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On a pile of soft, cozy picnic blankets the floppy-eared puppy snoozed, very nearly to the point of snoring, in a slumber soothed by the calm breeze blowing through the nearby trees. The patches of grass newly filled with budding bulbs circled in their wavy lines around and around him, but he didn’t notice the patterned lands at all as he napped in complete relaxation on the colorful carpet. Doodle Dog contentedly curled and flexed his paws in drowsy oblivion, unaware of the goings-on near him but still safe, secure and blissful all the same. 

As he dozed, a dream took over his subconscious, directing his imagination in a fantastical dance while he slept. Nearly perfectly still in reality, Doodle Dog’s mind was anything but as it zipped and zoomed from one scene to the next almost as quickly as an inner tube soaring over the top of the lake or a go-kart going round and round the meadow. At a particular moment when it finally calmed, the sleeping Doodle Dog found himself in quite the strange world his thoughts had created.

While in reality the sky above Doodle Dog was a soft blue, misty in parts from a smattering of cottony clouds here and there, in his dream the natural ceiling swished and swirled with the melted rainbow from the racetrack, dashing across a cloudless canvas. The brilliant hues twisted and tangled over the treetops, reds and purples mixing with greens and blues. A radiant round sun shone through the shining shades, making the yellows even brighter. Within moments, a cluster of fluffy white wisps drifted onto the scene, the clouds poufy like a bunny’s puffy tail. One by one they floated through the curtain of color, dipping out to the other side and leaving a translucent trail. One by one each white puff entered the celestial crayon box, and then, unexpectedly, when they emerged each one was tinted a different color! Soon not only was the sky itself glittering with streaks of its own colors, but the beautiful backdrop was speckled with spots of painted clouds continuing to glide along, lazily wafting above the landscape below.

And it was to that landscape below that Doodle Dog’s imagination turned next without any particular reason or intent. His dream melted from one scene to the next almost as seamlessly as the clouds changing colors above him and soon he found himself watching the ribbons of the rainbow reach down to the ground, each separate shade aimed directly for the center of each earthly pothole that the floppy-eared puppy had helped dig not that long ago. While in reality the potholes were covered with their soft, cozy sod blankets, in his dream the little curious puppy saw the flowers sprout up from their beds, pushing through the earth and silently saying “good morning” to the spring. As he crept closer to the tiny baby buds, Doodle Dog did not see flower petals, silky and delicate, unfolding to feel the sun’s warmth. Instead, when the sun spotlighted on each previously-slumbering specimen, a shiny sparkle glinted from it! Carefully creeping even closer still, the floppy-eared puppy could now see that what had sprouted in front of him was not a tulip or a rose or a daisy or a snapdragon. Where a lavender-colored tulip should have been was a sparkling violet amethyst! And where a radiant red rose should have been was instead a ruby. Now every color of the ribbons from the rainbow connecting the earth to the sky were not only represented in the dipped clouds but were now being reflected, quite literally, in the colors of the gemstones growing up from the ground!

As the floppy-eared puppy continued down the winding rows of precious jewels, enjoying the view of emeralds the shade of evergreens and sapphires the deep blue of the ocean’s waves, he wondered if there had ever before been a bouquet of such bedazzling buds! The string of gemstones almost seemed as though Mother Nature was getting dressed up for a special occasion and the flowers-turned-sparkling rocks of a different sort served as just the perfect accessory. On and on they went, curving their colors up the hillside, the amethysts, rubies, emeralds and sapphires intertwining with unusual garnets and aquamarines as they too awoke newly sprouted. Then Doodle Dog, wanting to give each the attention it deserved, came upon the very last gem in the pattern. It had no color at all! Though it seemed at first glance to be an imperfection in the line of treasure, the perfectly clear, colorless crystal sparkled up at Doodle Dog, more unique and special than all the rest. He didn’t have a chance to find out its secret in his dream, however, as the warm sun in reality persuaded the floppy-eared puppy to wake up from his nap.

As he reluctantly coaxed his eyes open, the tree next to him caught Doodle Dog’s gaze. And there, nestled among its branches, was something that wasn’t wood or leaf or furry creature. As the sunlight glistened down on the earth, warming the sleeping buds in their earthy beds, it also shone on a speck that was rather familiar. Dangling from a nearby twig, a sparkling crystal-like object caught the light just so, and one by one the sun’s rays went in through the clear container and slipped out to the other side leaving a translucent trail. One by one each entered the colorless crystal, and then, unexpectedly, when they emerged each beam was a different color! The tiny crystal seemed to hold all the colors of the rainbow in one beautiful bundle. The floppy-eared puppy HAD found a gemstone bouquet in a very unique and special little package!

 

The wind still whistled through the curious puppy’s floppy ears, but Doodle Dog had so much fun at the park he decided to go back again today to see what more he could find. As he made his way down the sidewalk, his little legs tilted his body slightly to the side as if automatically remembering how to curve and sway as the go-kart zipped and swerved and whipped through the blurry lines of competition. Doodle Dog almost had to convince himself he was now safe on firm ground! But as his furry paws met the solid concrete, it wasn’t long before the floppy-eared puppy found his land legs and it wasn’t long after that he found them leading him to the grassy green carpet of the park.

It was time to go outside – Doodle Dog was tired of being cooped up indoors! Some furry rodent had supposedly predicted that winter would be camped out for quite a while longer, but some other furry rodent claimed that wasn’t true. Doodle Dog didn’t know who to believe so the only thing he could do was go and find out for himself and see what his own floppy ears told him!

