Saturday, June 25, 2005


Died June 24, 2005, Age 13

Copyright 2005 Janice Price

"Why are you two looking so sad?" Percy asks, when he finds Merci and Buddy sitting at the computer, Merci on Jan’s chair and Buddy sitting on the floor with his chin on the edge of the desk. Both are staring at a picture on the monitor.

“We’re looking at a picture of Benji,” Buddy responds. “Jan took this last year after he was shaved. He looks so funny without his fuzzy hair.”

Percy laughs. “I remember that. He was so embarrassed when Jan brought him by after she picked him up from the vet’s office. Is she going to have him shaved again this year?”

“No, not this year,” Merci answers. "Benji's gone.”

"Gone where?"

"He died early this morning."

Percy frowns. "Benji wouldn't do that! When Jan brought him over to visit us, he said he couldn't wait for her to take him back to Miss Mother's where he belonged. He didn't mind a short visit, but Miss Mother was his responsibility and he couldn't be away long. Not since his friend Shorty died, anyway."

"But," Buddy says, with great sadness, "the last few times we visited him and Miss Mother, he said he was tired and would be going away soon. I thought he meant he was going on vacation to get some rest. I still can't believe he meant he was leaving us forever."

"Neither can I," Merci adds. "We saw him just a day or two ago and he reminded us he would be leaving soon and asked us to promise to take good care of Miss Mother for him. He said he knew Miss Mother needed him but he was just too tired to hang on any longer. We didn’t have any idea what he meant and we certainly didn’t understand he would not be coming back, but we said we would watch out for Miss Mother so he could rest in peace.”

"It was so sad. Jan wrapped him in something he liked of Miss Mother's, put him in a box, and took him to Mr. Doug's house. Mr. Doug buried Benji in his back yard next to his old friend Shorty who died last year." Buddy sniffs, not wanting to cry and spoil his image. He is seven months old now and too old to cry.

Percy pretends he doesn't notice Buddy's pain. "But he never came over to say good-bye to the rest of the Funny Farm group."

A tear spills down Merci's face. "He said good-bye to all of us on Wednesday. We just didn't mention it because it didn't seem important at the time. He remembered you, all of you. Especially Crystal, since Crystal whacked him one on the nose on his first visit. You know Crystal, he doesn't consider himself a cat toy."

"I'm going to miss stealing his food when we walk through Miss Mother's house. He always left something in his bowl for me to eat."

"Buddy, do you ever think of anything except food?" Merci asks, with a touch of impatience. "This is serious. Benji went away and left Miss Mother all alone."

Buddy tilts his head and says, earnestly, "But Miss Mother is not all alone. She has Jan and Mr. Doug. And us! We will just have to visit more often and sit in her lap to cheer her up."

"If you sit in her lap," Merci says, "you'll squash her! She's just an itty-bitty woman compared to you. Act like a gentleman instead. Sit on the floor, offer her your paw and lick her hand."

"I licked her face today," Buddy says, softly. "It was salty. She'd been crying."

"Guys, you're going to have me bawling in a minute," Percy complains. "I'm going to be a year old next month. I'm too old to cry. We need to think of something else." Percy perks up. "Oh, didn't you mention Jan wrapped Benji in something he liked of Miss Mother's?"

"Yes," Merci says. "She wrapped him in a dress of Miss Mother's."

Percy objects to this. "Well, people have strange customs. Wrapping a male dog in a dress! Buddy, would you want Jan to wrap you in a dress when you die?."

"Well, not really, but this was something of Miss Mother's he really liked. He used to steal it and sleep on it when it was cold. It probably had her scent on it when he used it for a bed."

"Well," Percy continues, "Jan should have given him something of her own as a going away gift."

"Like what?" Merci asks.

"Well, I'm not sure. He was only here two or three times and he wasn't attached to anything of hers. But she could have given him her writing hat. Jan likes the hat, even though we hated it when she made us wear it to write our first few journal entries. It would have been a nice gesture on her part and it would have completed his burial outfit."

"Yes, that would have been nice," Merci says with a sigh. "I hate to think of him lying in the ground without a hat."

"I hate to think of him lying in the ground at all," Buddy adds. "Miss Mother is really going to miss him. And so am I." Despite his efforts to hold them back, two big tears roll down his face and drip onto the floor.

"I’m going to miss him too," says Merci.

"Jan took me down to visit Miss Mother a few times, so I’ll miss Benji too," Percy says. "Maybe Jan will start taking me down to visit Miss Mother again so she doesn't get lonely, but it won’t be the same around there without him."

“I think I’m going to cry,” Merci says softly.

