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.”

Previous Bartering with Biscuits – Princess

First Bartering with Biscuits – The Puppy

The Princess

I find a sunny spot in the backyard, line up my chair to make the most of the fall sun, and sit down to attempt some writing in my notepad. I open it to a fresh page, click the tab on my pen a few times, and wait for something to surface to inspire me.

It isn’t long before Fleegle emerges from the bamboo and is staring alongside me at the blank page too, and soon he is followed by his blond shadow, Franny.

“What are we doing?” she asks.

“Shush,” Fleegle says. “Raud might have writer’s block.”

“What’s writer’s block?”

“It’s when Raud can’t think of anything to write about.”

“Is that because his coconut brain is hollow?”

Fleegle pushes her away by shoving his butt in her direction. He nose bumps my notepad. “Maybe if you drew some meaty bones it might help get the ink flowing.”

I click the tab on my pen a few more times and look at Fleegle and Franny. “I didn’t think I had writer’s block until you two brought it up.”

“Ah, that’s the power of suggestion at work,” Fleegle says. “Now back to drawing those meaty bones.”

Franny pokes her head in. “Did you say he needed suggestions? Get your pen ready, Raud. I’m not too sure what writer’s block is but I’m pretty sure I don’t have it. I can tell you all sorts of things to write.”

“Back off, Franny, Raud’s going to draw me some bones.”

“No he’s not. He’s going to write down my story. Let me begin. Once upon a time there was a dog named Franny and she was the prettiest princess in the land. She had a super obedient servant named Fleegle who did everything she told him to do.”

“Hey, I’m not your servant.” Fleegle sees me writing and whines, “Raud, don’t write down what she says, we have bones to draw.”

Franny looks down her nose at me. “Read what you have so far, scribe.”

I look at the page. “Once upon a time there was a dog named Franny and she was the stinkiest dog on the block because her big friend Fleegle showed her where all the coyote poop was.”

Franny snorts her derision. “You left out ‘Princess’.”

Next Bartering with Biscuits – Nails

Previous Bartering with Biscuits – Dirt

First Bartering with Biscuits – The Puppy


“Franny, don’t eat that,” I say.

“Why not?”

“Because it’s dirt.”


“Dogs aren’t supposed to eat dirt.”

“How would you know that? You’re not a dog.”

“Thank god for that or I’d have to floss the dirt out of my teeth every night before bed.”

Fleegle sniffs the dirt pile Franny has been eating. “He probably read it on one of his books on dogs.”

Franny’s tongue is dark brown with dirt. “Another book written by a two-legger.”

Dirt crumbs stick to Fleegle’s nose. “A two-legger who wishes he were a dog.”

“Yea, so he could eat dirt without being picked on by the other two-leggers,” Franny says and picks up another clod of dirt in her mouth. She looks at me. “Want some? Fleegle’s teaching me to share.”

Next Bartering with Biscuits – The Princess

Previous Bartering with Biscuits – Sharing the Canine Way

First Bartering with Biscuits – The Puppy

Sharing the Canine Way

“Are you going to eat all of that?” Fleegle asks as I bite into my sandwich.

Franny drools at his side. “Yea, that’s a lot of sandwich for one dog.”

“I’m not a dog,” I slur around my mouthful of sandwich.

“You sure smell like one,” Franny says.

“And I wonder why that is,” I say. “Living with two shedders.”

“We’re getting off topic,” Fleegle says, also drooling. “Back to the subject at hand. Are you sure you’re going to eat all of that sandwich?”

I nod as I chew.

Fleegle shakes his head with disappointment. “Didn’t they teach you to share when you were little?”

Franny cocks her head to the side. “He used to be little?”

“He claims he was once long ago.”

“If he was little we could just take that sandwich away from him,” she says. “Teach him to share the canine way.”

Fleegle tilts his head at her. “But that’s not how I taught you to share.”

“It isn’t? I take your sticks from you all of the time. Isn’t that you sharing?”

“I drop the sticks to stop you from biting my back leg.”

“Oh, and I thought you were sharing.”

Next Bartering with Biscuits – Dirt

Previous Bartering with Biscuits – How Honest Can a Butt Wiggle Be?

First Bartering with Biscuits – The Puppy

How Honest Can a Butt Wiggle Be?

