Welcome!

Hello, you found my blog page. Thank you for taking time to read my page. I’ll be posting articles about pet care, dog training tricks, short stories, as well as upcoming events here, so check back often.

I’m have a lot of book signings coming up, so come see me. I’ll be participating in the McKinney Farmers Market September 7th and 28th. Check out my website for more event details.

I’ll be talking about my new book Megan’s Journal Kitten Growth and Development on Artist First Radio Network September 16th at 7PM EST here.

.http://www.artistfirst.com

I’m excited to announce that my next book, Megan’s Journal is now on Amazon!!

Here is a preview of Megan’s Journal:

:

Many readers have asked, “How did Megan know how to care for her kittens at the various stages of their development?”

Megan’s Journal documents her munchkin’s grown from helpless one-day-old kittens to very active six-month-olds. It includes antidotes of their many playful antics along with Megan’s internet research on kitten development. It also follows Megan’s personal growth as she proves to her parents that she can handle the responsibility of a pet. Megan learns that there is much more to having a pet than just petting and playing with them. Megan doesn’t mind the endless cycle of feeding schedules, vet visits, homework, household chores, and pet sitting jobs because she loves her kittens with all her heart!

Megan’s Journal includes over 30 color photos of the author’s real life kittens that inspired her Megan’s World book series.

Want to know all the latest news about my books, promotional events, and giveaways? Sign up for my email list. I promise not to flood your inbox, my newsletters normally go out once a quarter. I would never give your information to any marketing companies.

Gizmo and the Rodeo

Two-year-old, Gizmo had graduated from CAT-U last Saturday.  Now only one week later, he was headed to his first rodeo with All City Rodeo.

Gizmo saw the arena ahead and ran to greet his new boss.

“Good Morning, Mr. Buck.”

“Hello there, Gizmo.  Are you ready for your first rodeo?”  Mr. Buck responded.

“Yes, sir,” Gizmo said puffing out his grey chest in excitement.

Mr. Buck led Gizmo and the others through the crowded arena to the riders area.

After talking with the cat at the registration table, Mr. Buck returned with the riding times for each of them.

Gizmo’s eyes lit up as he saw he was scheduled to ride in two different events.  The Buck-off event, where he had to hold onto the bucking bull for as long as possible.  The Barrel Race where he would ride a horse through the barrel maze as fast as he could.

“The Buck-off is coming up soon, we need to get you a number, Gizmo,” Mr. Buck said breaking into Gizmo’s thoughts.

Gizmo followed Mr. Buck through the crowd to the edge of the arena.  A pudgy black cat was holding vests and passed them out as each rider approached.  Gizmo was given the number 5 vest, which meant he would ride 5th in each event.

“That’s good, I can watch the first few rides,” Gizmo told Mr. Buck excitedly.

“Yes, it is never good to be the first one in the event.”

Gizmo stood at the railing at watched as the Buck-off started.

The first cat didn’t last 2 seconds out of the gate.

The second cat lasted 5 seconds.

The third and fourth cat each only lasted 4 seconds.

“Wow, this looks hard,” Gizmo muttered under his breath.  He climbed onto the bull, who right now stood calmly in the slot.  Gizmo dug in claws into the saddle cloth as far as they would go.  He took a deep breath preparing himself for what was to come.

“Ready?” a voice asked him.

Gizmo nodded and clenched the saddle cloth tighter.

The gate flew open and the bull now bucked and twisted down the arena.  Gizmo held on, not feeling at all off balance by the bucks.  The bull then turned to go back up the arena.  He did a series of mini bucks followed by a big buck that caught Gizmo by surprise.  The buck caused Gizmo to slide down the right side of the bull.  Gizmo quickly righted himself on the saddle and was digging all four feet back into the  saddle pad, when the bull did another big buck sending Gizmo hurdling over the bull’s head and onto the sand below.  Gizmo managed to land on his feet and get up the railing before the bull trampled him.

