Bonz bonds with bud Benji, a peppy Papillon

Benji [Photo: Kaila Jones]

The minute I spotted the doormat at Benji Fulford’s apartment, I knew it was gonna be a fun innerview: it said “WOOF!” in great big letters. PAWsome!

There was lotsa barkin’ soon as we rang. When the door opened, Benji anna lady were right there to greet us, Benji uttering a few more barks, while peeping out from behind the lady’s legs. He’s an ex-treemly hansome, ex-treemly amiable snowbirddog: a Papillon, brown an white, with a small, charming triangular face decorated with a scattering of freckles, a tail that looks like a waterfall, and those amazin’ really long wavy ears that stick up, an then flow down like budderfly wings. (I found out Papillon is French for “budderfly.” Cool Kibbles, right?)

Soon as his Mom assured him that we were from The Newspaper and, thus, OK, Benji stepped forward. “WELL-come, Mr. Bonzo! I’m always cautious of you Big Dogs at first. No offense. This is my Mommy, Jutta. Let’s go sit over by the couch, OK?”

Benji’s Mom, me an my assistant did so. Benji, however, took the scenic route. At a gallop. He flew from the front door, shot down the hall, through living room and kitchen, made a coupla loops, then skidded to a stop. His Mom tossed a ball down the hall a coupla times, prompting Benji to sail after it, execute a 4-point skid-turn, an zoom back. At one point, I noticed he now had a yellow rubber chicken in his mouth.

“Mayg yourselbbs add hobe,” he said, slinging the chicken around with such enthusiasm I thought his ears (or the chicken’s face) would fly off.

“Don’t those amazing ears get kinda heavy?”

Benji petooied the chicken out. “You just hafta get used to ’em. When I was a puppy, before my ears got so fluffy, I looked sorta like baby Yoda. I was only 3 pounds when Mommy first got me.”

“So, Benji, how DID you an your Mom get together.”

“Well, I was born near Mon-tree-ALL (which is inna big place called CANNA-duh). I’m a purebred with a buncha of fancy, champion ancestors. My Mommy an Daddy have those long, weird kennel names but everybuddy calls ’em Quiz an Boss. Mommy has Japanese an Swedish ancestors and Daddy has Russian an Polish.”

“Woof! So you’re some kinda Innernational Dog of Mystery,” I said.

“Naw. Not me. I don’t do those fancy shows or anything. But I do speak French, since that’s all I heard till I was 12 weeks old. You see, Mommy hadda Papillon pre-me – Gigi. When she went to Dog Heaven at 16, Mommy wanted another girl, just like Gigi. She went back to the breeder, who had a new litter: two boys, including me, anna grrrl. Mommy woulda picked the grrrl ’cept somebody’d already called dibs, lucky for me. Now Mommy’s glad, cuz I’m so bouncy an frenly an smart an cute an cuddly, you know, all those things humans love. Well, sometimes Mommy calls me a Scatterbrain, but I prefer to think of myself as having a Healthy Curiosity.”

I nodded. Suddenly, something behind the chair caught Benji’s attention. “’Scuse me,” he said. He ran to the chair, an came back dragging a munched-on, green stuffed shark almost as big as him.

“Ib’s by FAY-brut!” he explained, rolling around on the floor with the shark.

“Do you like it down here? What’s the trip like?” I inquired.

Benji petooied the shark. “I really like ridin’ in the car with Mommy, even though it’s a long way, 26 hours, Mommy says. When we make The Big Drive, we stop overnight at this nice pooch-frenly place. I have my own cozy liddle carrier. I still ride in it and even sleep in. I have my bunny rabbit, too. It makes me feel suh-CURE! I gotta admit, though, when Mommy gets my carrier out for a regular ride, I’m a liddle hezzah-tunt cuz it usually means a trip to the doctor or the groomer, which are the opposite of my favrite places. I know they’re For My Own Good, but still. Anyway, the groomer just clips my nails and gives me a dumb ol’ bath. I’m pretty much a wash-and-wear kinda pooch, so it’s not that bad.

“Down here’s nice cuz I don’t hafta wear clothes or boots. Mommy paper-trained me at first, AN took me outside every couple hours, just to be on the safe side. Now I’m older (I’m gonna be 3 in Feb-you-arry) so I Do My Duty outside only. Here, If I hafta go, an Mommy’s on the computer, I lick her feet to remind her. In Canada, I just stand in the hall an bark. Me an Mommy leash walk around the pond every evening. I have a BFF, Pippa, who lives across the street. She’s a Papillon like me. When she comes over, we chase each other all around the apartment.”

“What kinda food do you like?”

“I eat Orijen kibbles from CANNA-duh. An Mommy cooks me chicken, liver an hamburger. I very much enjoy the occasional bok choy stem, which Mommy cuts in into teeny pieces. I am also a fan of Arugula. An coconut flakes. An cheese. For special treats, I get duh-lishus liver-an-berry crisps. Wouldja like to try one?”

They sounded tasty. “Don’t mind if I do.”

They were tasty.

Post-snack, I asked, “Where do you sleep?”

“In the kitchen.”

“The kitchen?”

“Well, see, when I’m in Mommy’s room, I wake her up a lot when it isn’t the right time. I’m not exactly sure why. But, in the kitchen, I’m totally fine. I just curl up in my cozy carrier with my Bunny Rabbit and go to sleep.”

Heading home, I was thinkin’ about energetic liddle Benji, butterfly ears swinging side to side, shaking the daylights out of his rubber chicken. An wonderin’ if I’d have the nerve to try bok choy. Whatever it is. Or maybe ask about getting some of those liver-an-berry crisps.

Till next time,

The Bonz

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