Pug Love

What's Next? (And a Zelda Launch Debrief)

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Hello Friends! I hope all my blog friends and followers enjoyed the pug palooza on the blog last week. If you didn't, I have good news–the pug posts are back to a once a month schedule. In all seriousness, thanks to those who helped publicize the launch of the third book in the Zelda series: The Adventures of Zelda: Pug and Peach. Zelda fans have commented the third book is the best so far.  I agree–I feel like the Zelda saga hit a fantastic groove with the introduction of Peach in the third book.

As for the launch success, I had great publicity and traffic on the blog and on social media. The conversion rates could have been better, but I am getting a better sense of what works and what doesn't work for promotion of children's books.

For the most part, advertising or email list sites don't seem to do much for Zelda book sales. I have a theory they may do better if the first Zelda ebook was free. On the other hand, working with the pug community sells books, and they are super supportive. I mean who doesn't love Chubbs the Wampug?

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So what's next for me?

I'm taking a hiatus from the Zelda series for several months to focus on my young adult and longer fiction works. I'm currently halfway through the first draft for my second full length young adult novel. It is a follow up to The Photograph, but I hesitate to call it a true sequel or series. This book takes place several months after the end of The Photograph, and follows the story of Lillie Gable, who was a secondary character in the first novel. I should finish the first draft in the next two weeks. After the first draft, I will go through and do my first round of revisions, then send to beta readers. I'm thinking a late winter of 2015 release (maybe February?), but it's too early to say yet.

I also have a completed first draft for the first book in what will be my Ozais series. The Ozais series is a fantasy project that I am super excited to write. I wrote the first draft this summer, and I will be working on revisions when Lillie's story goes to beta readers. I'm hoping for a spring release for the first Ozais novel. This is by far the most ambitious of my current projects, so I'm taking care to make sure this series is well-planned.

Finally, I will sneak in some Zelda writing this winter for the fourth Zelda book. I already have plenty of ideas for this fourth book–it's amazing that the stories for Zelda and Peach continue to emerge. I expect the fourth Zelda book to release in the summer of 2015.

The above projects are on my plate for the fall and winter.  I'm doing very well with time management right now, but basketball coaching starts at the end of October, making my schedule much trickier to manage. However, I'm writing faster and better with each project so I'm hopeful I will meet my goals.

What are you writing this fall?

An Interview with Peach

Zelda gets much of the attention in our house since she is the star of own book series. She has many #pugchat friends and her cute little wrinkly face has been plastered over the internet. I think all this pug attention is giving Peach a bit of complex. She asked if she could be on the blog today so the world can get to know her. I thought it was a great idea, especially since the third book of the Zelda series is The Adventures of Zelda and Peach. 

Can you tell us a little about your life before Brian and Kristen adopted you?

I don't really like talking about my life before Brian and Kristen. I was stuck in a cage. I had lots of puppies and they were taken away from me.

Okay. Let's switch gears then. What is your favorite toy?

I have a hard time picking which toy is my favorite. I like the owl, the duck, the skunk tail, the angry bird. Oooooh and I love my blue nylabone too. They are all great. Sometimes I gather all the toys together and lie on top of them!

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What do you think is your best quality as a Boston Terrier?

The obvious answer is the ears. My ears are pointy and tall and they can forecast the weather. My ears signal if I am in a good mood or if I am on the prowl for squirrels. I also love my tongue because it gives kisses to people. I love giving kisses!

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What is something you like to do with your sister Zelda?

I love chasing Zelda and stealing her toys. We have tons of fun in our new home running in circles. [youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BlqVnAC_Yr4]

Can you give any hints or information about the storyline in The Adventures of Zelda and Peach?

All I can say is the book has a polar vortex, a squirrel chase, an Easter Bunny and lots of snoring.

Thanks so much to Peach aka PDoodle for taking the time to share with us today. Look for her in the upcoming book The Adventures of Zelda and Peach.

The Adventures of Zelda: A Pug Scary Story

Zelda Dino I am currently working on a sequel to The Adventures of Zelda: A Pug Tale. Since it's Halloween week, I thought my reader's might enjoy this story. Enjoy!

A Pug Scary Story

It’s a cool autumn evening, and the family is away so I am keeping watch over the house. The house is completely dark this evening; Hannah and Nate forgot to leave the lamp lit in the living room. I head upstairs to Hannah and Nate’s bedroom looking for any traces of light. Luckily the curtains are open, providing a few streaks of light. The light bounces off the wall creating shadows. I sit on the bed, staring out the window, looking for any signs of life. The nearly empty tree branches are swaying with the breeze, but not a soul is on the street.

