Monday, December 19, 2011

Doggy humor: So you think you can bark

By Hobo Hudson

“Good evening everyone. Welcome to the premiere of So You Think You Can Bark. I’m Hobo Hudson, the host of this great new show. We’ve got an exciting lineup of contestants tonight, so let’s get started. First on the agenda is Ms. Foley Monster. COME ON OUT MS. MONSTER!” Hobo waits a minute but doesn’t see her. “COME ON OUT, MS. MONSTER!” Hobo waits again, but Ms. Foley Monster doesn’t appear.

“Well, it looks like Ms. Monster has been unavoidably delayed. Let’s go on to the next contestant.” Hobo glanced at the sheet in front of him. “Come on…EE YOUCH!” He grimaces and looks down. Ms. Monster, a small Yorkie, sits at his feet.

“Why did you bite me, Ms. Monster?”  Hobo can see her lips move but can’t hear anything, so he bends over and asks again with his ear in front of her mouth.

He now hears Ms. Foley Monster saying: “I’ve been here all along and barked at you, but you apparently couldn’t hear me over the roar of the audience.”

“OK, let’s try it again with my ear close to your lips. Give me your best bark.” Ms. Monster takes a deep breath and lets out a feeble yip.

“Hummm. Ms. Monster, your entry form says that you are the leader of a mighty group called the Tanner Brigade, and you recently won a major battle over an enemy army at a place called the Castle. Tell me, how were you able to give out orders with such a tiny bark?”

Ms. Monster lifts her head up high and replies, “That’s easy. I issued every member of the Brigade a fruit phone and texted them.”

“Very ingenious. Now let’s call the next contestant. COME ON OUT, MS. HATTIE MAE!”

A little terrier comes waltzing down the aisle wearing a beautiful red dress and a white hat. “Hello Mr. Hobo. It’s wonderful to appear on your new show.”

“And it’s wonderful to have such a fashionably dressed young lady willing to give up her time to appear on my show. Now, take a deep breath and give us your best bark.”

Hobo waits but doesn’t hear anything. “Anytime you’re ready, Ms. Hattie.”

Doing a pirouette, Ms. Hattie Mae said, “Oh Hobo, a lady never barks in public. I just applied to show off my new dress and hat.”

Hobo appears confused but then looks at his sheet again.

“OK, COME ON OUT, 12.” A large newfie paces onto the stage. “Let’s see, 12. Your application says you live in California, and a new sister has recently joined your household.”

“That’s right, Hobo. She’s a really nice young lass, but I have to be careful not to step on her and squash her.”

“Oh, you’ll get accustomed to watching for her, and she’ll grow larger pretty fast. Congratulations. Now take a deep breath and give us your best bark.”

12 inhales deeply and, pointing his muzzle directly at Hobo, lets out a mighty WOOF.

After picking himself off the floor and shaking his head a few times to clear it, Hobo says, “Well, there is no doubt as to the winner of this week’s So You Think You Can Bark. Stay tuned for next week at the same time for another exciting contest. We have a great roster of contestants lined up.”

The lights dim as the audience erupts in a chorus of excited yips and yelps.

Monday, December 12, 2011

Doggy humor: Hobo Hedge Fund business model revealed

By managing directors

News releases are showing glowing results by the Hobo Hedge Fund, but Hobo has been very closemouthed about his business model and just keeps barking “half and half.”

Since Hobo has been unwilling to provide details, we decided to consult a British publishing colleague who recommended we hire a certain hacker to attempt to hack into Hobo’s computer and access his business model. Following this advice, we found that Hobo has signed an advisory contract with a mysterious person referred to only as “Dad” in all his records. The contract says that “Dad” will furnish instant reports every time he makes a stock trade, and Hobo will be able to use the information in any way he wishes.

Tracing e-mails from “Dad” back to another computer, we found that “Dad” has two stock market accounts. One is for long-term holdings and the other is for day trading. While “Dad’s” trading records show he almost never has a loss in his day trading account, he has a consistent record of picking stocks for his long-term holding account at their highest point and almost always has a loss in that account.

Hobo’s brilliant business model is therefore to follow “Dad” in his day trading activities and to go into a reverse position when “Dad” makes a long-term purchase, i.e., selling short when “Dad” makes a purchase and then covering his short position by purchasing the stock back at a lower price a couple of days later.

We have been unable as yet to determine the identity of the mysterious adviser known only as “Dad” but have our hacker hot on the trail and hope to be able to report his identity to you shortly.

Monday, November 21, 2011

Doggy humor: The peanut harvest

By Hobo Hudson

When I trotted out this morning, I found Charlene, my squirrel sharecropper, in her peanut farm carefully digging and looking at the peanuts. She turned toward me and said, “Well, Hobo, it looks like it’s time to harvest. Most of the peanuts are fully developed, and if we leave them in the ground much longer, they’ll begin to rot or sprout.”

I ran back inside the house and barked at Dad and Thomas, my new kitty brother, to come help, Dad to dig the peanuts and Charlene to pull them off the roots and throw them to Thomas who would separate them into two equal piles. One pile for me and one pile for Charlene.

All three followed my instructions, and the work started out to run smoothly, but Charlene soon complained that Thomas was putting the biggest peanuts in my pile. I looked and didn’t really see any difference but decided to pacify her by raking all the peanuts into a new pile and decreeing that Thomas would sort the peanuts into two piles and Charlene would have her pick of whichever pile she wanted. This solution seemed to work out well and, after hours of hard manual labor, the peanuts were all harvested, and Charlene had selected the pile she wanted, and I was happy with the other pile.

I looked at the huge pile of peanuts I had for my half and wondered how I got so many when Charlene had only planted one peanut. Out of curiosity, I asked her about it. She just sniffed and said her family had been growing peanuts for thousands of years and had even given advice to humans who never mentioned her or an ancestor when they wrote articles and stories about peanuts and peanut farming. They just took credit as though they had thought everything up themselves.

She said her ancestors are still complaining about sharing their peanut knowledge with a guy named Gregor Mendel in Austria back around 1860. According to their account, one of their family members was sitting in her oak tree when Mendel walked by planting peanuts, eating all the big ones and planting the little tiny ones. She naturally scolded him and explained he should eat the little ones and save the biggest and best to replant. He thought that was a weird idea but agreed to give it a try. To his surprise, he found the new crop of peanuts were mostly large beautiful peanuts instead of being mostly little tiny things, and he wrote a paper about it, taking all the credit.

Charlene then went on to chitter about another ancestor helping out a guy named George Washington Carver. He knew to plant the best peanuts but, when they were harvested, he wanted to feed them to his pigs to make them grow faster.
Charlene’s ancestor, hearing about it, explained to Mr. Carver how nutritious the peanuts were and showed him how to mash them up between two rocks to make peanut butter. She also told him that it would taste a lot better if he would roast the peanuts before mashing them, but she seldom had a source of fire and had to make her peanut butter from raw peanuts. Mr. Carver got right on it and found she was right. He then published several papers about “his” new process and didn’t even mention her in any of the articles.

Since Charlene’s ancestors had gotten a raw deal when they shared their knowledge, I have decided to dedicate this paper to Charlene and all the squirrels everywhere who have contributed to the hooman knowledge of peanut farming and the peanut’s nutritional value.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Doggy humor: The rabbit hunt

By Hobo Hudson

I woke up this morning with my nose twitching as I detected the delicious aroma of steak wafting through the air and trotted out to the kitchen to be sure of getting my share. Dad looked down at me and said, “Just a minute, Hobo, while I fry you an egg. You need to eat a big breakfast because we’re going rabbit hunting today.” Throwing my head up toward Dad, I gazed at him with big eyes, and my tail started wagging so fast I was afraid it would fall off.

