Johnnie and the Doxie by goldieasj

Word Count – 5,844

Johnnie

Apparently Johnnie the puppy was never going to grow up.

Of course little Johnnie was in fact growing up.  But not nearly enough to satisfy Big Johnny his master, who had expected a much larger and fiercer dog than he got.  Big Johnny had chosen Johnnie from the litter solely on the basis that Johnnie had been rejected by his brothers and sisters, and that was likely because he was the smallest. As Johnny thought back on it now, this may not have been a good indication that his puppy would grow big and fierce.

And now, several months later, it looked like Johnnie wasn’t going to grow much taller than his master’s knee, or, as Johnny called it, four conchos.  Johnny had been hoping for a dog that was at least eight or even nine (!) conchos from the ground, with a temper and a tendency to bite first and bark questions later.  A personal guard dog would be a status symbol for an ex-gunfighter, but instead Johnny ended up with a cute floppy-eared wiggle-worm of an energetic puppy who had the most annoying habit of endearing himself to almost everyone except Murdoch which meant he was always on the verge of losing his happy home.  And he was only four conchos to boot. 

But, on the other hand, it stood to reason that a 4-concho dog would be half the trouble of, say, an 8-concho dog.  Johnny chose to believe this and reminded his family of this fallacy whenever little Johnnie got himself in trouble.  In other words, often.

Johnny loved his little dog.  Even though this little dog provided him with more than four conchos’ worth of trouble on a regular basis.  And the little fella seemed to have an unlimited supply of energy, so every time he finished causing one commotion, he just seemed to glide smoothly into the next ruckus.  And if Murdoch got involved – well – refer to paragraph 3.

So therefore Johnny concluded that his little dog had to learn some obedience to curb his bad behaviors.  Also, a non-guard-dog that was obedient and knew tricks might help make up for the paltry concho thing. 

Johnny/Johnnie were sitting on the front porch contemplating the idea/chewing on a bone when Scott rode up with a goofy expression on his face.  Johnny guessed – Scott was in love?

“Is she beautiful?” Johnny asked.

Scott laughed as he dismounted.  “Every woman is beautiful.”

“But some more than others, right?”

“You’ve hit the proverbial nail on the head, little brother.”

“Maybe, but what I was trying to do was get more information out of you.”

Scott laughed again and sat next to Johnny.  Close up, he looked goofier than ever.  “What can I say, brother?”

Little Johnnie jumped on his master’s lap and sniffed at Scott.  He sneezed.  Now Johnny laughed, too.  “I don’t need a dog’s nose to tell me you either broke into a perfume factory or found yourself a woman!”

“Not many perfume factories around here,” Scott smiled.

“Yeah, narrows it down.  Who is she, brother?”

Johnnie sneezed again and jumped to the floor.  An entirely different scent grabbed his nose and he frantically sniffed Scott’s pants legs.

Scott leaned back in his chair, clasping his hands behind his head and crossing one foot over the other knee, limiting little Johnnie’s sniffing opportunities by half.  “Her name . . . her name is truly angelic!” he said dreamily.

Johnny braced himself to hear the most beautiful female name he had ever heard, all the while wondering what his dog could find so interesting about his brother’s pant leg.

“Winifred,” Scott mused dreamily.

Johnny was still waiting to hear the most beautiful female name ever.  “Go on,” he urged.

“Winifred Oliviajean.”  Scott was looking dreamily at the sky, as if to thank God for naming someone so lovely such a beautiful. . .  

“You’re kidding!”

Scott didn’t hear his brother.  “Winifred Oliviajean Outrem.  Winifred Oliviajean Outrem.  I could say it over and over.  It just rolls off the tongue.”

“Yeah,” said Johnny.  “That sounds about right.”

“Her initials are W.O.O.  And I intend to woo her.”

“Will you have time?“

Scott snapped out of his reverie.  “What?”

“I mean, it’ll take you most of the day just to get through her name!  Johnnie, what the hell are you so interested in?”  Johnny pulled his dog away from Scott’s pants and the dog struggled right back.  “Scott, you stop off at the butcher on the way home or something?”

