Meet Oliver Twist

Editor’s Note: Lightning in a Jar will return. In the meantime, you can catch up on the installment series by visiting the High School Years page.
This week, Henry, my Cavalier King Charles who descends from royalty, has written a post about our new arrival.

Oliver Twist is so much healthier now, which is good news for Henry. Or maybe not.

Cook says I’ve been remiss in not revealing something of significance, but if truth be known, I saw no point. After all, why stir up news of a troubling nature?

Yet, Cook says it’s not troubling at all. It’s wonderful news, she adds, a tad too happily.

Ahem. I beg to differ.

It seems we have a new addition to our household. A Maltipoo, of all things. Of course, as a Cavalier King Charles Spaniel who is the only descendant of royalty (and of sound mind) residing in this abode, I ought to have had the power to veto bringing in a new soul, even if the soul in question is an orphan, rescued from the ravaged streets of our fair city.


When Oliver Twist arrived, he was underfed and ridden with Sarcoptic mange and roundworms.

But alas, Cook seems to have forgotten that little fact of my lineage, and left me unceremoniously out of the loop the day she decided to take the imp into our home. Make that, my home.

Naturally, I would be delighted with the arrival of said dog had Cook brought him here to serve as my footman. One can never have enough, you know, particularly when one has none at all. Thus, that would have made sense, especially when you consider the rascal is always underfoot.

But, there you have it. That is our, ahem, splendid news. Oh, did I say splendid? I meant disastrous.

Oliver Twist is the name he bears. Cook says it’s an homage to a hooligan from a Charles Dickens novel.  I wonder if that other Oliver would have given me a case of mites. I’ll never know.

Young Oliver Twist arrived to our familial tableau weighing a mere 1.75 pounds, about the same amount as one of my meals. Hmm. Not that I’m getting any ideas, mind you.

Cook says a man of questionable circumstances, no doubt, with a nefarious look in his eye, was selling the ragamuffin on the streets–practically in the gutter. Feeling bad for the scamp, she took him in, only to discover Oliver, at four weeks (not eight weeks old, as she’d been told), was undernourished and laden with a slew of ailments. One of which was passed on to me. Bloody mites.

Thus, Cook was duped and royal that I am, I had no choice but to suffer in silence as I took the medicinal cure that awaited me.

Feeding time!

Feeding time!

And now, it’s been nearly four weeks since his arrival, and–blasted!–he now seems to be thriving. Nothing like a little R&R I’ve always said, which is something I myself strive for every hour of every day.

The rapscallion is slowly gaining weight, and getting perkier by the day. Confound it. I despise perky. He’s rather a bit of a bloody nuisance, too, and insists on playing with my handsome, feathery tail, and on pulling at my leash.

Oh, the things a royal must bear. Noblesse oblige, I suppose.

Not a word to Cook, but first chance I get, I’m teaching young Oliver how to be my footman. That is, once I figure out precisely what it is a footman does. There’s still hope for him yet.

Incidentally, speaking of Cook, she has added two videos here of the boisterous lad, so that you can see what a bother he can be. Frankly, I don’t understand what Cook sees in the little fellow. Perhaps you can tell me?

15 Minutes of Fame

I, Henry the Cavalier King Charles Spaniel who descends from royalty, have found my calling!

Not to mention what promises to be my ticket back to the royal throne!

Dr. Marvil and I co-star in a video to be featured at an upcoming conference for veterinarians. In other words, don’t expect to see this in a theater near you anytime soon.

For, fame has shined its light upon me.

Though, Cook, saucy woman that she is, insists it’s only my 15 minutes of fame.

Fifteen minutes? Hardly.

“Madam,” I say. “Were you to ask me, I’d color you green. Green with envy.”

To which Cook replies, “Henry, you’re just a dog. A dog with as much talent as I have in my thumb. Now, get in the car.”

Cook can be rather trying at times. Which is why, I do my usual thing and pretend not to hear her as I climb into the car. I assume we’re on our way to find me an agent.

“Carry on, Cook,” is all I say.

I soon realize, though, that isn’t the plan. She’s not taking me to Hollywood. Instead, we are running the usual errands, to the post office and other innocuous spots that have nothing to do with either me or helping me climb the ladder to stardom.


As I lick my wounds, I remember how it all began, my journey to fame and fortune. Seems so long ago, but it was just the day before, when we received a telephone call from Dr. Marvil, the royal vet.

I had just finished my breakfast, and was about to embark on my morning constitutional, when the telephone rang. Cook answered the call and talked for what seemed like an eternity, thus setting me on a barking rampage, as I don’t like it when Cook’s attention is averted from yours truly.

“Hurry up, Cook!” I barked.

“Stop it, Henry!” was her response. “I can’t hear what Dr. Marvil is trying to say!”

When she finally got off the call, she said, “Henry! Dr. Marvil is going to be featured in a film that will be shown at a national veterinarians’ conference this fall—and you are to be in it!  Of all his patients, Dr. Marvil has chosen you to star in the video with him!

Me? I mean, moi? To star in my very own video? (Albeit, with Dr. Marvil.)

