Penny

Read Penny for Free Online

Book: Read Penny for Free Online
Authors: Hal; Borland
again. She raced after it with an elephantine thunder of feet. She looked at me. I looked at the door. Barbara didn’t appear.
    Penny flipped the bone toward the steps, and it bounced down and off the porch. She lunged after it, rolled halfway down the steps, caught herself, grabbed the bone and, in the same sinuous motion, tossed it again. That time it went on down the steps and into the yard. She dug it out of the snow, and the snow seemed to cool off her exuberance a little. She brought it back to the front walk, crouched there and chewed on it for a minute or so, while she caught her breath. Then she picked it up, ran down the walk, crossed the road to the snow-covered riverbank and disappeared. I followed her as far as the road but couldn’t see where she had gone. Five minutes later she came back, her muzzle covered with snow crystals. Obviously she had taken the brand new rawhide bone down the riverbank and buried it in the snow. It may be noted here that I never did find that rawhide bone. I have no idea where she hid it, and even she never found it again. She came back to the road, sneezed and rubbed the snow off her muzzle with a forepaw, and came back to the porch with me in an almost sedate state of emotions. She lay down on her throw rug there on the front porch, and I went back indoors.
    Before we let her in the house again I retrieved the rubber ball from under the sofa and hid it in the catch-all drawer in the kitchen. She didn’t get it again in the house. Two days later I gave it to her out on the porch and it rolled down the steps, was retrieved from a snowdrift, taken across the road and down the riverbank, and it too was hidden somewhere down there. And that was the end of such toys for Penny.
    That evening Barbara called her friend in Monterey again. And she and Sybil talked dogs, specifically bassets, for more than half an hour. Never give a basset a ball in the house, Sybil said, unless you want all your lamps broken and your chairs overturned. And Barbara agreed, one hundred percent. A basset will eat almost anything edible, Sybil said. Vegetables are good for them. Her basset specially liked green beans. “Try vegetables on Penny. Actually bassets can digest almost anything. They seem to digest most bones except chicken bones, which should be outlawed for all dogs. Chicken bones are like broken glass, but chop bones seem to present no problem. The basset’s jaws are very powerful. A basset simply chews up a chop bone, gets it to an edible place before it swallows it.” This, Sybil warned, may violate professional advice, and maybe for some dogs it is all wrong, but that is what she had learned by experience.
    And she asked, “Does Penny go upstairs?”
    Barbara said, “Of course she does. Gallops up, in fact.” Sybil couldn’t believe it. Her basset simply wouldn’t go up a flight of steps. Down, but not up. And her basset, after ten years, still had to be chased off chairs now and then. Did Barbara’s Penny? No? Well, that was something? If we ever had to chase her off, or punish her for anything, a rolled-up newspaper was the best thing she had found—it made a resounding thwack and it didn’t really hurt; it was more of a surprise and a disgrace than anything else. “Bassets,” she said, “are stubborn as mules. But lovable.”
    Those last two statements were gospel truth. Especially the stubbornness.
    We had tried various brands of canned dog food, and she had certain preferences that I wouldn’t call acceptance and rejection—just preferences. But she had refused, absolutely refused, to eat kibbled dog food, the dry biscuit type of food that is shaped in what are sometimes called bite-size bits. We tried it on her plain dry, in milk, in water, soaked to mushy softness, barely damp, every way we could think of. She refused to eat more than one mouthful. With a bagful of the stuff, I began to feed it to the birds. I

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