Without any adventures in sight, I lie down on the bed. I am not sleepy, but I can’t think of anything else to do. And before I know it, I drift to sleep.

Crackle, Crash! 

I lift my head, listen, and wait. I hear a rustling noise from downstairs. I jump off the bed and creep down the stairs. The noise stops when I reach the bottom of the steps. I wait for a minute. I turn to head back up the stairs when I hear it again.

Crackle, Crash! 

It sounds like the noise is coming from Vacuum’s closet. I side step to the closet and peer inside. The darkness is overwhelming. I use my nose to guide me. I smell nothing unusual except for Vacuum’s terrible odor. My eyes adjust and I see her resting in the corner under the coats. The remainder of the closet is empty.

Strange. 

I back out of the closet slowly, waiting for any movement or noise. I wait for a few minutes and head back to my bed upstairs. Maybe my ears deceived me. In another few minutes, I am on the verge of a fabulous nap.

Crash. Boom.

The noise is louder and more distinct. It is definitely inside the house. Once again, I walk downstairs and investigate again. I check over and under the couch. I check the the dining room. I check every nook in the kitchen. I see nothing unusual. I move back to the living room and check Vacuum’s closet again.

Wasn’t Vacuum on the other side of the closet last time?

She was under the coats last time. But this time, she is standing at the entrance. I bark and wait for a response, but as usual she stays silent. Vacuum only responds on her terms.

Instead of going back to the bedroom, I find a comfortable spot on the couch. I will be ready if I stay down here. Once again, my pug nature gets the best of me and I drift into dreamland.

RRRRROARRRR.

What is that? 

I spring to my feet and jump off the couch in the direction of the closet. I don’t waste any time, sliding straight into Vacuum at the entrance of the closet.

RRRRROARRRR.

Vacuum thunders toward me with her front light blazing.

What is going on? 

I turn around and run for the couch. I land safely on my perch on the top of the couch cushion, but the visibility is terrible. The darkness seems to be growing.

I hear Vacuum approaching. I freeze and sink into the couch. If I don’t move, maybe she won’t be able to see me. Where is she? She must be right next to the couch by now.

What is she doing?

As soon as I ask the question, I have the answer. Vacuum’s arm swoops toward me. I jump the opposite direction and run for the stairs. I will be safe upstairs. Vacuum can’t climb stairs on her own.

The noise fades and stops; I know Vacuum is resting now. I relax and try to figure out what game Vacuum is playing with me. She was making the noises to get me downstairs. I am sure of it, but why?

Thump. Thump. Thump. 

There she goes again. I ignore the noises this time; I won’t give in to her games. The thumps continue several more times.

RRRRROARRRR.

I turn and see Vacuum at the bedroom entrance.

How did she get up the stairs?

Vacuum moves toward me, quicker than I have ever seen her move. Her arm is outstretched, reaching towards my body. I realize this isn’t a game anymore. If Vacuum gets any closer, she will suck up all my wrinkles and curly tail. Without my wrinkles or curly tail, I won’t be a pug!

I jump off the bed and dart past Vacuum. I run down the stairs and find a place to hide under the coffee table.

Thump. Thump.

She is coming down the stairs.

Thump. Thump. 

The thumps stop. I know she is close. I try to lie still, but I am shaking with fear.

RRRRROARRRR.

I feel the suction of Vacuum’s arm on my tail. I’m in trouble. I try to squirm away, but if I run I might lose my tail. My best chance is to try and rip Vacuum’s arm off again. I turn and try to grasp for her, but I don’t have enough room to make this move under the table. Instead, I move towards Vacuum’s body. I move out from under the coffee table bringing her arm with me. I know I only have a split second. I reach for her arm with my jaw. I grab hold and yank it off my tail. The force of my yank frees my tail while I lose control of her arm. The arm flies through the air and lands on my forehead.

Not my wrinkles!

But it’s too late. I know it. It doesn’t matter if she releases or not. The wrinkles are gone. My tail might not ever curl again. My life as an adorable pug is over. I close my eyes.

* * *

“Mom, why is Zelda twitching and making noises in her sleep?” Lucy says. I feel a small hand on my forehead.

