A Rocky Start: Chapter Three

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Sunday morning proved to be another beautiful day in Bluesky. Amber checked on the family in the sycamore tree. This time the mother was sitting on the nest, but the father was on a branch close by. She knew it wouldn’t be too long before there would be baby birds in the nest.

Amber dressed for church and went down to breakfast. Kyle was the last one down, so he had to say grace. The Snyders live close enough to the Community Christian Church to walk there. John and Mary walked hand in hand as Kyle and Amber followed behind.

“Want to play football at the park today?” Kyle asked.

“Maybe,” Amber said. “Who will be on the teams?”

“How about guys against girls?” Kyle suggested. “That is, if you’re up to it.”

“I think Mom and I can take you guys,” Amber said with confidence, though she had serious doubts.

“You’re on,” Kyle said with satisfaction

As soon as they found a table at the park, John started the charcoal for the burgers. Mary spread a cloth over the table and unpacked the picnic basket. Kyle took Domino to the dog park so he could run around with other dogs. Amber went along to watch.

Domino was the first dog the family had owned. John brought home a dog book so they could decide what breed to get. Mary was thinking about a small dog, such as a Yorkshire terrier. That was until she read about how much work it was to take care of them and that they could be yappy and not always good with children. When Amber read about the Labrador retriever, she knew that was the kind of dog she wanted. They were great dogs for kids. That was part of the reason. But most of all, she wanted a Lab because the book said they were hyperactive. She and their new puppy would have something in common.

Naming their new pup was another issue. Everyone suggested the usual names like Buddy and Blacky. None of the suggestions seemed quite right. One night when they were watching TV, their new pup came into the living room with an obvious problem. His nose was stuck in a pizza box. He was whining and hitting at the box with his front paw, but he couldn’t get it off. They all laughed when they saw him.

“Way to go, Domino,” Amber said. The others looked at her.

“Here, Domino,” Kyle called to the dog. “Let me get that off your nose.”

That was it. His name was Domino. There was no question about it.

It was obvious from the start that Domino was an attention-deficit/hyperactive dog. One day Amber was watching him chase a lizard in the backyard. Domino got distracted by a noise, and when he looked away, the lizard scampered off. He looked back at the spot where the lizard had been. Even though the lizard was gone, Domino kept trying to find him in the same rocks. He gets distracted just like me, Amber thought.

Kyle took charge of housebreaking Domino. He had it all planned, but Domino didn’t always follow the plan. He made his share of mistakes. Kyle was a pretty patient teacher, though. Amber thought maybe he learned that from being her big brother.

John called out to his family to let them know that the burgers were done. As they ate, Kyle talked about his trip to Fox Creek. The melting snow from the mountains above the creek had caused the banks to overflow, filling in their best fishing spots. The water was cold and rushing too fast for Kyle and his friends to get in it. They found a side pool, and Domino jumped in before Kyle could stop him. As the dog book said, Domino was a great swimmer right away. Kyle had a hard time getting Domino out of the pool. At first he tried calling to his dog, but in the end, he had to go in after Domino. Carrying a wet fifty-pound dog out of a cold creek isn’t any fun.

Amber noticed a woman sitting on a bench near the pond. She was throwing bread to some ducks. Amber thought she looked familiar, and then she realized it was Mrs. Jenkins. Amber asked her mom if it would be okay to invite Mrs. Jenkins to join them for lunch.

“I just finished sharing my lunch with the ducks.” Mrs. Jenkins laughed. “But I wouldn’t mind having a piece of that luscious watermelon you’ve got there.”

As Mary put a slice of watermelon on a plate, she commented about being lucky to get a good watermelon.

“How do you choose your watermelon?” Mrs. Jenkins asked. “Are you a thumper?”

“Mostly, I just choose one and hope for the best,” Mary replied. “Do you have a secret for choosing a good watermelon?”

“I used to grow watermelons every summer in Kansas. First, I look for a watermelon that is dark green and not shiny. Then I look for the ripe spot. That’s a sort of yellow spot where the watermelon was touching the ground.”

“You told a secret,” Amber said with surprise. “I thought you never tell secrets.”

“Only when it comes to my chocolate chip cookies.” Mrs. Jenkins smiled her sly smile again.

The Handy Helpers book series is available at Amazon

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