Doodle Dog uncurled his little body and slowly stretched his legs so that they peeked out over the edge of his cozy bed, extending his paws so that they untucked from the soft blanket keeping the floppy-eared puppy, his legs and his paws quite warm and comfy. About to curl right back up again, Doodle Dog thought of all the woodland creatures who lived in the park, in the meadow and in the forest at the edge of the lake with the warm blankets of grass and flowers and leaves and thistles to keep them cozy. He wanted to keep exploring outside today, but one glance out the window (that he still thought was hung in the wrong place) and he could see the land still dressed in snowy white. Many of the other animals spent this time of year tucked in their warm homes and snoring away. They had the right idea – Doodle Dog thought hibernating sounded pretty good right about now!

Though the insides of the new office were still slightly strange to Doodle Dog, the floppy-eared puppy figured the outsides would still be slightly familiar, so he slipped out the new door to the new porch stoop and onto a sidewalk that seemed a bit strange but indeed a bit familiar too. He remembered that the moving truck hadn’t gone that far at all and that he could still see the old building from where the new building lived. In fact, in all his explorations of the town, there was a good chance that he’d scampered by this very spot several times before this – it was just now a starting point instead of a middle one.

Doodle Dog was glad he had the chance to deliver pumpkins while the weather was still being mostly friendly because today the gentle breeze had turned into something that blew and blew and howled and howled and huffed and puffed against the windows on every side of the office. The floppy-eared puppy curled up and listened to the noisy mutant gusts and figured they probably just sounded a lot worse than they really were – at least he hoped so!

To distract himself and not let his imagination get away from him, Doodle Dog directed his imagination to think of good things instead. He immediately thought of the holidays coming up and how much he looked forward to helping out with the shiny decorations again. That little tree looked so pretty in the middle of the park and Doodle Dog was glad he had a paw in making it happy! Maybe that little snowflake still glistened on the tippy top of it. Doodle Dog felt like one of Santa’s elves designing Christmas magic for the little tree. And then the best part was wrapping presents to tuck under it and surprise his furry friends around the forest and in town. The glittering packages reminded Doodle Dog of the flecks of snow and ice making intricate patterns on the window when the weather was really, really cold. The floppy-eared puppy glanced up to see if the invisible ice skater had returned to his clear canvas, but not yet – right now the wind still blew and blew menacingly against the windowpane. Ahh!

All that hard work made Doodle Dog quite tired so he decided he wasn’t going to go too very far from home today, at least not for a little while. The impromptu detour had been fun and all, in its own way, but there is so much else to see and Doodle Dog didn’t want to be sidetracked for too long. That is, until something else interesting or intriguing happened to distract him along his path! Taking one step at a time, the floppy-eared puppy slowly made his way down the sidewalk, enjoying the light breeze fluttering over his nose, cooling his forehead and tickling his ears. He knew just where he could go to take several journeys and explore endlessly without moving his paws from one spot.

Soon Doodle Dog turned the corner to the library and slipped in the open door as a lady stepped outside. The little girl keeping pace beside her smiled brightly at the floppy-eared puppy from just over the tippy top of a stack of colorful books in her arms, so many piled up that she had to stretch a bit to peek out over the small slightly-wobbly tower. Following her mother, the little girl disappeared down the street as Doodle Dog quickly disappeared into the foyer of the library, a narrow hallway which soon opened up into an enormous cave of books. Seemingly endless rows of multihued bindings called out to the curious floppy-eared puppy, their pages protectively housing the everlasting stories between the covers. So many beautiful books to distract an explorer, but Doodle Dog knew exactly which one he wanted to find today.

There! Right near the bottom, perfectly kid-level and doggie-level too, the vibrant blue the color of the summer sky waved to him from the bookcase like an old friend gleeful at its visitor’s arrival. Doodle Dog gently nudged the soft book from its keeping-place and let it plop carefully to the carpet in front of him. The book opened to the first page and the story began, but Doodle Dog didn’t need the words to know what it said – he knew this tale by heart. Looking at the brilliant pictures, the floppy-eared puppy lightly pushed each page with his nose and listened in his mind as his memory told him the story:

“As the moon goes to bed, the sun wakes up And here we meet a sleepy pup  Looking forward to a bright fun day New places to see, new chances to play  Doodle Dog gets the morning news, Then sometimes takes an afternoon snooze  Lazily the clouds float by Fluffy white against blue sky  Hide and Seek count three-two-one Doodle Dog jumps and Doodle Dog runs  Until at the end of the sidewalk can be found Paw prints in the green, green grass and the dirt so brown  Doodle Dog loves to go for a walk And always makes sure to stop and talk  To the butterflies and the bees, To the flowers and all the trees  Then every night before it grows dark, Doodle Dog says a “goodnight” bark  As the sun goes to bed, the moon wakes up And tucks in safely a drowsy pup  Tomorrow is a bright new day With new places to see, new chances to play  This is the beginning, it’s not the end. Won’t you be Doodle Dog’s friend?”

The vivid sky blue of the back cover tucking the story closed, the floppy-eared puppy tilted the book upright and propped it against the bookcase. Perhaps he would leave it out for a bit in case someone else wanted to find it. There were more pictures to see and stories to read – Doodle Dog figured it would take his entire lifetime to explore even one section of the neverending collection. In fact, it was times like these that Doodle Dog nearly wished he was a cat… then he’d have nine lifetimes to read all those books!

But no matter how many other delicious choices his imagination would have a chance to happily devour, the floppy-eared puppy would always come back to his very favorite tale: the one about a curious floppy-eared puppy who loves to explore. And so, true to the legend set before him, Doodle Dog scampered off to the far reaches of the cavernous interior of the library, covered as distant as his eye, and imagination, could see with myths and fairytales and true stories, too, just waiting to whisk him away to another distant land and then another, all without ever leaving his cozy little spot!

 

As the moon goes to bed, the sun comes up
And here we meet a sleepy pup,
Who was walking through G-ville one bright sunny day,
Then saw The Villager and decided to stay.

