Saturday, November 24, 2007

A Fish Story to End All Fish Stories

Sailor here.

Mom woke Zoe and me up from our afternoon naps and clipped us to our leashes. We trekked downtown to the store - the one with the screechy birds, bubbling tanks and bags and bags of dog food.

I love this store because the owners give me cookies. Zoe loves this store because she always manages to run amok. She scares the birds and snatches dog biscuits from the open bins on the floor. Mom said that putting the biscuit bins in that location was like putting the Fruit Loops on the bottom shelf in the grocery store, at kid height. Someone is asking for trouble.

For a while, Zoe and I behaved ourselves very well, all things considered. I, of course, was the best. Zoe and I sniffed the floor for dropped cookies while Mom shopped. Zoe wanted to chase the birds, but Mom was careful to keep her on a short leash. I didn’t like to go into the dark room in the back; it was scary and it was too easy to trip over things on the floor. Mom said there are fish back there, but I had never gone far enough into this room to smell them.

I love the bird room, though, because when I walk in, all the finches start yelling and hopping back and forth in greeting. The cockatiel perks up and does interesting things with the top of his head. The parakeets watch me with one eye at a time and run back and forth on their perches. Mom says they look like the carriage return of an exceptionally fast typist. What is a carriage return? Where the Dalmatians sit?

Today, Mom let me go of my leash, and I wandered into the bird room. I had a grand time sniffing the herbal scents and rubbing myself against the wall. I loved to shift wonderful smells onto my ruff and wear them all day. Mom called this doggy perfume and said that some perfumes are OK and other kinds meant a trip to the Dog Wash.

I heard Mom calling to Zoe and turned my head to listen.

“Zoe!” Mom yelled. “Your leash is tangling, come back this way. No, THIS way! Zoe, NOOOO!”

A loud CRASH echoed from the dark bubbling room. A flash flood whooshed across the floor, heading straight for me. The water was strange because it not only rolled in waves but also flopped and wiggled. I had never seen floppy water in my life.

Mom and Zoe were backed into a corner, surrounded by water up to their ankles. I jumped into the torrent and waded toward Mom.

“Hang on, Mom,” I woofed. “I’ll save you. Swim, Zoe!”

Suddenly, Zoe began a strange dance. She bobbed her head, hunched her shoulders and pounced. She snapped her jaws together. Then she gulped. She did this again and again and again. I was puzzled. Mom was horrified. Zoe grinned through a mouthful of fish. The storeowner’s wife ran for the mop and a bucket.

“Zoe, what just happened?” I woofed. “What was all that noise and why is the floor wet?”

Zoe told me, between bites, that fish used to be the foundation of a Siberian husky’s diet.

“Look at me, Sailor,” she laughed. “I’m catching my own supper!” “

Nonsense,” I pointed out. "You didn’t catch anything. Your supper bounced toward you all by itself.”

Mom finally got control of Zoe and shortened her leash so Zoe’s mouth could no longer reach the floor. Zoe could breathe, but barely. Mom marched Zoe to the front of the pet shop. I followed, glancing behind to see the Lady of the Apron busy with the mop. The flood disappeared into the bucket.

Mom is a responsible dog owner. I heard her offer to pay for Zoe’s dinner.

To the cashier, Mom sighed, “Gurammies? Maybe. Tetras – definitely. No, no angelfish. Goldfish? Too many to count.”

I heard ringing sounds: chinga, chinga, chinga. Mom, with Zoe tightly in hand, opened her purse.

“What? How much?” Mom’s voice carried all the way to the dog food aisle.

She sighed and gave at Zoe a threatening glance. Then she took out her checkbook and started to write.

“Too bad this isn’t in dog money,” she mumbled, “then we could all divide by seven and be done with it.”

Calling me to heel, Mom wrapped Zoe’s leash tightly around her wrist, waved off a receipt, and headed for the door. Zoe belched politely and trotted off, very proud of herself. I followed after Zoe who left a trail of fish scales in her wake.

I don’t think we’ll go back to that store again.

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