Just a Little Squirt

Mother was sitting at the computer when Todd came shrieking in from the back yard.

Blood was dribbling down his knee. "A big rock jumped up and crashed my knee," he said between sobs.

Mother scooped him up and looked at his knee, grabbed the phone and before Todd knew it, he, Mom, and Dad were in his pediatrician's office.

Dr. Pearse examined the knee and shook his head. "Nasty gash," he said. "Needs a little embroidery work." He winked at Todd.

Todd's lip quivered as he tumbled off the examining table and headed for the door.

"Now Todd, be a brave boy and when Dr. Pearse is finished, we'll get a treat," Dad said, thinking of a double-decker ice cream cone.

Todd considered this for a minute, then he smiled. "Can I have anything I want?"

Dad, thinking Todd meant any flavor of ice cream, grinned. "Sure, anything!"

After Dr. Pearse closed and bandaged the wound, Dad carried Todd to the car and headed for the ice cream parlor.

"No, Dad!" Todd yelled from the back seat, "you're going the wrong direction. Mr. Bernard's house is the other way."

Mom and Dad exchanged puzzled looks. "Who's Mr. Bernard?" Mom said, sounding suspicious.

"The man who's selling puppies. You said I could have anything I wanted. I want a puppy."

Mr. Bernard brought all four puppies into the den, and set them in front of Todd. The smallest pup had a sore leg and was limping.

Todd reached down and lifted him up. "I want this one. He has a big owie, just like me."

Todd carefully cradled the pup as they settled in the back seat of the car.

On the way home, Dad said, "What will you name your pup?"

Todd thought a moment and blurted out, "Buddy."

Mom smiled.

They hadn't been home long when Buddy decided to chew Mom's new slipper. Todd was playing with his tennis racquet and was about to hit Buddy with it to punish him.

Dad, who was sitting at the table, stopped him with a harsh, "NO! Todd, you must never hit Buddy. You might injure him. It's wrong to do anything that would hurt an animal. We'll discipline Buddy in other ways."

Mother gave Todd a hug. "Let me tell you a story about a football player who raised dogs to fight other dogs."

"They were trained to be mean, vicious dogs. He was arrested and the dogs were taken to an animal sanctuary where they were showered with kindness and love. They became gentle dogs and are now being adopted by adoring families."

Dad nodded in agreement. "When teaching Buddy how to behave, if he does something wrong, use a loud, firm voice. Look at him directly and say, 'NO BUDDY!' When he stops misbehaving, say 'GOOD BUDDY' and give him a hug."

Mom got up off the couch and came back with a squirt bottle, which she handed to Todd. "What Dad said is right, but Mr. Bernard gave us this bottle—it is filled with clean, cool water. If Buddy still keeps acting naughty, squirt him with this. It won't hurt him and will help him learn good behavior."

Todd's eyes grew big. "Wow, that's cool."

"Time for bed," Dad said in a firm voice. When Todd started to protest, Dad picked up the squirt bottle. "Let's see if this works on boys, too," he said with a grin.

Todd grabbed his puppy and headed towards his room. "Come on Buddy," he said, cradling him. "I know we're soon going to be best buddies, so you won't need many squirts!"

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