Today is going to be a great day! Well, it BETTER be! Doodle Dog thought as he took a quick sip from his shiny silver water bowl and a quicker bite of kibble from his bright red dish, barely stopping to crunch it between his teeth before he zipped off to a corner of the office towering with boxes. There was a lot to do in that little corner and Doodle Dog was excited to check one more thing off his Doggie To-Do List!
The current project on his list was to clean up his area of the office, but over the last couple of years it seemed random objects had decided to make his home THEIR home too and had simply invited themselves into whatever spare space had once existed between Doodle Dog’s comfy, fuzzy blanket and basket of chewy toys and his neighbor: the bookcase overflowing with his favorite stories. Doodle Dog didn’t want to be unfriendly, but those uninvited objects were starting to overstay their welcome and he really needed his nice clean area back. Perhaps with a little nudge in the right direction, they would migrate back to wherever they had come from or, if not, then find a new place entirely!
With all the right intentions and his goal firmly in mind, Doodle Dog approached his mission at hand with all the gusto of somepuppy who knew exactly what he wanted and exactly how to get it, but as the little fluffy form that is Doodle Dog came nearer to the towering stacks of boxes, the little floppy-eared puppy realised just HOW big and menacing this project appeared! His early confidence quickly fading, Doodle Dog gulped and stopped right in his tracks, wrapping his tail around his front paws as he stared up at the mountain in front of him. A mountain that he was sure was growing and expanding into quite a scary kind of monster right in front of his eyes! Doodle Dog hadn’t bargained for this! But he knew there was a job to be done and he couldn’t back down now, so after he let himself be scared for a moment, the little floppy-eared puppy mustered his courage and imagined that the mound-of-mess-monster was no bigger than a molehill mouse (whether it was true or not!) and, just for good measure, he also imagined that he was not, in fact, a puppy of small size but was actually, for the time being at least, quite a bit braver, stronger and smarter than he seemed a moment ago.

As the moon goes to bed, the sun comes up
And here we meet a sleepy pup,
Who was walking through G-ville one bright sunny day,
Then saw The Villager and decided to stay.

Steam rose from the pavement covering the street outside the office window and little drops of dew that happened to plop on the sidewalk sizzled away within seconds. Summer was definitely here and it was definitely hot! Doodle Dog watched from inside his cool corner of the cozy couch, calmly guarding his little piece of air-conditioned earth. The floppy-eared puppy could see some of the townspeople walking very, very slowly so not to become too exhausted that they couldn’t make it home and some walking very, very quickly to find a cool place to relax as soon as possible. If Doodle Dog let his imagination get away from him, it might almost appear that some of the people were melting right into the concrete! First their shoes, then their socks, then the rest of them as they became shorter and shorter and shorter! His thoughts were so vivid that Doodle Dog almost began to think that HE was sinking too! But Doodle Dog shook his floppy ears and remembered where he was, on the comfy couch, simply sinking into the squishy cushions, and remembered that the people weren’t actually sinking into the street. Whew!
Doodle Dog looked at the left side of the couch cushion creeping up next to his front paw and at the right side of the couch cushion sneaking up by his tail. He knew he wasn’t really supposed to be up there in the first place, but the very middle of the couch was so very comfy that he decided he would let himself squish right down with it anyway, and sank a little bit deeper.

It had been quite a while since Doodle Dog found himself outside after dark. Though indeed quite curious most hours of the day, the little floppy-eared puppy always tried to make sure he was home, tucked safely in the office, before the sun went to bed and the street lamps lit up to take over its job for the evening. It was then, on this particular occasion, just a bit unusual that as the shade of the sky deepened into a blue so dark it was almost violet Doodle Dog was not, in fact, inside his warm blanket in his favorite corner of the office, but was actually still admiring nature’s morphing ceiling… under the earth’s soft covering that is the sky itself!

As the moon goes to bed, the sun comes up

And here we meet a sleepy pup,

Who was walking through G-ville one bright sunny day,

Then saw The Villager and decided to stay.

 

The rain had finally calmed to a slow drizzle and Doodle Dog decided he’d had enough of this hiding-inside-business. Wet or not, thundering or not, scary or not, the floppy-eared puppy was going to venture outside and face the stormy rain once and for all.

Well, maybe…

As Doodle Dog poked his nose out the front door of the office, a heavy stream from the gutter overhead gushed down suddenly, soaking the tiny buds peeking out of the mulch in the flower beds and painting the front steps dark with a fresh coat of water. Maybe the porch was far enough, Doodle Dog thought. And so he stretched out his front legs and settled onto the soft welcome mat safe under the sturdy roof of the porch. Getting comfortable on the mat that was just the size of the little floppy-eared puppy, Doodle Dog curiously peered out across the wood plank floor, over the low railings and through the open space between the two decorative pillars that were not only pretty but that served a very important purpose – holding up the roof! Doodle Dog’s gaze continued on past these very pretty, very important pillars to the street and the sidewalk that bordered it, and curiously watched the hustle and bustle that didn’t even halt one little bit despite the sort of gloomy, sort of drippy, sort of just plain yucky weather.

Ahhhhh! Spring is here, spring is here, spring is here! Doodle Dog thought as he bounded down the sidewalk through town. Spring is here, spring is here, spring is here! Doodle Dog thought as he dodged a row of melty puddles made by the dripping mounds of snow that, although they were still here, were no longer massive mountains of mush and were quickly melting into miniature versions of their previous selves. Despite the remaining evidence that winter was not yet willing to take its annual vacation, it was also obvious that spring was coming whether winter and all of its piles of snow and ice liked it or not. In fact, spring wasn’t just coming, spring was here!

