17

The Animal Rights Coalition – Part 3

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Where we are: The Animal Rights Coalition (ARC) tried to take a petition to a human council meeting, but were barred from entering. ARC wanted the humans to stop using animal names as insults. A guard took the petition and said that he would give it to council.

Two weeks went by before the animals received a letter from W. Charles Smith, President of the Council on Human/Animal Relations:

Dear Animals

We have received your petition listing your concerns about us using your names as insults. We appreciate your bringing this matter to our attention. I have assigned a committee to look into the matter.

Sincerely

W.C. Smith

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Julie Giraffe: Those rotten rutabagas! They’re just trying to get rid of us.

Roni Baboon: You’re right, Julie. They’re not going to do anything.

Chester Rabbit: I’m afraid you’re right. We’ll have to try something else.

Ralph Badger: Let’s dig under their building and let it collapse.

Benny Buffalo: No, let’s stampede them.

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Simon Skunk: No, we should sabotage their air filtration.

Chester: Calm down, everyone. That’s not going to make anyone happy. We need to work together.

Chrissy Calico: I don’t know what we can do. They don’t respect us at all. Remember what he called us? “Cute.” Humans don’t pay attention to “cute”.

Gregg Bear: OK, let me talk to them. They won’t think I’m cute and cuddly. I’m over 500 pounds of muscle and fur.

Ivan Tiger: I’ll go too. I can growl loud enough to scare any human.

Ralph: I guess that will work. But be polite. Otherwise, they’ll call you animals.

Chrissy: They are animals.

Ralph: I know. But humans use it as an insult.

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Gregg and Ivan walked over to the Council Hall and went in the front door. The receptionist looked up and asked if she could help them.

Ivan: Yes, thank you. We would like to see Mr. Smith, please.

Receptionist: Do you have an appointment?

Ivan: No, we don’t. Please tell him we’re from ARC.

Receptionist (knowing there would be trouble if she let a bear and a tiger into the building): Mr. Smith doesn’t see anyone without an appointment.

Ivan: Please tell him that we won’t take up much of his time.

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Receptionist (beginning to get nervous): I’m sorry, but you’ll have to make an appointment.

Ivan: Please just ask.

Receptionist: All right. Let me check.

She called someone and said that there was a bear and a tiger to see Charles. No, they weren’t threatening. They were very polite. She listened, then hung up the phone.

Receptionist: Someone will be out shortly.

Ivan: Thank you.

Ivan and Gregg moved to the side of the lobby and waited. Before long, two security guards arrived.

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Security Guard: What seems to be the problem?

Ivan: There isn’t a problem. We just want to see Mr. Smith.

Security Guard: Didn’t the lady tell you you’d need an appointment?

Ivan: Yes, she did. We just need a minute of his time.

Guard: He won’t see you. You need to leave.

Ivan: Why won’t he see us?

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The guard didn’t want to tell them that Mr. Smith was afraid of large animals.

Guard: He can see whoever he wants.

Gregg: That’s ridiculous. Just let us past. We’ll find him ourselves.

Guard (nervously): You need to go now.

Ivan was getting irritated. He let out a low growl. Gregg took a step toward the guard.

Gregg: Now see here…

Guard: Leave this minute or I’ll call the police.

Gregg: Let us past you.

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The guard picked up the phone.

Guard: Yes, we need you at the Council Hall. There’s a bear and a tiger here. We need you to get them out of here. They’re meaner than grizzlies.

Gregg: I AM a grizzly.

Guard: I mean they’re madder than wet hens.

Gregg and Ivan looked at each other in disgust and stalked out the door.

Ivan: I guess we’ll have to get a lawyer.

He took out his phone and entered the number.

Voice: Sharkfin and Sharkfin, Attorneys-at-Law. How may I help you?

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8

The Animal Rights Coalition

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Chester Rabbit called the quarterly meeting of the Animal Rights Coalition (ARC) to order.

Chester: Welcome everyone. We need to finish one item from our last meeting before we can move on to today’s agenda. We have to finish our discussion about how to address the human use of animal names as insults. The first thing we need to do is reopen the topic.

The animals started to talk among themselves. This item was very important to all of them and they were eager to get back to work.

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Buddy Squirrel: I move to reopen the topic.

Ralph Badger: I second the motion.

Chester: All right. How many in favor?

Paws and hands went up around the room.

Chester: How many opposed?

Dead silence.

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Chester: The motion passed. Ballou, please turn on the recorder.