“The butcher?  Johnny, have you heard a word I’ve been saying?”

“Yeah, I heard you.  You’re going to woo a WOO.  What’s Johnnie smelling on the bottom of your pants, anyway?”

“Huh!”  Scott’s mood was broken.  The chair crashed back down.  “The Outrems have a dog.  And he’s just as badly behaved as yours.”

Johnny grinned widely.  “You mean he lifted . . .”

“No, thank God!  I expect Johnnie keeps smelling their dog on me.  And now I have to put up with this!”  He pointed at Johnnie, who woofed.  “Scat!” said Scott.

“You use ‘scat’ for cats, Scott!”

“Well . . . s’dog, then!  Just go away, dog.”

Due to his brother’s attitude, Johnny made no effort to remove his puppy.  “If it’ll make you feel better, brother, I have decided to teach Johnnie some tricks.  Maybe something like ‘attack Scott’s pants.’  Hmmm . . . maybe I’ll teach him to speak Spanish.  ‘Soy un perro guardian vicioso.’”

Scott stood and headed for the front door, Johnnie hot on his heels.  “Good!  And see what you can accomplish by tomorrow.  Because the Outrems are coming for dinner tomorrow night!”  The door slammed behind him.

Johnny didn’t have much chance to digest this information before the door opened slightly and Scott stuck his head out.  “I’ll help you work with Johnnie after lunch if you want!” he conceded, and then the head disappeared inside again.

“Wear different pants!” Johnny yelled after him.

*****

At lunch, the beef and Scott were grilled.  The steaks for flavor and Scott for information.

“Is she pretty?” Johnny asked.

“Is she nice?” Teresa asked.

“Is she new to the area?” Murdoch asked.

“Is she rich?” Jelly asked.

“Rich?  Uh . . . no.  I doubt rich, but yes to your other queries.”

“Tell us all about her,” Teresa insisted.

“Uh, well . . . I don’t actually know very much.  Her father was standing right there . . .”

“You’ll get to meet her tomorrow night,” said Johnny, waving his fork.  “Scott’s bringing her here for dinner tomorrow, right, Scott?”

“Good!” said Murdoch approvingly.  “Then we’ll have the honor of meeting the young lady.  Why don’t you pick her up earlier and she can spend the day here at Lancer?”

“Oh!  Well, thank you, sir, but the plan was for me to attend church tomorrow morning with her family and then join them for the midday meal.  After this, I was going to escort them all around the area and then bring them here for an evening dinner.”

“You’re going to spend the day with her family?”  Jelly voiced the others’ concern.

“Well . . . and her too, of course.”

“There a lot of them Outrems?” Johnny asked.

“No, Johnny, not a lot.  There’s only Mr. and Mrs. Outrem and Winnie.”

“It’s ‘Winnie’ now, is it?” Johnny asked with a smile.

“Well, of course!  You certainly don’t expect me to continue referring to her as Winifred Oliviajean, do you?”

Teresa giggled and Jelly said disbelievingly, “Her name is Winifred Oliviajean?!  What on earth are the parents’ names?”

“Mr. and Mrs. Outrem,” Scott answered icily.  “Now, listen.  I expect everyone to be on their best behavior tomorrow.  I’m trying to make a good impression here.”

“Of course we will, son,” Murdoch said firmly, sternly eyeing his family members as he spoke.  Also  stifling a chuckle.  “We will all be on our best behavior tomorrow!”

Everyone agreed, some more reluctantly than others, and Johnny was mildly worried about his dog’s behavior, but not really that much.

*****

After lunch, Scott found the Johnnies on the front porch.  Johnny was in the process of demonstrating something for his dog by perching on his rear end, pulling his feet up close and spreading his knees wide, then reaching his hands to the floor between his legs.

“This is sitting,” Johnny explained to his dog.

“This is silly,” Scott said.  “Here, I brought you a bag of steak tidbits from lunch.  Use these to encourage your dog instead.”

Suddenly highly encouraged, Johnnie made a lunge for Scott.

Johnny raised his hand to chastise his brother and fell over.  “Come on, Scott, I’m trying to get his attention.”