Dr. Marvil and I, along with his technician, share a private moment on the set of, ahem, our latest film. Yes, that’s it.

In that moment, it was easy to picture my name up in lights but, was I ready for my close-up?

“Cook!” I shouted. “Get me to the royal groomer at once!”

Of course, she ignored me. Instead, we went straight away to see Dr. Marvil. And when we arrived, I was crushed to learn that there was no time for makeup or a fitting. Which meant, I would have to rely on my own wits and brilliance, along with my gleaming, white teeth, which I would flash at the camera.

Upon arrival, I was thrust into an empty room, where Dr. Marvil sees his patients. As I waited for Dr. Marvil and the film crew to appear, I wondered, when do I speak? What are my lines?

Will I get a chance to rehearse?

Suddenly, a team of filmmakers rushed in.  And, by a team, I mean two—one holding the camera and the other grasping the boom mic. Dr. Marvil and his associate entered from a side door.

All eyes were soon upon me. Was I expected to say something clever and pithy? Perhaps quote Shakespeare?

As I steadied my trembling voice—for I was nervous, after all—I let out a brief cough and, in my best baritone, I recited MacBeth.

“If chance will have me king, why, chance may crown—“

“No, no!” barked the cameraman. “Silence, Dog!”

His alarming voice took me aback. How dare he speak to a Cavalier King Charles in that manner! Didn’t he know I descended from royalty?

I shook my head in dismay. So, no lines then? Fine. You win this time, Cameraman. I’ll wait for the video to go viral, and when that happens, I’ll be up to my ears with offers for speaking roles. That will show him!

“Now, Dr. Marvil,” the cameraman said pointedly. “You were saying?”

Dr. Marvil began to speak, while he poked and prodded at me. I cannot recall what he said, but no doubt he was speaking highly of me, and how I was a model patient.

Later, I asked Cook how much I was to get from my first gig.

“Nothing, Henry. You got 15 minutes of fame and now it’s over.  On the plus, you did get a free checkup.”

“Nothing? No beaucoup bucks? Cook, how am I expected to travel to take my place at the royal throne, with nothing but a free checkup?”

“Beats me, Henry,” was her cavalier reply.

Sigh, I really do need to get me an agent.

Henry: The Game’s Afoot!

While most know me as a Cavalier King Charles Spaniel, who descends from royalty, I’m also somewhat of a detective enthusiast, having cut my teeth on the stories and lore of Detective Sherlock Holmes.

According to Cook, Basil Rathbone set the gold standard for portrayals of Sherlock Holmes, back in the 1930’s.

Now, Cook says when it comes to Sherlock Holmes, there is no better actor at portraying him in the cinema than Basil Rathbone. But I think, if they ever make an all-canine version, there would be no one better than yours truly.

For, I am Sherlock to a T!

Which is why I enjoy going on my constitutionals, where I am able to solve crimes of my own. After all, there’s always a mystery afoot!

Today, for example, I noticed a bush with some suspicious activity.  It appeared to be missing some leaves, and berries.  Wait. Oh crikey, almost forgot. Twas I that ate the berries, and mighty fine, too.

But, I’ve no idea what caused the bush to shed its leaves? No doubt, the result of that maniacal dog that resides next door! It once had me in its clutches, but I, clever dog that I am, managed to escape–with barely my life!

Surely, he purloined them, but for what? Wait. Cook says it wasn’t the dog, but rather, the wind that blew the leaves off. Of course. I knew that all along!

Well, carry on then, Cook. Ah! Here we go. I see one of those beastly rabbits that I often spy at night, hopping out from the shadows—determined to frighten the innocent and royals like me. And this one just gave me the evil eye. Up to no good, I say. Clearly, this rabbit is in search of unsuspecting nobility to lure into its lair, and demand a king’s ransom.

Must investigate further. With nose in position, I cautiously inch closer to the shrub from which the rabbit leaped. Sniff, sniff. Friends, the nose never lies! I suspect a dog has been here, likely held hostage by this cunning bunny.

Cook is rather fond of this new, modern version of “Sherlock,” from the BBC. The second season debuts on PBS’ “Masterpiece” on May 6th. Cook says you should check your local listings for times.

Wait! Sniff, sniff.  Not one dog, mind you, but two! Another sniff and I’ll be able to tell you their breeds.

Sniff, sniff. I’m about to decipher the scent, but—wait! Cook is pulling me away! Confounded, woman! Damn you, leash!

I’m afraid Cook is rather impatient. She knows detective work takes time. Yet, she barely gives me two minutes before she pulls me away. And, though I staunchly dig my paws in, determined not to budge, she is a strong woman, and gets the better of me.

I bark, to no avail, for neither the leash, nor Cook, are to be trifled with.  I lose this time, but be fair warned. In the end, the pen is mightier than the sword, which means, I will prevail!

In the meantime, I have no choice but to follow cook. Carry on, then, Cook. I’m sure we’ll find more suspicious activity ahead.

And, soon we do.  There’s a dog—a Labrador from the looks of him—and his valet is tossing a ball at him. Not just any ball, but the best kind—a tennis ball! And, I’ll be damned! That ball is mine! Indeed, I recognize that scent anywhere. The thieves, the guttersnipes! I will stop at nothing to get that tennis ball back. I will run and pounce on it, faster than that Lab any day. His valet is throwing the ball and the game is once again afoot! One leap and it’ll be mine! Here I go—I’m off!