“The longest ride so far, Gizmo rode for 10 seconds,” the announcer’s voice boomed over the loudspeakers.

“Yeah, good going Gizmo!”

Gizmo looked in the direction of the cheers, and saw his three siblings in the stands.  He waved to them and continued on his way back to Mr. Buck.

“Good ride, Gizmo,” Mr. Buck praised, “I think you have won this event.  There are only two more riders.  The rider after you barely made it out of the gate.”

Gizmo nodded, trying to hide his excitement.  He turned to face the arena, so Mr. Buck wouldn’t see the huge smile that Gizmo couldn’t keep off his face.

Gizmo stood at the railing watching the last two riders in a daze.  He couldn’t believe his ears, when the announcer called, “Gizmo has won the Buck-off event today.  Come to the staging area and claim your ribbon, Gizmo.”

Mr. Buck patted Gizmo on the shoulder, “Good going, son.”

“Thanks,” Gizmo beamed and hurried off to collect his ribbon.

Gizmo showed off his blue ribbon to Mr. Buck, before handing it to his siblings to hold.  Gizmo went back to his spot along the railing and started mentally preparing for the barrel race.

It wasn’t long before the first cat and horse team wove through the barrels.  They took several turns too tight and knocked over three barrels by the end of the run.

The next two riders also knocked over the third barrel, but otherwise had a good ride.

The fourth rider made it through without knocking any barrels over, and his time was fast at 1 minute 7 seconds.

Gizmo mounted his horse and clutched the saddle pad.  When the gate opened the horse lunged forward in a gallop.  Gizmo swayed momentarily in the saddle, before steadying himself and concentrating on the barrels.

Gizmo leaned and nudged his horse around barrel after barrel.  After making it passed the third barrel without knocking it over, Gizmo let a breath out. 

“Almost there,” he muttered to his horse.

A few barrels later, Gizmo and his horse made it through all the barrels in a clean run. 

“Gizmo has a clean run with the time of 1 minute 9 seconds,” the announcer’s voice says.

“Drat,” Gizmo says as he makes his way back to Mr. Buck.

“Good ride, Gizmo,” Mr. Buck praises.

“I was too slow,” Gizmo complains.

“You can’t expect to win every event.  You did great for your first show with us.”

Gizmo’s face brightened.  “Does that mean I can ride again next weekend?”

“Yes, I already have you signed up for three events.”

Gizmo felt better, knowing he hadn’t blown his dream job after only one day.

Gizmo collected his red second place ribbon a while later.

As the arena was emptying out, and the crew was starting to clean up, Gizmo found Mr. Buck.  “Thanks for letting me ride today.  I learned a lot and will be ready to go again next weekend.”

“Great, see you for practice on Monday.”

“Bye,” Gizmo called as he hurried out the arena door to find his siblings.

“Good job, Gizmo,” they all cheered at once.

All the way home, Gizmo told his three siblings about his day.

The end.

Separation Anxiety

Many dogs experience separation anxiety when left alone. They will often whine, bark, cry, howl, chew, dig, scratch at the door, soil the house or destroy your home and yard. We often unintentionally train our dogs to behave this way because whenever they throw this kind of tantrum when we leave, we quickly come back to reassure them, give them attention or even a bone or biscuit. If you do this, your dog will soon learn that he can control you with emotional blackmail.

Long, drawn-out farewells can create separation anxiety problems by first exciting your dog and then making the isolation more obvious when you’re gone. Just when he gets all worked up and ready to play, suddenly you disappear. With all this energy, your dog will either try his best to get you to come back or he will have to vent his energy in some other way. Since he can’t build model airplanes or invite his buddies over for a hand of poker, he does doggy things – like chew, dig and bark.

Perhaps it is not separation anxiety after all! We often think our dog is destructive because he is angry and spiteful that we left him, but he could actually be just trying to have some fun since there is nothing else to do. He may be relieved to be able to do those things he normally can’t do when you’re home. He may be thinking, “Thank goodness the owner is finally leaving! Now I can chase the cat, dig up the tomatoes, get in the trash, and bark at the neighbors. They never let me do those things when they’re home.”

