Here, have my bacon. I don’t want it.
Are you going to share that?
No. It takes a lot of energy to look this cute.
Here, have my bacon. I don’t want it.
Are you going to share that?
No. It takes a lot of energy to look this cute.
Present for you.
Ew. I don’t like mice.
Of course not. I wouldn’t give it to you if I thought you’d keep it.
It all started when Bernard stepped on Sasha’s tail. He hadn’t seen it because he’d been in a hurry to bark at the window. The squirrel was back and needed to be reminded that a scary dog lived here, after all.
Sasha had shrieked and hissed and growled. Bernard hurried away a little more quickly than he’d planned, and then he promptly forgot all about his little misstep. He remembered at dinnertime, when he found his dinner bowl was knocked over and his food scattered all over the kitchen.
Bernard marched into the living room. Sasha was curled up on the new sky blue armchair that Bernard was never allowed to sit on. It wasn’t fair that just because cats were unnaturally preoccupied with staying clean, they could sit wherever they want.
“I know it was you,” Bernard growled angrily.
Sasha smirked. “You’ll never prove it.”
The human stomped into the room. “Bernard, you made such a mess in the kitchen! And now you’re scaring the poor cat. You obviously have too much energy and need some outside time. Out you go. Out! Now!”
And so out into the cold Bernard went. Of course, going outside wasn’t really a hardship. Hopefully he’d have his dinner back in his bowl when he went inside, too. He waded into an especially deep, muddy puddle. That fussy cat would probably cry if she were ever this wet and muddy.
That was when Bernard had a brilliant idea. He would match wits with the cat and win. Dogs are naturally smart and persistent. Sasha would have to finally admit that dogs are the best and agree to never knock over his dinner again. He had the perfect idea for his first plan of attack.
And so, when the human opened the door to call him inside, Bernard was already there by the door waiting to go in. He slipped inside and ignored the human’s angry shouts. He had to hurry before the cold, muddy water all dripped out of his fur.
He raced to the sky blue armchair and began to shake all the muddy water off. Sasha jumped up and hid under the chair before the first drops of water touched her. Such a scaredy-cat.
Of course, Bernard was in trouble after that. He had to take a bath, and he wasn’t allowed in the living room for days. He sat in the doorway behind the baby-gate and watched Sasha get pets and ear scratches. He needed a new plan.
His next plan was a stroke of genius. Once the human was out of the room, Bernard hit the speed dial number for the pizza place and barked out an order for pizza with anchovies. Everyone would suspect Sasha and she’d be the one outside the baby-gate.
But the humans didn’t understand him. They said something about pocket-dialing and hung up. Sasha looked over and snickered. Later that evening, she batted his blue ball and squeaky bone over and left them at the foot of the stairs.
In the morning, the sleepy human came downstairs and tripped on the toys. Bernard was in trouble again. It wasn’t fair.
Once he was allowed back in the living room, Bernard prepared to launch his master plan. He carefully stepped on the remote and turned on the television. He attempted to change the channel to the fishing channel. Sasha would be in so much trouble! Unfortunately, the channel wouldn’t change. Instead, the television got louder and louder. Bernard whined and hid behind the sofa. What had gone wrong?
He peeked around the couch and watched Sasha roll her eyes and turn off the television. Bernard huffed. When the human hurried in and checked on the remote, Sasha was curled up in her favorite chair. Bernard ran out, hoping not to be noticed and blamed for the noise.
It didn’t work. Bernard was told to leave the remote alone, and the remote was put up out of reach. To add insult to injury, he was in trouble once again that evening. Sasha had somehow found his hidden stash of chewed-up shoes and put them on display in the middle of the kitchen.
It was time to give up. He’d foolishly fallen victim to one of the classic blunders and attempted a battle of wits with a cat. Next time, he’d be more careful of where he was stepping, and…was that a squirrel?
Zeke disguised himself as one of the small furry things he’d seen playing with the humans in the park. Pretending to be a pet was a textbook infiltration technique he’d learned in the academy.
He double-checked his translation and recording devices and ambled up to a tidy-looking front step. When a human came out, he barked and wagged his tail. A small human peeked around the human standing in the doorway. “A dog! Can we keep him, Dad?” the small human said.
“He might already have a family, Paul,” the tall human dad said.
“We can put some signs up just in case,” Paul said.
“Okay,” Dad said. Zeke was in.
Fortunately, the humans were happy to teach him what was expected of him. His duties included fetch, shake hands, roll over, and play dead. Careful observation of the humans told him that these duties were expected of other small furry things, so he wasn’t surprised.
He had hoped that he’d be able to use his duties for more than just amusing humans. So, he watched closely. Humans did shake hands on formal occasions to say hello or goodbye. His humans were rarely formal. Humans do not roll over on the ground. Humans do throw balls for other humans to catch. He did not see them throw sticks for each other.
Playing dead was a large part of human culture. Every evening, his humans would sit down in front of their communication screen and play dead. The first time he watched his humans do this, he was slightly alarmed. He soon became accustomed to this strange ritual.
