Inspired by a Wumo Comic
|Tinker and a BIG ball|
“Omigoodness, Banjo, this is hysterical,” exclaimed Mum. “I’ve got to show your Dad.”
“Huh, what?” I murmured. I’d been in the midst of my Sunday snooze on my dog bed beside Mum’s chair until her chuckling woke me up. “What is it?” I asked.
“This comic strip reminds me of Tinker when she was in her prime.”
Hmm, since Tinker went to Doggie Heaven years ago, I was intrigued. “What’s it about, Mum?”
“It’s about dogs and balls, silly boy, stand up and come see.”
I lifted my head but couldn’t quite catch a glimpse of the newspaper in Mum’s lap. Of course, with Puddin’ purring in her lap, it was especially difficult to see the paper.
“Sheesh,” said Mum, “You’ll have to stand up to see this, and you wonder why I call you a lazy lugger.”
There was that word again—lazy--mostly used when I was being compared to Tinker. Because Tinker chased balls in all sizes and drug sticks around the yard and played with toys, my pet parents seemed to think she was special, much more special than I.
I showed Mum. I got to my feet and stuck my nose in the paper, dislodging Puddin’ who leaped down with a sharp meow. My take? Only pet parents with ball obsessed dogs would find the comic funny. Something about dogs having a space station with one purpose—to catch the moon, or as they called it, the big tennis ball in the sky.
“Mum, do you really think Tinker saw the moon as a humongous tennis ball?” I asked. “I mean, I always thought Tinker was pretty smart, despite her obsession.”
“It’s a joke, Banjo. Though Tinker did like beach balls, which were pretty darned big.”
“I like finding her racquet balls all over the house, under the couches and beds,” Puddin’ piped up. “They’re fun to roll around the house. I don’t really get why you don’t like balls, Banjo. What’s wrong with you?”
“Nothing’s wrong with me,” I huffed. “Now, Mum, can you please go back to quietly drinking your coffee and reading the paper, while I carry on with my nap?” That got a laugh out of Mum.
“Why, yes, son, please resume snoozing.”
“Shhh,” she said. “That’s what Mum and Dad think, but I snuck off to join the Dog Space Program. They needed my expertise on the best way to bring down that giant shiny ball in the sky.”
I rolled over and blinked, not believing my eyes … or ears. I stuck out my paw and touched her. She was solid.
“We’re recruiting dogs of all shapes, sizes, and dispositions to help with our research, Banjo. We ball obsessed kinds thought maybe having a different perspective—a more laid back one—might be beneficial. I told my fellow dog scientists that you were a perfect candidate, oblivious to balls and known as a relaxation expert. Are you game to help us?” asked my big sister.
“Umm, I guess, as long as I don’t have to leave Mum and Dad,” I said. “But wait, what do I have to do?”
It was nice to see Tinker, but I wasn’t sure what was going on and wasn’t planning to leap before I looked. Rut-ro, I thought, too late. When I took a long look around, I saw that I was no longer on my soft bed next to Mum. Instead, I was in a brightly lit room, complete with white walls and bright white tile. A lab looking room, as in scientific, not as in Labrador Retriever.
The tiles were cold, just the way I like ‘em, but what was with the bright lights. And, wait a minute, now Tinker was wearing a white lab coat. I’d never seen her in any kind of coat before. Her name was embroidered on the coat, and she was wearing glasses. Whoa, there were lots of dogs in white coats, all busily studying charts and looking through telescopes.
‘Tinker,” I exclaimed, “Where the heck are we?”
“It’s really cool, Banjo,” she said. “Our lab is on a star right outside Doggie Heaven. We have a great view of the moon from here, the better to study it and figure out how we can catch it and play with it.”
Uh-huh, I thought, this was getting “curiouser and curiouser,” as my Dad likes to say. I realized that Tinker and I were in a pen separated from the other white-coated dogs, and then I noticed there was a large Great Pyrenees lying in the far corner.
“Who are you,” I called
“I’m Sirius,” ruffed the big white dog. “This group seems to think that since my name is used to refer to the Dog Star, I have some special knowledge. All I want is to get back to guarding my herd of sheep, but these nerdy dogs don’t want me to leave. They keep asking me to chase balls and give them feedback on how I like it. Like it? I have important guard dog work to do; why would I like chasing balls?”
Well, I had to agree with Sirius on that score. I don’t have a herd of sheep to guard, but I have Mum, Dad, and Puddin’. They depend on me to keep them safe. I have several spots around our house where I can stretch out with one eye open and bark when anyone threatening approaches.
Tinker was listening to our discussion so I said, “Hey, Sis, I’m with Sirius. Thanks for the invitation, but I want to go home.”
“Now, now,” said Tinker. “That’s really not an option. We need your input before we can send you on your way and that could take some time.”
“Time,” I yelped, “Forget it. I want to go home now. Get me out of here.”
That’s when Sirius whispered in my ear. “Banjo, there’s no reasoning with these ball dogs. The only way we can get out of here is for us to join forces, charge the fence, leap it, and run as fast as we can out the door to the earth elevator.”
None of this was making any sense to me. Run? Leap? Earth elevator? On my best days, I don’t run or leap. And what’s an earth elevator? But since I’m part Great Pyrenees, I felt a kinship with Sirius, and I trusted him. At this point, I trusted him way more than my sister Tinker. “Lead the way,” I ruffed. “I’m with you.”
With that, Sirius gave a deep growl and hurtled toward the fence. As he gracefully leaped over it, I did my best to get up a head of steam and follow him. Lo’ and behold, I soared over the fence and sprinted after him to the earth elevator. I hadn’t moved that swiftly ever. Safely inside, we hit the Down button, and whoosh, we tumbled back to earth. Or at least that’s what it felt like.
Wham! I found myself on my cushy bed with Puddin’ looking at me and pawing my nose.
“Banjo, Banjo,” she meowed. “Wake up. You’re growling and moving your legs. Are you having a bad dream?”
“Huh, bad dream? Where’s Tinker? Where’s Sirius?”
“Well, Tinker’s been gone a while, Banjo. I was just a kitten when she left us, and who’s Sirius?”
“Sirius, the beautiful white dog right over …” Where was he?
“Shhh, Banjo, you were definitely dreaming. There’s no white dog, no Tinker, just you, me and Mum.”
“But Puddin’, Tinker took me to some kind of Dog Space Lab with white walls and bright lights, and she wanted me to chase balls, and … and that’s what happened to me. I swear. She had me and Sirius and wouldn’t let us go. I had to run to escape. Sirius and I galloped, we sprinted, and even jumped a fence! ”
Now, that cracked Puddin’ up. The thought of me running was too much for her. She laughed so hard, she hiccupped. “Banjo, you never run, you silly boy. You’re known for meandering and snoozing, not running.”
Truth be told, the idea of me running is pretty unbelievable even to me. “Puddin,” I ruffed, “I had to get home. A boy’s gotta do what a boys gotta do so I ran, I tell you! I don’t plan to make a habit of it, but that’s what I did.”
I could tell from the smirk on her little cat face that she didn’t believe me, but that’s my story, and I’m sticking to it.
Lord Banjo lives in Georgia with his Mum, Kathy Manos Penn. Find more stories in his book, “Lord Banjo the Royal Pooch,” available on Amazon. To contact him, please email email@example.com. (If you received this blog via email, please do not hit reply--messages to that mailbox unfortunately go into a Black Hole.)