When Dad set my plate in front of me, I quickly gobbled down everything on it and raced to the front door to hurry Dad along. We piled into Dad’s car and began driving far, far away into an area I had never been. I had my nose glued to the open crack in the window so that I could detect the first whiff of a rabbit and, finally, it came. I gave Dad a quick bark to stop. When Dad opened the door, I jumped out with Dad on my heels.

“There, Dad,” I whispered. “Do you see him behind that bush?” “I see him,” Dad replied, “but the ditch is too wide to cross, so we’ll have to find another rabbit.” “Oh yeah? You just watch me,” I barked as my rear legs coiled and I gave a mighty leap, soaring over the ditch on a direct line toward the rabbit.

However, just before landing, the rabbit took off as though his tail was on fire, and I began following as soon as I touched down. He led me on a merry chase all over the pasture until I finally cornered him in a small patch of brush. I opened my mouth to grab him and launched myself the few remaining feet but instead of my toppling him, he broke back the way he had come, and I ended up with a mouthful of dust.

While spitting and sputtering to cleanse my mouth, I heard Dad calling from far away, “Hobo, he’s coming back my way, hurry,” and I began chasing the rabbit back toward Dad.

When I got near Dad, I heard him asking, “Hobo, are you dreaming about chasing a rabbit? You’ve been barking in your sleep, and your legs have been moving all over the place. Calm down so I can sleep.”
Thursday, October 6, 2011

Doggy humor: I fixed Blondie

By Hobo Hudson

That darn cat Blondie has been a thorn in my tail ever since she quit her job as my cafeteria manager when I hired Thomas. She immediately packed her bags with all her toys, catnip and meow mix and moved from the porch into the house with me.

Without Blondie being aware of it, I spied on her and knew that she hid all her toys way back under Dad’s desk. Of course, I didn’t want them after a cat slobbered all over them but as they say, knowledge is power. She has been flirting with Dad the last few days, and I’ve had to have several rather sharp barks with her about it. Each time, she apologized and promised she wouldn’t do it again.

I hit my limit this morning when I staggered out of my bedroom and found Blondie on Dad’s lap giving him a tummy massage. Dad was just sitting there in his recliner with a blissful look on his face as though he was enjoying it. I just bided my time while I planned my revenge. 

After Dad and I had made our morning inspection of our farm in the back yard, Dad walked outside the front door to pick up the newspaper from the driveway and then went into his office to sit down at the computer. As usual, he laid his tobacco pouch on his desk, and when he got back up from his chair and went into the kitchen to fetch a cup of coffee, I made my move.

I jumped on Dad’s desk, grabbed the tobacco pouch and hid it under his desk mingled in Blondie’s toy stash. After Dad came back with his coffee and pipe and sat back down at the desk, he reached for his tobacco pouch, and it wasn’t there.

Dad didn’t think anything of the pouch not being there—just assumed he had left it by his recliner in the living room, but when he checked, it wasn’t there either. Knowing that he’s getting pretty absent-minded, he tried to recall everywhere he had been and began retracing his steps. He walked to every place and corner in the house he could remember being and then took a tour of the back yard and the front yard—but no tobacco pouch.

Lying on my ottoman, I watched Dad going back and forth and tried to keep from snickering. Dad finally asked Mom to help him search for his tobacco pouch, and looking all over for it, Mom couldn’t find it either. After they had both given up their search and sat down in the living room for a moment, Dad said he needed to go to the store to buy a few things. He went into the kitchen and grabbed his large can of tobacco. He tied a string around it, hung it around his neck like a necklace and headed toward the front door. Mom, staring at him in disbelief and suddenly realizing what he was going to do, screamed, “No, you can’t go out like that! People will think you’ve lost your mind.”

Dad, turning toward her, calmly replied that he wasn’t leaving the house without his pipe and tobacco and couldn’t carry the tobacco in his hand the whole trip, and he would just tell everyone he saw that it was a new style of bling.

Franticly trying to prevent Dad from leaving the house the way he looked, Mom begged him to sit down for a few minutes while she would check each room again for the tobacco pouch. Dad mumbled something I couldn’t hear, but he waited, and Mom quickly started another room search. This time, I walked into Dad’s office with her and innocently asked if she had looked for the pouch toward the very end under Dad’s desk. Mom crouched down with a flashlight, and there it was along with the rest of Blondie’s toys.

She fished it out with a ruler and gave it to Dad, explaining where she had found it, and Dad gave Blondie a really dirty look. Now, Blondie is in the cathouse and I’m riding high as master of my domain again. Don’t anyone tell Dad about it.
Sunday, October 2, 2011

Doggy humor: The great Florida gold rush

By Hobo Hudson

I was peacefully snoozing in my day bed in the corner of the living room this morning when I heard Dad scream at Mom that he had lost his ring, and I jumped up fully awake and ready to go find it.

I knew the only ring Dad has is his wedding ring, and it’s made of gold. I was also aware that gold has soared in value recently and, if I could find the ring, I was sure I could swap it for a lot of treats.

Eager to start my search, I innocently barked, “Gee, Dad, do you have any idea as to where you might have lost it?”

“No Hobo,” Dad replied. “I’m sure it was right here on my telephone the last time I looked.”

“Don’t worry about it, Dad. I’m sure it will turn up pretty soon. By the way, what were you doing this morning while I took my nap?” I asked.

Dad replied that he had spent most of the morning outside helping Charlene, my squirrel sharecropper, harvest her peanuts and making sure I got my half. When he came in to the house afterwards, he said, he washed his hands in the kitchen sink and dried them on a paper towel.

I pricked my ears hearing the promising lead. There was a good chance that when Dad dried his hands, the ring slipped off his finger and was now wrapped in the paper towel in the trash bag. Needing to distract Dad and get him out of the house, I barked that he had to take a piece of board outside and paint it before it starts to rain, and we would look for the ring when he was finished.

As soon as Dad went out of the door, I dragged the trash bag into the living room and proceeded to go through the contents item by item and tear any possible ring holders into tiny pieces to be sure the ring wasn’t hidden in a corner. Just as I was almost finished, Mom came into the living room and saw me working. She shrieked so loud it hurt my ears, and dashing toward me, she hollered, “Hobo, what do you think you’re doing?”

I looked up and growled, “Back off, Mom. This is my gold mine and no claim jumpers are allowed.”

Stepping backward, Mom looked puzzled and asked, “Why do you think there’s any gold in my kitchen trash?”

“Don’t play coy with me, Mom,” I barked. “I heard Dad tell you he’s lost his ring, and I’m sure it’s in here somewhere.”

With a funny look on her face, Mom stared at me. Then she started to laugh and said, “Hobo, you heard Dad wrong when he said he lost his ring. He didn’t lose his wedding ring. He lost the ringer on the telephone. I’m going to fix it in just a minute.”

My fur sure turned red when I heard Mom’s explanation. I guess I had it coming by jumping to conclusions before having all the facts. It made me feel ashamed and foolish as well as guilty. I’ve got a lot of apologizing and fence mending to do. Not only did I jump to conclusions but I let my love of treats go to my head and put them in front of my love for Mom and Dad. I should have let Mom help me hunt for Dad’s ring and then planned to give it to him when we found it without thought of reward.
Monday, September 26, 2011

Doggy humor: A real life family feud

By Hobo Hudson

I know you all remember the great TV show called “Family Feud” of long ago when you all rushed to turn on your TV to catch the latest episode. Well, I have had the pleasure of witnessing a real life family feud in my household, where I eagerly rush to the glass door to witness the latest episode whenever Mom goes onto our porch to attend to my kitty sisters.