As the moon goes to bed, the sun comes up

And here we meet a sleepy pup,

Who was walking through G-ville one bright sunny day,

Then saw The Villager and decided to stay.

Tucked cozily in his blanket, the warm fabric wrapped extra tightly around his toes, Doodle Dog peered out the window to the town streets where the fluffy snow was falling again. Spring would be here soon, at least that’s what he heard from the neighborhood groundhog, but for now the sidewalks were still covered in white flecks and the townspeople continued to hurry along about their business all bundled up in thick coats and fuzzy scarves. As much fun as it usually was to watch the world bustling about, the floppy-eared puppy was getting just a bit bored with being inside. His recent trip to the park was indeed very exciting, but Doodle Dog wasn’t about to go back out in that chilly air or the even chillier icy cold water. His toes were finally warming up again, thankyouverymuch!

Glancing around the office for something to entertain him, Doodle Dog saw his favorite bookcase with all the pretty drawings on the covers. The office was empty of humans, nice and quiet which would be perfect for reading, but it also meant there was no one to read Doodle Dog a story. He could go to the library and find a little boy or girl to read to him, but that would mean going outside. Brrrrr! Doodle Dog shivered just thinking about it. No… he would have to figure out something else.

As he looked at the painted images decorating each cover, Doodle Dog thought about the beautiful princess walking through the forest on the green book sitting on the top shelf and about the knight in his shining armor riding his horse down a dirt path on the cover of the blue book nestled right in the middle of the bookcase. Would their paths ever meet? What problems would try to stand in their way? The floppy-eared puppy didn’t have to open the book to figure out what happened – he decided he could make up his own tale!

Curling up even deeper in his blanket, Doodle Dog closed his eyes and imagined what it would be like to walk down the forest path next to the princess, her long dress the color of daffodils in sunshine floating in the gentle wind that blew through the trees. He could almost feel the soft grass and dirt under his paws as he padded along and hear the woodland creatures scurrying about from their lush hollows. Together the floppy-eared puppy and the princess greeted the friendly animals who lived among the vines and brush, and they had made their way nearly to the edge of the forest where the sunlight broke through the leafy canopy overhead, when a very loud rumble startled Doodle Dog and made him jump behind the princess’s skirt. Being brave was sometimes overrated. The princess didn’t look too worried, but she stopped walking and peered around the last tree bordering the forest. Doodle Dog decided it was safe enough to peer around the princess as she peered around the tree, and as he tried to figure out what was making such a noise, he heard it again! This time there was no mistaking it – the thundering sound was coming from a nearby cave just to the left of the forest’s path. Not only that, but coming from the entrance of the cave with the thunder were billowing clouds. No, not clouds… smoke!

After a few moments, the princess slowly unwrapped herself from the tree and, once the floppy-eared puppy unwrapped himself from her ankles, she began to cautiously approach the cave. Doodle Dog swallowed his fear and followed her brave example to find out what was causing the noise and the smoke. Inside the cave, among the puffs of cloudy smoke, the floppy-eared puppy saw a shining pile of brilliantly-colored jewels and other treasures. Pretty! And right behind the giant mound of shimmering objects was… NOT one of the friendly woodland creatures: a very large, very scaly, very grumpy dragon! The mean old dragon thrashed its tail, knocking a layer of jewels in an avalanche to the floor.

But why do dragons have to be so mean? Doodle Dog wondered. The floppy-eared puppy remembered this is HIS story and he didn’t want the dragon to be mean. So he thought of what might happen to make the dragon be not so mean and before he knew it, the princess marched right up to the large, scaly, grumpy dragon and wrapped her arms around it and gave it a big, squishy, friendly hug, sort of like she’d hugged the tree in the forest. As Doodle Dog watched, the cave stopped echoing thunder and spewing smoke that looked like clouds, and the large, scaly, not-so-grumpy dragon reached down to one of the jewels that had tumbled to the floor and nudged it toward the princess. The sunlight from outside the cave glinted off the heavy jewel and the dragon ducked its head into the sunlight itself, spread its wings and flew out of the cave and up over the trees. The princess and the floppy-eared puppy stepped outside to wave at the dragon and at that moment the sunlight glinted off a knight in his shining armor who was riding his horse down the dirt path. The knight took off his helmet and the princess could see he was a prince in disguise!

Before Doodle Dog’s imagination could get away from him again, the floppy-eared puppy decided he better give the prince and princess a happy ending and one for the curious guard puppy too! Safe at home in the office, he nuzzled his nose in his blankets and finished his story before anything else had a chance to slither out of the cave…

 

Snowflakes landed one by one outside the office window, each one adding to the smooth blanket of white covering the town like a new cozy comforter keeping the grass warm. But the weather was anything but warm as the snow continued to drift down, some icy flecks floating lazily on a gentle wind before landing on a small pile, while other more menacing tufts sped straight to the ground with a very purposeful thud. Well, with as much “thud” as a soft little snowflake could do, even if it was a tough, menacing one.

The beautiful gazebo was quiet now as all the little fairies, imps, nymphs and sprites who had gathered there to hear the princess’s tales went on their way and lived happily ever after. The giant once-white canvas with all the paint tracks – and tail smacks! – made by the floppy-eared puppy and all the other dogs was now hung up for display, the blips and blops of colorful blobs long since dried. And all the different shades of the evening sky, swiped above the earth with nature’s widest paint brush, had made way for a new work of art brought about by the morning’s refreshing light. For having been so busy, so bustling, so filled with the animals and their humans surrounded by so much creative power not so long ago, the little park was now relatively quiet and calm. But as Doodle Dog wandered past the empty gazebo, through what had been the painting area, and around the perching rock that had the best view of the sky, he knew there was still very much a joyful energy left behind. 