“As you can see, I have his attention,” Scott said smugly.  “And thank you for getting out of that position. It hurt just to look at you.”

Johnny rubbed his thigh as he stood.  “Yeah, I think you got something there.”

Scott handed the treat bag to his brother.  “Here, let’s work together.  You give him the command and I’ll put him into the correct position.  What do you want to teach him first?”

“I want to teach him to sit still so he’s not gadding around all over.”

“You want to teach him to sit.”

“Yeah, but I don’t want to call it ‘sit.’  Is there another word we can use?”

Scott was confused.  “What do you mean?  Sitting is sitting.”  Johnnie was confused, too, because nobody was giving him any of the good-smelling food from the bag.  He whined.

“You’re the college man, Scott.  Can’t you think of another word for ‘sit?’”

“What on earth is the difference?”

“Johnnie’s a special dog.  I want to use special words.”

Scott sighed.  “Oh, all right.  How about ‘perch?’”

“Nah.  Sounds like a fish.”

“Repose.”

“Too hard.”

“This is ridiculous, Johnny.  Just tell the dog to sit!”

“I’ve got it!  Hatch!”

“Excuse me?”

“Hatch!  Like when chickens sit on their eggs to hatch!”

Scott sighed again.  It was going to be a long afternoon.

*****

One grueling hour and two additional treat bags later, Johnny and Scott backed slowly away from little Johnnie, who was sitting perfectly.  With a full stomach, so sitting was his own idea.

“Against all logic, he’s doing well,” Scott whispered to his brother.  “Somehow you’ve managed to teach him a few things today.”  Scott was of course referring to hatch (sit), run (come), pinch (fetch), and a few other canine commands whose silly names Scott would never be able to remember.  Although Scott actually was fond of “corset,” Johnny’s word for “stay,” once he realized that corsets contained stays.

Johnny beamed.  Everything was working well.  His four-concho dog was behaving and minding him and the next step would be to teach him to act fierce on command.

And then little Johnnie had had enough of training, broke from his hatch position and pinched the treat bag for dessert.

*****

Scott rode his horse over to the Outrems’ the next morning because they’d insisted on taking their own carriage.  When Scott had gotten a look at their rusty neglected buggy, he had argued that the Lancer carriage would provide a smoother ride, but Mr. Outrem was insistent.  Proud, thought Scott.  Probably not a bad trait.

And the ride to church was every bit as uncomfortable as it had promised to be.  Scott maneuvered a seat next to Winnie, but unfortunately talkative Mrs. Outrem rattled on the whole ride about how nice Scott looked and did he have his clothes made in Boston because they looked so expensive and had he been rich before and hopefully his life in California was just as luxurious as it had been in Boston and so on and so on.

When they arrived at the church, Mrs. Outrem trilled, “Wasn’t that a nice ride?”

“Yes,” lied Scott.

At church Mr. and Mrs. Outrem insisted he sit between the two of them.  He looked beseechingly at Winnie, who looked straight ahead with a vacant smile, and every time during the service he glanced in her direction, he had to pretend to be smiling at Mrs. Outrem and he merely caught Winnie out of the corner of his eye.  In the next county.

The noon meal at the Outrems’ also provided few opportunities for Scott to try to get to know Winnie.  This time, it was Mr. Outrem who monopolized the conversation by pumping Scott for information about himself and his ranch.  The only thing Scott was interested in was Winnie, and she had decidedly little to say.  But at one point Mr. Outrem paused to light his pipe and Winnie finally spoke.  “Scott?” she said.

“Yes, Winnie,” Scott said, delighted she was finally paying some attention to him.

“That horse of yours is a quality animal, Scott.  How much did you pay for him?”

Scott was startled by the frankness of the comment until he realized that the inane monolog Mr. and Mrs. Outrem had been keeping up all day had amounted to exactly the same subject:  Are you rich?

Scott finally was forced to officially recognize his discomfort with this inane family.  But Winnie – the  beautiful Winnie – she was sitting just across the table from him, and she had asked him a question about his horse.  Surely there was a remote civilization somewhere on earth where such a question would amount to an agreement to spend the rest of her life with him.   “Uh . . . Winnie,” he said, “I haven’t had the chance yet to compliment you on your dress today.  It’s lovely, as are you.”

