You guys, I’ve been suspicious that Mom is cheating on me… She’s been leaving the house without me, carrying leashes and treats, then she comes home smelling like strange dogs I’ve never met. The other morning on the way home from our run, she left me in the car and didn’t come back for what felt like forever. Because she left the windows open, I could hear her voice just a block or two away saying the special things I thought she only said to me: “Sit,” and the turn signal “boop! boop!” and “good boooooy!” When she said “good boooy” I could hear that she was spelling all the o’s with hearts. Then, when she came back to the car, she smelled like puppy! I began to be afraid that Bodie was right, and she was leaving me for a younger dog.
“Where have you been?” I asked her coldly.
“I’ve been working…” she said, like she had something to hide.
“Working, huh? So if I called your work they’d say you were there?!” I asked. Everyone knows that Mom’s not working right now.
This morning Mom dropped me off at home after our morning run. When she came back, she put me on leash and took me to the car. “Goody!” I said. “More adventures!” Imagine my surprise when she opened the door and two strangers poked their heads out the door. “Who in mitten-god’s name are you, and what the heck are you doing in my car?!” I asked.
“Oscar, these are Oreo and Buddy, and they’re going to be staying with us tonight while their dad runs the Big Sur Marathong.”
To Oreo and Buddy I said, “I hope you know that he’s not going to win. I already won that one.” To Mom I said, “But I thought that only family lived in our house… Like you and me, and Bodie sometimes.”
“I’ve got a contract that starts in a few weeks, but until then we’ve got to hustle.”
“What’s hustle? Is that like when I want to sniff something, but you make me leave it because you’re in a hurry?”
“This is the other kind of hustle. It means that we can go on another road trip, but in the meantime we’ve got to earn as much money as we can to pay for it. I’ve been walking dogs every day, and you can help out by hosting Oreo and Buddy.”
“What’s money?” I asked. I’d heard of it, and it sounded like it might be something important, but I’d never tried it before.
“Money is what turns hard work into things that we want. Like when I go to the office and your friend comes and takes you to the beach, money makes that happen. Money was how the car-house brought us to all four states in the country, and money is what helped us fix the car-house when we were in that horrible place where you were dognapped.”
“Is money what made all of those beautiful places that we saw? They were so big, and there was so much to see… we must be very rich already!”
“No, Oscar. Those things are free. We just need to earn enough money to get there…”
“So does hanging out with dogs give you as much money as going to an office did? Because you’ve been leaving a gold mine at home (me!) while you’ve been going to that dumb office for years.”
“It doesn’t make as much money as going to an office does. But then again, you don’t spend as much of our money when I’m not at the office either.”
“I use money?”
“You use a lot of money…” Wow! Apparently I had a talent for money that I didn’t even know about. That made me feel very important.
So I welcomed Oreo and Buddy out of the car with friendly butt sniffs and showed them my neighborhood. “Make sure to smell this spot right here where Dan the neighbor-cat pees,” I told them. Then I heard something in the trees, “Look!” I said. “A squirrel. Do you guys have squirrels where you live?”
When I got home, Mom was a little nervous that I would be embarrassed to let Buddy and Oreo into my house, since it was kind of messy and all, but I showed them all the interesting stuff, like the toys all over the floor and how to lie on the pillow. Then Buddy and I played tag in the yard for hours until we both felt like we were ready to collapse. Meanwhile, Oreo played referee, following us around and shouting, “You guys! Don’t you want to sit down and have a tea party?! Guys! Guys!”
Now that I know that hard work can buy you adventures, I’m going to work real hard to be a good host. That way I can buy Mom another adventure for her birthday. She turns 245 in a couple of weeks. That sounds real old to me, but apparently humans can live that long…
-Oscar the Host
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