Doodle Dog scampered through the cool grass and wove in among unusual trees and out among usual trees. He let the green blades tickle the undersides of his round paws as he scampered and wandered and trotted and plodded along his way, not really paying much attention to all that scampering, wandering, trotting and plodding as he continued on because he still had the barking hum or humming bark of the canine choir barking and humming away in his head. In fact, Doodle Dog found himself scampering, wandering, trotting and plodding right along in step with the tune depending on if it was humming or barking or echoing in his mind like the different voices of the animals and their humans had echoed off the usual and unusual trees surrounding the curiously enchanted garden!

Doodle Dog would have loved to continue snoozing the day away, turning the quite pleasant, enchanted eve of quiet midsummer night’s dreams into a quite pleasant, enchanted afternoon of quiet midsummer day’s dreams, but as the wide eyes of the man in the moon closed sleepily and the bright-eyed gleam of the morning sun warmed the grassy knoll where a little floppy-eared puppy slept, drifting in and out on the lullabies of pixies and sprites, of fairies and nymphs, guarded by the soft, soothing glow of fireflies and nature’s night lights, he convinced his drowsy eyes to open and his relaxing paws to stretch out over the emerald carpet, squishy with the dawn dew.

The sky was clear as Doodle Dog padded along the sidewalk, no clouds or hot air balloons to be found today! He had somewhere on his mind – some place very special he hoped – and he was determined to sniff it out. When Doodle Dog had finally peered over the basket edge and spotted all the places he’d been and yet even more spaces to visit, one particularly curious meadow caught his eye from way up in the sky. So the floppy-eared puppy, now safely on the ground, set out to find this new place, hoping that it was just as curious and special on the land as it was from the air.
Doodle Dog knew where his favorite meadow was, and had even recognized it from way up above, but he remembered that the new meadow seemed quite far away from his usual places so he set off in the completely opposite direction from where he usually went. Through bushes and thickets, around tree trunks and flower beds, the floppy-eared puppy went this way and that, so sure that he was headed in the right direction. He didn’t know exactly how he knew that he knew it, but he certainly knew that he knew it! Sure enough, as Doodle Dog turned the corner around a particularly unusual-looking tree, he was also certain that he could hear the faintest gleeful sounds floating on the air toward him. He couldn’t see just who – or just what! – was making the excitement that echoed off the bushes and thickets and tree trunks and flowers surrounding the particularly unusual-looking tree, but as Doodle Dog crept ever closer he knew he would soon find out.
There, just past the bushes and thickets, and just past the tree trunks and flowers, and even just slightly past the unusual-looking tree, was the curious meadow the floppy-eared puppy had seen from way up high. Except it was down below and now so was he! Doodle Dog stood still for a moment, gazing in awe at the field in front of him. Rolling hills of grass spread with layers and layers of every kind of colorful flora and fauna imaginable served as a lush bed for pillows of the same bushes, thickets and flowers through which Doodle Dog had been scampering. It was indeed just as curious a meadow as Doodle Dog thought, but he still hadn’t figured out what was causing those sounds, like the laughter of fairies or the tinkling of bells.
The curious floppy-eared puppy in the curious meadow didn’t have to wait much longer to make that discovery, however, as the sound grew louder and louder and then it ran across the field carried by the quick little legs of three little children scampering through the thickets just as Doodle Dog had done! His favorite kind of humans! Doodle Dog could see a little boy carrying a long, skinny stick and wearing a pointy hat made of tin foil with a bright red plume stuck in the top. It looked like a feather from a crimson-colored cardinal that the boy must have found. A little girl, who very much reminded Doodle Dog of his sweet hot air balloon companion, danced along in a pretty sundress with a fluttery skirt. A crown of daisies draped over the top of her chestnut curls, gently bouncing with every lighthearted step. A garland made of nearby ivy decorating her dress matched the green in her eyes as they sparkled with excitement. The delighted squeals continued to fill the air as the darling damsel dashed daintily through the dandelions, as ladylike as possible, of course! Doodle Dog watched as a second little boy dropped down to his hands and knees in the grass. At first Doodle Dog thought he was pretending to be a puppy but then he started making noises like a horse and seemed to be ready to charge at the little princess!
The makeshift knight was too far away from the make-believe princess to stop the pretend horse from running into her, and Doodle Dog quickly thought of all the stories he’d heard about knights and their horses. Doodle Dog knew the knights in the tales were brave, loyal, and strong. He was definitely loyal and he could be a tough little floppy-eared puppy when he needed to be, but Doodle Dog wasn’t sure about the brave part…but then, just as he’d took a chance and opened his eyes to see the world from the balloon so high, Doodle Dog took a leap and jumped in front of the princess and gave a friendly growl to the “horse.” The princess, with her hair draped in daisies and her dress draped in ivy, draped her arms around Doodle Dog’s neck and gave him a big, wet kiss on his floppy ears. Ew!
After Doodle Dog shook his ears and the pretend horse laughed, the little princess took the knight’s skinny-stick sword and first touched Doodle Dog’s front shoulder and then the other. “Sir Doodle Dog” spent the afternoon prancing and dancing with the princess and her friends until the sun set its brilliant colors on their little kingdom.
As he curled in for a well-deserved nap on a rolling hill, he bet he might even be able to take on a dragon, should of course there be a damsel in need of rescuing! And as for the curious meadow, it was indeed just as special a place as Doodle Dog hoped.