“You can’t,” Buddy asserts. “You’ll have us all bawling.”

“It’s too late,” adds Percy.

“Good-bye, Benji,” the three say through their tears.

Saturday, June 18, 2005


Merci asks, "Don't we look pretty?" "But I smell like a girl!" Buddy protests after his first bath.

Copyright 2005 Janice Price

“Ugh,” Buddy says to Merci, after his first bath, “it sure feels weird to be clean, doesn’t it?”

Merci laughs. “Yes, but it feels good for the moment. If Jan could only learn to bathe us without water, bath time wouldn’t be so bad.”

Buddy agrees. “I sure don’t understand why she had to spray us with water and use that sweet-scented dog shampoo on us. You don’t smell like a dog any more. I guess I don’t either.”

“I like the clean scent of the shampoo. It makes me feel like a pretty girl for a while.”

“Well, you are a girl. Of course you like sweet-scented shampoo. But I’m a guy. I like to smell ripe. Wonder what’s in it to make it smell so feminine?

“Aloe Vera and Jojoba Oil. Jan says jojoba is pronounced ho-ho-ba.”

“Ho-ho? So Jan thinks it’s funny to make me smell like a girl?” Buddy complains.

“Buddy, I have no doubt you won’t smell like a girl for long! In fact, if Jan hadn’t towel-dried you and rushed you inside, you would have rolled in the freshly-mown grass and been an absolute smelly mess. You’d be ripe, rank or whatever word you want to use.”

“You would have rolled in it too, Merci, and you know it. Don’t try to act so clean and dainty around me. I know you. You might be a girl but you’re still a dog. The only reason you ran to the front door instead of the freshly-mown grass when Jan finished --“ Buddy cocked his head and asked, “Why did you run for the front door?”

“The same reason you did. To get away from the hose. I don’t mind Jan giving me a bath. It’s the water I don’t like.”

“It was more like a shower. It would have felt good if the water had been warmer.” Buddy considers this statement for a moment. “But I still don’t like getting a bath. It isn’t manly. Or doggy. Well, whatever.”

Merci eyes Buddy and shakes her head. “Buddy, you didn’t act manly, doggy or even adult. You acted like a baby, crying and running away from the water, racing up the steps and trying to dive through the screen door.”

“It was my first bath. I didn’t know what to expect. You’ve had several baths and yet you fussed just as much as I did. You’re just acting cocky now that it’s over and you smell like a girl again. You were shaking like a leaf out there, begging Jan not to give you a bath.”

“Well, that’s true,” Merci admits reluctantly. “I guess we’re both just a couple of wimps when it comes to getting a bath. But it sure feels nice when Jan’s finished and we can lounge around getting everything in the house wet while we’re still damp.”

“Yeah, did you see the wet footprints we brought in with us? That was neat. And when we sat down, we left big wet blobs behind. We should do this more often, only without the water.”

“Yeah, the wet blobs are fun. The brushing afterward isn’t bad. And the treats are good.”

Buddy licks his lips at the mention of treats. “Jan took pictures of us while we were still damp. I wonder why? Perhaps she wants a picture to send her friends so they can see how handsome we look. I sure hope they can’t smell us in those pictures. I don’t want to get a reputation as a guy who wears perfume.”

Percy pokes his head into the room. “Hey, Jan’s looking for you. I think she wants you to take her for a walk before she leaves.”

“Thanks, Percy,” Merci says, rising to her feet and leaving a wet blob on the floor.

Percy enters the room. He wrinkles his nose and sniffs Buddy’s leg. “Are you wearing perfume? You smell like a girl.”

Buddy leaps to his feet, leaving a large wet blob behind, and starts for the front door. “Not for long. Come on, Merci.”

“What’s the hurry?” Percy asks.

“This is the perfect time to roll in the freshly-mown grass. I’m still damp,” Buddy calls over his shoulder. “Merci doesn’t mind smelling like a girl, but I can’t wait to smell like myself again.”

“Yeah, ripe,” Percy mumbles to himself. He lifts a front paw and sniffs. “Hmmm, I guess I can use a bath too. I better find a quiet corner and take a quick tongue bath before Jan decides to give me a wet one and I end up wearing Buddy’s perfume.”

Note to self (Merci) –Find Buddy a ripe shampoo on the Internet and order a gross.

Have a good day.

Wednesday, June 08, 2005


The Boys, Tinker and Poo

Copyright 2005 Janice Price

Percy finds an interesting web site while reading Jan’s email. “Hey, Buddy,” he calls, “Merci, come here! You won’t believe what I found.”