I arrive home from a trip to the paint store after leaving Fleegle and Franny at home because it’s too hot of a day for them to wait in the car while I wait for the store clerk to mixes the paint and we all know how long that can take. I slide my house key into the front door lock, expecting to hear the patter of paws on the other side but there’s nothing. I turn the key and open the door, but there is no one there to greet me. Beginning to worry, I go inside and into the living room where I find Fleegle and Franny stretched out on the couch.

Franny barely lifts her head to look at Fleegle. “I told you it was him.”

Fleegle doesn’t even bother to lift his head to speak, he just mumbles, “Duh, who else would it be?”

I put down my freshly mixed gallon of paint. “What? No greeting at the door? No, hi Raud, we’re so happy you’re back? Not even a surly remark about how surprised you are that I found my way home without you.”

Moving only her eyes to look at Fleegle, Franny says, “He’s very needy, isn’t he?”

“Tell me about it,” Fleegle mumbles. “He needs a lot of reassurance that he’s loved. I think I’m too tired to do that today.”

Franny rolls onto her back. “You’d think the fact that we haven’t eaten him in his sleep would be enough.”

“Never underestimate Raud’s emotional neediness. It can make him really thin skinned sometimes. But you know, he did say we could eat him if he dies in his sleep and we run out of kibble.”

Franny’s ears perk up as she moves into a sitting position. “He did?”


“Well then…” She jumps off the couch and comes over to me, tail wagging. “I’m really glad to se you, Raud. So glad you made it home.”

I put my hands on my hips. “You know, I’m not feeling the sincerity.”

She puts a bit more butt wiggle in her tail wagging. “How’s that?”

I reach down and pat her side. “Better.”

Fleegle sits up. “Raud, why don’t you try again like we do when we practice your sit-stay training. Go outside and come back in, and have a couple biscuits ready for us when we greet you at the door.”

Next Bartering with Biscuits – Sharing the Canine Way

Previous Bartering with Biscuits – Fleegle’s Bed

First Bartering with Biscuits – The Puppy

Fleegle’s Bed

Franny holds her ground on the bed and growls down at Fleegle who is trying to jump past her up onto the bed. “Poor Biscuit Breath,” she says and wags her tail. “You have to sleep on the floor tonight.”

“But my bed is up there on the pillow next to Raud’s pillow.”

“Not anymore. That’s my pillow now.”

“But I’ve slept on that pillow since I was a puppy.”

“How’s that cold hard floor feel? You should have enough biscuit padding on your backside to be more than comfortable, walnut brain.”

*   *   *

Fleegle whimpers so loudly on the pillow next to mine that he wakes me. I pat his side and say quietly, “Fleegle, wake up.”

He stops whimpering, raises his head and looks around at his surroundings. Seeing where he is, he drops his head back on his pillow with a loud sigh. “Oh thank goodness. I was having the worst nightmare. Have I told you how much I love my pillow?”

Next BwB – How Honest Can a Butt Wiggle Be?

Previous BwB – Invasion

First BwB – The Puppy

17 – Invasion

“Someone is on the roof,” Franny says to Fleegle in the dark of the bedroom. “Should we wake him?”

I look at their black silhouettes on the bed and listen to the silence. “No one is on the roof,” I say.

“Oh, good, you’re awake,” Franny says. “You need to go up on the roof.”

The clock glows 3am. “I’m not going up on the roof in the middle of the night.”

“Do you want me to get your slippers?” Franny asks.

Fleegle shakes his head. “He’ll need his shoes for going up the ladder.”

I pull the pillow over my head. “I’m not getting out of bed.”

Fleegle cocks his head to the side. “No, she’s right, Raud. Someone is on the roof. It must be Santa. Have you bought that heavy German beer he requested last year? Remember he said he was lactose intolerant after drinking milk for so many years.”

“It’s far too early in the season for Santa,” I say.

“But he’s been all over the grocery store. So has his buddy, Frosty the Snowman,” Fleegle says.

Franny stands up, her stance a little anxious. “Who is this Santa guy and why is he on our roof? What’s so special about the roof anyway? Is there something up there to eat that no one has told me about? Is that where Fleegle hides the caviar?”

“Nothing is on the roof. Go back to sleep.”

“You’ll be lucky if it’s Santa,” Fleegle says. “He might be able to help you with your gnome problem.”

“I don’t have a gnome problem, I have a sleep deprivation problem.”

