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  • Writer's pictureReyna Bradford

Naughty & Nice (Written 12/19/20)

Here's another one for Tassie's brag bag.

My mom and I went Christmas shopping yesterday. Naturally, we were going for the dogs. It was actually a shopping spree with a practical purpose.

I had decided that the old quilt, flung on the floor as bedding and a favorite with Gem and Kola, had finally gotten old and stinky enough and was ready to retire. It was definitely time for a new one. So mom and I landed at Goodwill, in search of a big, heavy quilt to give the dogs for Christmas.

Of course, we came out again with more than we'd bargained for. Besides the quilt (a strikingly loud, polka-dot rendition), we also bundled three super soft blankets in to the car. I am always on the look out for good animal blankets. They need to be large, fleecy, and easy to keep folded. The thought had never occurred to me to paw through the racks at Goodwill. But there they were. Score!

Back here at home, I settled the new quilt on the floor of the computer room and tucked the soft blankets onto a shelf in the dog room. All except for one. Somehow, the third and softest blanket was forgotten. No doubt I became distracted by the endless parade of other chores and odd jobs that always need doing, and the hapless blanket was marooned on the back of the sofa.

Not a good place to be.

Of my nine house dogs, eight are what I consider trustworthy around blankets. They may not always be classified as mature and responsible adults, but generally speaking, they're reliable. They're not going to rip up blankets or rearrange bedding.

And then there is the ninth house dog. He is the one exception to the rule. He's the one I can never trust with anything, whether it's towels, tools, books, blankets, or anything else novel and new.

His name is Butterscotch.

They say that golden doodles are a slow-maturing breed, and I have to agree, from my limited experience, that it's true. Even though he is now fourteen months old, I still consider Scotch a puppy. He is babyish and mischievous, and that fleecy blanket hanging from the back of the couch was just too much to resist.

He waited till I was busy vacuuming before getting busy himself.

By the time I had switched off the sweeper, the blanket had disappeared, and there was no trace of Butterscotch. I had a pretty good idea of where they both were. Sure enough, as soon as I jerked open the back door, Scotch came lolloping in, tongue flapping, rudder tail in frenzied motion. No blanket.

I groaned. So go figure this one out. My new, soft, Christmas blanket, purchased specifically for the dogs, had been hauled out in to the back yard by one of those ungrateful dogs, and was now abandoned out there until further notice. There was no way in the world I could find it. And I knew that Scotch was just waiting for his chance. All he needed was for me to turn my back for eight seconds, and he would zip back outside, bound to the blanket, and have a fantastic time tearing it to shreds.

My blood started to percolate. I was not going to let this happen. This had gone far enough. The blanket battle was not one I was willing to lose.

I shut the flap on the dog door and called Tassie.

She came out in the yard with me, already in search mode. It was chilly and pitch-black outside. Steam was coming out of my nostrils, in more ways than one. Puppies. I had had about enough of them. Especially one of them in particular.

"Go get it!" I told Tassie. "Get it! Go find the blanket!" And under my breath I muttered, "Before your bratty brother does."

She widened her search area as I stumped morosely through the yard. Around the well house. Behind the giant pin oak that stands guard beside the patio. Around the stupid guy wire that runs to the electrical meter, and which always seems purposely placed there to trip me up. Ouch. I certainly wasn't finding anything.

But Tassie was still searching, zig-zagging and covering ground, her nose down in the winter grass and crumbly soil. Maybe she would do it.

She was certainly trying.

We kept pacing through the area, me at a glum walk, Tassie at a jaunty trot. At least one of us was having fun.

And then she stopped, made a dart forward, fumbled, put her head down again, and yanked. She brought it to me in all its fleecy folds, dragging and stumbling over it, a few twigs clinging to it, but otherwise intact and untorn. The new, super-soft, Christmas blanket.

I swept it up under one arm and swept her up in both. My good, smart, helpful, clever, working dog. She had saved the blanket and Scotch's butt, all in one fabulous find.

Okay, I wouldn't really have busted his butt, although it was gloriously tempting. Tassie earned three salmon brownies for that exploit. The blanket earned a trip to the washing machine. And Scotch? Yeah, he earned the right to still be considered a puppy.

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