“Lucy, dogs have dreams just like us. I bet Zelda was running and barking in her dream,” Hannah says.

“Does Zelda have nightmares?” Lucy asks.

“Probably,” Hannah says. I open my eyes and look at my fluffy, curly tail. I breathe a sigh of relief. I get up and walk to Vacuum’s closet. The door is open; she is sitting at the entrance staring at me.

Thud. 

I turn around. Vacuum’s arm has fallen next to her, but I am not taking any chances. I run to the couch and sit in Lucy’s lap. I look back at Vacuum; she has a devilish smile on her face.

Zelda and the Pillow Thief

IMG_0694 I thought my readers might enjoy an update in The Adventures of Zelda saga.  I wrote this quick story last week, but expect a few more to pop up here over the next several weeks. To read more of the pug tales, pick up a copy of the book. Also, if you have read the book, I'd love for you to leave an honest review at Amazon.  Thanks friends!

Zelda and the Pillow Thief

I love bedtime. In fact, I haven’t met a pug who doesn’t love bedtime. Every night, I curl up under the covers with Lucy and she pets me until we fall asleep. I wake up the next morning refreshed and ready for another day of adventure.

But, for the past week, I’ve had trouble sleeping. After I get comfortable under the blankets with Lucy, I try to fall asleep, but I can’t. It’s too hot and the air is stuffy. I feel like I am going to sneeze the night away. So, I move out from under the blankets and sleep next to Lucy. I end up waking up every few hours; she tosses and turns all night. I just can’t win.

I tried sleeping in the living room on the couch or in my dog bed, but I don’t like sleeping alone, and it’s a bit chilly in the living room at night. I tried Hannah and Nate’s bed, but they kicked me out. Ben is worse than Lucy at tossing and turning so I didn’t even last in his bed for one whole night.

So I am back at square one, trying to sleep in Lucy’s bed. I need to get my pug beauty sleep, so I have enough energy to chase squirrels, run through leaf piles, and do well at school.

Tonight, I find a great spot next to Lucy, under the covers at her feet. I don’t feel hot like normal so I close my eyes. I am jerked awake with a kick to the butt from Lucy. Aggravated, I crawl and lie next to her stomach, out of harms way. But, she feels like a hot, sunny walk, so I keep crawling until my head is out of the blankets, resting next to Lucy’s on the pillow. My head sinks into the pillow; I breath in the fresh air and relax.

I wake up a few hours later overheated again. Lucy has rolled away from me so I scoot up and spread out across the pillow. My whole body sinks into the pillow. It feels incredible; the pillow is by far the best bed in the house. I fall asleep and wake up when Hannah comes in to wake Lucy up for school. How have I not slept here before?

The following night I have no hesitation. I jump on the bed and go straight for the pillow. But, Lucy’s head is right in the middle of the pillow.

She stole the pillow! I have to get it back. 

I lie down right next to her with my head on the pillow, hoping she will move away from me, relinquishing the pillow on the way. I lie waiting, when a big yawn comes over me and the next thing I remember is light peeking through the curtain the next morning. I open my eyes and Lucy is right next to my head on the pillow, eyes closed, fast asleep. My plan failed.

The next night, I jump into Lucy’s bed before she does and sprawl out on the pillow. It is wonderful and I fall asleep instantly. I awake to a conversation.

“Look Mom, Zelda stole my pillow,” Lucy says.

“She sure did,” Hannah replies with a smile. “But you can move her out of the way, she’s only a pug.”

Only a pug?? I don’t think so. 

But, at that moment Hannah grabs me and moves me off the pillow. I squirm and fight it, but it’s too late. Lucy has claimed her spot on the pillow. And I’m stuck sleeping next to her again.

I crawl my way to my spot, head to head with Lucy on my pillow, when I devise the perfect plan to get my pillow back.

I stay awake and wait for Lucy’s eyes to close and her breathing to become regular. And in a few minutes, she is asleep. I crawl up the pillow and step across her head and lie down with my body sprawled across the pillow and her head.

Sure enough, in a few minutes, Lucy wakes up confused and rolls out from under me to the other side of the bed. I am so excited I almost get up and lick her face, when I remember, she might take that opportunity to steal the pillow again. Instead, I lie down on the pillow, with my front paws touching one end and back paws at the other end. And soon enough, I am dreaming about a world with endless peanut butter, steak, and a friend to play with everyday.

