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Chapter 9 - Cotton jaws of the big black dog

Chapter 9 - Cotton jaws of the big black dog

 

 

The morning rose slower than normally. At night Rachel woke up many times to listen to the puppy snuffle in its sleep. Just before Rachel woke up, she had a dream that she was racing with the puppy and Ringel was cheering them onwards shouting: “Hurry, hurry, hurry!” Rachel woke up. The puppy had a name now. He was Harry!

Harry was still so small that he could only say one word in dog language, and it was “hi”, but Ringel had assured Rachel that he would learn more words quickly. His own name would be the second word in dog language that Harry would learn and it would only take a couple of days.

The first thing to do in the morning was to take Harry out but Rachel was too slow. Harry had time to pee on the blanket while Rachel was putting her clothes on. And when Rachel took Harry out, he had no need whatsoever.

That day Rachel and Harry went in and out a number of times and still Harry found time to pee three times inside. After the third time Rachel and Dad decided to spread newspapers on the floors, just in case. This was a good strategy because the fourth time, which was a bigger production, fell on the newspaper! Rachel learned quite quickly that Harry had to be taken immediately outside after he ate. When new food or drink went inside, the old came out. So simple!

Today was Dad’s bagel baking Friday. For Rachel it meant a trip to the pond to feed the ducks and mallards. The trip should wait, however, since Dad had not even started baking the bagels yet, and Rachel had to show the whole house and yard to Harry, and introduce him to all the occupants of the yard.

The flowers of the yard were not too keen on the new resident. They asked Rachel to make sure that Harry would not dig their roots. Rachel promised. But buggies were exhilarated of a new playmate! Their greatest joy was to buzz on the ground close to Harry, and when Harry tried to snatch them, they would at the last moment whoosh up in the air. The buggies developed this into a competition. Rachel did not know what the rules of the competition were, but the main thing was that Harry and the buggies were happy!

In the afternoon the bagels were ready, and Dad had grumbled the old ones into a bag ready for Rachel. She remembered well the instructions of the ducks and mallards, so she sprayed some water into the bag to make the bagel crumbs softer.

Rachel had not been to the pond after the Gloomy Gang of Blueberry Road had picked on her but today she needed to go there, otherwise the birds would not get to eat. So Rachel started towards the pond, with Harry’s leash in one hand and the bagel bag in the other; Harry on her one side (at least momentarily) and Ringel on the other (or above).

It was a beautiful summer’s day. Now it was time for the groundsel, goldenrod and aster to bloom, totally different flowers than in the time of the beauty pageant. Rachel thought that one summer contains actually quite many summers. There is the early summer when crocuses, daffodils and dandelions were blooming, the trees are fresh green and birds were laying eggs. Then there was the midsummer when all the flowers of the beauty pageant were blooming, trees had big, dark green leaves, and bird parents taught their chicks to fly. Then there was the late summer, when the leaves of trees started turning yellow, flowers concentrated on preparing their seeds, and the birds left for their long vacation in the south. This was the time for the third summer, when the nature started settling down after a busy summer.

Rachel was afraid a bit that the Gloomy Gang of Blueberry Road would spot her and continue teasing her.

- You have nothing to be afraid of, said Ringel.

Rachel had grown accustomed to Ringel answering her thoughts.

- Oh, yes I do! What if they start pushing me again and I fall down and get bruises? It hurts. You do not know how it feels!

- Maybe I don’t, but I do know that if your heart is injured, it hurts more even though there is no bruise.

This was so typical of Ringel! Sometimes he managed to turn Rachel’s thoughts into a knot! It took a long time for Rachel to think if it could actually hurt without a bruise. Rachel was so young, though, that she could not find an answer to this strange question.

The green house of Blueberry Road was coming closer, so Rachel, Harry and Ringel moved on the other side of the road. Rachel hoped that the angry dog would not be at the yard. And it wasn’t, good! And almost right after the green house, the path departed to the pond.

Rachel could only hear the gentle quacking of ducks and mallards from the pond. – Extremely good!, said Rachel to herself. The bird noises grew louder when they saw her.

- Hey, it is the bagel girl! Mates, look!

- I am hungry! No one has been feeding us today!

- But yesterday you ate more than anyone else!

- Yeah, but the day before you ate most!

The babbling went on and on until the birds spotted Harry.

- She has a dog! Chicks, take cover!

The chicks were already the size of adult birds, but obediently they grouped themselves next to their parents.

Ringel calmed the birds by telling them that Harry could only say “hi” and soon his own name, and that kind of a creature is not dangerous. If the birds would not frighten and peck Harry, in time he would be their friend that could p rotect them from all kinds of dangers.

