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.
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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.

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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?

The Further Misadventures of Henry

Henry, upon realizing the cupboard is bare.

Today, for the first time, I present two stories about Henry, my Cavalier King Charles Spaniel. That’s two for the price of one! Unusual, I know.

I, Cook, wrote Story #2.  Then, just as I was getting ready to post it, one of my readers, Robert, wrote his own story about Henry, on account that I’ve been sick (as everyone knows–thanks to my Sicko in Seattle post), and he decided that a little tale about the little king might be the thing to draw me out of my cold-ridden misery.  And, he was right. So, thank you, Robert!

Herewith, two tales about a dog who descends from royalty.

1.  Henry Fends for Himself, as told by Robert

Henry sat in his royal basket looking and feeling quite dejected. What am I to do, he thought to himself. Cook is ill and cook is not cooking. What will I do for lunch? The cupboard is bare, not a bone or a royal treat to be found.

Just then, a loud sneeze and a series of sniffles could be heard from Cook’s bed chamber.

There is nothing for it, thought Henry. I will have to mix with the working classes and do this thing they call shopping.

Getting out of the basket, he put his crown on its stand by his basket and made for the door. He opened his special doggie flap in the door and climbed through, muttering to himself. Humph!! Still no crown above the flap. Any cat or dog could use it, not realising it’s just for royalty.

Outside, he debated whether to head left or right, and decided right, as the sun would then shine on his good side. Trotting down the sidewalk, he came to a grocery store. He walked through the door and was promptly picked up and put outside again. After this happened three times, he sat and barked. How dare they not let him in! He was royalty, after all. Then, he spotted the notice on the door that said,

“NO DOGS EXCEPT BLIND GUIDE DOGS ALLOWED.”

Stupid sign, Henry muttered to himself, wondering, how can blind dogs read?

Dejected, he made his way home, and climbing through the dog flap, he smelt something nice. He smelt cooking!!!

Cook looked down at Henry, lying in his basket. “Henry, lunch is ready.”

Henry barked in joy and made his way to his bowl. He must have been imagining it. He must be cracking up!!!


2. Henry’s Thanksgiving in the Country, as told by me, Cook

This morning, I told Henry that it’s time to pack up his bags. For, I’m heading to Chicago to visit my daughter, my brother and his family.  It’s Thanksgiving soon and, while I’m away, Henry’s going to spend the holiday in the country. And, by country I mean he’s going to my friend, Trisha’s house, which isn’t in the country at all.

But, Henry thinks it is, as Trisha–or the scullery maid, as he calls her–has an ample backyard, with lots of room to roam and wonder. She also has a horse in a stable somewhere, which Henry has visited before. So, as I tell him about his impending trip, it’s clear he’s mulling it over in his head.

“Cook, will I be going to the horse stable?” he asks quizzically. Henry calls me Cook, because I’m the one who serves him his meals.

“No doubt about it, Henry. Will that be a problem?”

“I don’t fancy stables. Horses can neigh rather loudly, you know. Practically burst my eardrums last time. Got my paws all muddied while there, too. Bloody mess! Took forever to get them properly cleaned.”

“The scullery maid told me she drew you a bath after that visit, and you were just fine.”

“True, but how I suffered for it.”

“The point is, Henry, you got over it.”

“Did I?” He pauses, then inquires, “What about the Thanksgiving feast? Does the scullery maid know I only eat the white meat?”

“Yes, she knows, and she already said no.”

“Are you sure, Cook? Exactly what did she say?”

“Something about, over her dead—.”

“Never mind,” Henry replies, sulkily. “Noblesse oblige, I suppose. ‘Tis my duty to let her little wards have the good bits. “

“Oh, you mean her kids? So, you’re okay with going?”

“I don’t seem to have a choice, do I? Though, tell me, will the ranch hand be there?”

“Ranch hand? Oh, you mean Cowboy, the scullery maid’s cat. Yes, I suppose he will, seeing as that’s his home.”

“Dash it all! It wouldn’t be so horrid if the ranch hand remembered to bow in my presence. Oh well, what can you expect from the feline purr-suasion?”

“And Henry, word has it there’s a new member in the family. Seems as though the scullery maid has taken in a dog, too.”

“A horse, a cat and now a dog?? Should make for a rather chaotic visit, if you ask me,” muses Henry, adding, “So, when exactly are you returning?”

Sigh. Summing up every ounce of patience, I glibly reply,

“Henry, I’ll be returning soon enough and that’s all you need to know.”