Winnie stared directly at him and dropped her smile. 

“Now, Scott, don’t be rude,” chided Mrs. Outrem.  “Winifred Oliviajean asked you a question.” 

Scott looked at his plate while he considered his answer.  Next to him, he thought he heard Mr. Outrem hold his breath.

*****

Several hours later, as pre-planned, Scott drove the Outrem family to the Lancer hacienda and helped the ladies from the buggy.  Murdoch, Johnny and Teresa were all relaxing on the porch while dinner was in the oven.  Little Johnnie was not with them. 

“Welcome back, son,” said Murdoch cheerily, and then a haggard-looking Scott introduced the Outrems to the Lancer family.  Greetings were exchanged all around.  Breathless Mrs. Outrem said, “Your house is so grand!  It must have cost a small fortune!”

Murdoch said, “Uh . . .” but Johnny said, “Yeah, we like it.”

Murdoch peered at the carriage.  “I am hearing some noise from inside the buggy.”

Scott reached back inside the carriage and pulled out a small dog, which he set on the ground.  “And this . . . is Dudley.”  With a weak smile on his face, Scott pointed to the Outrems’ dog.

“Hey!  It’s a wiener dog!” Johnny exclaimed.

“It most assuredly is not a ‘wiener dog!’” boomed Mr. Outrem.

“Indeed not!” Mrs. Outrem piped in, turning her nose upward.  “Dudley is a purebred solid red short-haired dachshund, whose pedigree can be traced all the way back to the Castleton lineage of Germany!”

Johnny admired Mrs. Outrem’s nostrils as, apparently without being able to stop himself, he said, “Oh.  That’s good, right?”  He looked to his brother for guidance, but Scott’s lips were tightly closed and his eyes were wide open and staring daggers and Johnny read his message loud and clear. But he read it wrong.

Murdoch the peacekeeper smiled feebly and put his hands on each of his sons’ shoulders and said, “He’s a fine looking animal, Mrs. Outrem.  Why don’t we go inside now to get out of this – uh – nice day, as I have a suspicion our dinner is just about ready.”

As they entered the house, the words “so cute” escaped Teresa’s lips, but there wasn’t much more attempt at conversation and if either of the Lancer boys had been talking that probably was for the best.

*****

Once inside, Scott whispered to his brother, “Johnny, I have to talk to you!”  But he never got the chance because Johnnie, the four-concho dog, had been hatching on a rug near the fireplace.  When seven humans entered the house, he absolutely noticed.

And they had a dog with them!  And it smelled like the pants dog!

Johnnie made a beeline for Dudley, and Dudley, unsure what was happening, hid partly behind and partly under Mrs. Outrem’s skirts.  Johnnie’s inertia took him right to Dudley, and the shortest route was  through Mrs. Outrem’s legs!  She toppled over and grabbed onto the person next to her, who happened to be Winnie.  Scott caught them both before they hit the floor. 

Winnie struggled out of his grasp and said, “I’ll thank you to take your hands off me!  Mother, are you all right?”  She helped her mother stand up again.

Mrs. Outrem straightened her hair and said, “I will be once that beast is removed from this room!”

Johnny might have gotten angry at this slur of his favorite dog, but he chose to find the situation amusing instead.  “You mean Scott or the dog, ma’am?” he asked as he helped his brother up.

“John – ny,” Scott growled.

“Uh . . . Johnny, I think it’s best if you keep your dog outside while we eat,” said Murdoch.

“Oh, come on, Murdoch!  Johnnie lives here!  Let this short . . . red . . . wiener dog outside instead!”

“Johnny . . .” said both Murdoch and Scott at the same time and Johnny noticed that his brother had his eyes closed tightly like he did when he had a headache.

Johnnie the four-concho dog spent the meal outside.

*****

The meal was not particularly pleasant for a number of reasons, one of which was Johnnie barked to get in to be with Dudley and Dudley whined to get out to be with Johnnie.