No, wait! Confound it! CURSE YOU, LEASH!!

Well then. That was, ahem, humiliating. And, now we’re leaving the park. I didn’t get the ball, tethered as I am to Cook. But, there’s sure to be danger ahead. For I see something moving through the shrubs by the school for ragamuffins—those wee ones that I often see lollygagging about, who often ask Cook if they can pet me and do so with such grimy hands.

Royals who moonlight as detectives should be exempt from having to wear a leash. Wouldn’t you agree? Rather undignified, I say!

Something is definitely amiss, my friends, as I see the shrubs being jostled about—what can it be? A bloody rabbit? An unsavory squirrel?

Or, could it be my arch nemesis? YES! That’s it. It’s Moriarty, my mortal enemy–disguised as a cat!

So, Professor Moriarty, we meet again.

Moriarty stares me down. Clearly, he is in terror of my presence. I take stock of the situation, the distance between us, and prepare to attack.

Undo my leash, Cook, and let me at him! Wait, what is this? What are you saying, Cook? We cannot leave now! Not when victory is within my reach. Undo me at once, I say, so that I can go after that rapscallion. Dash you, leash!

Wait, Cook, I must attack!


You may have won for now, Moriarty, but just you wait.

I’ll get you next time!

Do I Look Like a Mr. Chewy?

Dear Diary,

I have my undies in a twist. Oh, yes, I know what you’re thinking. I don’t wear undies. But if I did…well, suffice it to say, I’m peeved with Cook.

In your humble opinion, do I look like a Mr. Chewy to you?

For, ever since she discovered a new website where she can buy pet food, snacks, and all the other accouterments which dogs and cats crave, she’s taken to calling me by the site’s name. And, all I can say is, I won’t have it!

After all, I’m a Cavalier King Charles Spaniel, and I descend from royalty. I am Henry, master of this most humble abode. And yet, Cook insists on calling me, ahem,

“Mr. Chewy”

Yes, that’s right. Mr. Chewy!!

In my estimation, Cook has gone bonkers. Yet, I am helpless when she says,

“Mr. Chewy, it’s dinner time!”

“Oh, Mr. Chewy? Are you ready for your constitutional?”

“My, my, Mr. Chewy, looks like you could use a bath.”

When she calls me Mr. Chewy, I look at her with mock disdain or pretend she’s caught me in a yawn. But, if truth be told, I find it rather hard to resist, for I just adore the food, the snacks and all the lovely things she’s procuring from the Mr. Chewy website—all to make my life more pleasant—at least, pleasant enough until I can make it back to my birthright, my England.

Frankly, I have never seen Cook so happy. Though, me thinks, the woman doth protests too much–or did, before she discovered the ease of having my 15-pound bags of dry food delivered right to our door.

Now, she’s utterly jubilant!  The prices are reasonable, she says, and the shipping is free when she spends $49 or more.

Ho hum, I say.

Makes her job easier, she says, as she rarely has time to drive to the pet store, make her purchase and trudge home with the loot. Saves money on gas, too, she adds, as if I give a hoot about gas–whatever that is.

Which is why I say, “Since when, Cook, have I been keen on making your job easier?”

If anything, she is here to serve me, and that’s why I pay her the big bucks!

Note to self: Find out exactly how much I pay her. Perhaps my valet can answer that? What? I don’t pay her at all? Oh, bother!

She’s even taken to liking Mr. Chewy on Facebook, all because they post pictures of what she calls “adorable” pets. I say, I defy her to find one as handsome as me.

What’s a Cavalier to do about this, anyway?? Count the days, I suppose.

Yes, while Cook enjoys her new find, I continue to count the days, and Diary, it is Day 1,780. Which has me stricken to no end.

Why? Because, after all this time, I have yet to take my rightful place by the throne. I just know that my queen expects me to overcome this barrier, otherwise known as America, and make my way in time for her Highness’ Diamond Jubilee. It just isn’t fair that I have been unable to secure my passage. I asked Cook, what is the holdup, and she shrugged and threw her hands  in the air, muttering something to the effect,

“Why, Mr. Chewy, I know not what you mean!”

Which I can only conclude to mean that she is as baffled as I, that I have yet to find my way home. Each night, I look at the moon–the inconstant moon!–and imagine the Queen is looking at it, too, whilst thinking about me.  Alas, I pray all is not lost.

Perhaps if I go to myself, I’ll find the solution to my most pressing dilemma. After all, I know that site has everything a dog of discriminating taste could possibly want!

Until next time, Diary.  I must go post-haste, for I hear a truck rounding the bend!

A Word from Cook:  Henry really is pleased that I am enjoying the convenience of shopping for him at the Mr. Chewy site and Mr. Chewy, himself, has compensated Henry handsomely, with bags of delicious dog food. But even such generous gifts cannot influence royalty. Noblesse oblige, and all that. Therefore, Henry’s opinions are entirely, ahem, his own.