[box ue-content=""]As the moon goes to bed, the sun comes up. And here we meet a sleepy pup, Who was walking through G-ville one bright sunny day, Then saw The Villager and decided to stay.[/box]

Strrrrrrrrretch! Yaaaaaaaawn! Doodle Dog lazily rolled over onto his back and reached his furry paws up toward the bright blue sky before wrapping himself back into a fuzzy ball curled up at the base of the grassy knoll. The purple and orange and pink flowers surrounded him as he slept, but Doodle Dog paid no mind to them as he continued to snooze. As the warm sun rose over the knoll, glistening in the dew drops on the thousands of tiny soft blades making the green carpet, Doodle Dog flopped sideways and stretched again. He slowly opened one eye to peek at the morning, but immediately decided the morning would come whether he was awake enough to see it or not and closed his eye again. 

Doodle Dog woke up and went to the window, sleepily tugging on the bottom of the curtain to make the fabric push aside so he could see the beautiful day outside. What a surprise then to find not the sun streaming through the glass and winter birds singing in the new morning, but rather the floppy-eared puppy found himself greeted by nothing but a wall of white smushed up against the window! The ground was undoubtedly covered in a fluffy white blanket, but Doodle Dog couldn’t know for sure since snow was piled higher and even higher on the other side of the window, so high in fact that Doodle Dog couldn’t see anything on the other side, anything resembling the world he knew was out there. At this very moment, all that existed was the little puppy and the igloo-like inside of the office he called home.

The rain pitter-pattered on the windowpane as Doodle Dog looked out at the dewy, misty morning. With his paws up on the windowsill, he could see up the street this way and down the street that way, watching the people of the town on their morning routines. There was the lady in jogging shorts and a T-shirt, her hair pulled back against the wet drops falling from the clouds as the tiny speakers in her ears let her ignore the world. There was the man in a business suit holding a dark umbrella, pacing back and forth, nervously checking his watch as he seemed to be having a conversation with a curvy black object sticking out of his ear rather than making small talk about the weather with the other man sitting on a bench and quietly enjoying a morning cup of coffee. There were the shopkeepers opening their window shades and turning their signs to “OPEN” undoubtedly hoping today’s sales would be better than yesterday. Doodle Dog hoped the door would open soon for the delivery man carrying too many boxes and forced to stand in the rain until someone remembered to let him in.

Doodle Dog continued to watch as everyone went about their ordinary mornings. But today was not an ordinary morning and the little floppy-eared puppy waited patiently to see the reason why it wasn’t.
Soon enough, out of the front doors of most of the houses up the street this way and down the street that way, came the little children of the town. The gloomy gray of the morning brightened by their colorful backpacks, fresh and clean for a hopeful start of a brand new school year, as they carefully followed the pathway out of each of their houses, across each of their yards, and met on the main sidewalk that connected them all together. Just at that moment, the slow drizzle stopped and Doodle Dog knew this was his chance to venture out before the children would be off to school. Little kids were his favorite humans of all – they always had time to give him a pat or a hug and they were always more interested in swinging on swings or hanging from monkey bars or playing chase or fetch and catch with pets than they were in spending time with one of those stressful little robots that bigger humans seemed to love so much.

He excitedly made his way to the bus stop, carefully weaving in and out between all the little legs. All summer Doodle Dog remembered how his tiny human friends would wiggle their bare toes as they ran around in the cool, soft grass of the playground park. But now Doodle Dog could smell the fresh rubber of the bright new shoes that covered up the little feet and he knew that was a sign that summer was almost over. As he stepped through the small crowd, he happily wagged his tail to let the children know he was a friendly dog and wouldn’t bite. Not every dog on the sidewalk likes to be around kids, but Doodle Dog sure does! Many of the children he knew from the park and some patted him on the top of his head as he went by. One little girl looked quite nervous to be going to school, so Doodle Dog circled around her and gently nudged her hand with his nose to make her giggle.

Through the excited chatter of the older children, Doodle Dog could hear a loud noise coming down the street and growing louder as it came closer. The school bus reminded Doodle Dog of a giant bumblebee, with its bright yellow body and black markings. As it pulled to a stop near the group, the driver pulled a lever to open the door, and the little kids with their colorful backpacks and bright new shoes filed into a line and piled into the big yellow bus. Some of them leaned out the windows to wave at Doodle Dog and he wagged his tail to return the greeting. And then, as the little floppy-eared puppy watched from the sidewalk, the big yellow bus with all of his little summer friends drove up the street in the direction of the school. As it disappeared over the hill, Doodle Dog turned back in the direction of the office. He has lots of places to go and things to learn while his friends are in school, but no matter what, he’ll make sure to be there to greet them when they all come home!

Rows and rows of brilliantly colored flowers lined the sidewalk as Doodle Dog scampered through town, each stem straight and proud like vibrant guards standing at attention during a parade. Each blossom turned toward the sunlight, the painted petals brightening like a sea of miniature Easter hats. He bounded from one neighborhood to the next, weaving between houses, fields and gardens until he finally made it to his destination. There, just up ahead over the hill, Doodle Dog knew would be his favorite place on his walk.

The park at the edge of town was usually filled with people but somehow still remained a quiet and peaceful nook when Doodle Dog needed a spot to think the day away among the rush of everyday life. And when he needed a friend or two with lots of energy who could keep up with him, running around and around in circles until they were dizzy enough to fall to the ground, well, the park was also sure to be just right for that too. The perfect mix, in a little floppy-eared puppy’s humble opinion, of the best way to spend any normal day. But today it was not a normal day; it was very special, in fact.

Hearing the excited giggles of children and the matching yips and barks of their dogs, Doodle Dog grew more excited as he came to the top of the small hill. From his perch on the grassy knoll he could now see what he’d only known by sound before: in the very center of the park, on the flattest part of the meadow, had been placed a GIANT pole with a decorative ball on top. The topper looked to be about the size of a basketball from Doodle Dog’s distance so he knew it must be much bigger up close! Hanging from the glistening ball were dozens of long, colorful ribbons whipping cheerfully as a quick wind suddenly caught them up. As the gust settled, the streamers fluttered against each other, a blend of light shades and bright hues as varied as the petals on the flowers Doodle Dog had seen on his way.