The feud started about four years ago when Dad had an important business appointment and was unable to take Pogo, aka the Wonder Cat, to her annual vet’s appointment to make sure she was a real cat.

As usual, Dad had put Pogo into her carrier but then, Mom delivered her to the vet’s office where Pogo claimed she was subjected to various indignities that Dad would not have allowed. Ever since that incident, every time Mom goes onto the porch to clean the kitties’ litter boxes or the floor and bends over—WHACK—right on her rear end. Instantly, Mom spins around and chases Pogo until she finds a hiding place where Mom can’t find her. Mom then puts her hands on her hips and exclaims, “That darn cat, I wonder why I keep her,” hence her nickname of “The wonder cat.”

There are naturally two sides to every story and, being impartial, I’ll present both sides for you to judge.

Pogo: Dad told me of the impending vet’s appointment, and I wasn’t concerned since Dad always took me and protected me during the visit, telling me that if they did anything I didn’t like that he would scratch them for me so I wouldn’t ruin my beautiful nail manicure. I had just done my nails, trimming, buffing and applying fresh nail polish when Dad came to put me in my carrier. You can imagine my surprise when Mom picked up my carrier, drove with me to the vet and dumped me on a table in the vet’s office. Needless to say, the visit did not go at all well. When I arrived back home, my beautiful nail treatment was in shambles. There were lots on nicks in the nail polish; bits of human skin under the nails and my paws were bloody up to the wrist. It took me  three days to repair all the damage.

Mom: I was just doing Pogo a favor because I didn’t want Pogo to have to cancel her appointment, postponing it for a couple of weeks and making her have to do a completely new manicure prior to the appointment. The sign in the vet’s office said to let the vet’s staff restrain pets during the examination, so none of Pogo’s misfortune was my fault.

Since that visit to the vet, a state of war has existed in our household with Pogo vowing there will never be peace because she is very unforgiving and has a very long memory, and Mom vowing that she will continue to keep the porch clean whether Pogo likes it or not, and one cat will not deter her from her sworn duties.

Now what do you think? Isn’t this better than watching a rerun of the old human show?

Monday, September 12, 2011

Doggy humor: Disaster at Towering Paper Mountain

By Hobo Hudson

Dear friends. I thought I’d better give you a bark with the inside story of last night’s disaster because I’m sure that you have already heard about it on the news and are curious as to what happened.

I traced the roots of this disaster back about 25 years to the time Mom and Dad built their dream house here in Ruskin. Dad was sitting in his recliner reading the morning paper when he saw an article he wanted to keep for future reference. Instead of clipping the article right away, he simply laid the newspaper on the floor with the idea of clipping the article later and putting it into his desk drawer. Needless to say, he never got around to following up on it.

As time went by, Dad found more and more articles he wanted to save and simply stacked the newspapers containing those articles on top of each other, building a cluttered pile. He soon got too busy to read all the stories in the newspaper he wanted to read every day and stacked the unread sections onto the pile also. When the mountain of newspapers grew to touch the ceiling, Dad started a new pile beside the first one and let it continue to grow.

By the time Dad had accumulated four newspaper piles, Mom put her foot down and would not allow Dad to start yet another one. Dad, being stubborn and set in his ways, dragged out his chain saw and cut a hole through the ceiling and the roof and kept on stacking newspapers by climbing a ladder outside the house and dropping the papers through the hole onto the top of the existing piles.

Soon, the newspaper piles grew so high above the house that Dad couldn’t throw far enough into the air to reach the top. Determined to keep the upper hand on the situation, Dad came up with the idea of devising an air cannon. He would stuff the newspapers into the cannon’s mouth, charge the cannon with compressed air and pull the trigger. Whoosh! The papers would fly to the top of one of the piles.

The first time I saw the towering piles of newspapers from the outside, clouds had obscured their top, and I had no idea how tall they were. However, on one clear day, I saw snow on the top and knew they had to be very high to have a cover of snow here in Florida. Mom kept warning me not to sleep near the piles when taking my naps in the living room because of the avalanche danger, but after six years, I had grown a bit complacent and had begun to sleep between the base of the mountain of newspapers and Dad’s chair.

Last night, it happened. I woke to a crushing weight on my body and couldn’t even move a toe. I heard fragments of cries which sounded like, “Where is he? Not under this chaotic wreckage. There’s no way any dog could have survived.” Then I heard a distant voice calling my name over and over again.

I mustered what breath I could and let out a weak yip. Luckily, Dad heard it and instantly, I felt air coming my way and weight lifted off my body as Dad frenziedly began digging me out of my papery grave.

When he finally got me out, I must have been unconscious because I woke to a voice saying, “Breathe, Hobo, breathe.”  When I began breathing on my own, someone removed the oxygen mask and another one stopped the chest compressions, and I was soon able to sit up and sip a few swallows of water. However, right now, I am still very sore, and I will have to spend a few days in the hospital for observation just to be sure I have no broken ribs.

Dad brought me my laptop this morning, so I can stay in communication with all my friends. He told me he has hired two dump trucks and a pay loader to haul off all the papers and a building contractor to repair the roof and ceiling afterward. I think my happy home will be back to normal in a few weeks until Dad gets another bright idea.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Doggy humor: The new employee

By Hobo Hudson

I had been toying with the idea of hiring a new employee because my four cat sisters who are also my employees had been complaining that they were getting too old to work full time anymore. I wasn’t really paying much attention to finding additional help since my sisters’ working “full time” meant being on the job 10 minutes per hour while spending the other 50 minutes lolling in the sun, taking baths or just watching the squirrels and birds outside.

Things changed last Tuesday when I received an excellent job application and resume from a male cat by e-mail, and I barked at Mom and Dad that I wanted to go interview the young fellow. We all piled into Dad’s car and off we went. After we arrived at the young fellow’s motel room and I met the fellow, I could tell in an instant that he would make a great employee. Dragging my paws because I was still a little hesitant about hiring due to the state of our economy, I told him to keep looking for work and job offers until Wednesday evening and, if he hadn’t found anything, I would hire him.

He called late Wednesday afternoon and meowed that he hadn’t even had a return call from all the resumes he had sent out. I reassured him about our agreement and told him to consider himself hired and that we would pick him up Thursday morning for a little pre-employment physical.

Bright and early Thursday morning, Dad, Mom and I drove back to the motel where the young fellow had been staying. With our help, he checked out of his room and accompanied us to my doctor’s office for a quick blood test to make sure he didn’t have HIV or leukemia, which he didn’t have, of course. We then took him with us to our home where I led him onto the porch and explained his duties. He would have to catch bugs, mice and any other critters that might dare to venture onto the porch and also to keep Mom and Dad amused by chasing toys and performing other antics to make them smile. He was also to keep his eyes on our sundeck to make sure none of the birds or squirrels did anything they weren’t supposed to do.

My new employee’s name is Thomas, and I’m going to let him take it from here:

“I was born about a year ago into a very poor family, and as soon as I was able to walk and talk, my mother told me that I would have to leave and support myself because there just wasn’t enough income in her household to support me and my brothers and sisters, and so I sadly left my humble home.

After days of scratching and meowing at every door I saw, I finally found a low paying job at a nice home. The lady of the house said they didn’t have much but would gladly share what they did have with me. Gratefully, I went to work for her family keeping the mice away and lying in the lady’s lap so she could pat me and reduce her blood pressure.

I stayed there for a while until, about a month ago, the lady called me into the office and told me that her husband had lost his job, and they would no longer be able to afford to keep me on the payroll. She suggested I check around a neighborhood farther away that seemed more prosperous where I shouldn’t have any problem finding a new job, and she offered to give me a ride to the area.