“We could let him out so they could play together,” Teresa suggested kindly.

“Heavens, no!” said Mrs. Outrem, giving everyone another chance to see her nostrils.  “Dudley is a purebred!”  Apparently that was her reasoning and nobody raised an objection but Johnny was going to until he saw his father’s index finger pointing slightly in his direction, and it was a powerful index finger.

*****

“What did you want to talk to me about, Scott?” Johnny asked when the two of them were alone for a short time after dinner.

“Take a guess,” said Scott glumly.

“The lovely Miss Winnie!”

“Lovely and cold as ice.”

“Well, she hasn’t said much, I’ll give her that.”

“In case you missed it, Johnny, she barely looks at me.”

“I didn’t miss it, Scott,” Johnny said gently.

“This whole day has been a fiasco – from the ride to church to the luncheon at their home to . . . “

“What did they serve?”

“I don’t know, but I think it was still moving.”

Johnny laughed and even Scott cracked a smile.

“Bad day, huh?” Johnny laughed.  “That family of hers is . . . is . . .”

“Horrendous!”

“Not sure what that means but I’ll bet it’s the right word.”

“Johnny, I don’t want anything more to do with them – Winnie included!”

“Smart move, brother.  Just tell her adios.”

“I don’t think it’s that easy.  When we first met, I told her I was very fond of her.  Her father even heard me.”

“Well, were you?”

“Then – yes.  Now – no.”

“What changed?”

“I heard her talk,” said Scott (and only Johnny laughed).  “They’re boorish!  They’re boorish and supercilious at the same time and I didn’t even think that was possible.”

“If those words mean they’re after your money, I think you got it right.”

“I didn’t see it at first.  I was so busy looking at Winnie!”

“And she was so busy not looking at you.”

“But I think you’re right about it.   Johnny, I don’t know what to do.   Her father’s not going to let this go.  He’s got it in his head that he wants to hook her up with a rich man and apparently I’m that man but she obviously isn’t interested in me.   And she’s so rude and self-centered I wouldn’t want her even if she was interested in me!    I should never have brought them here.   I should have been man enough to cut it off at my first suspicion.”

“Well, Scott,” Johnny said slowly.  “They’re here now, and it can’t be undone.  You’re just going to have to buck up under the pressure.”

Scott groaned.

“They’ve got their own wagon,” Johnny continued.  “And they’ll only be here a couple more hours and then they can drive themselves home, and you never have to see them again.”

“I hope you’re right, Johnny.  I wish I could be sure of that.”

Make sure of it, Scott!”

*****

Scott and Johnny returned to the great room, where Mr. and Mrs. Outrem were regaling Murdoch with stories of their numerous financial successes in life, which Murdoch strongly suspected were entirely fabricated when he noticed how old Mr. Outrem’s shoes and tie were and the patch on Mrs. Outrem’s dress.    Little Dudley was sitting at Mrs. Outrem’s feet with a bored expression on his muzzle.  Murdoch was sitting in his big chair with an even more bored expression on his muzzle.

“Is that so?” Murdoch was saying.  He gave Scott a meaningful glance.

“Where’s Winnie?” Scott asked.

“Winnie asked to see Teresa’s jewelry, so the girls are upstairs . . . “

“Girl talk, I’m sure,” Mrs. Outrem interrupted, snapping open her fan.  “Just girl talk, nothing more.”

Johnny also gave Scott a meaningful glance, but Scott just groaned and looked at the clock on the mantle.  He sat in the chair the furthest away from the Outrems he could get, resigned to having to listen to their nonsense without even the opportunity to look at the lovely, icy Winnie.  Johnny, on the other hand, recognized an opportunity for some fun and sat close to the Outrems.

Perched on the edge of his chair, Johnny addressed Mr. Outrem.  “What was that you were saying, Outrem, just before we came in?  You were talking about the time you were a rancher?”

“Oh, yes,” Mr. Outrem said haughtily.  “Yes, we were very successful.  We had many cows.”

“Cows?  Did you have cattle?”

“Well, of course.  Cows – cattle, what’s the difference?  We had so many.”