Some dogs with separation anxiety are stressed, nervous and insecure when they are left alone. They express this nervous energy in typical dog fashion – chewing, digging, barking and house soiling.

To prevent separation anxiety, dogs need to feel happy, secure, and comfortable when you’re away. It’s important to give them things to do while you’re gone. Provide them with lots of toys, such as a Kong stuffed with treats, and chew bones. Often another companion pet can help alleviate the boredom.

Another way to prevent separation anxiety is to set aside scheduled time periods to give your dog undivided attention, play and exercise. A happy, well-exercised dog will usually sleep contentedly during the day while you are gone. Be sure that one of the scheduled play sessions occurs before you must leave for the day. Give your dog a chance to settle down before you leave and don’t make a big deal of your departure – just leave without any emotion or commotion.

If your dog is already experiencing separation anxiety, then gradually accustom him to your leaving. Practice leaving and returning several times a day until he gets used to your departures and realizes that you are not abandoning him forever. Gradually leave for longer and longer periods of time, but start out by leaving for just 5 minutes and returning again.

Misty the Exterminator

Two-year-old, Misty, the gray tabby, had graduated from CAT-U a few weeks ago.  Now, she was excited to start her job with Pest Trackers.  This was her dream job.  She was so excited; she could hardly sleep Sunday night.  

The next morning, she bounced into the kitchen full of energy despite the early hour.  Her brothers staggered into the kitchen and they each started getting breakfast. 

Misty chattered excitedly to her three brothers about her job.  They too were starting jobs today, but they seemed much more relaxed.

Misty finished breakfast first and raced out the door calling, “See you tonight.”

She got to Pest Trackers 10 minutes before 8 a.m.  She didn’t mind being the first one there.  It was much better than being late.

A few minutes later, her boss, Mr. Tux arrived along with some other employees.  Mr. Tux introduced Misty to the other workers, before sending the others to their first job. 

“Now, Misty, you will have your own job list today.  I will be going with you this week, just to make sure you are comfortable,” Mr. Tux explained. 

Misty nodded.

“Do you have any questions before we get going?”

“No, thank you.”

With that, Mr. Tux handed Misty her job list for the day.  She scanned it quickly seeing that there were 5 appointments set up for her.

“Let’s go,” Misty said.

She and Mr. Tux gathered the equipment she would need and walked to the first appointment. 

A delicately build calico answered Misty’s knock on the cat condo door.

Misty and Mr. Tux were ushered inside as Cally explained, “I have ants in the condo and I cannot get rid of them no matter how much I clean.  I have no idea how they are getting in.  I don’t want my kittens getting bitten, though.”

As if on cue four tiny kittens scampered through the room around the corner and back down the hall.

Misty smiled as she replied, “Show me where the ants are, please.  I will figure out where they are coming from.”

Cally smiled and led Misty and Mr. Tux to the utility room at the back of the condo.  Cally pointed to the back corner of the room, where Misty saw the line of ants marching across the floor.

“I will look into this, and let you know what I find,” Misty replied.

Cally nodded, “Thank you.”  She then left the room to find her kittens.

Misty checked the room thoroughly.  Next she checked the kitchen along the same wall.  Mr. Tux stood back and observed Misty’s work.

Misty then went outside and around the condo.  She searched along the back wall of the condo where the utility room was.  It didn’t take Misty long to find a large ant mound several feet from the wall of the condo.  Misty sat still as she watched the line of ants marching from their mound to the condo.  The ants showed her how they could slip between a tiny crack in the siding.

“I found where they are getting in.  Look,” Misty called to Mr. Tux.

She pointed where the ants were filing into the small opening.

“Good job, Misty.  You figured that out fast.”

Misty beamed at the praise, before going inside and asking Cally to come out to the back of the house.