“Fine,” he snorts. “Abandon me to the country if you need to, but please, whatever you do, don’t put this in your blog. I have a reputation to maintain. No one need know that you’ve put me in a mood or that I’m pulling a face. Especially not the scullery maid. Don’t want to start off on the wrong paw, you know.”

Henry prepares for his journey to “the country.”

“Yikes. Too late,” I say. “Already posted.”

“Is that so? Then, make sure they also know how utterly delighted I am, too. In fact, I’m going to don my purple fascinator to show my joy.  I’m going to the country! Maybe I’ll blog about it, too!”

“Sarcasm doesn’t become you, Henry.”

And just like that, Henry leaves the room to fetch his petite chapeau.

Happy Thanksgiving from Henry and me!

Now tell me. Whether or not you celebrate, what are your plans this coming week?

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 mrchewy.com 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.

To the Manor Born

A Guest Post by Henry

As I write this, I am being held captive in a condo, somewhere in California. Of all places. Do not ask me how I came to be here, as I cannot recall. I was but a wee one when I arrived. Though, I dare say, I have frightful memories of the automobile ride here.

It was a terrifying experience. I’m pretty certain that I was blindfolded. Either that, or I was too bewildered to open my eyes. Indeed, I was shaking like a leaf, having never been in a vehicle before. So nervous was I, that I pooped in my trousers twice. Though, at the time, I wasn’t wearing any.

I am Henry, a King Charles Cavalier Spaniel, descended from royalty, and to the manor born. ‘Twas on a sunny day in spring that my life began. The cherry blossoms were in full bloom and sycamore trees swished gently in the breeze. For the first few weeks, all was well with the world. Then, quite suddenly, I was plucked from my mother’s bosom and taken from the only home I’d ever known. A tragedy, I know. I was eight weeks old and barely a lad.

I cannot fathom why this happened, but I imagine it was a cruel joke, along the lines of The Prince and the Pauper. I, of course, being the prince. And now, here I am, trying to make the most of my pauper life, finding out how the other half live–and let me tell you, it’s quite ghastly at times.

Maybe someday I will be able to return to take my rightful place on the throne. On the queen’s lap, of course (though they tell me I’m rather big for a Cavalier and would not be able to fit on her lap). Until then, I shall muddle through in this modest, cluttered home.  I suppose I could do much worse. I try everyday to make the most of things, living with my people. After all, noblesse oblige.

I live with three people. First and foremost, there’s Cook. She prepares all my meals, though I’m peeved that she never checks to see if my food has been poisoned.  Those of noble blood cannot be too careful, you know, which is why I am forced to check my food myself. Each time I devour it, I am sure I am going to croak. But so far, that hasn’t happened.

Cook has a blog, one that is all tangled. I don’t know why she calls it that. I’m hoping one day to have a blog of my own, so I can regale you with stories of my adventures here, including my vain attempts to get the attention of my humans, which isn’t easy when they are watching the telly.

Also, living here is my Lady-in-Waiting. This is humiliating, because kings should not have Ladies-in-Waiting! But I come from a strong ilk, so I take such slights on the chin. In any case, my Lady-in-Waiting is seldom here. She leaves periodically for school, or something to that effect, and stays there for months at a time. I never know when she is going to leave or when she will return. As a captive, I am most often kept in the dark.

Then there is my valet. A strapping, young gentleman, who Cook calls son. I am pleased to say, my valet is kind enough to see to my needs, as I have many. He feeds me on occasion—when Cook has the day off—and escorts me to the park, protecting me from the legions of unruly dogs that want to sniff my backside. It is, no doubt, their way of paying their respects to me.

I rather enjoy taking my constitutional with my valet. For, unlike Cook, he often brings a tennis ball so that we can play fetch. Some might say I’m obsessed with tennis balls, but I’m just having a jolly, good time. Indeed, they are my passion. I can sniff out a tennis ball more than 20 feet away, and I fly off the handle when I do. The ball can be buried in the bushes, caked with soil and other dogs’ drool, yet I can always detect it. Cook has said, many a time, “If a tennis ball ever commits a murder, Henry will find it out.” And she is quite right!

That is all for now. I do hope Cook allows me to post again. Perhaps she will, with your encouragement. In the meantime, if you see my mum, please let her know that I miss her dearly, and that I will always wear the mantle of my royal heritage with pride.  Better yet, please send me a map so I can find my way home.

Until then, cheerio!