, “Raud, are your eyes blue?”

“Yes.”

“Does that make you the devil?”

“The devil?”

“The blue eyed devil the angry man at the park was talking about.”

“He was ranting politics.”

“Like you do when you get stuck in traffic.”

“Pretty much.”

“But he wasn’t stuck in traffic. He was in a beautiful park on a dry day surrounded by dogs happy to be out.”

“He was stuck in a political traffic jam inside his head.”

Next Bartering with Biscuits – Inspector Fleegle

Previous Bartering with Biscuits – Crunch

First Bartering with Biscuits – The Puppy

Crunch

Hearing something go crunch in Franny’s mouth, I ask, “Franny, what are you chewing on?”

“I dunno. It’s hard on the outside, gooey on the inside and kid of bitter tasting. A nut, maybe.”

I reach into her mouth and pull out a half chewed plastic pen. “Hey, don’t chew on my pens. I need those.”

“But Fleegle said I should try chewing on it. He really likes it.”

Fleegle looks up from his nap. “Plastic provides a very satisfying crunch that’s hard to find elsewhere.”

I toss what’s left of the pen in the garbage. “Maybe so, but then you swallow bits of it and end up puking it on the bed at three in the morning.”

“We don’t need plastic for that, Raud. A bit of swallowed stick is just as good for a late night puke.”

“You say that as if all of those 2am throw ups were planned.”

“Best alarm clock I know of. No fading batteries required, no fear of power outages.”

Franny looks at me, black ink staining her blond snout. “But why can’t I chew on them? I haven’t seen you touch them in weeks and suddenly they’re super important. What are they for?”

“I use them to write short vignettes about Fleegle’s dog adventures.”

Fleegle wags his tail. “Does that make you Watson to my Holmes?”

Franny shakes her head. “I’m not going to be Mrs. Hudson.”

Next Bartering with Biscuits – Rage

Previous Bartering with Biscuits – Mr. Pillow

First Bartering with Biscuits – The Puppy

Mr. Pillow

I lie on my bed, reading before I take a nap after a late lunch on Sunday. Fleegle keeps shifting positions to goober this part or that part of his body, shaking the whole bed as he does.

I look at him over the top of my book. “Fleegle, go lie down on your pillow and give your goobering a rest, please.”

As he gets up and moves to his pillow, Franny jumps up on the bed and plops down on top of my stomach. I look at her, my eyebrows raised, and give her a look that asks her what she thinks she’s doing lying on top of my stomach just after I ate lunch.

She lifts her head at me. “What? You said go to our pillows. That’s what I’m doing, getting on my pillow.”

“I’m your pillow.”

“Well, I’ve tried Fleegle, but as you’ve noticed he doesn’t stay put long enough to get a good nap in. You’re much better at that than he is. You stay put plenty long to get a good nap in. Sometimes your body even forgets to breathe and needs a gentle nose bump to remind it to.”

Fifty pounds of Labrador puppy on top of my belly just after cold pizza for lunch is too much. I shift my hips and she slides off of me onto the bed, leaving just her head using me as a pillow. She seems fine with that and I return to reading my book.

Moments later, she nudges my hand with her wet nose. “Pet me,” she says.

And I say, “Take a nap.”

“No, pet me.”

I ignore her. She nose bumps me again. “Pet me.”

I move my hand away.

She gets up and moves closer to my hand. “Pet me.”

I give in without thinking and pet her as I read. Then the whole bed moves as Fleegle gets up and eases his eighty-five pound butt on top of my stomach.

My eyebrows go up at him in a questioning look. “Fleegle, what are you doing?”

He glances at Franny, then back at me and wags his tail. “Pet me.”

Next Bartering with Biscuits – Crunch

Previous Bartering with Biscuits – Nails

First Bartering with Biscuits – The Puppy

Nails

Fleegle and Franny lay in the grass in the backyard licking the sides of their front paws obsessively.

When they notice me watching, Fleegle raises his head and says forlornly, “Raud, someone stole our dewclaws.”

They were removed when he was a puppy. “Don’t look at me. You showed up with four toed paws.”

He looks at where his dewclaws should be. “The dogs at the park have five toes on their paws. Where are our fifth toes?”

Franny looks up from her paw-goobering. “Yeah, we want them back.”

“You’ll have to talk to your matchmaker breeder about that,” I say.

“You mean Suzie has our toes? What, like in a drawer someplace?” Fleegle asks.

Franny tilts her head to the side. “Yuck, what if my toes get mixed up with Fleegle’s? I don’t want brown toes.”

Fleegle stands up. “We need to go to Eugene and get our toes back, Raud.”

Franny stands up too. “Yeah we do. Let’s go.”

I clear my throat, preparing to make a stand. “That reminds me. You’ve both been making a lot of clickity clack sounds when you walk on the wood floors. It must be time to trim the nails you do have.”

Fleegle starts to slink across the lawn toward the bamboo. “My nails are just fine. No trimming needed here.”

“But what about going to Eugene and retrieving your dew claws?” I ask. “They’ll need to be trimmed too.”

“Another time. I’ve got things to do,” he says and disappears into the bamboo.

“How about you, Franny? Are you ready for your nails to be trimmed?”

“You’re not trimming mine. Long nails are all the rage right now at the park. Did you pick up the pink polish I asked for?”

“I’m not going to paint your nails.”

“But I’ll paint yours if you do.”

Next Bartering with Biscuits – Mr. Pillow

Previous Bartering with Biscuits – Princess

First Bartering with Biscuits – The Puppy