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  • Writer's picturePatty Kramer

Three Day Old Gifts

Updated: Jul 5, 2023

I have a confession to make—I detest being shut up inside the flower garden at Wish Island! Nothing makes me yap more than to be trapped inside the wire mesh fence that keeps those tall four-legs with the white flashy tails away from Whiny’s precious flowers. The whole world passes by on the county road while I’m forced to watch, my prancing legs dying to chase them away, my frantic barking unheard by the two-legs that have dared to drive through my domain.

Whiny tries to shush me each morning so I don’t wake up Lifesaver who lives next door with my favorite cat Leo. Often giving up on shushing me and carrying me back to the house after a rowdy see-if-you-can-catch-me marathon. Depositing me inside the wooden rail enclosure by the house instead of letting me romp, and bark, and chase the lizards inside the garden. Telling me that it is way too early to wake up the world.

But I know she’s wrong. It’s time to get up and get to barking when the bright light beside Lifesaver's house begins to melt the darkness, that dreaded curtain that hides the wild things who leave their scents so close to our doors at night. Whiny doesn’t know it, but as soon as our house settles into sleep, I can smell them sniffing, and hear them scratching, just one thin pane away from where I’m tucked inside my kennel with Fred. One of these days when I get to be a big, bad dog, I’ll chase them far, far away.

This morning inside the flower garden, I couldn’t stop my barking, and ran frantically from corner to corner, tramping with my six-pound body the fragile, feathery ferns that tickle my nose when I sniff them. I was banished to the house pen while she finished her morning conversation with the beds of zinnias and the giant sunflowers. All the while speaking in the same good-dog voice she uses for me. Making me jealous of the time and energy she spends inside that garden with what she calls the handiwork of God. I wonder, who does she think made me?

Finally, the running water was cut off, and I could see Whiny coming toward the three tall steps that bring her back into the real world. Suddenly she stopped, screamed, and fought to keep from stepping on a striped lizard that lay atop the highest step, catching the first rays on its favorite sunny spot.

Whiny should have been paying better attention, as she is quite used to seeing the two lizards that My Girl calls Jimmy and Janice and knows they often claim that wooden step as their resting place. The pair, one a good two inches longer than the other, are constant companions to any two-legs wandering through the garden gate. It makes me happy that sometimes Whiny also banishes them from her precious enclosure when they entwine and resemble the vines twirling around the metal fence wire. Telling J and J, as she sprays them with water, that they should take their business to the shadows and stop vining where all the world can see. Sending them scurrying beneath the overflowing morning glory that silently creeps across the garden floor.

I don’t know how Whiny kept from falling, but she managed to clear the lizard and move on down the steps. Before her heart could settle, and way before I’d stopped my frantic yapping because I wanted out, out, out, Whiny encountered another crawly thing. At the Ranger that she drives around Wish Island, she reached to place her bottle of water into the deep cupholder. I couldn’t see what was happening, but I heard over my shrill barking, a series of short screams, short because she was having trouble sucking in enough air to make them longer. Her fright this time was over the two-inch pair of antennae sticking up from the hole that were frantically telegraphing to whatever monster that was fixing to mash them that the hole was already occupied!

Once I was freed, I trotted over to see what Whiny had prodded with a long branch until the critter figured out it was supposed to catch on and take a ride to freedom. It was, as Whiny would describe to any two-legs she met for several days, the ugliest, longest, hardest shelled beetle we’d ever seen in our lives. So hard, that my little teeth barely penetrated its armor and so long that it stuck out of both sides of my mouth when I captured it and carried it over to my favorite spot to deposit treasures—the top of Whiny’s right shoe.

How was I supposed to know that Whiny didn’t want me to kill the bug for her? She carried on fussing at me just like the day I’d brought her a red bird that had killed itself by flying into one of Whiny’s too clean windows. The same red bird that was covered in sand, (which shook off easily), and also in these tiny, tiny bugs that didn’t.

At least the beetle had a little life left in him, which made him a whole lot more interesting than the three-day-dead bird that didn’t move at all when I placed my special gift atop that same shoe. Guess I’m going to have to become a little better at picking out treats for my favorite two-legs.

Maybe she likes June bugs?

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