Ballou Bear, whose mother was a huge movie fan, flipped the switch. It was so much easier to get started now that they could record rather than manually write down the notes. The simians had insisted on the purchase. They were tired of always being the ones to write.

Chester: The best way to start is to identify exactly what we mean by insults. Remember the rules: no talking over others, no arguing with someone’s ideas, and no intimidation. One idea per animal. If you choose to present multiple ideas, wait until after the others have had their turn.

The animals quickly lined up to speak:

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“catty/catfight” – Why is it that when two women say nasty things to each other it’s being catty? We’re not mean. But even worse, if they end up actually hitting each other, it’s a catfight? Everyone knows that most of us don’t fight, and if we do, it’s most likely the males.

“eat like a pig/act like a pig” – Where did we get the reputation that we’re sloppy and eat too much? We’re actually clean animals; we use the mud to cool off. And we don’t eat that much compared to what we weight. We’re this big because of the way we’re made, not because we eat too much.

“dog-faced/dog” – Why are we the standard for ugly? We’re just like every other species. Some of us are good looking, some not so much. But to classify all of us as ugly is just mean.

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“eat like a bird” – They say it like it’s some kind of eating disorder. We eat like we do because we have beaks. We can’t pick up a lot of food at one time. We eat all through the day; we need energy for flying.

“ugly duckling” – This insult is just rude. Why would you call someone’s child ugly? We know it’s because the baby swan didn’t look like the baby ducks, but that doesn’t mean it was really ugly.

“batty/bats in the belfry” – What makes us the standard for crazy? We fly at night, but so do owls, and they’re supposed to be wise. As far as hanging out in a belfry, it’s a good place to sleep. It’s high, it’s isolated, and the humans can’t get at us.

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“a leopard can’t change his spots” – Of course we can’t. That would be like asking them to change their skin. Why does that get connected to people who can’t change their bad habits? Our fur is not something that should be changed.

“big as a cow” – we agree with the pigs. Just because we’re made a certain way doesn’t entitle humans to use it to insult other humans. Maybe they should be more like us and just accept each other.

“badger someone” – We’re persistent and thorough. How did that get translated into a person who becomes offensive trying to make a point? It seems like they don’t even understand how any of us really are.

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The other animals all nodded in agreement.

Chester: I think that’s a good start. Now we need a few animals to draft our petition to the humans. Is anyone interested?

A bear, two gorillas, and a beaver all agreed to work on something.

Chester: Does anyone want to schedule an extra meeting for next month to decide what our next steps will be?

Douglas Gorilla: So moved.

Ballou: Second.

The motion passed.

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Next week: Do the animals think the petition is ready to go to the humans?

12

The Hedgehogs’ Smart Home – Part 2

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Where we are: Harry and Vivian Hedgehog have decided to invest in a smart home. They are extremely happy with Venus, their personal assistant from Euphrates, until merchandise starts arriving at their house that they haven’t ordered. They think that Venus must be ordering things on her own.

In the morning, Vivian called Euphrates about Venus. After waiting for what seemed like an eternity, Vivian finally reached a representative who spoke hedgehog. She was pretty sure the work was outsourced; the hedgehog was heavily accented with meerkat. Hopefully, they could understand each other.

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Voice: Thank you for calling Euphrates. My name is Eugenia. How may I help you?

Vivian: We purchased a Venus a few weeks ago, and we think she’s ordering things on her own.

Eugenia: That’s not possible. Our technology has been extensively tested to prevent that problem. Perhaps someone in your family ordered the items and didn’t tell you.

Vivian: The only other hedgehog around is my husband.

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Eugenia: He probably ordered the items and didn’t tell you.

Vivian: No, he did not.

Eugenia: Perhaps one of you just forgot what you ordered.

Vivian: We did not forget. Are you going to help me or not?

Eugenia: I am trying to help you. There’s no need to get angry. What is your customer ID?

Vivian: 100-672-437-925-107-688-04692

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Eugenia: Am I speaking with Vivian or Harry Hedgehog?

Vivian: I’m Vivian Hedgehog.

Eugenia: Please give me your mother’s maiden name to verify your identity.

Vivian: We’re hedgehogs! We all have the same last name.

Eugenia: And what is that name?

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Vivian: Hedgehog! This is ridiculous!

Eugenia: Please calm down Mrs. Hedgehog. You’re not helping the situation. It shows that you ordered a Katsu television and 4 boxes of Comco Badger-be-Gone in the last month.