Buddy races into the room, yelling, “It it’s edible, it’s mine!”

Merci walks carefully into the room behind Buddy, who has nearly knocked her down in his haste to reach Percy.

Percy is so excited he can barely sit still in Jan’s chair at the computer. “Look at this.”

Merci stands with her paws on the desk to see the web page displayed on the monitor screen. Buddy rests his head on the desk and reads the encouraging messages on for The Boys Write by Bill Walker. “The boys write what? And who cares?”

“We care!” Percy exclaims. “Especially you, Buddy. You have been driving us all crazy trying to come up with a scheme to make money so Jan can afford to keep you. This is it!”

Buddy is perplexed.. “What is it? I don’t get it.”

“The boys,” Percy says slowly and deliberately, “are named Tinker and Poo. They’re dogs. You know, dogs, like you and Merci. Dogs that wrote a book that is being published.” Buddy’s face is still blank. “For money,” Percy adds.

“Oh,” Buddy begins to see Percy’s point, “you mean they write, just like the Funny Farm Writing Club members do, only they’re going to make money on their stories. Let’s see, if their stories sell for $100 each, they’ll make - How many stories are in the book, Percy? Never mind, it doesn’t matter. If I could sell just one story at that price, that should feed me at least one day. Jan will have to keep me if I can pay my own way.”

“I don’t think that’s how it works with a book,” Percy says. “I think people pay a one-time fee to read the book. The club has seven official members and one honorary member. If the seven members write one story per week, we could put out a new book each week, but at the rate you eat, you would only have grocery money for three of the seven days. You’d have to moonlight to make meals meet.”

Merci scrolls down the page. “Wait a minute. There’s no price listed for the book. Don’t get your hopes up. What if the stories are only worth a dollar each? That wouldn’t keep you in water for the day.”

Cameron leaps onto the desk and joins the discussion. “I heard the club mentioned. Are we going to write another story for Jan? If so, as the club Treasurer, I must warn you that you’ll have to pay your dues first. You’re all in arrears.”

“Forget the dues. We’re going to help Buddy,” Merci tells him. “That is, if all the members agree.”

Percy calls the other cats into the room. “Crystal. Cotton. Cyndi.”

They all groan when they learn the topic. “You mean we work and Buddy eats?” Crystal gripes.

“Stop complaining,” Percy insists. “Buddy is family.”

“I’ve been reading some of their stories while you guys were talking,” Merci says, thoughtfully. “They aren’t bad. Not as good as ours, of course, but then we learned by Jan’s mistakes, so we had a prolific teacher. This Bill probably didn’t make as many mistakes for Tinker and Poo to learn from After all, Bill didn’t start writing until he was seventy years old. By that time he must have been all out of mistakes. Maybe we can do something to help these guys.”

Percy is triumphant. “I knew the club would want to help! We four-pawed writers have to stick together.”

“So what do we do?” Buddy asks.

“I found the link in the Hearts With Soul Newsletter. It’s from someone named Teri who wants folks to post a message on about the book. And Tinker and Poo have some sample stories posted there.”

“What do we say?” Cotton wants to know.

Cyndi suggests, “I think we should say we’re proud to share a writing heritage with these guys. Who are they again?”

“Tinker and Poo,” Percy reminds the club. “Teri wants us to write about whether we enjoyed the sample stories and whether we would buy the book. I think we should offer to buy seven books, one for each of the club members, to help further the canine/feline writing cause. Jenny’s blind, so it wouldn’t do any good to buy her a copy, but we can read the stories to her.”

“But we don’t have any money,” Buddy protests.

Cameron begins to laugh so hard he rolls off the desk. “I knew it! I knew the day would come when you guys would regret not paying your club dues.”

Crystal sighs. “I hate to admit it but Cameron is right. We should have paid our dues.”

“How are we going to buy seven books without a treasury?” Cyndi wants to know.

“That’s easy,” Buddy interjects. “We’ll just use Jan’s credit card.”

“Jan doesn’t have a credit card,” Merci reminds him sadly.

Percy sags in Jan’s chair momentarily before coming up with a solution. “I know. The Funny Farm Writing Club will apply for its own credit card. And when we get it, we can buy Jan a copy of the book too.”

“All in favor?” Cotton asks.

Crystal nudges her hard. “I’m the President of the club. I’ll take the vote, thank you.” He looks around at the club members. “All in favor?”

“Aye,” the club responds in unison.

“Motion carried,” Crystal says happily. “So where do we get a credit card application?”

Percy whips a stack of papers out from under the keyboard. “I’m glad you asked. I just happen to have one handy.”