Zelda Meets Squeaks the Squirrel

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This month's short story is the 6th of The Adventures of Zelda series. I am excited to announce I have now written all 12 stories which will make up the first collection of The Legend of Zelda stories. The first collection includes 6 stories not published on the blog such as Zelda vs. the Skatepark and Zelda vs. Jack Jack. With the writing done, I'm moving into the compiling, final edits, and cover design phases. More details will come in April, but for now, enjoy Zelda Meets Squeaks the Squirrel.

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Only a few leaf piles remain on the tree lawns in our neighborhood. Every day the breeze becomes a little bit colder, and I realize winter is around the corner.

With winter on its way, I spend as much time outside as possible kicking leaf piles and taking walks. The squirrels are busy collecting nuts in the trees at the far edge of the yard. Some days I lie in the grass and watch them jump from branch to branch, wishing I could join their fun.

I notice a new squirrel scent in the backyard. The squirrel scents are usually concentrated along the tree line on far edge of our backyard. This scent, however, is not along the tree line. I smell one squirrel in two new spots–behind our garage and at the oak tree bordering the patio. I wonder why the squirrel ventured so far into my territory on its own.

My curiosity gets the best of me, and I change my backyard habits to investigate the mysterious squirrel. When I am outside, I run first to the backyard to see if I can spot the squirrel. So far, I haven’t had any luck, so I start surveillance of the backyard through the kitchen window. An hour into my stakeout, I notice something brown and fluffy in the oak tree.

Squirrel!

I stand with my front paws on the windowsill, watching the squirrel’s every move. When I hear a car pull into the driveway, I know it’s the perfect opportunity. I run to the back door. Moments later, Ben opens the door, and I run outside.

“Zelda, no!” Ben says. But, it’s too late. I am in the backyard beelining for the oak tree. I am about ten pugs’ length away when the squirrel runs from the tree to the ground. I chase after the squirrel, but I can’t catch him in time. He darts up a tree and perches on top of a branch. I gaze up at the squirrel, and he starts squeaking and screeching. I bark and kick the ground.

“Zelda, come!” Nate yells. He is walking towards me with a bag of treats.

Treats! Forget the squirrel!

I sprint to Nate, and he gives me a few treats.  We walk inside. After enjoying my snack, I remember the squirrel. I walk to the back window and look out, but he is gone.

After our encounter, I decide to call the squirrel Squeaks. I look for Squeaks day and night, inside and outside. I sit on the kitchen chair, staring out the window for any signs of him. Most days, I end up falling asleep by accident. But I am determined to stay awake today. I sit in my chair, scanning the yard for movement.

My eyes are blurring when a flash of brown appears in the corner of my eye. I focus my eyes on the brown flash. Squeaks runs down the oak tree and towards the garage. I can’t see Squeaks when he moves behind the garage, but he only stays behind the garage for a moment, before running back to the oak tree. Squeaks repeats the pattern five times, and then he disappears into the woods. I can’t figure out what he is doing.

When Nate takes me outside later, I pull him to the back of the garage. I follow Squeaks scent to a small pile of acorns–Squeaks’ secret acorn stash.

I realize I have an important decision to make.

I break for the oak tree, dragging Nate behind me. I find an acorn, scoop it into my mouth, and run to the stash next to the garage. I place the acorn in the pile and run back to the tree. I grab another acorn; I bring it back to the stash. I place my third acorn in the pile before Nate grows tired of walking in circles with me. He leads me inside.

Over the next two days, I add more and more acorns to the stash. My family has caught on to my routine. They let me stay outside longer, so I can collect more acorns.

“Why is Zelda collecting acorns?” Lucy asks.

“Because Zelda thinks she is a squirrel,” Nate says.

“But Zelda is a wrinkly pug. Why does she think she is a squirrel?” Lucy asks.

“I don’t know dear,” Nate says. Lucy asks more questions, and I know my family thinks I am crazy or confused.

A few days later, I spot Squeaks from my kitchen chair. I start scratching at the front door, and Hannah leashes me to take me outside. I am so excited to see Squeaks that I start sprinting for the backyard. I turn the corner to the back of the house and see Squeaks at the bottom of the tree. He runs for the tree line. I am disappointed and out of breath, so I stop running. Squeaks disappears into the woods. I return inside, sad I didn’t have the opportunity to meet Squeaks.

I sulk and sleep away the new few days. I give up my backyard surveillance, and I ignore the acorn stash. Maybe I was naive to think Squeaks and I could become friends.