I sadly packed the few bits of Meow Mix I had managed to save and hopped into the lady’s car. She dropped me off in a community of nice homes, adorned by manicured lawns and flower beds. However, it was the same old story. Every time I scratched at a door and talked to people, they told me they couldn’t afford to hire anyone because of the economy.

After a few days, I had exhausted my supply of Meow Mix and was becoming desperate when I discovered a soup kitchen operated by a nice lady from a group called “Feline Folks.” I was the last cat in line of a crowd of maybe 10 cats she served, and after I had eaten the meal, she sat down to talk to all of us and assured everyone that she would keep coming to take care of us.

I saw my opportunity. I snuggled close to her and allowed her to pat me and then, I jumped into her lap and chattered away. She immediately realized that I was an unemployed housecat and not a tramp like the rest of the soup kitchen customers, and she promised me to give me some help in finding a new job.

The first item on the agenda was a trip to a place in Tampa called “ACT,” where I took a nap and woke to find I had been relieved of some surplus equipment. After that, I accompanied the nice lady to her home in Sun City Center where she allowed me to access her computer to send resumes to everyone she knew. It paid off immediately with a bark from Hobo, and I now have a permanent job with a very nice employer and good humans to help him take care of me.”

Monday, August 22, 2011

Doggy humor: A letter from the White House

By Hobo Hudson

When I pawed through my mail this morning, I saw a very fancy envelope with a return address of The White House, Washington, D.C.  Knowing this must be important, I instantly tore it open to find a letter addressed to me from Michele Obama. The letter read as follows:

“Dear Hobo Hudson,
The Surgeon General has reported an upsurge in young squirrel obesity in your neighborhood, and I wonder if it has anything to do with your Squirrely Happy Meals. I know you are trying to assist your young squirrels with their nutritional intake and wonder if you would be willing to make a slight change in the content of your meals. If you could cut the boiled peanuts in half and substitute celery sticks, it would be a great step forward in our war against squirrelhood obesity.
Thank you for anything you can do to help the cause.
Michael Obama.”

This came as quite a shock to me because I hadn’t thought about the consequences of the young squirrels’ meals which consisted of parboiled corn, boiled peanuts and also a small toy consisting of either a plastic acorn or a plastic peanut. The squirrel moms loved the meals, saying the toys provided hours of entertainment to their little squirrels. They push them all around the nest, chew on them to help with their teething and even bury them to start their training in collecting food for the long winters. As for the partially cooked corn and boiled peanuts, the squirrel moms found them easy on their children’s developing teeth and also easier on their developing digestion systems.

Of course, I was willing to do anything to help Mrs. Obama. Following her suggestion, I immediately began planning for the changeover but hit a minor problem when I notified my customers about it. The young squirrels all wrinkled their noses and exclaimed, “Celery, ugh,” and their mothers explained to me their kids just won’t eat the stuff.

In order to reach an agreement, we all put our heads together and came up with the perfect solution. I will start selling small orders of boiled peanuts as a side order and the little squirrels can just leave the celery on their plates and eat the side orders of peanuts. That way, everyone is satisfied.

Yep, I think this is a great solution. Michael Obama will be happy; the squirrel kids will be happy and I’ll really be happy because my sales will increase.

Monday, August 8, 2011

Doggy humor: The refugees—Part 1

By Hobo Hudson

I was dozing on the back of the sofa in our living room, peeking out through the window now and then to make certain everything was all right in my front yard, when I heard a tiny scratching sound at the front door. Pushing the sheer curtains out of my face and pressing my nose against the windowpane, I saw a very scraggly mother squirrel with her daughter that appeared to be about 1 month old sitting on the door step of the house.

I jumped down from the sofa and opened the door. In a hesitant voice, the mother squirrel said, “I really hate to disturb you, but would you mind if my daughter and I harvest the seeds out of the grapefruits on the ground at the tree out front? We’re starving and you’re our last hope.”

“Of course I don’t mind,” I said, “but I can do much better than that for you. Just stay where you are for a minute, and I’ll bring you a little something to eat, and then I’ll show you my cafeteria out back.”

I quickly loped to the kitchen and came back with a paw full of peanuts. “Try these as an appetizer,” I said as I halved them between the mother and the daughter.

The mother squirrel frowned and suspiciously eying her half, said, “What’s this? I’ve never seen anything like this.”

“Those are peanuts,” I said. “They’re delicious. Try one.”

“Pee nuts?” she asked.

“No. Pea nuts,” I repeated. “They grow underground, and you have to bite them open to get at the nut inside.”

“I’ve never heard of such a thing, but I’m desperate, and I’ll eat anything right now,” she said while she turned one peanut over and over with her paws worn-out from heavy work. Then, quickly biting the end off, she extracted the nut and took a tentative bite, and an expression of pure bliss came over her face. “This is the greatest thing I’ve ever tasted,” she said. “I didn’t know anything this good existed. Go ahead, child,” she encouraged her daughter, hovering behind her, “do what the gentledog said and bite the treat open and eat the pieces you see inside, just like I do.”

The little squirrel watched her mom with big eyes and followed her lead. Once she had cracked one peanut and found the nuts inside, she cracked another one and another one, munching happily on the scrumptious treasures the open shells revealed.

After both squirrels finished eating the few peanuts I had brought, I suggested we lounge for a few minutes in front of the house. I wanted them to digest the light meal I had provided before I showed them the bounty of food I kept in the back yard. Since they hadn’t eaten anything for quite a while, I didn’t want them to eat too much too soon.

When we had stretched out on the grass under the living room window in the shade of a few bushes, the mother squirrel began to relate the sad story of her life. It seemed as though she owned an oak tree at the edge of a large corn farm about six miles east of my home and had gleaning privileges over the entire corn field. Between the corn and the acorns she was able to cache, she had been living a nice life until the drought struck. There were no acorns this year, and the corn didn’t even come up.

She began harvesting what little grass and weed seeds she could find and supplementing those with a carefully doled out ration of corn or acorns she had left, but, as her pantry emptied, she reluctantly came to the conclusion that she would have to leave the home she treasured and relocate. She packed up her dwindling supply of corn, acorns and various seeds, and she and her daughter headed west in search of a better life.

As she and her daughter traveled westward, the conditions didn’t get any better, and her knapsack was empty by the time she reached the front yard of my home and saw the few old grapefruit on the ground under the tree. Hoping against hope that I wouldn’t chase her off, she finally mustered the courage to scratch at the front door of my house.

My heart went out to this poor mother, and I knew that I would be doing the right thing by giving her free lunches until she got back on the feet. I told mother and daughter to follow me to the back yard where I showed them the post attached at the corner of the sundeck to climb to enter my cafeteria.

When we neared the post, the mother squirrel and her daughter stared at the large pile of small corn kernels and small peanuts on the grass at the base of the post. “Wow,” they both cried, “there’s enough food piled up here to last us years.”

“The best ones are up top,” I said. “Climb up there and have a taste. My dad just refilled the dish with fresh food.”

With two jumps, onto the sundeck and onto the rail, mother and daughter got hold of the post and clambered to the top.

They slithered around the dish, eyeing and smelling the plump kernels of corn, the chunky peanuts and the shiny sunflower seeds. “Don’t you dare touch any of these delicacies while the perfectly good food on the grass might spoil,” I heard the mother squirrel hissing at her daughter, and nipping at her daughter’s paws, she vaulted with her back to the ground at my feet.

“My regular customers just toss the small kernels of corn and the peanuts with only one or two nuts inside down here so they can reach the large ones,” I said to the mother squirrel.

“What a waste,” she exclaimed. “My daughter and I will just sit here in the grass and eat these kernels and peanuts. Waste not, want not, I always say.”

This was sure a refreshing change of attitude compared to the squirrels that had thrived on free handouts because they couldn’t pay. I guess having to work for a living makes a difference in your attitude.

