Sunday, September 18, 2011
Children's Story: A Dog Named Muttal
A Dog Named Muttal
My Robot Dog Kit arrived today. It said in the catalog it was just right for kids eight to ten years old. I’m nine I’ve wanted a dog for years and years, but my folks said, “It’s a lot of work. You’d have to walk him. He’d be messy. He’d bark.”
And so I never got a dog.
But now I have my Robot Dog Kit.
The directions look easy. I follow all the steps one by one and pretty soon I have a robot dog. He even has ears and a shiny metal tail. He’s perfect
The last step is the programming. It’s a little harder. I have to choose what sounds I want him to make and I have to choose a name. I decide I want him to bark, pant, howl and whine, and I give him the name Muttal. I think that’s funny because it sounds kind of like metal.
The box includes a leash. I take Muttal outside, attach his leash and we go for our first walk. He makes noises only when I give him the command. If I say bark, then he barks. I have him bark at another dog. I have him bark at a car. I have him howl at a cat. I have him pant when it gets hot outside. He flaps his metal ears and wags his shiny tail and we are the talk of the neighborhood.
Mom and dad are proud of me for being so smart and finding the perfect pet.
When I go to bed that, Muttal sits by my nightstand, but he doesn’t do anything at all. He just stares at nothing. I say bark and he barks and then I turn out the light.
In the middle of the night, the smoke alarm goes off. My sister starts screaming that her curtains are on fire. My dad runs to get the fire extinguisher. My mom gets a bucket of water. The firemen come and make sure the fire is out. They discover the candle my sister had lit in her room. My dad sighs and my mom cries. We are lucky. One fireman says it’s great we have a smoke alarm but it also might help to have a dog. He says dogs can be trained to sniff tiny amounts of smoke and alert people to danger.
I go back to bed and stare at Muttal. What good is a robot dog if he can’t even bark when there’s a fire? A real dog would have barked and howled until everyone was out of bed. Muttal would never do that. Not ever.
So, the next morning I tell my parents what I've been thinking about. Mom says that’s some pretty smart thinking. Dad nods in agreement. My sister says she’s sorry and will never light a candle in her room again.
After work, my dad comes home with a beagle puppy. He says she will be the perfect pet. That night when our new puppy snuggles with me under the covers, I’m sure my dad is right.