Johnny kept a straight face.  “Oh, no difference.  ‘Cows’ usually means you had a dairy farm, that’s all.  Did you have a dairy farm or a ranch?”  Without looking, Johnny knew his father was working hard to keep a straight face as well, and Scott – well, Scott was probably too upset to be paying attention.

Mr. Outrem cleared his throat.  “Why, we had a dairy ranch, of course!  We raised cows for . . . food.”

“You raised cattle for slaughter.” 

“Oh, my heavens, no!”  Mrs. Outrem paled a little at the word ‘slaughter.’  She put her fan to good use.  “Such a terrible word.  Please watch your language!  We planted cattle for food!”

“You planted cows for food.  I see.  My mistake,” said Johnny with a straight face.  He was enjoying himself immensely and  got more comfortable in his chair.  “What brings you to this area, Outrem?  Are you planning on starting another business?”

“I was just asking them that when you came in,” Murdoch piped in.  “I’m not sure you answered me, Outrem.  You weren’t planning on starting another ranch, were you?”

“No, I don’t think that would be in our best interests,” Mr. Outrem said, and Johnny thought it was probably the first sensible thing the man had said all evening.  “There seem to be so many ranches around here already.  No, I expect we will dip into our abundant financial reserves for the pittance required to open some sort of business enterprise.  Perhaps we will open a  . . . bank.”

“Hmmm,” said Murdoch.  “Well, the towns in this area already have banks.  That may not be wise.”

“Perhaps, Lancer, you could suggest something that might be needed in this area.”

Murdoch pretended to be thinking.  “Well . . . there are already mercantiles, tailors, blacksmiths . . . “

“I know what this area needs!”  Johnny’s enthusiasm perked up everyone.

“What’s that, son?”

“Another saloon!”

“Good Heavens!”  Mrs. Outrem began frantically fanning herself.  Her husband grabbed her shoulders.  “He didn’t mean it, dear.”

“Yeah, sure I did!” Johnny said.  “We can always use another place for drinking!  Think of it!  Think of how successful you would be!   Saturday nights – what a haul you could make!   All the cowboys come in, wanting to spend their wages.  Think of all the whiskey that can be flowing!   And you can sell cigars!   And steaks from the slaughtered cows!”

Johnny noticed that Mrs. Outrem’s fan seemed to be reviving her somewhat, which was unacceptable, so he continued.  “And that’s only the half of it!  The real money will be made by the saloon girls!   All those low-cut dresses heading upstairs, and all those drunk cowboys heading right after them!  Think of it!  Just think of it!”

“Johnny,” said Murdoch half-heartedly because he really didn’t mean it.

Mrs. Outrem quaked a weak “Oh!” and began to tremble.  Her husband held her while he chastised Johnny.

“We need another saloon,” said Johnny, effectively pounding the last nail in the coffin.  “There’s just not enough saloon girls to go around.  Maybe even Winnie could . . .”

Mrs. Outrem gave out a little scream.  Apparently she was heard upstairs and Winnie and Teresa came running downstairs.

“Mother!” shrilled Winnie as she ran to her parents.   “What’s happened?” Teresa inquired.  Everyone was standing by now.  Mrs. Outrem was still standing, but just barely.  Mr. Outrem was shouting commands at his wife and at Johnny, and neither were listening to him.  Murdoch was heading for Mrs. Outrem with a glass of brandy.  Johnny was enjoying himself immensely and cast a quick glance in his brother’s direction, but Scott was no longer there.

Just then, the dogs Johnnie and Dudley came running into the great room from the kitchen.  They were barking and chasing each other and neither was looking where they were going and they both ran through Murdoch’s legs and he stumbled and managed to hold on to the glass but the brandy itself sailed over to Mrs. Outrem’s substantial bosom.

That woke her up!  “Arrggh!” she screamed.

“Arrggh!” screamed Winnie.

“Oh!” Johnny laughed.  “Here – let me help clean you up.”  He pulled a doily off the table and headed for Mrs. Outrem’s upper half.

“Arrggh!” said the entire Outrem family.

“Johnny!” yelled Murdoch and Teresa in unison.