To be continued

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Doggy humor: The refugees—Part 2

By Hobo Hudson

I wasn’t able to sleep a wink the night after my encounter with the refugee squirrels knowing that so many other squirrels were in danger of dying because of the draught to the east of us. Determined to take action, I got out of bed before daybreak, and without waking Mom or Dad, I slinked into the kitchen.

After gulping down a few kibbles, I threw a pawful of treats and my PayPaw credit card into my backpack and ever so quietly slipped out of the house through the garage. Pulling my little red wagon behind me, I loped off to Walmart, where I filled my wagon with bags of squirrel food and a couple of cases of bottled water and started tugging it along the way to the east.

As soon as I passed our local airport, I began seeing small families of squirrels slowly making their way to the west or slumped on the ground too exhausted to trek any further. Each time I met a group, I stopped and doled out a small pawful of food to each squirrel plus one bottle of water per group and encouraged the ambulatory groups to keep walking, telling them there are better lands ahead. To the squirrels lying exhausted on the ground I made the promise to pick them up on my return trip and told them to be patient and rest for now.

I continued trotting eastward and helping as many squirrels as I could until I ran out of the supply of food and water I had bought at Walmart. After taking a short break, I turned around and began walking toward home, picking up the worn-out and frail squirrels along my way who thanked me with a sigh of relief for the ride I offered them in my little red wagon.

As I neared home, I spied a tract of land covered with large oak trees and acorns lying all over the ground. There was a creek running slowly through it and also a large plot of plain soil. Thinking this would be an ideal home for the refugees I had picked up on the way, I stopped to let them clamber out of my wagon. Before they hobbled off and began collecting acorns and slurping water from the creek, they thanked me again for all my help.

When I arrived home, Dad was standing at the front door waiting for me. He wasn’t too happy that I had left all by myself and hadn’t even told Mom or him where I wanted to go. I explained what I had been doing and that it had been a spur of the moment deal. Hearing about my helping the poor squirrels appeased Dad, and he said he wouldn’t punish me this time because my actions spoke for themselves and wouldn’t need any more explanations.

Pleased with myself, I followed Dad into the office and handed him my receipts from Walmart so that he could deduct them on my income tax return as a charitable expense. However, Dad explained that my expenditure for a good deed, although admirable, wasn’t deductable because it was direct from dog to squirrel. He further said that if I wanted to really help the squirrels, I should set up a qualified organization under IRC Sec. 501(c) (3). That way, all my expenses would be deductable plus I could accept donations from any dog that would like to support my mission.

I immediately got on the phone with my attorney, Ms. Foley Monster, and requested her help. I knew the law was somewhat tricky and I would need professional assistance to insure I complied with all the rules when setting up an organization like Dad suggested.

Ms. Foley Monster agreed to set the entity up pro bono and assured me it would be legal or almost legal, depending upon how many folitinis she consumed while drafting the paperwork. Since her answer sounded pretty good, I told her to go ahead but I wanted her partner and sister, Dr. Pocket, to sit by her side to insure she stayed off the sauce until she had completed the assignment.

After having made the agreement with my attorney and got off the phone, I asked Dad to drive me in his car to locate the owner of the land where I had left the squirrel refugees earlier. It didn’t take us long to find him, and I discovered him to be a very old dog, lolling on his porch gumming a dog bone.

As I approached him and sat down in front of him, he looked up at me, clutching the bone with his paws, and pricked his ears when I explained what I wanted to do. He smiled and started telling me stories of his youth and all the fun he used to have chasing squirrels. Pointing his nose far out and nodding his head, he explained there was about 15 acres of oak trees plus about 5 acres of cleared farmland and he had never known the creek to run dry.

He agreed to let me use the land free until I completed the paperwork and would then sign a long-term lease with the sanctuary stipulating the monthly rent to be $1,000 but would waive it on a month-to-month basis. That way, he said he could receive a tax deduction for the value of the rent. I thought things couldn’t get any better than this, so I quickly agreed.

To be continued

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Doggy humor: The refugees—Part 3

By Hobo Hudson

As soon as Dad and I arrived home after making a deal on the land for the sanctuary with the land owner, I raced outside to the back yard to tell my squirrel refugees the good news. I found them sitting together with Charlene, my squirrel entertainer, next to a peanut plant learning all the basics about peanut farming and admiring Charlene’s current peanut crop.

When they saw me, the mother squirrel came running toward me, and when I described what I had done for them, she gave me a big hug. Hearing about my new sanctuary, the little refugee girl stared at me with shining eyes and a smile on her face, and she immediately made plans to start farming the 5-acre block. She already knew all about growing corn, and Charlene volunteered to help her with any questions that arose on growing peanuts. As neither of them knew anything about sunflowers, I assured them that I would ask my dad to assist.

Eager to show the mother squirrel and her little daughter their new farm land, I spurred them on to follow me to the front yard where all three of us piled into the car. I barked at Dad to get his keys and drive us over to the sanctuary as fast as our old car would go. Even before we arrived, I could see in the distance that most of the squirrels I had picked up from the roadside and left at the tract of land were hard at work harvesting and storing the acorns.

Once Dad had parked the car and the mother squirrel, her daughter and I had jumped outside, I barked at the group of refugees working the land to stop for a moment and gather around us because I had great news for them. I explained that I had arranged a lease on the property and told them that I was appointing my little refugee friend I had brought with me as foresquirrel. From now on, she would be in charge of farming the land.

Immediately, my little refugee friend discussed the necessity of planting the five acres. She also spelled out that she expected all the squirrels to do what they could to assist and that anyone who was not willing to help could just move on and let the government support them.

She delegated teams. Some squirrels were to continuing harvesting and storing the acorns and others were to start planting corn, peanuts and sunflowers. Since time was growing short, she ordered them just to dig small holes and get the seeds planted for now and to wait pulling out the grass between seeds until later. She instructed the old and feebler squirrels to do the planting, while she selected the young, strong squirrels to do the digging. She also chose to have some other older squirrels work in the acorn warehouse inventorying the acorn harvest and whatever crop would arrive. Of course, a number of squirrels scoffed at her work ethic and elected to keep traveling, not willing to work for their food.

As time passed, the squirrels had weeded all the grass from the field and safely harvested all the acorns while they lived and flourished on the squirrel food and peanuts I brought over each day. By early November, the crops were ripe, and I loaned the squirrels my little red wagon to carry the bounty to the warehouse, and they turned to with a will and harvested everything within a week.

Looking over the bulging warehouse, I told the squirrels they had done a great job. There was plenty of food to sustain them over the winter, and I informed them that it was time for me to stop my daily deliveries of meals since they were now self-sufficient.

About a week later, I trotted by the sanctuary to find all the squirrels sitting dejectedly around a half empty warehouse. When I asked where all the fruits of their labor were, the squirrels told me that the government had sent a team of U.S. marshals to confiscate 50 percent of their crop as a tax to support the squirrels loitering down the road who were not willing to help in the work of growing the crop.

Gee, it looks like it just doesn’t pay to work anymore, doesn’t it?

Charlene's peanut farm

The end

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Florida gardening—Part 1

By Hobo Hudson

As you know, I made a sharecropping deal with Dad and allowed him to farm part of my back yard on a 50/50 basis but didn’t start barking about it until the crop was in full swing. Now that everything is running smoothly, I’d like to take a few minutes to tell you how we do planting and harvesting here in Florida because it’s different from the way people do it in other parts of America.

When I made the deal with Dad, I knew nothing about gardening but did know that I had better learn real fast or my share of the crop wouldn’t be very much if Dad would get lazy. Immediately, I went to the fountain of all knowledge, otherwise known as Google, and found scads of gardening tips. I learned that tomatoes should be planted about the first of June; peas should be planted about the first of May, and so on.