 

A week later, Squeaks is a distant memory. I meander into the backyard with Hannah to do my business, like any other day. As I look for the perfect spot, Squeaks’ scent fills my nostrils. I follow my nose toward the tree line. I hear a squeak and gaze into the tree. Squeaks is perched on a branch above my head with an acorn in his mouth.

Clunk! 

The acorn hits me on my forehead wrinkles. Squeaks starts making lots of noise.

Is he laughing at me?

I think he is. Squeaks runs across his branch to another tree, darts down the tree, and races back up the tree above my head. I look up to see he has another acorn. I’m not falling for that twice! I scamper to the right, and the acorn falls to my left. Squeaks leaps to a nearby tree branch and runs down the trunk. I run to the tree and meet him at the bottom of the trunk. Squeaks and I arrive simultaneously. We are looking into each others’ eyes. I freeze, unsure what to do.

Squeaks makes the first move. He grabs another acorn, runs back up the tree, and finds his place above me. I stay still. Clunk!  Squeaks makes more noise. I air kick below him, kicking leaves, dirt, and grass everywhere. I hear more squeaking and look above. Squeaks is smiling. I smile back and look into Squeaks’ eyes. He returns the eye contact, implying we are not enemies–we are friends.

“Z, time to go inside,” Hannah yells. I bark a goodbye to Squeaks and trot back inside.

A Pug Christmas Story

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Today’s post is the third short story in the series: The Legend of Zelda. Once a month I post a short story here on the blog. The first story is The Legend of Zelda: Part 1 Beginnings and the second is Zelda vs the Leaf Pile. Today's story is Christmas themed. I hope you enjoy!

The Legend of Zelda: A Pug Christmas Story

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The trees are barren, the air is cold, and the cool breeze creates an uncomfortable chill. The sun is out for less of the day.  The morning grass is crunchy, and the puddles on the edge of the yard are frozen. All of these signs point to the unfortunate truth. Winter is here.

I am not built for winter with my short hair and small body. I return from walks with a nasty case of the chills, so my time outdoors is limited. Luckily, I have Ben and Lucy to keep me busy. My favorite toy is the purple owl. The owl has the loudest squeaker. To top it off, the wings of the owl crinkle. I love playing with it.

As usual, I take my afternoon nap while the family is gone. I wake up mid-afternoon to the front door opening. I slowly wake up and greet Hannah, Ben, and Lucy.

“Ben, grab Zelda,” Hannah says. Ben scoops me up as Hannah opens the front door. Nate walks in carrying a pine tree, and he places the tree in front of the big window.

I have seen flowers and small plants indoors before, but never a full-size tree. I search my brain for a reason to plant a tree inside our home, and the only idea that pops in my head is squirrels. Maybe we are getting a pet squirrel? I walk over to the tree and sniff for clues. My sniffs turn to sneezes instantaneously. I back away. The tree top almost touches the ceiling. Compared to the trees outside, it’s a small tree, but in our home, the tree is huge. But I find no trace of squirrel in the tree. Hmmm…

A few minutes later, Nate brings boxes from the basement, cluttering the living room. Hannah, Nate, Ben, and Lucy spend the next hour playing with the tree. First, they wrap strings around the tree. On the strings are small colorful lights. Next they place balls, other objects, and statues on the tree. Everything they put on the tree resembles a toy.

“Does Zelda have an ornament?” Ben asks.

“Here it is,” Nate says and hands something small to Ben. He hangs it on the tree, but I can’t see it from my vantage point.

I investigate the tree a second time. My sneezes and itchy nose return. I find a little man with a red hat, red coat, and a long white beard hanging within my reach. I stand on my hind legs and use the windowsill to maintain my balance. I knock the little red man with my paw, and he falls to the ground. I grab him with my mouth and run to Lucy.

“Hi Zelda,” Lucy says. “Mom, Zelda has something.”

“Zelda, what is that?” Hannah asks. “Nate, can you help me out? I think Zelda has Santa.”

“Maybe Z is trying to tell Santa what she wants for Christmas,” Nate replies with a grin.

“Zelda, drop it,” Nate commands. I drop the statue on the floor immediately. “This isn’t a toy,” Nate picks up the statue and places it back on the tree above my reach.

I run to the tree and find a small, red ball hanging low on the tree. I grab it and bring it to Ben.