“Danger” sounded so important in the birds’ minds that they decided to convene immediately for a bird council Rachel find it funny that animals kept their councils every now and then, but in time she had grown accustomed to them. While the council of adult birds convened, Rachel threw pieces of bagel to the chick and Harry greeted them “hi, hi, hi!”.

The council had reached a conclusion. If Harry was kept in a leash until the birds were convinced that he was harmless, they could later on teach Harry to swim and dive. This was a grand offer! Of course Rachel agreed and an approving quack spread around the shores of the pond. Harry got so thrilled that he had to pee out of sheer excitement!

The chicks had received their share of the bagels so now it was time to feed the council. Rachel liked feeding birds. All was peaceful up until the moment a piece of bagel fell in the water. That second all birds close by dashed towards the piece as if powerboats in full speed! And the moment one of them snatched the piece, all returned to calm again. This continued for as long as there were pieces of bagel to hunt, and Harry was having fun when it barked “hi” to every piece of bagel flying into the water!

Finally bagel was finished and Rachel shook the tiniest crumbs into the water line. The birds thanked and said that the pieces had indeed been softer than before and granted that Harry had also been behaving very well. Then the customary grooming of feathers started indicating that the feeding time was over.

Rachel, Harry and Ringel started heading back home. On the way Harry said “hi” to everything that he saw, even small pebbles. The chicks were shouting “hi” back for as long as Rachel could here.

The path soon ended at Blueberry Road. Rachel was following Harry bouncing so intently that she did not notice where they were until a tremendous woof exploded into the air right at them! Rachel was so stunned that she dropped Harry leash and at the same time noticed that the gate of the green house was ajar! Harry started bouncing towards the gate when a big black dog darted growling out of the gate!

- NOOO! Ringel, do something!, cried Rachel horrified and tried to catch Harry.

The big black dog attacked Harry. Harry whined when the big dog worried it from the neck! Rachel was afraid that Harry would suffocate!

- Ringel, help!, yelled Rachel.

But Ringel had already done something. He had made a thick cushion of white cotton around Harry. When the big dog bit into it, his teeth sank deep but they did not touch Harry at all.

- Grrrh! Khr! Wuff! What is this?, coughed the big black dog and let Harry go. Harry was as if nothing had happened and just barked “hi, hi, hi” jumping up and down around the big dog. Finally Rachel caught its leash.

- Why did you attack Harry?, she asked the dog coughing cotton balls out of its mouth.

- I would not have hurt it! It is just the way dogs play! I am not really angry, explained the dog between coughs.

- But why have you always barked at me so angrily when I have walked past the gate?, wondered Rachel.

- Because it is my job. I am a watchdog. My master likes to be alone and wants me to bark all the intruders away.

- But I am not an intruder!, protested Rachel.

- Yes, well, there are so few intruders that I have to practice by barking at the walkers by. Otherwise I might forget how to bark and snarl convincingly, and my master would be most displeased if I started to meow like a kitten just because I have forgotten how a watchdog talks.

This made a little bit of sense for Rachel. She felt pity for the big black dog that tried to remove cotton stuck between its teeth with its paws.

- May I help?, she asked.

- With pleasure, answered the black dog with dignity and opened its jaws.

When the dog’s master came back from his shopping trip, a very strange scene welcomed him. His big black watchdog sat at the gate and in front of him sat a little girl, with a small, white puppy on her side. The mouth of his watchdog was fully open and the girl cleaned his teeth with a twig.

Seeing his master approaching, the dog shut his mouth and quickly told Rachel that it was time to do some work and asked if Rachel and Harry were willing to help.

- Of course, promised Rachel.

- Let’s pretend that you are intruders and I am a watchdog that drives you away. That would make my master most pleased.

- Okay!

Rachel jumped on her feet and started running towards home with Harry bouncing happily beside her. She heard loud barking from behind and almost fell down because she started laughing. Not only because the watchdog barked so convincingly, but also because Ringel zigzagging in front of her blew huge cotton balls from his mouth.

They could hear the big black dog barking after them for a long time, almost until they reached Rachel’s home.

The master of the green house did not even begin to understand what had happened. He understood even less when he peered into his dog’s mouth and saw cotton between its teeth. But he was happy, however, that the dog had driven the intruders away – whatever might have happened before it!

“Good watchdog”, he thought and gave his dog a big, succulent bone to chew. By chewing his reward, the big black dog finally got the rest of his teeth cleaned from cotton.

 

 

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