“The ants are getting in through this small opening in the wall.  This is the back wall of your utility room.  I am going to put Ant-X on the mound.  The chemical will not harm you or your kittens.  I am also going to spray a little along the inner wall of the utility room.  You will need to get the siding hole patched as well,” Misty explained.

Cally nodded. “Thank you, Misty.  I can’t believe how quickly you figured out where they were coming from.”

Misty smiled. “Let me finish up here, and we will get out of your way.”

Cally retreated back inside the condo.

Misty sprayed the mound and then the exterior of the condo.  Mr. Tux followed her back inside, where she sprayed the utility room wall.

Once she was finished, and had placed the canister of spray out on the porch, she handed Cally the invoice.

Cally said, “Thank you, Misty.  I will definitely call you again.”  Cally handed Misty a check and held the front door for her and Mr. Tux.

Once Misty and Mr. Tux were down the block, Mr. Tux praised, “You were so poised with the customer, and finished your work efficiently.  I am very impressed.”

“Thank you.”

Misty and Mr. Tux arrived at the next job on the schedule.  Misty’s next three jobs were routine maintain spraying of the yard and home.  While Misty still enjoyed this work, she was delighted that her last job of the day was tracking where the cockroaches were coming from.  Tracking and finding bugs was her favorite.

By the end of the day, Mr. Tux was so impressed with Misty, that he told her, “You obviously don’t need me tagging along with you.  You will be on your own tomorrow to complete the jobs.  You can always call me if you run into a problem.”

“Thank you, Mr. Tux, this has been the best day.”

Misty waved bye and headed home to tell her brothers of her success. 

The end

I’m Teaching Creative Writing Classes!!

Classes will be held at the Rosemeade Recreation Center at 1330 E Rosemeade Pkwy, Carrollton, TX 75007.

These class will encourage your child or teen to use their imagination and teach them the necessary elements for creating a great story.  Your young author will learn the pieces making up the beginning, middle, and end of a story.  There are no wrong answers in this class, just the possibility of coming up with the next best-selling story.

Young Authors: Mommy and Me

With the parent’s help, students will be encouraged to fill in the blanks to create a story as well as create a story behind a photograph.

No Class 11/28.  Registration includes parent and one child.

Class # 170650-70 at Rosemeade Recreation Center For 4-6 year olds and their parent. This is a four week class starting 10/3/19 from 4:30pm to 5pm

Class # 170650-80 at Rosemeade Recreation Center For 4-6 years old and their parent. This is a four week class starting 11/7/19 from 4:30pm to 5pm

Register here!

Young Authors

Your authors learn about outlining, generating story ideas, and writing in different genres.

No Class 11/28. 

Class # 170655-70 at Rosemeade Recreation Center 7-12 year olds. This is a six week class starting 10/3/19 from 5pm to 6pm.

Register here!

Teenage Authors

Teenage authors learn about outlining, generating story ideas, and writing in different genres.

No Class 11/28. 

Class # 170660-70 at Rosemeade Recreation Center 13-18 year olds. This is a six week class starting 10/3/19 from 6pm to 7pm.

Register here!

Lucky’s Big Backyard

I will never forget the morning my mom carried me outside, explaining, “You are going to get to stay in the backyard now, Lucky.  You will have so much more room to hop and play.”

What?  Outside?  I have been indoors in a rabbit hutch my whole life.  I don’t know how to defend myself outside.

Mom sat down on the patio with me in her lap.  The sun was already high in the sky. A thousand strange smells filled my nose. I sat nervously not about to move from the security of Mom’s lap.  My ears flattened against my back to shield them from a loud thumping and clanging noise that went past the other side of the fence.

“It’s just the garbage truck, Lucky.  It’s alright. Come on, I will walk you around,” Mom said, placing me on the ground. 

Mom stood up and took a few steps.  I sat frozen in place for a moment, before deciding that it was better to follow her than stay by myself.

I hopped at Mom’s heels.  As we left the patio, I froze again.  Suddenly, I was next to a big body of water that stretched the length of the yard.