With my newly acquired know-how of gardening, I proudly instructed Dad how we were going to do things. He just snorted and replied that what I had learned applied to our northern friends, but it wouldn’t work here in Florida because of our semitropical climate. It seems that the summer months are just too hot and humid to grow any produce. If we would do it, bugs would eat what we have planted, which means a vicious cycle of spraying about every morning and having the rain wash the spray off into the soil in the evening.

Dad explained to me that Florida soil is naturally nothing but sand or if fill dirt had been added when the house was built—as in our case—the fill dirt was usually clay dug from deep below the ground.

Thus, we have two possible scenarios here in Florida: The soil will have no nutrients, and water will percolate down about as fast as we pour it on, or the soil will be highly compacted with no drainage and no nutrients. A copious addition of compost can correct the sandy soil while the clay soil needs a liberal application of sand, followed by applications of compost.

I appreciated the nice information Dad gave me, and I filed it away for confirmation later when I had more time. For the moment, I was more interested in pointing out the section of the back yard where I would rent ground to Dad. However, Dad suggested that it would be better if I let him rent the same plot he had farmed years ago.

When we walked over to the site, I could see the grass was greener and thicker than the rest of the lawn. I agreed to let him rent it, and Dad immediately went to work. As he started digging, my terrier instincts came into play, and I volunteered to help him. After shoving the dirt away with my paws for a few minutes, I asked Dad how I would know when I came to the edge of his old farm plot. Dad just grinned and told me I would know it when I came to it.

After a few more minutes of furious digging, thunk!  My nails wouldn’t dig any further. Relaxing my paws, I stared at the ground and finally asked Dad why it felt like a rock all of a sudden. He said that was the clay I was hitting where he hadn’t farmed before. Wow, there sure is a difference in the soil. Maybe Dad does know a little about Florida farming.          

To be continued

Friday, July 1, 2011

Florida Gardening—Part 2

By Hobo Hudson

After about a week, Dad and I had all the old garden area dug up and the dirt shaken from the grass roots so the grass would dry and die. To see what Dad had been talking about earlier, I had googled “compost” and found it was merely old rotted vegetation. I also found out our county dump in Hillsborough County conducts a composting operation and will give compost free to the public.

I ordered Dad to throw his shovel and some plastic bags into the back of our car, and off we went to the dump. Upon arriving, I had Dad half-fill the bags so they wouldn’t be too heavy. When he was done, we loaded them into the car and returned home. After I had given Dad permission to go inside the house to relax a few minutes, I put a couple of bags at a time into my little red wagon and hauled them out back to the garden area.

As it turned out, we had collected a sufficient amount of compost to cover the entire garden area with about 2 inches of compost, which Dad thought would be enough. He spaded about a foot deep and thoroughly mixed the compost with the soil, giving it a nice black color. Of course, Dad had done a soil analysis earlier, and since we knew the soil was a little acidic, he had thrown a small amount of pelletized lime over the area before he started spading.

Dad and I had completed all this work by mid-August, which is much too soon for us to plant a crop here in Florida, but it was the right time to start seeds in little peat pots that could be transplanted into the garden about the first of October. We went to town and started looking for seeds. Imagine our surprise when we couldn’t find seeds anywhere!

To occupy our time while waiting for the stores to restock their seed supply, we decided to work on our own compost. Dad explained there were two ways to make compost. We could either make a big pile of grass, leaves and any other kind of vegetation we could find, or we could simply spread all that material out over the garden area and let nature take its course, like it happens in the wild. Dad said he likes the second method because the material acts as mulch, keeping weeds down and the ground moist.

Since a large part of our mulch would be leaves, Dad decided to build a frame of two-by-fours around the garden to keep the leaves from blowing away and also, to keep our lawn man out of the garden. To my surprise, one garden bed turned out to be exactly 4 feet wide by 16 feet long, a multiple of four. The other bed was only 4 feet by 8 feet,  but Dad told me there was another 16 feet in that bed we hadn’t dug up yet, and we would dig it up during the winter when the weather was cooler.

Anyway, we raked enough oak leaves off our lawn to put a thin layer over all the garden area and covered the leaves with the dried grass from our earlier efforts. Since oak leaves have a lot of acid, Dad sprinkled a little more pelletized lime and also a little fertilizer over the entire mess, watered everything lightly and then, we sat back and waited.

When the weather began to cool slightly about the first of October, Dad and I noticed a few seed packages appear in the stores again, and we latched onto them. Dad grouched that it was now too late to plant tomatoes, but he wanted to try it anyway. Starting out, we devoted an entire frame of the garden to black eye peas, then a single row of tomatoes in another frame along with four eggplants, a row of cucumbers and some sweet onions down the center. A few cabbage seeds went into peat pots to be transplanted in November when the weather got cooler. 

To be continued

Florida Gardening—Part 3

By Hobo Hudson

When Dad planted the seeds, he simply pulled back the mulch to make an open spot about 3 inches across and carefully put one seed in each spot where we wanted a plant to grow. Watching Dad doing the work, I commented that we will have enough seed left over to last us four or five years, but Dad told me that we would throw the leftovers away and buy fresh seeds for the next crop. I thought about it for a moment, and using my best Dale Carnegie technique, I said to Dad, “Since we’re going to throw the seed away anyway, wouldn’t it be better to plant several seeds in each spot in case one doesn’t germinate?”

Dad stopped working and stared at the ground. A little while later, he looked up to me, he said, “Gee Hobo, you’re right. I never thought of that.”

Following my advice, Dad decided to plant five seeds in each spot, and it was a good thing he did because only two or three plants actually came up. As the plants grew, Dad pulled out the smaller plants one by one until only the best plant was left in each spot.

I also got the bright idea of conserving space in our garden area. I ordered Dad to stick stakes in the ground so that the tomatoes and cucumbers would grow vertically and not take up so much space. To keep Dad busy afterward, I told him to rake leaves and grass and add them to the mulch and also to add a little fertilizer to the mulch now and then.

Hoping that Dad would follow my orders, I took off to the garden supply store. Rambling through the aisles, I spotted something called “Jungle Growth,” and thinking it would be cool to have our garden grow like a jungle, I hurried home to Dad and barked at him to come back with me to the store to get a couple of bags.

While Dad was loading the “Jungle Growth” into our cart, I looked around and saw something called “Miracle Grow.” I threw a little box of it into our cart as well because I thought it would be a miracle if anything grew, the way Dad does things without my help.

When we got home with our supplies of nourishment for our garden, Dad opened one of the bags of “Jungle Growth” and said it was ready-made compost. He spread the contents of the two bags on top of our mulch and said it would act as a side dressing, feeding the plants as their roots grew under the mulch. He then mixed a tiny amount of the “Miracle Grow” into a gallon of water and said he would pour it on top of the plants about once per week and the plants would start growing like crazy.

Just before Thanksgiving, I was again rambling through the garden supply store and found a package labeled “Magic tomato seed.” The package said the seed was very fast growing, and tomatoes would be ready to eat in no time. I bought a package and planted the one seed as soon as I got home. The next morning, I found the plant was fully grown and sporting two beautiful tomatoes that were almost fully ripe.

Since a friend of mine in California, a tomato aficionado, couldn’t get any tomatoes from his mom and had to steal them off the kitchen counter, embarrassing him when the video camera caught him red-handed, I decided to pick my two instant tomatoes and mail them to him. My friend was sure happy to have his very own tomatoes even though he said they seem to taste a little like plastic. I think it was due to my having picked them before they were fully ripe.