In a large circle around the maypole, several children had gathered, patiently or not-so-patiently waiting for when they would be told it was time for the festivities to begin. Next to each child was a cat or a dog sitting obediently or not-so-obediently, one furry friend for each two-legged companion. Half of the bright, shiny streamers had a child in front of it; the other strips were meant for the pets. There was one ribbon with no one near – a beautiful bright green sliver of silk that sparkled as though it was covered in glitter. That one was meant for Doodle Dog! He made his way over and took his place, catching the end in his mouth as it flipped in the wind, and grasped it tightly in his teeth. He didn’t want it to fly away as the procession was about to begin! All the other children and their pets picked up their ribbons too, some with pink or purple, some with yellow and blue. A few even had green ones like Doodle Dog.

A tall woman with flowers in her hair swayed back and forth in a flowing dress that seemed to dance in the wind like the ribbons had done. She clapped her hands and a man standing next to her began to play a melody on a tiny flute. The tune wafted over the wind and seemed to float under the ribbons right along with the breeze. It was time for the dance!

Doodle Dog lifted his head up proudly and followed the steps he had practiced, weaving in and out, in and out between the children and their four-legged escorts. As the song continued on, its notes melting with the gentle whisperings of the wind, the children and the animals continued as well, their ribbons melting together into one beautiful pattern, their delighted shrieks and purrs and grrrs adding to the sweet sounds on the air. What a wonderful way to welcome in Spring!

Doodle Dog was enjoying working together with his neighborhood pals, as it was certainly taking all of them to complete the design. Each of them had a role to play, and Doodle Dog was excited to be a part of it! He danced along and pranced under this streamer and over that one, humming along to the song as he went. But suddenly he could go no further! Uh oh! Had he run out of ribbon? He tugged on his strip to see… No, he still had plenty left to go around the pole a few more times… He looked behind him to find a little girl had gone over when she should have gone under and had managed to wrap her streamer around his tail! That’s why he couldn’t move. Oops! The little girl giggled sweetly as Doodle Dog unwound and unwound himself, around and around himself he went, her ribbon untangling with each turn. No worries, let the fun continue! Doodle Dog thought. And so, with the tiniest of hiccups behind them, it very much did!

 

The bustle and rush of the holidays were done and Doodle Dog was excited for the brand new year full of days to enjoy, chances to play, people to meet, and adventures to be had. He knew the children would be going back to school soon and downtown was growing quieter and not as crowded since the hurrying holiday shoppers were now in their homes, surely resting after the flurry of the season!

Snow still covered the ground, and Doodle Dog’s paws left little prints behind him as he walked down the street. He could see the tracks from all the other animals that had gone that way already. Doodle Dog followed the trail, looking at each print the different creatures made. There were skinny V-shaped ones where a bird had walked, long thin oval ones in pairs where a rabbit had hopped along, square indents from hooves that must have been from Santa’s Reindeer, and ones that looked just like his own but much, much bigger. He wouldn’t want to run into the owner of those giant paw prints! Mixed in with all of them were also human tracks, each one as different as the many animal ones: some were heavy and solid, probably from thick winter boots, some were tiny and pointy from a woman’s high heels, and some were made by smaller feet with pretty designs left in the fluffy white dust from the tread of a child’s sneaker.

As Doodle Dog roamed, he took the time to smell the freshness of the air, clean and cold from the recent snowfall. He could hear the rustle of the bare branches in the trees, swaying without their usual leaves, and the tinkling of the frozen icicles hanging from a nearby roof. The more they glistened in the sun, the more they seemed to ping like tiny bells. Blending with the quiet sounds, excited voices floated on the air. Doodle Dog’s ears perked up to listen to what they were: he was nearing a playground and could see children running and jumping. He watched from a distance until a little boy who was swinging alone on the monkey bars caught sight of the cute puppy with floppy ears sitting at the edge of the park.

The boy slowly approached Doodle Dog so as not to frighten him, and Doodle Dog happily wagged his tail as the boy made his way over. The little dog ran around the little boy’s legs, curiously sniffing the air around this new friend. The boy laughed and tugged gently on Doodle Dog’s tail to get him to slow down! Doodle Dog stopped his circling and gently tugged on the boy’s long, colorful scarf in return. The boy turned around and around trying to get loose and Doodle Dog playfully followed him, which only made the boy’s smile even wider.

Finally, Doodle Dog let go and the little boy dropped down, landing on the soft powder. He plopped flat on his back and started moving his arms and legs to make a circle on the ground. When he stood up there was a beautiful pattern where he had been. A snow angel! That looked like fun ~ Doodle Dog wanted to try, too! So he dropped down and rolled in the snow like the little boy was doing. He jumped up and looked back at his work. It was a perfectly crafted snow…ball? He tried again. This time his tail made an imprint that looked like a Christmas bell with its clapper. Or a snow…pancake? Snow….dog? Hmmm…

Doodle Dog’s usually brown coat was now white with the snowflakes from the ground. As he stood up and shook his fur, he noticed the little boy gathering snow in his hands. It looked like he was making sand castles on the chilly white beach that was the playground. Not a castle ~ it was a little doghouse! And next to the house was a long, thin snow log with two snowballs at one end and two snowballs at the other. Doodle Dog scampered over to the snowbone the little boy had made for him and took a big bite. His teeth went right through the lightly packed fluff and it was COLD! Brrrrr!

At that moment a man with a kind smile appeared from the other side of the park. He had the same nose and eyes as the little boy and softly called out to them. The little boy brushed off his pants, waved to Doodle Dog, and hurried to meet the man. It was time for Doodle Dog to find his way home, too.