“Hop around the pool, Lucky.  It’s not warm enough to swim yet,” Mom called.

I gave the pool a cautious glance and sniffed at the water as I crept to the edge.   Nope.  I am not going swimming.

I stayed along the flowerbed edge as I followed Mom around the pool.

As a branch brushed off Mom’s legs, it swung back into my face.

Pesky thing.  I will get this off the path.

I easily chewed through the tomato plant branch, and was about to spit it out when, I realized this tastes delicious.

I watched Mom just up ahead of me as I munched on the branch.  I then grabbed another branch as I hopped to catch up with Mom.

As I stopped at her feet, I noticed a small feathered creature walking under the brush just in front of where Mom and I stopped.

I stretched as long as I could to get a sniff of the new creature.  Just as I was getting a whiff, the creature flapped and got itself up on the fence. I jumped in surprise and darted behind Mom’s legs.

“It’s ok, Lucky.  It is just a bird,” Mom explained.

As I recovered from my scare, I grabbed a mouthful of the nearby bush.  Hey, this bush is good too.  I like this variety of treats.  Maybe this yard won’t be bad.

We continued on around the pool.  As Mom walked across the grass, to check on a spot by the fence, I took a mouthful of grass and a few slow hops on the grass.

The grass was soft and the sun was warm; the combination made me happy.  I ran in a quick circle before frisking across the grass.

This is fun!

Mom and I continued across the grass, until we came to a big mound of dirt.  Mom carefully stepped around it, but I sniffed it. As soon as I put my nose to it, dozens of tiny moving creatures came out of the dirt and crawled toward me.

I hopped back in surprise.

Mom knelt down next to me, “Leave the ants alone, Lucky.  Let’s make sure none of them are on you.” 

Mom brushed me off carefully, and then we continued back to the patio where we started.

“I am going to bring your food and water dish out here. I will be right back,” Mom told me.

I watched her disappear through the door to the house.

Who needs that old food dish when I have a whole yard of fresh greens.

I frisked off the patio and wandered through flower bed after flower bed, sampling each plant as I went.  

As Mom reappeared from the house, I reached the grass on the backside of the pool, and I was frisking happily from one end to the other.

“You like it out here, don’t you, Lucky?” Mom asked.

I did another happy frisk and dashed, in response to show her my answer.

As I neared the bush again, the bird had returned.  This time I was able to sniff him, and he eyed me without flying away.  

I grabbed a mouthful of leaves and chewed thoughtfully. This yard isn’t scary any more.  Now I have a new birdy friend, and all the fresh greens I can eat.  I will like living outside.

Mom stayed outside with me awhile longer, but when she went inside, I barely noticed.  I was flopped in the dirt next to the tomato plant. It’s shade was the perfect spot for an afternoon nap.

Yes, outside life is the life for me.

The end.

Why do cats drop their toys into their water dish?

Misty has always taken her toys or post it notes from my desk and dropped them in her water dish. She then attracts her brothers attentions and all five cats will attempt to fish the toy or piece of paper from the dish with their paws splashing water on the floor.

I was curious what instinct made Misty want to take her toys or my post it notes to the water dish, so I started looking into it.

I was surprised to find there wasn’t one definite answer.  Scientists are guessing at why cats take toys to their water dish.  There are several theories.  One is that cats are using their fishing/hunting instinct by putting the toy in the water and pawing at it.  Another theory is that cats view their food and water dishes as a safe place.  Since domestic cats don’t have a ‘nest’, they use their food and water dishes as a safe hiding place for their ‘catch’.  A third theory is that the cat is trying to teach it’s human to hunt/fish by showing off their skills. 

Crate Train Your Dog

Growing puppies alternate periods of activity and rest throughout the day. There’s no reason they can’t do their resting in a crate, like a baby taking a nap in a playpen or crib. By keeping the puppy on a regular schedule of feedings and exercise, you can control his natural rest periods. If you put the puppy in his crate when he’s already tired and ready to settle down, he’ll get used to his new “bedroom” faster.