Note to self, Percy: Email Bill our thanks for sending the photo Cherlyn used to design the book cover for The Boys Write. Her site has music and so many graphics that I typed the entire meeting minutes while waiting for her home page (link is no longer good) to load. Now, that’s cooperation!

Secretary of the Funny Farm Writing Club

Wednesday, June 01, 2005


Percy watches Buddy take his pain medication

Copyright 2005 Janice Price

“Buddy, what are you doing behind the couch? Why aren’t you running around the house annoying everyone?”

Buddy lifts his head slightly, enough to see Percy peering at him under the couch. “I don’t feel well. I’m in pain.”

“What’s wrong?” Crystal asks, as he joins Percy crawling under the couch to reach Buddy. “Do you have a virus?”

“No, I’ve been farmed.”

Cameron joins them. “Farmed? You mean you’re tired from planting a vegetable garden?” Cameron is incredulous that anyone would want to plant vegetables. Now, a canned chicken garden with dried kibble might be appropriate.

“No,” Buddy declares weakly. “My kidneys have been farmed.”

Crystal is puzzled. “Farmed?

“Oh, he means harvested,” Percy says, remembering the detective show they all watched last night. “Remember, the guy was knocked out and woke up in a bathtub filled with blood and ice. His kidneys had been harvested and sold.” He looks nervously at the others. “He died when the ice melted.”

“I knew it,” Buddy moans. “I’m a goner!”

“That was a television program,” Crystal says. “Let’s be calm and rational about this. You are not going to die. You hear me, Buddy? You are not going to die. You’ll probably outlive us all, anyway.”

“Yes, that’s for sure,” Cameron says “That’s because we’ll all starve to death while Buddy steals our food.”

“Why don’t you start from the beginning,” Crystal suggests. “What happened to make you think your kidneys have been farmed - I mean, harvested.”

“Well, Jan took me back to the nice guys who fed me biscuits while one of them poked holes in me when he thought I wasn’t looking. Still, I was excited to see them again. Jan forgot to feed me before we left the house and I thought they would give me some more biscuits. Instead, one took me outside and locked me in a cage. I tried to warn Jan to run before they put her in a cage too, but I guess she couldn’t hear me baying for her. They must have knocked her out first or she would have rescued me.”

The three cats nod their heads as they listen attentively. This story is sounding more and more familiar, all but the part where Buddy is locked in an outdoor cage.

“Before long, they knocked me out. When I woke up, my kidneys were missing. I guess Jan paid a ransom or something because eventually they brought me back to see her and we escaped. I was never so glad to see Jan in all of my life.”

“Buddy,” Crystal says, “your story is similar to ours. Cameron, Percy and I have each had a similar experience. But what makes you think your kidneys are missing?”

Buddy lifts one leg and lets it drop limply. “See, they’re missing. My kidneys are gone.”

Crystal, the oldest cat, laughs. “Buddy, you need to read an anatomy book. That isn’t where your kidneys are located.” He looks around. “You’ve had a minor operation. Percy. You’ll be sore for a few days, but you’ll survive.”

“Well, if they didn’t farm my kidneys, what did they steal?”

Cotton is listening from her resting spot on the back of the couch. This is too good an opportunity to miss adding her two cents worth to the male conversation. “Oh, Buddy, they didn’t take anything important,” she teases. “Only your brain. But you didn’t need it. It was just a spare.”

“Ignore her,” Percy tells Buddy, cocking his head to listen intently to the rustling noises coming from the kitchen. “I think I know where to locate some pain medication to cheer you up and get you back on your feet again.” He dashes off to the kitchen.

“Here you go, Buddy,” Percy calls, his speech garbled as if he has a mouthful of something. The rustling noises draw nearer, then an eighteen pound cat food bag appears at the end of the couch. Percy lets go of the corner he has been holding in his mouth. “I thought I heard Jan filling the cat food container. And sure enough, she emptied the bag.”

Buddy leaps to his feet and dives head-first into the bag. “Mmmmmm, thxxx,” is his muffled thanks.

Cameron looks sadly at Buddy’s backside sticking out of the bag he is licking clean. “It’s a shame Buddy’s been farmed.”

“Why?” Crystal asks.

“Well, remember when Buddy got stuck in the twenty-pound dog food bag because he had a swelled head over his fan mail?”

Crystal thinks hard, then remembers the occasion. “Right, and you said the next time he gets stuck in a bag, we should all get together and jump on him to teach him a lesson.”

“Yeah,” Cameron sighs. “But I just can’t do that today, not to a guy who’s just lost his brains.”

Secretary to the Funny Farm Writing Club