“Zelda, give me that,” Ben says. I run away, and he chases me.

“Mom, Zelda has another ornament,” Ben yells in between breaths.

“Get it from her Ben. She can’t have them,” Hannah yells back.

“I’m trying,” Ben shouts.

I run until Ben pins me in a corner.

“I have you now!” Ben grabs for me. I start squirming to avoid his reach, but in the process, I drop the red ball.

“Ah hah!” Ben says. “I got it Mom!”

“Thanks dear. Bring it back to the tree. Let’s move the ornaments up so Zelda can’t reach them,” Hannah says.

“But then I can’t reach them either,” Lucy says. She has her bottom lip turned up.

“I’m sorry Lucy, but we don’t want Zelda to break the ornaments or to hurt herself with one,” Hannah says.

“It’s not fair,” Lucy cries. She walks into her bedroom.

“Not again,” Ben says. “Lucy is always crying.”

“Be nice to your sister,” Nate says. “She’s young. You cried a lot at that age too.”

I run up to Ben with one of my tennis balls.  We play until I get tired. I lie down on the couch, and I fall asleep.

I awake to some noise outside and an empty house. From my perch on top of the couch, I see a man walking three dogs on the sidewalk. I sprint to the window. I stand up, resting my front legs on the windowsill. I start barking. One of the three dogs sees me and barks back. Soon all three dogs are barking. I am pumped. I race to the other side of the tree to get a different view. I stand up on the windowsill, and my front feet slip. I fall into the tree. I hear something hit the floor, but I regain my balance and stand up on the windowsill. The dogs are far down the street. I return to the floor to see what I knocked down. It’s a very little boy.

I pick it up. It’s a little hard for a toy, but it will work. I take it to the back bedroom and bury it in the blanket on the bed next to a milk-bone.

After an afternoon away, my family returns home with bags and boxes. They cover the boxes with colorful paper, put them under the tree, and call them “presents.” Over the next week, more presents appear under the tree. I use the presents to reach more toys on the tree. I’m gathering a collection of the toys. I know I shouldn’t, but I can’t help myself.

Everyday when my family leaves, I look for another toy to collect. So far, I have a small red ball, a small green ball, one little boy, and one little girl. I hide the toys in my favorite milk-bone spots. I have one in my crate under a blanket, one sandwiched between cushions on the couch, and two under the blanket in the spare bedroom.

“Hey Z, what are doing?” Ben asks when he arrives home that afternoon. Hannah joins us in the living room.

“Ready for Christmas Eve dinner?” Hannah interrupts.

“Yes Mom. Can we bring Zelda?” Ben says.

“Sure, why not. My family loves Zelda.”

We spend the evening with Hannah’s family. I love their home, especially when I know the visit is short. I run and sniff all corners of the house while the family eats, drinks, and laughs together. When we return home, I am exhausted. I head straight for bed and drift to sleep.

I hear Hannah and Nate wake up early the next morning. They are normally slow to get out of bed, but not this morning. I get up from Lucy’s bed and follow them into the living room, being careful not to wake Lucy. Hannah and Nate put more presents under the tree and just as they finish, Ben and Lucy wake up. The whole family gathers around the tree. They pass each other the presents and open them one by one. They smile and laugh throughout the entire process.

“Zelda, do you want your Christmas present?” Ben asks.

Ben grabs a stocking hanging on the wall and places it in front of me. I walk over and sniff it. Inside, I see something green. I stick my paw in the stocking and try to get it out. It is firmly jammed in the stocking, but I am able to wedge my paw in the stocking and move it towards me. As I put pressure on the green thing, it squeaks.

I recognize that sound!

I move it a little further; I can grab it with my mouth. I pull out a brand new green owl with a perfect squeaker. I run sprints with it through the house. I bring it to Ben, and we play tug of war.

“What is this?” Hannah asks.

“Huh?” Nate says.

“Come here Nate,” Nate walks over to Hannah.

“Look at this,” she says. She lifts the pillow on the couch to reveal the small green ball from the tree hidden next to a milk-bone. “Zelda must have hidden this ornament here.”

Hannah found my hiding spot. I’m in trouble.

“So our pug hides Christmas ornaments?” Nate says with a big smile.

“I guess so,” says Hannah chuckling. “I wonder if we will find any more around the house.”

“Probably. Oh well, it’s Christmas,” Nate says.

“That it is,” Hannah says. She leans over and kisses Nate.