Once in the office door he wound up tracking in wet snow prints across the floor. They would dry before anyone could step in them! When Doodle Dog reached the fireplace, he found a real chewy bone waiting for him on the hearth. As he curled up in his bed, Doodle Dog thought of his new friend from the park. He hoped to see him again!

A beautiful morning awaited Doodle Dog as he wandered down the main street of town. Chasing leaves had been so much fun, but now he wanted to take his time and see everything there was to see. The crisp air turned just a bit colder which meant winter would soon be here! As Doodle Dog turned the corner from the office, a fluff of icy snow landed on his nose. It melted instantly, but there was more where that came from ~ soon dozens of snowflakes dotted wet spots all over his coat! Doodle Dog jumped after a few that floated down from the sky and scampered after some that managed to escape his paws. The frosty finds were refreshing and soon Doodle Dog was wide awake. Shaking briskly to get dry, he showered water droplets all over the sidewalk and a few nearby trees.

Just up ahead, Doodle Dog noticed several people enjoying the day as well. Many had big, bright packages in their arms, but others were simply strolling along, peering in at the shops every so often. Holiday decorations lined the streets and the storefronts, and it was cloudy enough that the streetlamps and strings of colored lights shone a little brighter. What a perfect day to do some window shopping!

A little girl and her mother were standing in front of a quaint store, looking at the charming window display. The woman had her hand to her ear and was speaking loudly to a tiny little person Doodle Dog couldn’t see, and held her daughter’s hand tightly as she spoke. The woman was too tall for Doodle Dog, and too busy to notice him, but the little girl was just the right height and she smiled sweetly when he came over and gently nudged her free hand with his nose. The little girl giggled and waved as Doodle Dog continued on up the path, making sure not to get under the feet of all the other shoppers. He paused at another store, brightly lit from the inside and smelling of gingerbread, and put his front paws up on the ledge to see a little better. A few of Santa’s elves posed in front of a small house covered in shreds of snow that didn’t melt, with a tiny sleigh full of presents bigger than it was! Doodle Dog looked at the pretty scene in the window and then down the street at all the people hurrying to get home with the giant packages from their Christmas lists. Doodle Dog thought about what HE might want for Christmas and immediately he knew:

Doodle Dog hurried home to the office and asked me to help him write a letter to the North Pole. Not to the Big Guy in Red, though. No, Santa was surely busy getting all the toys for all the little girls and boys ready. Doodle Dog thought of someone even better:

Dear Santa’s Reindeers, he began.

All the reindeer are very smart, especially Rudolph ~ he’s the brightest of them all! Doodle Dog knew if anyone could help him with his wish, it would be them. He has everything he needs ~ a warm place to sleep, yummy snacks, and a family who loves him ~ but Doodle Dog thought of all his four-legged friends around the world that may not have the same.

Dear Santa’s Reindeers,

My one wish this Christmas is that all the cats and dogs and other animals will be able to find a warm home and a family to hug them forever, and that they may know, wherever they are, that they are loved. I know it’s a big job, but if anyone can help me, you can!

Love,

Doodle Dog

He signed it with an inky paw print and sent it right away ~ Christmas will be here sooner than you think and he needs all the help he can get!

Several months ago, a little floppy-eared puppy found his way to the office of The Weekly Villager. The editors immediately fell in love with him and didn’t want him to leave. Turns out the puppy didn’t want to leave, either! When I started working for the paper, Doodle Dog decided he liked me best and wanted to tell me his story. He’s a bit shy, so he’s been content to live by our warm fireplace, happily serving as comic relief, guard dog, and occasionally even as proofreader ~ nobody knows how to sniff out the news better than Doodle Dog! ~ but now he’d like to make some more friends. There’s a whole world out there ready to explore!

So, the staff, writers, and editors would like to introduce Doodle Dog, The Villager’s pet pooch, to our readers, young and old, and invite you to come along with our four-legged friend on what is sure to be intriguing insights from a very different point of view. He’s shared his story with me, and I know he can’t wait to share it with you, too!

For Doodle Dog’s debut adventure, he wanted to stay close to home because there are so many wonderful things to see and do right here in Garrettsville! Where do you think he will go this week?

Well, as Doodle Dog padded out the office door, he didn’t quite know where he wanted to go, but a particularly crunchy leaf immediately caught his attention. So many colors and sounds! Do you think he jumped on it to hear it crunch under his four paws? Or do you think he gave a big puff of breath to see it float through the air? Whoooosh! Doodle Dog would have loved to hear the crunch or see it twirl, but he was curious to see what the leaf would do on its own, so he watched it carefully as it spun and dipped lazily on the wind at first and then faster, faster, as it picked up speed. Doodle Dog ran after the leaf, keeping his eye on the bright red spot as it flew nearly out of sight.

He chased the leaf down the boardwalk where it looked like it might float right over the railing and into the water. Oh no! Doodle Dog watched as it teetered on the edge, holding his breath so not to push it over. And then the wind caught it up again, blowing the leaf along the railing, balancing like a gymnast on tiptoe or a tightrope walker. As it went behind all the stores, Doodle Dog followed the leaf through the alley by the bookstore and across the street, eventually finding his way to the clock tower. Bong bong bong! A freshly raked mound at the base of the tower made him stop suddenly. There it was, the bright red leaf right on top! He scampered after it and landed SMACK right in the middle, scattering leaves and twigs EVERYWHERE! The loud chimes rang again. BONG! It would be dark soon, Doodle Dog thought. He should probably get home. But first, a nap in these nice comfy leaves…

Next time you walk by that giant pile of leaves, you might just find Doodle Dog leaping out at you! Don’t worry, he doesn’t bite!