My first children’s picture book, Naughty Little Puppy, was inspired by my precocious little puppy’s tendency to run away with my “stuff.” Although this book was published four years ago when Jellybean was a two-year old pup, my four-legged little bandit continues to lay claim to things that do not belong to her. Now mind you, this dog has more toys than the average fur baby. She has an entire basket of balls which encompass all sizes and textures, and even some that allow for the addition of treats. She also has two large Longaberger laundry baskets piled high with dog toys that would make any canine chomp at the chance to play with just one of them. Like the child who would rather play with the box than the new toy, Jellybean is always on the lookout for items that apparently bring a whole new level of excitement to her play.
This week she discovered the dryer balls; felt-like balls that bounce around in the dryer and promote more efficient drying of clothing. She is always in close proximity when I do my laundry. She watches as I fold my jeans, t-shirts, towels, etc., waiting for the dryer sheet to fall free so she can roll all over it. We call this “freshening up.” I try to keep a pretty close watch on the dryer balls, however, as I am thinking the material they are made of is not particularly pet friendly. The king-sized deep pockets sheets I was folding were getting the best of me and before I knew what was happening, she lunged across the bed and latched on to one of the balls that dislodged itself from the pocket of the sheet as I worked to fold it.
The next few minutes went something like this:
“Jellybean, I need you to drop that ball. It does not belong to you.”
“Did you hear what I said Jellybean? Drop that ball!”
“Jellybean, drop it!”
“Danielle Jellybean Stiffler Smith! You better drop that dang dryer ball!”
“Are you laughing at me?”
“How did you get to be such a naughty little puppy!”
“Ep, ep!” (Somewhere along the line I read that dogs understand this command and will look at you and wait for direction. Hah!)
“Come back here! Don’t you take that ball and run away with it.”
And so it went for the next five minutes as I chased her down the hall, around the living room, through the dining room and finally back to the bedroom where the whole debacle began. It ended as quickly as it had begun, because as predicted, the fuzzy material made its way into her throat and caused a tickle and cough. When she dropped the ball I quickly reclaimed it. After a short lecture about running away with my “stuff” I suggested she go get a drink at her fountain so she could wash the fuzzy away. With her big, black eyes now all watery from the coughing spell, she looked at me and I’m positive she gave a little nod of her head before jumping off the bed and making her way down the hall to her water fountain.
Oh my, Jellybean, whatever am I going to do with you? I guess I’m just going to have to love you even more! As I often tell the children I meet through author visits and book events, unconditional love is simply the best!
Beverly Stiffler Smith