“So what would you like for Christmas breakfast?” Nate asks.

“Pancakes!” Hannah says. Nate goes into the kitchen and starts cooking breakfast. I follow him into the kitchen. Maybe he will accidentally drop some pancakes or bacon on the floor. If not, it’s still been a great morning. I got a new owl, and I didn’t get in trouble for hiding the tree toys. But I still have no idea why we have a tree in our living room!

The Legend of Zelda: Zelda vs. the Leaf Pile

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Today’s post is the second short story in the series: The Adventures of Zelda. Once a month I post a short story here on the blog. If you missed the first story or want to learn why I'm writing this series, visit The Adventures of Zelda: Part 1 Beginnings post.

Zelda vs. the Leaf Pile

rom my perch on top of the couch, I watch the leaves blowing from the trees, and the squirrels scurrying through the yard. The weather is perfect for pug walking. The hot and humid days of summer are gone for now, and I am glad for the cooler air and the breeze ruffling through my fur. I can take long walks with the family again. Ben and Lucy just left for school, so I wait for Hannah so we can take our morning walk.

Hannah finds her hoodie and yellow shoes, sits down, and ties her shoes. I run to her and grab the shoelaces with my mouth. I try to help her tie the yellow shoes, but she pushes me away, and I wait by the door until she is ready.

We head out the door a couple minutes later; I veer to the left. Hannah follows my lead, and we turn right onto Edgewood–my favorite street. A canopy of large oak and maple trees lines both sides of the street, creating shade on the sidewalks at any time of the day. The big trees attract squirrels and chipmunks–animals I love to chase. The houses are filled with dogs of all shapes and sizes. My favorite spot on this street is a light post on the corner of Edgewood and Meadowfield. The light post rests on a popular cross-section, so many dogs frequent it. Every visit to the light post introduces me to a new smell. I love it. I lead the way down Edgewood, pulling Hannah along behind me.

Squirrel!

I spot the first squirrel midway down Edgewood. The squirrel is on the opposite side of the street out of my reach, so I ignore its taunting. Meanwhile, in the next yard on our side of the street, a second squirrel runs up a tree. Without hesitation, I charge for the tree. I sprint four strides before being yanked backward by Hannah.

“Zelda, calm down!” Hannah yells. I ignore her and press forward. The tree is only a few more steps away.

I want that squirrel. It’s so close.

When I reach the tree, I see the squirrel a few branches above me. I jump up and try to gain traction on the tree trunk.

“Let’s go!” Hannah pulls me away from the tree; I have to keep walking. I walk a few paces and sit down in the grass, disappointed. Hannah pleads with me to keep walking. I lie on the grass and look at the street ahead.

The light post!

I get up and run towards the corner light post at the end of the street. As I approach the corner, I sneeze. Something isn’t right. I don’t smell the normal mix of dog scents. I keep walking and see the problem. I see something on top of the ground around the light post. I walk cautiously toward the corner.

As I approach the corner, I realize the barrier is a collection of leaves in one big pile. I stop and stare at the leaf pile. Why would anyone put a bunch of leaves in a pile? And why did they have to do it on my corner light post?

I can’t tell if the pile is covering something. It probably isn’t covering up anything dangerous, but I don’t want to risk walking into thorns. I continue walking, ignoring the corner light post and the leaf pile for today. I bet the pile will be gone tomorrow.

Hannah and I stroll past the elementary school and through the park. I see two more squirrels, but I don’t catch either one. When we arrive home, I’m thirsty and exhausted. I drink a bowl of water and sprawl across the couch.

On our walks the next few days, I lead Hannah or Nate to the corner light post, but the leaf pile remains. Unsure what to do now that the leaf pile seems permanent, I lead Nate in the opposite direction of our normal route. We turn down Sunbrook and start walking. I haven’t walked on Sunbrook in several days. Sunbrook has huge oak trees in most of the yards, many more than Edgewood, but Sunbrook lacks dogs, so the street is not quite as fun.

While we walk down the street, I notice something strange in the distance. I pick up the pace; I recognize the similar shape. It’s another leaf pile. I keep walking.

When we reach the corner of Sunbrook and Meadowfield, I turn left towards Edgewood. When I turn the corner, I see another leaf pile. My excitement rises. Since more leaf piles have appeared, maybe the other leaf pile will be gone. We pass the elementary school, and Nate stops to talk to the man in the yellow shirt. The bright yellow shirt blinds me. I want to see the light post. I bark and pull Nate forward.

