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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 4 – Masters)
Topic: Illustrate the meaning of “Don’t Try to Walk before You Can Crawl” (without using the actual phrase or literal example). (01/17/08)

TITLE: Walking Through the Furry Fire
By Betty Castleberry


A pet sitting service was something my town didn’t have, so I started one. I had no experience, but I liked animals, and had a dog of my own. How hard could it be?

My job as a librarian paid the bills, but there was nothing left over. I could keep my job, and still be a pet sitter.

The idea grew on me until I made it a reality. I put flyers around town advertising Jenny’s Pet Sitting Service. I was excited when I received my first call.

The owners of a dog and two hamsters would be going out of town for two weeks, and asked me to come by and meet their animals.

A large brown dog jumped on me when I walked in. We were eye to eye. He sopped my face with his enormous tongue. The hamsters were in a cage, and they would stay there. I wasn’t thrilled with rodents. I left, having secured the position that would start on the weekend.

When I got home, there were two messages asking about my pet sitting service. It looked like this was going to go over very well. I returned the calls and had two more jobs lined up for the weekend.

I anxiously awaited Friday when I would take care of an aging Siamese cat. His owners assured me he was a housecat who slept most of the time.

At the back entrance, I punched in the code I was given. The door opened easily, and a tan streak shot past my legs. The cat had escaped. I ran after him, but stopped at the trunk of a huge tree. I was not climbing up after him. Pressing my hands against my forehead, I tried to figure out what to do. The fire department usually got cats out of trees. If I called them, it would probably be in the paper. There wasn’t much excitement in our town, and this would make a great story. I couldn’t let my clients know what had happened.

Calling his name didn’t help. In fact, I couldn’t remember it. I thought it was Festus. Or Felix. I tried both. Neither worked. He sat in the tree, staring at me.

I plopped myself on the ground and leaned against the trunk. Sooner or later, the cat would have to come down.

After an hour, discouragement and cold both sat in. To my surprised, Festus-Felix climbed down on his own and allowed me to carry him back inside. I fed him and left, hoping the next day would be better.

Morning came too soon, and I went to my next assignment. I had been instructed that the dog and bird I was caring for would be in the garage, and I wouldn’t have to go in the house. The garage was warm and cozy and decorated nicely. It had probably never seen a car. I didn’t see a dog right away, but I did see a large cage. A big red parrot sat inside, eyeing me suspiciously.

I smiled, and he slung seeds from a cup in his cage all over the floor. This must have been a signal for the Chihuahua to come out from her hiding place. She barked viciously and bit my shoes. I was supposed to give this dog a pill, but had no clue how I was going to manage that. The dog hated me. I tried to hide it in a treat. The six pound terrorist bit my finger. The bird loved it. He laughed, then screeched a frightening jungle scream. I checked my ears for blood. Finally, I managed to medicate the dog without losing any digits. I finished my duties there and went to the home where the large dog and hamsters lived.

Once again, I was greeted by the brown giant. When I checked on the hamsters, I was shocked to learn that two could so quickly become eight. One of them had some pink, naked babies.

When I went to feed the dog, it was apparent he had already helped himself. A pile of debris vaguely resembling shredded cookie and candy wrappers was scattered across the kitchen floor. Sighing, I swept up the papers and crumbs.

When I returned home, I decided to finish my obligations to my clients, then close my pet sitting business. I would baby sit humans instead. I didn’t have any experience, but I liked kids and had a nephew. How hard could it be?

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This article has been read 879 times
Member Comments
Member Date
Holly Westefeld01/24/08
Your intriguing title drew me in, and the rolicking tale (tail?) held me to the chuckling conclusion.
Kristen Hester01/24/08
This is so cute. Your ending is perfect.
Sharlyn Guthrie01/26/08
Oh my! I like your understated humor. This fits the topic well, and the last line gave me a good chuckle.
Karen Wilber01/26/08
Attention getting title. I think I know this MC. ;-D Funny story and the ending is great.
Patty Wysong01/27/08
Fun story!! That phrase 'How hard can it be?' tends to strike a chord of fear in me. LoL. I love your stories! :-)
Catrina Bradley 01/27/08
A great read! I'm glad my husband is always there to set me straight when I say "how hard can it be?" Love the last line. Some people just never learn. :)
Dee Yoder 01/28/08
Oh my...I sense disaster in her future! Love the repetition of the line, "How hard can it be?". That really sets the reader up for more humorous CATastrophes. (Oooh-sorry.)I would love to read more of this poor lady's misadventures!
Sally Hanan01/28/08
Sounds like one of those impulsive projects a mother takes on to make more money.
Very believable.
LauraLee Shaw01/28/08
I like your title, your tie-ins throughout the story, and your last line is perfect. Great job!
Lynn Jacky 01/28/08
Hi loved your story - kept me interest and laughing great ending. Babysitting children is no easy task either. Thank you for your story.
Jan Ackerson 01/28/08
So funny! Very entertaining to read--I love self-deprecating humor.
Sheri Gordon01/28/08
So funny. The ending is a hoot. And your Festus-Felix is a riot. Great job with the topic.
Loren T. Lowery01/29/08
How true and how funny. Life is amusing that way isn't it? When I first started reading this I thought, hey, maybe I should give this guy a call...we got a couple of horses. But then as I read on, I knew I better reconsider an keep the kids in tow as well. At least for now. Thorougly enjoyed your story.