In early December, the cucumbers began to mature, and I traded six of them to Mom for her share of the meat, since she is a vegetarian. I also picked a lot of black eye peas for Mom to parboil and put into the freezer and then, disaster struck! The TV had said a hard freeze was coming during the night to our area in Florida, and Dad and I rushed out to pick all the peas we could and three small tomatoes that Dad thought would ripen inside the house.

The next morning, the garden was a sad sight. Everything had frozen with the exception of our little cabbage plants and our sweet onions. Dad simply shook his head, waited a couple of days for the weather to warm up, then pulled all the lost vegetation out of the ground and scattered it on the mulch.

To be continued

Florida gardening—Part 4

By Hobo Hudson

A little earlier, I came up with yet another brilliant idea. Dad’s a packrat, and he had saved a lot of empty big blue jugs once containing ground coffee. To make use of his collected treasure, I had him punch a couple of holes in the bottom of each jug for drainage, fill the jugs with dirt and then plant pepper seeds in them.

We arranged the bright blue jugs holding the sprouting peppers in front of the house right under the living room window, where I could watch them during the day, and when the temperature fell to freezing in the evening, I made Dad carry them into the garage to keep them nice and warm. As a result, I was trading Mom peppers for steak all winter long at an advantageous price.

About the middle of January, I had Dad plant tomato and pepper seeds in little peat pots, which we transplanted into the garden about the end of February. We also planted cucumbers, squash and lots of sweet onions for our spring crop. After Dad pruned the frozen eggplants back almost to the ground, new leaves soon began to sprout.

Charlene, my retired squirrel entertainer, also got into the act by planting surplus peanuts. Unfortunately, she chose to plant them in my garden bed, and I had to have a rather sharp bark with her about the site of her future peanut farm because she was digging up my plants.

By late April, Dad and I were harvesting squash and cucumbers galore, I had pulled the last of my winter onions, and the eggplants were beginning to bear. I was living pretty high on the hog by trading Mom my nice vegetables for her share of the meat.

Now, in mid-May, our squash crop is almost gone, and the cucumbers are winding down, but the tomatoes are just beginning to ripen. The other day, I picked two peppers, and I anticipate a good pepper harvest in the next month. In the meantime, the eggplants and spring sweet onions will continue to supply us with fresh vegetables for quite a while to come. We still have four cabbages left which we will have to eat soon.

By late July, it will be time for us to start seeds in peat pots for the fall crop, and we’ll start planting seeds in the ground about the first of October.

The end

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Doggy humor: The daddy exchange

By Hobo Hudson

I’ve had a lot of barks lately from my friends complaining that their dads never get around to doing the odd jobs that either my friends or their moms want done around the house, and I have spent some sleepless nights thinking about the problem and trying to find a solution.

A deep analysis of the uncooperative attitude of my friends’ dads led me to the conclusion that there are a number of aspects causing the holdup to occur:  

1. Dads are getting older and either can’t do the chores they once could do, or they    
    work a lot slower and take much longer to get things accomplished.

2. The marvel of complacency: Dads have learned that if they put things off long
    enough, we pups and our moms will eventually give up nagging.

After hours of contemplating what I could do to help my friends, I have come up with the perfect solution, and I have created the Daddy Exchange. I describe briefly how it works: When you sign up as a member of this exchange, I will enter your dad’s date of birth into my data file. Once per year, I will send the oldest dad to a retirement home and then have all remaining dads move into the kennel of the previous oldest members.

The advantage of being a member of my exchange is that it will allow the oldest dad to retire with dignity for a job well done throughout his life and will also jar dads out of their complacency by moving into a new household and making them prove themselves both in the new moms’ eyes and also in the new pups’ eyes.

To enroll for the Daddy Exchange service, simply start sending me, Hobo, 25 kibbles per month and e-mail me your dad’s date of birth, and I’ll take care of all the details. I’m looking forward to having you join my exchange shortly.
My e-mail address is:
Monday, June 6, 2011

Doggy humor: The kitchen faucet

By Hobo Hudson

Dad was on the computer and I was snoozing at his feet, keeping one ear open to insure that he didn’t goof off. Suddenly, a scream shattered my peaceful interlude. I bolted with Dad on my rear paws toward the kitchen, where I sensed the scream had come from, and we found Mom standing at the sink rinsing the dishes while the water trickled out of the faucet.

Dad yelled, “What’s the matter?” Mom turned off the dribbling water and said, “There is a hole in the faucet spout.”

Dad went to the sink and opened the faucet full force. Sure enough, a stream of water jetted up and hit him right in the face. Jumping aside, he jerked the faucet handle forward to shut off the water and wiped his face with his hand. “No problem, honey,” he said. “This faucet has a lifetime warranty, and its only 25 years old. I’ll just call the company and get them to send another spout.”

Without wasting time, Dad placed a call to the company’s service department and found it didn’t have spouts of the style we needed anymore. The customer service employee told Dad to just return the entire assembly, and the company would have a new assembly shipped to him within four to six weeks of receipt of the old faucet at its new headquarters in China.

When Dad told Mom what the employee had suggested, Mom smiled and said, “That means we’ll be eating all our meals out for the two months or so until we get the new faucet because I can’t cook or wash dishes without water.” Dad, being a little fuzzy thinking sometimes, just said, “That sounds about right.”

In the middle of the night, Dad woke up in a cold sweat, remembering his conversation with Mom about the faucet and his agreeing about eating out. He kept tossing and turning and finally decided it might really be better if he just bought a new faucet and forgot about the warranty.

The next morning, Dad and I were off to the hardware store first thing after we had our breakfast. A friendly female employee helped us select a pretty faucet and inquired if Dad would also like to buy a faucet wrench and plumber’s putty. “Nope,” Dad replied. “I’ve got that.” We paid and rushed home to install the new faucet for Mom.

After Dad had collected a couple of tools he would need from the garage, he went into the house to pick up his faucet wrench, but it wasn’t there. “Do you know where my faucet wrench is?” he called out to Mom. Walking into the bathroom where Dad was standing, Mom asked him where he thought he had put it. “Right here,” Dad replied, pointing to the middle of the bathroom floor. “I distinctly remember leaving it right here when I fixed the bathroom sink about seven years ago.” Mom just shook her head and told him she had probably put it somewhere but didn’t remember where.

I heard Dad muttering that he wished Mom would leave his tools alone, and then we drove back to the hardware store to buy a wrench. The employee who helped us earlier just laughed and said, “Couldn’t find it, huh? Now, are you sure you don’t want some plumber’s putty while you’re here?”

Dad just growled that he knew he had putty at home and where it was and didn’t need any more. We paid for the wrench and returned home. Dad went back into the garage, snatched the plumber’s putty container off the shelf almost without looking and scurried into the kitchen. He swiftly removed the old faucet and opened the putty container, but the putty was as hard as a rock.

Without saying a word, he slipped out of the front door with me on his heels, and back to the hardware store we went. By now, Dad was a little embarrassed about his buying mishaps, and so we waited in front of the store and watched through the window until we saw the employee who had to come to know us very well paying full attention to another customer. We ran inside the store, grabbed a container of putty and rushed back outside after leaving some money on the cashier’s counter. As we were getting into the car, I saw the employee looking at us, waving the money and laughing.

Back home, Dad was finally able to complete the faucet project after only five hours and 30 minutes when his first estimate was about one hour and 30 minutes. About par for Dad’s work around the house.
Thursday, June 2, 2011

Doggy humor: The great safari

By Hobo Hudson

When I ambled into the kitchen this morning to get my treats from Dad while he was waiting for his coffee to brew, Dad handed me two pieces of the same kind of treats instead of the usual variety of two different ones. He said we were out of the one flavor of treats, and he had to give me two of the one we still have until he had time to go buy some more.