Sometimes he would join them in playing dead. He would watch the screen and try to understand the messages. They were communicated as stories and advertisements and sporting events. Sometimes his humans would sit up and yell back at the screen, but the messages continued to play. Their responses didn’t seem to be heard.
At first, he thought the messages were recordings of events happening somewhere. He realized his mistake when he saw the story about humans in space. He knew that humans had not yet developed space travel. Perhaps this message was requesting support in developing the necessary technology?
His current theory was that humans sometimes strengthened their communications with emotion, and the stories were meant to evoke the emotion that best conveyed the message. Zeke wasn’t entirely sure. His humans did seem to like the messages best when they reflected the conveyed message most strongly. If they looked passive, they’d switch to a new message soon.
Zeke studied many aspects of human behavior. He surveyed local plant life and structures when out on walks. He slept on Paul’s bed and monitored his sleep patterns. Paul was also most helpful in passing him samples of human food. Paul was especially eager to share any plant matter from his plate. Zeke was fairly sure this was because Paul didn’t like the plant matter.
Then one day, too quick for his humans to see it, a message from his mission commander flashed across the human communication screen. At the same time, his communicator buzzed under his fur. It was time to go home. That evening, he shook hands with Mom, Dad, and Paul. Then he barked and wagged his tail for good measure.
After they were asleep, Zeke let himself out the back door. He briefly wondered if they would put pictures of him up again. Well, time to write up his mission report. He took off his furry animal suit and returned to the ship.
Did you know that every dog gets a wish? One day the dog fairy comes and asks what they want most. Then, poof! They get their wish, just like that.
Mostly dogs are pretty happy as they are. So, they wish for extra dinner or a sunny day or that someone would scratch behind their ears. The wishes are so easy that they almost grant themselves.
But once there was a dog that probably spent too much time thinking. He would have been happier if he’d jumped into more muddy puddles or barked at a few more people passing by his yard. But instead, he was sitting and thinking, and that was the cause of his problems.
One day, when he was resting in a patch of sunlight, sitting and thinking and ignoring the squirrels dancing around his yard and making faces, the dog fairy appeared. “What is your wish?” she asked.
“Do you know what would be handy?” the dog asked. “Having hands like a human.”
“Is that really your wish?” the dog fairy asked. “You only get one you know.”
The dog sat and thought for a moment more. “Yes,” he said. “That’s my wish.”
“So be it,” the dog fairy said. And the dog had human hands. He held them up and turned them this way and that.
“Thank you,” he said. The dog fairy smiled and disappeared.
The dog stood up. It was uncomfortable walking on his new hands. He tried to stand on his back feet, like he’d seen humans do, but it wasn’t as easy as it looked.
In the end he carefully picked his way across the yard, avoiding the sharp rocks and prickly weeds. It took him an hour or more to figure out the doorknob. As soon as he was inside, he raced straight to the kitchen.
The dog pulled open the fridge. He knocked down containers and tried to open them. Some things tasted great. Others were terrible. Some containers he couldn’t figure out how to open at all.
He hadn’t even started on the drawers when he began to feel sick. He left everything as it was and hobbled down the hall to Jack’s room.
Jack was his special human, and the dog wanted to curl up on Jack’s bed until he felt better. The dog was grateful that the door was open. He wasn’t feeling up to trying another doorknob.
He jumped on the end of the bed and curled up in his favorite spot. When he looked up, he was facing the mirror on Jack’s closet door. He held up his new hands. They didn’t look right on the end of his front legs.
The dog turned his back on the mirror and hid his hands under his chin. He fell asleep, and while he slept he dreamed.
The dream started out quite nice. Dogs were lining up, asking him to open things for them. Even cats were in line, clutching tins of cat food to their chests and looking hopeful. He used his amazing hands and could open everything on the first try.
But then, they wanted to run a race, and he couldn’t keep up while running on his sensitive human hands. Would he never be able to run again? How would he play fetch with Jack? Did it mean no more walks?
And then he saw the dogs barking softly to each other. When he looked at them, they stopped barking and looked away. A little dog laughed and then pretended it was coughing. His new hands did look strange. Maybe this had been a bad idea.
He woke up when the front door banged closed. Had he left that open? He could hear Jack yelling something in the kitchen. Oops. He’d left a mess in there.
He looked down at his odd human hands. What if Jack didn’t recognize him anymore? What if he didn’t like them? Why did he wish for hands? They were going to get him into trouble.
“Dog fairy?” he barked softly. “If you’re there, please give me my paws back.” Nothing happened. He could hear Jack coming down the hall. “Please, dog fairy.”
His paws changed back to normal just as Jack opened the door. The dog was so grateful, that he told his story to every dog he met, and they told all the dogs they met. The dog spent less time sitting and thinking and more time playing with Jack. And he was happy.
Dogs still pass around the story today. As far as I know, no other dog has wished for human hands.
Dave frowned. There was just a muffin and a banana in his lunchbox. He hated the end of the month when money was tight. Maybe if he ate slower he wouldn’t feel as hungry.