“That’s what they all say just before it’s too late.”

I know I shouldn’t give credence to his theories by asking but I can’t help myself. Any insight into Fleegle’s thinking is always worth it. “Who is they?”

“People with gnome problems. Maybe Santa can broker a truth before the gnome’s relatives arrive and the conflict escalates.”

I push my pillow aside. “Relatives?”

“It’s probably already too late. There are several new RVs in the neighborhood. I think the gnome is already massing his forces.”

“An invasion of gnomes in RVs? Are there magic mushrooms growing in your yard, Fleegle?”

“What’s an RV?” Franny asks. “Is that where the caviar is hidden?”

“Go back to sleep, you two.”

Franny lies back down and soon both of them are snoring quietly. I lie there and stare at the ceiling. The clock now glows 3:12. It’s then that I hear it, the rapid patter of feet, like a child running in the attic. And then I hear it again, but this time it’s several children racing one another the length of the attic from one end of the house to the other.

Crap, I hope it’s not raccoons, I think and roll over.

Next chapter – Fleegle’s Bed

Previous chapter – How To Become a Coyote

First chapter – The Puppy

Chapter 16 – How To Become a Coyote

While visiting a hidden field in Forest Park, Fleegle finds an appealing scent on the ground and commences rolling in it. Knowing his tastes in scents, I call him to me in a vain attempt to stop him from smearing himself in the source of the scent. By the time I get to him, Fleegle is finished with his rolling and is strutting around the field like he is master of all he can see.

Franny emerges from underneath a very large fern on the edge of the field, gives the breeze downwind from Fleegle a sniff and says, “I smell poop, really strange smelly poop.”

Fleegle wags his tail high in the air. “That’s not just any poop. That’s the caviar of poop.”

He struts upwind of me. “Ugh, not coyote poop again. That’s the rankest poop of all. And don’t tell me beauty is in the nose of the sniffer, we’ve had that conversation before.”

Franny tilts her head to the side. “But I thought you ate caviar?”

Stupidly, I say, “You do,” as she ambles over to where Fleegle rolled.

She gives it a sniff, then says, “Well then,” and …

“No, Franny, don’t do that,” I shout to no use.

Fleegle pauses in his tracks. “Boy, why didn’t I think of that? Get the scent from the inside out. It could last for days.”

Next chapter – Invasion

Previous chapter – The Boy Bit Of God

First chapter – The Puppy

Chapter 15 – The Boy Bits Of God

While in the backyard immersed in one of my books on advaita and nonduality, something tickles the back of my neck. I swat at it like I would a mosquito and feel a small wet nose, a nose too small to be Fleegle’s.

“What are you doing, Franny?” I ask.

“I’m sniffing your brain for peanuts to check if what Biscuit Breath says is true.”

“And what have you discovered?”

“I’ve concluded you have a coconut for a brain.”

Fleegle looks up from his spot across the lawn. “That’s only his shampoo. It’s scented with coconuts to fool you into thinking he has a bigger brain. Sniff deeply and you’ll smell the peanut deep inside his noggin. But still, it’s an apt metaphor since coconuts are full of water. Even a walnut with its solid insides can outsmart a hollow coconut.”

Franny nudges the book in my lap. “Is that one about dogs too?”

Fleegle gets up and comes over. He sniffs the book. “I bet it’s about coconuts, and I bet it’s titled How To Be a Coconut and Appear Smarter Than You Are.”

I clear my throat to speak. “It’s about how everyone is everyone and there is no other. Franny, me, and even you, Fleegle, are all one and God is experiencing his creation through us as his creations.”

Fleegle yawns. “What I say? Coconuts. You and the coconut are definitely one and the same. God is experiencing the coconut through you.”

“So God is a boy dog?” Franny asks. “Did they neuter him too like all the other boy dogs at the park?”

I know when I’m outnumbered. I set my book down on the grass next to my chair and get up to go inside for more coffee. As I do, I glance over my shoulder and catch Fleegle about to lift his leg on my book. “What do you think you’re doing?”

“I’m going to review your book.”

Franny follows me toward the house. “If God is neutered, what did they do with his boy bits?”

Dogs can ask the most embarrassing questions.

Next chapter – How To Become a Coyote

Previous chapter – The Biggest Brain of Them All

First chapter – The Puppy