Negotiating with Cookies – A Request for Mayonnaise

The weather forecast calls for lots of rain, a good time to fertilize the bamboo plants in the backyard that Fleegle like to lounge under so much. The rain breaks down the fertilizer and it begins working its way through the soil to the plants’ roots. But there’s another reason why I wait for rain before I fertilize.

Fleegle follows me from plant to plant as I pour the gray granules around the base of each plant. He’s pretending to supervise, but I know better. He’s making note of where I’ve poured the fertilizer so that he can come back later when I’m not around and eat it. It stinks like the fish it’s made from and until that scent is washed into the ground, he’s drawn to it every time he goes outside. This is the real reason why I only fertilize before a rain storm, and why anything I put in the backyard has to be safe for animals.

When I finish, we go inside and I slide the panel into his dog door that keeps it closed. Seeing this, Fleegle tilts his head to the side and with his eyes open so wide the whites show all around his eyes, asks, “What are you doing?”

I give him a sly look. “Closing your dog door.”

“I see that, but why?”

“So you don’t go outside and eat the fertilizer. I’m not stupid. I know that’s what you’re planning.”

He crosses his back legs. “But I have to pee.”

“No you don’t.”

“How many bottles of carpet cleaner do you want to bet?”

“If you have to go, just scratch on the glass of the patio door like you learned to do as a puppy. I’ll escort you out and keep you company. It’ll be like the old days.”

He hangs his head in a sulk. “But I’m not a puppy.”

That evening the rain comes but the fertilizer doesn’t dissolve as fast as I’d hoped. Instead the entire backyard smells like fish and before I know it, Fleegle is feigning sniffing for a spot to pee while secretly licking at the dirt around the base of one of the bamboo plants.

“Oye, fish-breath, pee or come in, but stop licking the fertilizer.”

He trots toward me. “If you’re going to treat me like a puppy, do I at least get a biscuit for peeing outside.”

“No, but I’ll give you a biscuit for every time you’re outside that you don’t eat the fertilizer.”

He nose bumps my hand. “How about a biscuit for every time you don’t catch me eating it?”

“You do realize that asking that only makes me watch you like a hawk?”

“I’m a pretty big mouse. Good luck getting me off the ground.”

*   *   *

The following morning when I wake and open my eyes, I’m greeted with the unnerving sight of Fleegle’s big head hovering over my face staring down at me. “Thank all that is stinky,” he says. “You’re awake. It was touch and go there for a while.”

Looking up at his big droopy face, I ask, “What are you doing?”

“I was monitoring your breathing while you slept.”

“Why?”

“My dog door is locked.”

“So?”

“I’m locked inside, and if you didn’t wake up I would starve.”

“And that made you monitor my breathing?”

“I was really worried there for a while. Your breathing got so shallow and quiet, I thought you had stopped breathing all together and would never wake up. I could feel the hunger pains gnawing away at my insides, but then I realized that if you were dead I could eat you, and the hunger pains went away.”

“And the drooling commenced,” I say and push his head away to avoid being drooled on.

“If it weren’t for the drool, I doubt you would’ve started breathing again.”

I become aware of the drool on my forehead and wipe it off. “Well Fleegle, if I die in my sleep and the dog door is locked, you have my permission to eat me.”

His tail wags. “Oh good. Now I won’t feel so bad about doing it.” He continues to stare at me.

“Why are you still staring? What else?”

“Well, do you think you could start leaving the mayonnaise out on the counter at night? And a few of those plastic packets of ketchup too? You know, just in case.”

 

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Negotiating with Cookies – Take-Out

Fleegle and I are in the car on our way to our first dog walking appointment when Fleegle says, “Raud, the Seaweed Men came again last night.”

“The who?”

“I call them the Seaweed Men because they smell like seaweed, but they don’t really look like men, more like children with really big hairless heads.”

“You must’ve been dreaming, and we both know how weird your dreams can be.”

“Nope, I wasn’t dreaming. I was wide awake, though I couldn’t move. I never can when the Seaweed Men show up, can’t even bark to wake you up.”