He put his books on the lunch table so no one would see how small his lunch was, and unpeeled the banana. He blinked. There wasn’t a banana inside the peel. Instead, there was a little yellow kitten with dark eyes. He pinched himself. Still there.
“Hello,” the kitten said. He looked around and looked back. It was still there. “No one else can see me,” it said. It turned its head and started licking its back.
“Where did my banana go?” Dave asked.
“There wasn’t one,” the kitten said. “Just me.”
“Oh,” Dave said. He started to peel his muffin. He really was hungry. The kitten watched him and leaned forward as he prepared to take a bite. “Did you want some?” Dave asked.
“Thank you,” the kitten said. It swallowed the entire muffin in one bite and then went back to licking its back. The muffin was bigger than its head, so Dave wasn’t really sure how that just happened.
“You’re welcome, I guess,” Dave said. “What’s your name?”
“I don’t want one,” the kitten said.
“Then what will I call you?”
The kitten turned around and stared at him. “Don’t say anything at all. People will think you’re crazy. If you only talk to me when we’re alone, who else would you be talking to?”
That made sense. Dave nodded and then looked around. Everyone else was eating. He sighed and began to pack his bag again. No lunch today. Maybe he could win some candy if Mr. Long was giving a pop quiz. He always studied hard just in case.
To his delight, there was a pop quiz. He quickly filled in his answers and waited for the others to finish writing. He could almost taste the chocolate. The kitten jumped off his shoulder and studied his paper. “This one is wrong,” it said. “And this one. And this one. You’re really bad at this.”
Dave looked at his answers again. He really wanted that chocolate. He was pretty sure they were right. But he was so hungry. He changed his answers.
The kitten was wrong. “Sorry,” it said and started licking its paws. Dave groaned and shoved the test in his bag. His stomach growled.
“Dave,” Mr. Long said. “You sound hungry.” The class laughed. Dave’s face burned. Mr. Long waited until everyone settled down and then smiled. “I’ll give you a second chance to earn a treat. Come to the board and show us how to do this problem.”
Dave was willing to try. The kitten climbed up on his arm, and he went to the board. The kitten kept yelling in his ear that he was doing it wrong. He ended up making a silly mistake and some of his classmates laughed. Mr. Long gave him the candy anyways.
The kitten yelled the opposite of whatever the teacher said for the rest of the day. Dave had an enormous headache. When he got home, no one was home. There was another banana and a package of ramen on the table with a note. Mom would be home late.
Dave was sure this was a bad idea, but he unpeeled the banana. There was another kitten. “Where did mom get these?” he asked. No one answered. Instead, the other kitten climbed on his other shoulder. The cats began to sing opera loudly. He groaned.
“I think it’s time you both got down,” he said. They ignored him. He tried to pick them up and move them, but it was like trying to catch smoke. They darted away from his hands and scratched at him with little needle-like claws.
Dave sat down and the kittens perched on his shoulders. Cats hate water, right? “I think I might need to take a shower,” he said. “Right now.” The first kitten growled and its eyes grew large. It was kind of scary.
“Never mind, I give up. What do you want from me?” he asked.
“We want to go home to our mother,” the second kitten said. “I’m hungry.”
Dave made up the ramen. The kittens ate it all. He called his mom’s work. “This had better be important,” she said.
“Umm…I think I heard something outside in the bushes,” he said.
“Are the doors locked?” Mom sounded impatient.
“Uh, yes,” Dave said.
“Then turn out the lights and go to bed early. We have nothing to steal.”
Dave frowned. He still had homework to do. And he was hungry. “Mom, where did the bananas come from?”
“Aunt Jenny, when I was returning her umbrella. I’ll see you in the morning Dave. I’m sorry you have to be home alone.” Mom hung up.
Dave called Aunt Jenny. “Hi, Aunt Jenny? Where did the bananas come from? Do you have the neighbor’s number? Thank you!”
He called the neighbor, and then a garden store, and then a bakery. The baker told him they were from an elderly lady who lived by the bakery. By now, the kittens were having a loud argument. They kept swiping at each other and scratching Dave instead.
It wasn’t late yet, so Dave walked to the bakery. He knocked at the door of the house next to it. A very tall man answered and said the old lady lived two doors down.
Dave trudged down the street and knocked on the door. The house was clean and well kept. And neon pink.
The old lady who answered had bright blue hair. Her house was full of yellow cats. The kittens climbed down and raced around the corner. The old lady smiled. “Thank you dear,” she said. “You look hungry. Would you like something to eat?”
“Not a banana?” Dave asked. Just in case.
“Of course not.” The old lady looked shocked. “Here, have a nice muffin from the bakery. Would you like to come by sometimes and help me with my sweet cats?”
“Probably not,” Dave said. “But thank you for the muffin.”
“I’ll pay you for your time, of course,” the lady said.
Dave looked down at where a yellow cat was chewing on his shoelaces. “Well, let me think about it. I’ll let you know.” The lady handed him another muffin and smiled. Dave sighed. He knew he’d probably say yes. He hated the end of the month when money was tight.