We arrive at the corner light post. The leaf pile remains. I sigh, ignoring the squirrel running across the street. I am too distraught by the leaf piles everywhere; they surround fire hydrants, tree trunks, and light posts. I don’t know what to do.

When we return home, Nate takes a seat on the couch and turns on the television. I curl up in his lap and fall asleep, trying to forget about the leaf piles.

I awake later in the afternoon. I feel better, much more refreshed and light-hearted. It is amazing what a good nap can do. Nate asks if I want to go outside. I answer by waiting at the front door. He takes me out to the backyard. I notice the grass is almost covered by red, yellow, and orange leaves. I hear a noise and look at the next yard over. I see Don, our neighbor, working outside in his flower beds. He is raking the leaves from the flower beds and putting the leaves into a pile.

He’s making a leaf pile!

I start running towards the front yard, but Nate pulls me inside. I will have to wait to test my theory.

After dinner, Nate grabs my harness. I am so excited for this walk; I run at least twenty circles around Nate before he catches me and puts on the harness. When he opens the door, I run for the closest leaf pile I can find. There are none on our street so we turn down Edgewood. I see a leaf pile across the street, and I pull Nate in that direction. He obliges, and we cross the street. I start running for the leaf pile and lunge into it, hoping I can make it through. The leaves move out of my way and collapse around me. I stop and smile. I am in the middle of the leaf pile. The leaves come up to my neck, but it’s okay. I can breathe. The leaves feel great, and the aromatic smells overwhelm my nose. The leaf pile is better than the corner light post.

I start kicking the leaves. The leaves fly in the air in every direction.

“Zelda, you are getting me dirty,” Nate mumbles. I ignore him. Kicking the leaves is so much fun, and the amount of leaf piles on our route is endless. I walk out of the leaf pile. I see another pile a house away. I start running.

The Moral of the Milk Bone Story

Our pug, Zelda, is stinkin' adorable. If you don't believe me, check out this post. Her cuteness has won over many people, including my parents, Brian's parents, our sisters, and most importantly to Zelda, our mail lady.

Every day our mail lady delivers our mail to the slot in our coat closet. On the way, she walks by the living room window and greets Zelda. She calls her cutie and says hello while Zelda barks back. The mail lady puts our mail in the slot, but first, she slides a milk bone in the slot for Zelda. She has given Zelda a milk bone every day without fail for months.

Zelda has learned over time that the person who calls her cutie gives her a milk bone. She hears the mail lady come and runs to the coat closet door. If it's open, she walks into the closet and grabs the bone out of the slot, sometimes destroying our mail in the process. If the door is shut, she waits until we get home and then begs by the door for us to open it so she can get her daily milk bone.

Not only does Zelda retrieve her milk bone every day from the mail slot, but she also has developed a funny habit. Some days when she isn't hungry, she will hide or bury the bone somewhere, usually under blankets in our bed, on the couch or the spare bedroom. The picture above is a bone she hid in our bed. Later in the day, Zelda will uncover the bone and eat it. Zelda's adventures with milk bones are fun to observe and make us laugh.

Brian and I agree it's very nice of the mail lady to give our dog a milk bone every day. Although it may be a small act of kindness, it's unnecessary and we are grateful for a mail lady who loves our dog. Because of this, we have casually mentioned picking up a gift card to Starbucks or somewhere for our mail lady as a sign of our appreciation. Unfortunately, Brian and I never remember our idea at the right moment and so far we have failed to follow through on our idea.

This week Zelda and I noticed our mail slot was missing something important - the milk bones! And then I saw we had a different mail person this week. Zelda and I hope our regular mail lady is simply on vacation. But, at the moment, we have no idea if her route was switched or if she is taking time off.

Why am I telling you this ridiculous story? Because if our regular mail lady doesn't return, Zelda and I will be upset. Zelda will be upset at the lack of milk bones. But, I will be upset at myself for never learning my mail lady's name. I will be upset for not following through and showing her appreciation for treating my dog so well.

The truth is I don't know my mail lady's story or much about her. But, I do know small acts of kindness can go a long way. They did for Zelda and I. And I know I could have made her day pretty easily, but I might have missed the opportunity to make someone smile. And that's sad.

So today I encourage you to remember the moral of the milk bone story:

Do Something Nice Before Time Runs Out