In the beginning, he should only be expected to stay in the crate for 2 hours at a time and overnight. During his periods out of the crate, your puppy needs plenty of playtime and attention. I like to give puppies at least an hour between crating periods where they’re played with, loved, allowed to explore and romp. This burns off their boundless puppy energy and helps them understand that crating is only a temporary thing.

Special toys and treats help make his “room” a pleasant place to stay. Give the puppy a small treat every time he has to go into his crate. Better still; toss the treat into the crate so he can jump in after it. (If you want him to learn to go in the crate on command, say “Kennel” when you toss the treat. He won’t understand right away but before long he’ll put three important things together in his mind – “Kennel” + Crate = Treat!)

You’ve given him a reward for going into the crate, now you need to give him an incentive to stay in there quietly. Make his “room” comfortable. Get him a soft but hard to destroy blanket or bed. Get him a selection of toys but don’t give them all to him at once, just one or two at a time. Rotate the toys. Puppies get bored easily and switching the toys around makes them seem new and exciting. Teething puppies love chew toys and all dogs love a sterilized beef bone with peanut butter stuffed in the middle. They can spend hours trying to clean it all out.

Dogs learn quickly when their behavior is associated with a reward. Behavior that doesn’t result in a reward often disappears when there’s nothing in it for them. It’s normal for many puppies to bark, whine, howl or throw tantrums when first being crate-trained. If you let your puppy out of the crate while he’s upset, you’ll be rewarding him for bad behavior. The next time he’s supposed to go in his crate, he’ll cry and bark again because that’s what got him out the last time.

For many puppies, just ignoring their complaints is enough to make them stop. If it doesn’t get them anywhere, they soon give it up and find something better to do like sleep or play with a toy. Stubborn puppies might need a harsh-sounding “No!” and a rap on the top of the crate to help them get over their tantrums. Whatever you do, don’t take him out of the crate until he’s quieted down.

Training Your Kitten to use the Litter Box

Kittens explore the world with their mouths just like human babies. Using clay clumping litter with kittens under 8 weeks old is dangerous.  This litter is highly toxic if eaten.  The best litter for young kittens is recycled newspaper.  These litters have newspaper that are pressed into inch long pellets, which is too large for a kitten to swallow.  The newspaper won’t hurt the kitten if they chew on the pellets.  The newspaper pellets should be placed in a low-lying open box/pan that is easy for the kittens to get in and out of.  A rabbit litter box is a good height for young kittens.

To start litter box training the kittens, stimulate them to go potty in the box after every meal.  Leave the soil pellets in the box, so the kittens can smell where they have gone before.  Scent is a big part of litter box training.  Some kittens will start pottying in the box very quickly, others take several days of repetition.  Praise the kittens for successfully using the litter box.  Don’t scold them if they go outside the box. 

As kittens are learning to go potty without being stimulated, they will have very little warning that they have to go potty.  Keep the litter box in the same room as the kittens at all times.  The litter box should never be more than 10 feet away from young kittens.

Set up the room so that the litter box is at one end of the room and their toys and beds are at the other.  Kittens naturally don’t like to potty where they eat and sleep.  Placing puppy potty pads under the litter box will making cleaning up mistakes easier.  Kittens will already have a natural drive to cover their potty, so allow the kitten to cover their potty even if they are scooping the litter pellets out of the litter box. 

Clean the litter box multiple times a day, as the newspaper pellets will get quickly soiled.  Kittens are naturally clean creatures and won’t want to use a dirty litter box.  To clean the box, scoop out the soiled pellets and wipe down the sides with a damp paper towel.  After a few times scooping the box, it will be time to dump the entire box and put fresh pellets in.  Do not use scented soap or cleaners when you are wiping the box down, this hides the kittens’ scent.  The kittens will go potty where they smell that they’ve gone before.