This was certainly not my idea of the perfect way to start another day, and letting me run out of a selection of my treats was rather annoying. To make it clear that I was not happy, I jumped on the kitchen counter and put my nose in Dad’s face and barked with a toothy smile, “You’re going to have time to buy my treat as soon as you finish your breakfast, aren’t you?”

Without hesitating, Dad said yes, Hobo, and he quickly sat down at the table to eat breakfast while I planted myself next to him, nipping at his leg to make sure he hurried up. After Dad had finally swallowed the last bite of toast and washed it down with the drops of coffee left in his cup, he got up, grabbed his car keys and told Mom he and I were going over to Pet Supermarket to get my treats. I pricked my ears. Going to Pet Supermarket here in town? This wasn’t really what I had in mind because a vision of the clear boxes of tasty peanut butter cookies only available at PetSmart had popped into my head.

Thinking fast and relying on Dad’s usual befuddled morning condition, I casually mentioned I had seen a sale of my treats at PetSmart, and they were ten cents a pack cheaper up there. If we buy three packages, we can save a whole thirty cents.

Since Dad is pretty tight with a dollar, I knew he would jump on my suggestion, and I was praying that he hadn’t had drunk enough coffee to realize it would cost $10 in gas to get to PetSmart while driving to Pet Supermarket would only cost about $1 in gas.

Luckily, Dad’s mind was still a little fuzzy, and he didn’t pick up on that point, so we were soon off on our great safari. After about 40 minutes of driving and having passed Pet Supermarket soon after leaving home, we arrived at PetSmart. On entering, the cashier who wasn’t busy at the moment gave me a great ear scratch and directed us to the aisle containing my treats where another employee handed the treats to Dad. I gave her one of my business cards, and she promised to read to see what I was going to bark about her.

When we were walking back toward the check out counter, I pulled Dad to a shelf display and showed him the see-through boxes of delicious peanut butter cookies, and Dad couldn’t resist buying a box for me.

“Mission accomplished,” I thought as I was leading the way out of the store.
Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Doggy humor: Busted

By Hobo Hudson

I had just awakened from my customary three-hour afternoon power nap and trotted over to the water fountain outside Mom’s office door when I heard Mom and Dad talking with a strange hooman. I cocked my ear the moment Dad said, “We’ll be happy to have dinner with you, but we’ll have to sneak out without Hobo knowing about it. Be real quiet because he’s a slave driver.”

Pretending I didn’t overhear the conversation and putting on my best Dale Carnegie face, I casually walked into Mom’s office and barked, “Dad, before you leave, I need a new satire piece for the website and new reader projections for the next month. Mom, I need you to write two news stories and an editorial.”

Whining, Dad turned toward me and said, “Hobo, I’ll be up until at least 2 o’clock in the morning doing all this.” Mom just cringed and said, “Yes, Hobo.” The stranger, first glancing at Mom and Dad and then staring at me, said, “Doesn’t the overtime kill your bottom line, Mr. Hobo?”

I snapped, “I don’t pay overtime. I just bark orders and expect my hooman employees to follow them.”

I had barely closed my mouth when the stranger whipped out a leash and a badge and told me he was arresting me for human slavery.

I’m sitting in a cell at the local jail right now. While I’m waiting for my attorney, Ms. Foley Monster, to arrive and make bail arrangements, I’m pondering who could have ratted me out.

My first impulse was to fire whoever did it, but Ms. Monster told me when I called her to bail me out there is some law called the “Whistle Blower Law” that prevents me from penalizing employees in situations like this. I guess I may have to devise some other way to express my displeasure.
Friday, May 27, 2011

Doggy humor: Free at last

By Hobo Hudson

After having made my one phone call from jail and talked briefly with my attorney, Ms. Foley Monster, I was thrown into a large cell with about 30 drunks. When the iron door slammed shut, I let out a mighty howl that whooshed all across doggy land, and my friends began loping to my aid.

Without wasting time to worry about their own safety, two of my friends entered the jail with a hacksaw baked into a cake while another acted as lookout. It was a well intended effort but failed because I wasn’t tall enough to reach the window, and none of the drunks could stand straight long enough to lift me up.

About the time I received the cake, as I learned later, a large German shepherd arrived at my home with three small friends, and with the help of my kitty sisters, they wriggled their way into my office. The shepherd rapidly downloaded all my stories from my computer onto her flash drive and then removed my hard drive, replacing it with the one from her computer she had brought with her and copied all my stories onto the new hard drive. In the meanwhile, my three little friends were hard at work dragging all my papers and folders into the yard and putting them on a bonfire.

Inside my cell, I had just hidden the hacksaw in the pants’ leg of one of the drunks and was licking the last cake crumbs from my beard, when I heard a hullabaloo at the entrance of the jail. I peeked through the iron bars and saw Ms. Foley Monster dashing toward the cell, panting from her long run from Massachusetts.

“I’m here, Hobo,” she wheezed while she tried to catch her breath. “Don’t bark a sound until I talk with the federal attorney.” She turned around and trotted away, leaving me dumbstruck behind in the cell.

A short time later, however, the warden came, opened the cell door for me and led me to a conference room. Ms. Monster and the federal attorney were already sitting at the conference table across from each other, waiting for me to take a seat to discuss the matter.

Staring first at me and then at Ms. Monster, the federal attorney said, “We’re charging your client with human slavery, violating the Wage and Hour Act, and I’m trying to decide if the Rico Act applies.”

Ms. Monster cocked her head and asked, “What proof do you have of any of these charges?”

“Hobo admitted it when he was arrested,” the federal attorney replied.

Ms. Monster quickly snapped, “But he wasn’t given his Miranda rights, so anything he barked is inadmissible, and I’m sure he misunderstood the question.”

“Oh, that’s all right,” the federal attorney said. “I’m sure we’ll find plenty of evidence when we search his office.”

“Not without a warrant, you’re not and you can’t get a warrant without probable cause,” Ms. Monster replied in a bored bark.

Opening the folder in front of him and digging out a piece of paper, the federal attorney said, “We’ll get around this by having Hobo sign this form giving us permission to search his office. If he has nothing to hide, he shouldn’t mind signing it.”

Ms. Monster grabbed the paper and growled, “Let me read it first.”

While she was slowly reading the consent form and referring to her dictionary for the meaning of some of the words, her cell phone rang. She answered it immediately, and after a series of yip, yip, yipping, she grinned, turned the phone off and told me to go ahead and sign the consent form. I was a little hesitant about putting my paw print on it, but I was sure Ms. Monster knew what she was doing, and so I did it.

After the federal attorney had grabbed the paper I had signed and had stormed out with the file under his arm, Ms. Monster and I sat alone around the conference table, and she told me what my friends had done. I gave a deep sigh of relief for apparently having dodged the fallout of my big mouth, but most of all, I felt honored for having such great friends who stuck up for me and helped me far beyond the scope of friendship.

When the federal attorney returned a couple of hours later he said, “Hobo, I’m going to have to apologize. There was nothing incriminating in your office. I guess my men got a false tip.”

Thanks, all you guys and gals for the valiant effort you put forth to rescue me. I’ll never forget it, and I have sure learned to keep my barker shut in front of strangers.


About Hobo

This was Hobo Hudson, my doggy brother, a little terrier mix with black fur. He became famous after his first attempt at writing stories, which was an article published in the newsletter of our local animal shelter, the same shelter in which I ended up years later before Hobo and his parents adopted me. Hobo’s fame quickly spread as he made a name for himself as a business dog and an adventurer. To keep his memory alive, my doggy sister, my three kitty siblings and I, Wylie Hudson, are continuing his blog. Our mom is the blog’s editor.

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