Crash!

Two seconds later:  another Crash!  Then yelping, but not for long.  Then the unmistakable sound of dog paws scurrying on the tile floor.

Everyone turned to see the thousand pieces of a large vase that only a moment ago had existed as one single piece.  “Johnny!” yelled Murdoch again, but neither dog nor human knew or cared which one he meant.

Since no one had actually suggested either dog calm down, their frantic playtime continued.  They headed for Johnny, who gracefully deflected them and turned them toward Mrs. Outrem again.  Both dogs ran through her legs, out the other side, and headed for Winnie. 

“Stop, stop, stop,” both Winnie and Mrs. Outrem yelled, but neither dog responded.

“Come here, dog!” yelled Murdoch.  Johnnie remembered his lesson and knew that the new command ‘run’ was the correct way of saying ‘come here,’ so he chose to ignore it because it wasn’t the right command anymore.  Dudley ignored it because he probably had never heard the word ‘dog’ before, him being a purebred solid red short-haired Castleton dachshund and all.  The dogs did not slow down.  On the contrary, they began running circles around the crowd and deftly weaving in and out of all those Outrem legs.  Mr. Outrem was unable to keep his balance and he toppled over, taking Winnie with him.

“Arrgh!” screamed Mrs. Outrem again, in an apparent attempt to perfect her pronunciation of the word.

“Johnnieeee,” yelled Teresa.  Murdoch yelled something un-Murdochy.

Johnny wanted the melee to continue forever, but he figured he’d better make at least a token attempt to bring order about.  “Johnnie,” he yelled, getting his dog’s attention.  “Run!”

“No!” Murdoch boomed.  “No, Johnnie, don’t run!  Sit!  Sit!”

Johnny laughed.  “Murdoch, you don’t under . . .”  He didn’t get a chance to explain the new commands because Dudley apparently understood what ‘sit’ meant and sat.  Little Johnnie ran into him and barked to his new friend that ‘sitting’ was the wrong word by nibbling at Dudley’s ear and they both took off  – heading for Johnny, who again herded them right for Mrs. Outrem, a new hobby of his.

“Arrgh!”  She was getting really good at that.

The two dogs breezed right past her.  By this time, Winnie had struggled to her feet, and she and Teresa made an attempt to grab each of them, but Johnnie was leading his new friend to the dining table, where some food aromatically proved to linger, and that stimulus was way too powerful for two humans to compete with.  Johnnie jumped on a chair and then on up to the table.  Dudley’s short 2-concho legs didn’t allow for the same movement, so thoughtful Johnnie used his nose to shove a food-filled plate over the edge of the table, where it dropped in front of Dudley, food tidbits flying everywhere.

“Johnny!” boomed Murdoch.

“Johnnie!” cried Teresa.

Both Winnie and Mrs. Outrem looked like they were going to faint, and Mr. Outrem had his hands full.  That didn’t stop him from continuing to yell at Johnny and the dogs.  “Sit, Dudley!” he yelled, and Dudley sat in mashed potatoes.

Murdoch was heading (quickly) for the table, and little Johnnie knew to avoid him, so he took off again.  Dudley ran after him, shaking mashed potato tidbits all over the room as he ran.

“Grab those dogs!” someone said, certainly not Johnny.

None of the Outrems had any intention whatsoever of making any kind of physical contact with little Johnnie, but when Dudley ran past, Winnie made a feeble attempt to grasp him.  Dachshund puppies can be amazingly speedy when energized by golden retriever puppies, and Dudley slipped through her hands like he was greased.  Thus unevenly balanced, Winnie toppled over again.  Dudley made a quick trip back to lick her face, and as he turned, mashed potatoes flew into her hair.

Yet another “Arrgh!”

By this time, Johnnie had jumped back up on the table and was gobbling up the apple pie.

“Stop!” yelled both Murdoch and Teresa together, loud enough to startle both little Johnnie and big Johnny.  Big Johnny slowed down his laughing, realizing Murdoch might not be particularly amused.   In a halfhearted attempt to bring about order, Johnny yelled, “Johnnie, pinch!  No, wait – Run!,” forgetting and mixing up the new canine commands.

