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

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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

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

Dirt

“Franny, don’t eat that,” I say.

“Why not?”

“Because it’s dirt.”

“So?”

“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