I stop the car for a red light. “What do these Seaweed Men do?”

“Oh, they usually float you through a hole in the bedroom ceiling and you’re gone for a few hours.”

“But there isn’t a hole in the bedroom ceiling.”

“I know that and you know that, but they don’t. If they want a hole there, there’s a hole.”

“I think I’d remember any nighttime excursions that involved levitations and passing through ceilings.” The light turns green and I step on the gas.

“Nah, you sleep through it every time.”

“Every time? How long have these Seaweed Men been coming?”

“As long as I can remember?”

“That’s at least three years and you’re just telling me now?”

“They didn’t ask me not to this time.”

“I see.”

“I think they just forgot. But don’t worry about it, they always bring you back.” He stands up in his seat and wags his tail. “Is it time for my lunch yet? I could really go for some California rolls right about now, with an extra wrap of seaweed, how about you?”

 

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Negotiating with Cookies – Fleegle Cures Laziness

While I’m lazing in bed late Saturday morning, Fleegle ambles into the bedroom and over to my side of the bed. “Raud, there’s a poop in the living room.”

My eyes pop open. I’m wide awake now. I deal with enough poop outside that the thought of it being inside too sets my mind alight like a 4th of July sparkler. “What do you mean there’s a poop in the living room? Did you poop in the living room? Are you ill?”

“No, I didn’t poop in the living room.”

“Why would you do that? You’re dog door is open and the yard has lots of prime locations for private pooping for poop shy dogs like you.”

Fleegle shakes his head. “It’s not my poop.”

I push the comforter aside and sit up. “It’s not? Well it certainly isn’t mine if that’s what you’re implying.”

“Are you going to get up and take a look? It could be staining the rug?”

“It’s on the rug? You’re damn right I’m getting up to take a look.” I throw my feet over the side of the bed. “Who’s been pooping on my rug?”

Lickety-split, I’m up, down the hall and in the living room in. I scan the rug, looking for the offensive waste product, and there it is, the size of a pine cone sitting under the coffee table. I move in for a closer look, and as I do I realize that’s what it is, a pine cone. How could Fleegle miss that? I look around, expecting him to be standing behind me, but he’s nowhere to be seen. I pick up the cone and carry it through the kitchen to the patio door, where I see Fleegle sitting next to the storage bin that holds his kibble.

I open the patio door and toss the pine cone out into the bamboo. “It wasn’t poop, Fleegle. It was a pine cone.”

“Oh, really? It sure had me fooled, but now that you’re up, do you think you could feed me my breakfast?”

 

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Negotiating with Cookies – What the Leash Is Really For

Fleegle sometimes pulls on the leash when I walk him. It’s not a lot, just enough to keep the leash taught and off the ground, but if a dog has recently walked the path we are on and its scent trail is strong, then Fleegle is another dog entirely. He’ll stop and sniff a fern, then dash off to trail the scent, snapping the leash tight and dragging me behind him like a grounded kite. Then he’ll stop and sniff the next fern and the surrounding area, debating for ages in that furry dog head of his whether to pee or not to pee on another dog’s pee. When he chooses not to pee after taking an especially long time analyzing a particular leaf, I admit to being disappointed, like somehow he hasn’t finished his job and something needs to be done about it.

As I’m being dragged to the next scent that requires sniffing and analysis, you’ll often hear me saying “All that sniffing and waiting in the cold rain and you’re not going to pee on it? Not even a dribble?” But I haven’t become so inseparable from my dog that I feel it’s my duty to finish the job for him. Not yet at least.

As we start down the trail, I realize today is going to be one of those walks because Fleegle’s ears are up and his nose is down and he’s putting his weight against the leash attached to his harness. I’m wishing I knew how to skateboard when I say, “Fleegle, slow down. You’re pulling my arm out of its socket.”

“Try to keep up, Raud. You’re slowing me down. This pee is fresh, that’s lots of news to be had before it dries out.”