For kittens under 12 weeks old, it is dangerous to use clay clumping litter in the litter box.  Remember, kittens still put everything in their mouths and clay litter is dangerous for them to ingest.  After they have learned to use the litter box and are consistent with going on the newspaper pellets, transition them to a natural ground litter, such as corn cob litter.  Initially mix the newspaper pellets and corn cob litter together, so the kittens don’t stop using the litter box.  After a few days of them using the combination of litters, you can fill the litter box with corn cob litter only.  This litter will have a similar texture to the clay clumping litter but is much safer for kittens if they do put some in their mouths.  Corn cob litter will absorb odors and clump just like clay litter, so it’s easy to scoop.  Corn cob litter allows the kittens to use their instinct to dig before they go potty and then bury their potty.

Clumping cat litters are those that are designed so that urine and feces can be removed easily from the box without having to empty the entire box.  Most contain a material known as bentonite that allows the litter to form a nice solid clump as the litter absorbs liquid.  It is important that the cat litter is low in dust.  Cats naturally dig in the litter before and after they go potty, so they are very susceptible to inhaling dust.  Cat’s respiratory systems are very sensitive, so inhaling large amounts of litter dust can lead to serious health issues.  Look for litter that has 99% dust free on the packaging.  Avoid litters that are heavily scented.  The scents won’t hide the odor any better and can irritate cat’s respiratory system.

The pet stores carry a scoop-able litter that is designed for kittens.  It is ground to finer size so it doesn’t irritate kitten’s paws.  It also contains kitten-specific natural pheromones so kittens are curious to use the litter box. This litter can be used in the entire box or mixed in with other clay clumping litter.

Bucky’s Big Race

Seven year old Henry was following his mom through the pet store one Saturday morning.  As they approached the small animal section, a sign caught Henry’s eye and he froze.

When his mom turned around to find him, Henry exclaimed, “Look they are having a hamster derby here this afternoon.  Can I enter Bucky, please?”

His mom studied the sign for a moment, “Alright, we can look into it, let’s get Bucky’s food first.”

Henry nodded and continued following his mom.

Once they were at the checkout counter, Henry asked the cashier, “How do I sign up for the hamster derby?”

The cashier glanced at Henry and replied, “ There is no sign up, just have your hamster here by 1 p.m.”

“Thank you.  My hamster’s name is Bucky.  He is really fast.”

The cashier smiled at Henry’s enthusiasm, before saying, “I can’t wait to see him run.”

Only then did Henry turn to ask his mom, “Can Bucky run in the race, please?”

His mom responded, “Yes. We better go eat lunch and get Bucky.”

“Yeah!”

As soon as Henry got home, he race to his room. “Bucky, guess what, you are going to run in the hamster derby today.  We are going to the pet store after lunch. If you win, we will get a big trophy.”

Bucky poked his head out from under the mound of bedding where he napped.  He stretched and yawned as he walked over to the cage door.

“You want a yogurt treat, don’t you?”

Bucky stood waiting as Henry fished a treat from the bag and handed it to him.

“Henry, come eat lunch,” his mom called.

“Coming,” Henry shouted back, before telling Bucky, “I will be back.”

After lunch, Henry balanced Bucky’s exercise ball in his lap as they rode to the pet store.

Bucky turned and roamed inside the ball, confused by the new surroundings.

Once the car was parked, Henry climbed out carefully carrying Bucky in his ball.  As Henry led his mom into the pet store, he froze momentarily startled by the overwhelming sight of children and hamsters everywhere.  

“Wow, look at all the people.  Let’s go get Bucky signed in,” Mom said.

Henry nodded and followed her to the registration table.

It was not long after they got registered, that the first race began.  Henry crept closer to the tracks as the store employee started talking, “ Welcome everyone to the first hamster derby.  We have a 10 foot track set up for you today. There will be eight hamsters running at a time. The winner of each round will progress to the final run off.  I have the participants divided into six groups. I will call the names before each race, and my associates will help you get the hamsters in place. Is everybody ready?”

Henry screamed, “Yes!”

The store employee read the first eight names.