But little Johnnie remembered.  He tried to get the pie tin in his mouth to dutifully deliver it to his master, but it was too big and it fell off the table.  He jumped down after it and dragged it as quickly as he could to his master.  Pie dribbled out of it the whole way.  Johnnie dragged the pie tin a little too close to Winnie, who, still on the floor, scooted backward quickly and knocked her father down again.  Her mother, collateral damage, toppled over on him.  “Arrgh!” said Mr. Outrem.

“Ick!  Ick!  Ick!”  Winnie swatted at Johnnie like he was a mosquito.

Since Winnie obviously finally wanted to play, Johnnie dropped the pie tin and jumped on top of Winnie, licking her face and very deftly avoiding her swatting hand.  Dudley started lapping up the pie.

Murdoch helped Mr. and Mrs. Outrem get to their feet, apologizing halfheartedly for the unthinkable behavior of the dogs (he included Dudley in that also, Johnny noticed with appreciation).  And then the men helped Winnie to her feet as she continued saying “Ick!” and swatting at nothing.  Mr. Outrem helped Mrs. Outrem put strands of her hair back in place and tried to mollify her.

Murdoch turned to his son.  “Johnny, make your dog stop NOW!”

Well, a command is a command, after all.

“CORSET!” yelled Johnny.  All three of the Outrems fainted.

*****

Little Johnnie was hatching on the front porch, mainly because big Johnny was sitting next to him and holding onto him.  Scott and Murdoch were sitting there as well.  All were watching the rusty buggy as it headed for the horizon.

“Want me to follow them, Murdoch?” Johnny asked.  “Make sure they leave the ranch?”

“They’ll leave, Johnny.  They’ll leave,” Murdoch said softly.  “They now know there’s nothing for them here.”

“Not for lack of trying,” Scott said, a little angrily.

Murdoch turned to his eldest.  “No, I suppose not.”  He still spoke in his soft tone of voice.  “I’m sorry, son, that Winnie didn’t work out for you.”

‘Yeah, me too,” said Johnny.

“No need,” said Scott.  “Never had the opportunity to get attached to her.  Now that I think of it, the only nice thing I ever saw her doing was smiling at me when we first met.  When her father did all the talking!  But Murdoch – you surprised me!  You seemed to be on to them from the beginning!” 

“Wasn’t hard, Scott,” said Johnny.  “They were fakes.  Easy as pie to see through.”

Murdoch smiled and, surprisingly, petted little Johnnie.

Teresa appeared from inside the house, holding the empty pie tin.  “Don’t be so nice to that dog, Murdoch!  You should see the mess Johnnie and his little friend caused!  There’s food everywhere!  And that big vase is broken!”

Scott stood.  “I’ll clean it up, Teresa.  I’ll be happy to.  Johnnie saved me from making a big mistake.  I owe him one.”

Murdoch stood up as well.  “I’ll help you, son.  We can thank this little guy for causing a disruption when he did.  Besides, it could have been worse.”  He headed inside, Scott a little ways behind him.

Teresa sat down next to the Johnnies.  “I don’t get it,” she said.  “How did those dogs ever get loose in the house in the first place?  They were both tied outside.”

“Well,” said Johnny.  “Unless I miss my guess, Scott might have had something to do with that.”  He turned toward his brother.  “Scott!  How do you feel about Johnnie now?”

 “I love that dog more than anything on earth!” came the answer.

.

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6 thoughts on “Johnnie and the Doxie by goldieasj

  1. You’re so good at writing these kinds of stories. The comedy is so visual it’s almost like you’re there in person, watching the mayhem ensure.

    Loved all the chaos in the dining room, and I loved the idea of using “corset” for “stay”.
    Excellent story as always. Little Johnnie is one cute dog!

    Like

  2. Eleanor,

    Thanks so much for the comment! I’m happy you enjoyed frantic little Johnnie’s latest misadventure.

    Like

  3. Johnnie is indeed a special puppy! Thank you, Caterina, for your lovely comment; I’m happy you enjoyed the story!

    Like

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