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The Case of the Missing Fur


baldbrownie

Ruby Jane was in her bedroom, standing by Brownie's cage. She was holding her little guinea pig and crying.
Her older sister, Izzy, came prancing in. She was wearing her tennis dress and swinging her racket. She stopped swinging it when she saw how sad Ruby Jane looked.

"What's wrong?" she asked, giving Ruby Jane a hug.
Ruby Jane's lip quivered. "Brownie's going bald!" she stammered.
Izzy smiled. "I don't think animals do that. They don't color their hair and get perms, like people, so they shouldn't lose their hair—er—fur."
"Just look," Ruby Jane said, pointing to patches on the little fellow's body where the fur had vanished and pink skin showed through.
"Oh, my," gasped Izzy.

"Brownie's going bald!"
Ike, who had been outside playing with Charlie, came galloping in to see what was going on. Charlie rushed over to Brownie's empty cage and sniffed—looking for his buddy.
"What's the matter with Brownie?" Ike asked, puzzled.
Izzy explained what was happening. Ike put his hand to his forehead, in his "thinking pose."
"This is bad, but I've got a brilliant idea," he said, with a broad smile.
"Mom needs to call Dr. Wilson."
"Doesn't he just see dogs?" Ruby Jane asked, looking skeptical.

Suddenly Izzy's face brightened as she remembered what Dr. Wilson had done for her goldfish. "You were too young to remember," she explained to Ruby Jane, "but I was feeding my goldfish and I noticed a bulge in her tummy. It looked like Fanny Lou had swallowed a marble. She was kind of floating upside down and I screamed for Mom."
"When she saw Fanny Lou, she called Dr. Wilson and he said to rush my fish to his office. It was hard to carry Fanny Lou's fish bowl without sloshing water all over when Mom drove over bumps."
"Dr. Wilson looked at Fanny Lou and said she had a tumor—whatever that is—and he would have to do surgery."
Ruby Jane's tears started again and she hugged Brownie closer.
"I was scared, too," Izzy continued, but the doctor said it wouldn't hurt my fish and he put her to sleep and carefully laid her in a shallow pan. He kept water spraying over her as he worked, because the water kept her breathing. He took out the tumor and closed the wound with a special paste. Before long, Fanny Lou started splashing around in her bowl—lively as ever."
"Yeah," agreed Ike. "I remember that and Dr. Wilson will help Brownie."

"Don't you have a toy or a sticker to give Brownie for being so good?"
The next day, Mother made an appoint-ment for Dr. Wilson to see Brownie. Ike carried the cage and they all climbed in the SUV. Charlie jumped in and laid close to the cage, keeping a watchful eye on his little pal.
When they got to the office, Dr. Wilson carefully lifted Brownie from his cage and examined him. "Oh yes," he said, nodding, "this little guy is suffering from malnutrition and needs a different diet. Animals are like humans and if they don't eat properly, they get sick."
Dr. Wilson told them that in addition to Brownie's dry food that he ate, he should be given fresh vegetables, and special vitamins. He wrote a prescription for the vitamins on his notepad and handed it to Ruby Jane, with a reassuring smile.
Brownie was glad to be put back in his cage, but he had been a good patient.

"Don't you have a toy or a sticker to give Brownie for being so good?" Ruby Jane asked with a grin.
"Sorry, no," Dr. Wilson said, scratching his head, "but I do have an all-day sucker to give you for being so loving to your pet."
Ruby Jane chose a red cherry-flavored one, Ike got an orange one, and Izzy, who was watching her figure, said "No, thank you."
Charlie yapped until Dr. Wilson tossed him a dog biscuit and Brownie, the patient, had to wait until they got home for his treat—a crisp, raw carrot wedge.

NOTE: Yes, dear readers, this is a true story and all of Brownie's fur is back, thanks to Ruby Jane's daily feeding of vitamins and veggies. These are important nutrients for kids, too, so remember to eat your spinach!

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