“Good, we aren’t up first so we can watch.” Henry commented.

His mom stood behind him, “Why don’t you move up closer so you can see.  I will stay right here.”

“Okay, thanks, Mom.”

“Do you want me to hold Bucky.”

“No, he needs to see too.”

Henry wove his way through the crowd of people to an opening that gave him a clear view of the track.

The first hamsters were loaded and at the employee’s signal, released.

“There are three hamsters aren’t moving off the starting line,” Henry whispered to Bucky, “Look, that black hamster is way in the lead.”

Henry stood and watched 3 more races, before Bucky’s name was called.

The store associate, took Bucky’s ball from Henry and placed it in the fourth lane on the track. 

Henry stood directly behind the fourth lane of the track. “You can do it, Bucky.  You will win, I just know it.”

As the associates started the race, Henry ran to the side of the track cheering, “Go, Bucky! Go!”

Henry bounced up and down in place.  Bucky was in the lead. Suddenly, Bucky slowed his pace.  

Oh, no.  Bucky has stopped and is now heading back to the starting line.

“No, Bucky, you’re going the wrong way!”

Henry watched as Bucky was passed by the rest of the hamsters.  Henry’s fist clenched at his side and tears welling up in his eyes, as he pleaded, “Please, Bucky, run the other way.  You can do it.”

As if hearing Henry, Bucky turned in his ball and continued running in the original direction.  Bucky picked up speed and quickly caught up with the other hamsters and pulled into the lead. He didn’t slow down, so his ball bounced off the other end of the track.

“Yeah, you won!  You won!” Henry cheered.

As the pet store employee announced, “Bucky comes in first, Fluffy came in second, and Oreo came in third…”

Henry wove his way through the crowd, and collected Bucky from the employee.

As he walked back to his mom, Henry chattered excitedly, “I am so proud of you, Bucky.  I knew you could do it. Now we are in the final race.”

Even though, Henry’s mom had seen the entire race, Henry could not stop himself from recounting the events to her.  He was so busy talking about Bucky’s race, that he missed the final three rounds. Only when he heard Bucky’s name called by the store employee, did Henry turn around and hurry back to the starting line with Bucky.

Bucky was placed in the second slot on the track this time.  Henry stood behind Bucky’s lane, explaining, “There are only five other hamsters running this time.  I know you can win, Bucky. Just run your fastest.”

Henry moved to the side of the track, just before the six hamsters were released.

“Go, Bucky, go!” Henry cheered. 

Bucky started running immediately, and this time he did not slow down.  

“Bucky’s in the lead! Yes, he is going to win,” Henry cheered.

A moment later, Bucky was caught at the other end of the track, by the store employee.  

“Bucky is the winner of our hamster derby,” The pet store employee announced excitedly, as he held Bucky and his ball over his head for all to see.

A cheer echoed through the store, as Henry and his mom wove through the crowd.  

Henry grabbed Bucky and his ball from the store associate, “You did so good, Bucky.  I am so proud of you!”

“Here is the trophy for Bucky’s owner, Henry,” the pet store employee announced.

Henry held Bucky in one hand, and the trophy in the other.  He smiled proudly, as camera flashes came from every direction.

Another round of applause echoed through the store.  

In a blur, Henry answered several questions about Bucky.  All too soon, Henry was following his mom to the car.

“Thank you, Mom,” Henry said as he climbed into the backseat, with Bucky and his trophy.

As soon as they got to the house, Henry raced to his room.  He rewarded Bucky with several yogurt drops as he place Bucky in his cage.

Bucky stuffed the yogurt drops in his cheeks and climbed down and under the bedding.   He poked his head out, as he heard Henry say, “You were so fast today, Bucky. I am so proud of you.  Your trophy will stay right here by your cage. Sleep well, Bucky, you earned it.”

Henry smiled at Bucky, as Bucky ducked his head back under the bedding.

I have the best hamster in the world, Henry thought as he tiptoed from the room.

The End