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

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?”

“Yep.”

“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

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