It has been raining everyday for as far back as I can remember, admittedly my memory gets a little fuzzy when it comes to the rain—I remember it much more easily than the sun—fields turned to mud long ago, the skies are forever overcast and dark in a perpetual dusk. To top it off I keep catching the scent of mildew and I’m pretty sure it’s coming from me. As Fleegle drags me to the next twig with a droplet of urine on it, I hit a tipping point, freeze in my tracks and shout, “Stop.”

He does and turns to look at me, not pulling but tugging on his leash. “But Raud…”

“No buts. No more pulling. No more dragging me through the mud just to sniff wiz.”

He stops fidgeting, sits on the path and tilts his head to one side. “Raud, do you know what the leash is really for?”

“Of course I do. It’s to keep you safe.”

He shakes his head. “You think you know everything but you know so little. Do you know why I put up with wearing the leash?”

“Because there’d be no walks without it?” I should be putting my foot down and saying that like it’s a matter of fact, but it comes out as a question.

He shakes his head again. “Wrong. I wear it as a favor to you. You refer to it as my leash, but it is really your leash. We both know that without a leash tethering you to me, there’s not a cat-butt chance you’d be able to find your way back to the car on your own with that tiny nub on your face you call a nose. You can’t scent discriminate a burrito from a bacon cheeseburger with that nib.” He stands and gently pulls on the leash toward further adventure down the path. “So lagging on your leash and shouting and being an overall killjoy is no way to treat a friend doing you a big favor every time you step out of the car or house. Without me you’d be one of those guys holding up a cardboard sign that reads, ‘Do you know where my home is?’ You’d be going from person to person, asking if they knew where your house was until one of them took mercy on you and loaned you their dog to show you the way home.”

 

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Negotiating with Cookies – Ghost Writer

As I’m hunched over my desk working on a story, and my bad pasture, Fleegle appears from underneath my desk and rests his head on my knee.

“Whatcha working on, Raud?” he asks.

“Chapter one of a children’s story.”

“Ooo, what’s it called?”

“I don’t know yet, but the working title for chapter one is, ‘The Watermelon Has Landed’.”

“I can eat a lot of watermelon. You should write a story for dogs. I mean, you don’t have kids but you do have me.”

“And what should it be about?” I ask.

“Well, chapter one would be about a guy who forgot to feed his dog lunch.”

I glance at my watch. Time has really whipped by. “And chapter two? What’s it about?”

“Chapter two is about how the guy made it up to his dog by giving him a double portion of kibble.”

I push my chair away from my desk. “And chapter three is about how this fat Labrador—I assume your protagonist is a Labrador—has to skip dinner because he ate so much for lunch and doesn’t want to end up going to fat camp.”

Fleegle’s ears perk up. “Fat camp? This is the first time I’ve heard of this place. Can I go there?”

I raise my eyebrows at him. “You want to go to fat camp?”

“Yeah, don’t you? If everyone there is fat, they must serve up some good sized portions. I bet they use giant ladles, unlike that tiny half cup measuring scoop you use to dole out my kibble.”

 

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Negotiating with Cookies – Grinch

Fleegle nose bumps me in the leg at the park and asks, “Raud, are you a Grinch?”

“Why do you ask?’

“I overheard one of your friends call you that?”

I nod my head. “Well, they were right. I am a Grinch, completely unreformed.”

He tilts his head to the side. “What is a Grinch?”

“A Grinch is someone who has great difficulty getting into the Christmas spirit, or simply chooses not to bother.”

“Christmas spirit? Is that spirit as in like Buck the ghost dog who comes around to visit every now and then?”

“No, not like Buck the ghost. Christmas spirit is when you feel enthusiastic about doing a lot of gift shopping, competing for parking, maxing out your credit cards on things people will return or re-gift. Christmas spirit is being excited about family visits and having relatives stay with you who hog the remote.”

Fleegle tilts his head to the other side. “But I heard it had to do with the birth of some guy named Jesus who was born a long time ago.”

“Shush, don’t say that too loud or the pc police will snatch you up.”

“Why? He sounds like a pretty cool guy who could turn rocks into dog biscuits.”

“I know a few Labradors who don’t need Jesus for that.”

 

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