Vivian: That’s what I’m trying to tell you. We didn’t order those things. I’m returning them both.

Eugenia: I see that there is a refund in process for the television. I’m sorry it didn’t meet your expectations.

Vivian: I didn’t have expectations. I. Did. Not. Order. A. Television.

Eugenia: I don’t see anything here about a return on the Badger-b-Gone.

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Vivian: That’s because we just got it yesterday.

Eugenia: You don’t have to be ashamed about wanting to keep the badgers away. I hear they are quite dangerous to hedgehogs. In fact, I’ve read…

Vivian didn’t get to hear what Eugenia had read because she hung up the phone before Eugenia had a chance to tell her.

Vivian was so upset that she needed to spend 45 minutes on the treadmill to calm down. She made herself a cup of marsh-grass tea and tried to decide on her next step.

She went to the contact information on the Euphrates website and discovered that she could chat online with a technical support representative. At least she wouldn’t have to worry about anyone telling her to calm down.

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“Thank you for contacting Euphrates. My name is Tim. How may I help you?

Vivian: We bought a Venus and she is ordering things on Euphrates that we didn’t tell her to.

Tim: That’s extremely unusual. Let me check your account.

Vivian: Thank you.

She waited while he accessing her information.

Tim: Thank you for waiting. Your account shows that you purchased a television and some Badger-b-Gone. Are these the items in question?

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Vivian: Yes. We didn’t order them. Venus ordered them.

Tim: It also shows that you ordered a Venus Ultra X62957. Is that correct?

Vivian: Yes.

Tim: And that is the machine that is giving you trouble?

Vivian: Yes.

Tim: Normally we don’t see a problem with that model. It is possible that the memory was holding data from testing.

Vivian: Can you fix that?

Tim: I have removed everything from the memory between the date of manufacture and the date of purchase. You should be all set.

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Vivian: Thank you very much!

Tim: Is there anything else I can help you with today?

Vivian: No. That was the only problem.

Vivian told Harry about her conversation with Tim. They were both excited that they would be able to enjoy Venus without monitoring everything they said for fear that Venus would might pick up something to order.

It seemed that everything was well for a few days. Then they received a vacuum cleaner from Euphrates.

What was going on?

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Next week – Do the hedgehogs finally get to the real reason Venus keeps ordering things?

All pictures courtesy of Google Images

11

The Rabbits’ New Home – Part 3

 

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Where we are: The Rabbit family went for a walk one winter morning. When they arrived back home, they discovered a huge drift of snow over the opening to their burrow. The snow was so deep that they were unable to dig through it. Luckily, they’ve been helped by a hawk, a deer, and a badger. You can read part 1 here and part 2 here.

Wally the badger reappeared a little bit later with a whole crew of badgers.

Jonathan: Now there’s a herd of them. We’re doomed for sure.

Wally (sighing): Son, we’re badgers, not cows. A group of badgers is called a clan. And we’re here to help, not eat you.

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Molly Deer: Jonathan, honey, why don’t you and Pamela stay over here. Your daddy needs to talk to these nice badgers and explain the problem.

Pete: I really appreciate you bringing all your buddies here to help us Wally. I just don’t know if you can. We could barely find the spot before the most recent storm. I don’t want you to go all that way just for me to get you lost.

Wally: Well, Mr. Rabbit, there are two things we badgers are good at. That’s smelling and digging. If you’ll pardon me saying so, rabbits have a particular odor. We should be able to pick it up if you get us near.

Pete: Please call me Pete. Well, if you think you can do it, let’s go.

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Pete Rabbit and the badgers set out for the rabbits’ home. The snow had crusted over, so it was much easier traveling than during the storm. Pete found the apple tree by the back of the burrow. He explained that the back of the burrow was somewhere around the base of the tree, but it was buried even deeper than the front entrance. While he was explaining the problem, a few of the badgers moved away and put their noses to the ground and started to paw at the snow.

Barry Badger: Wally! I think I have the scent. Let’s dig a little.

The group rapidly moved through the snow.

Wally: He’s right, Pete. We’re definitely in the right place.

The badgers continued to burrow through the snow. Suddenly someone yelled, “Eureka! We found it!” Pete quickly hopped down the tunnel and discovered that they were right. It was his burrow.

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Pete: You guys are absolutely amazing. I don’t know how to thank you.

Wally: It’s our pleasure. It was good to have something to do. The winters get pretty boring around here.

The other badgers nodded. The group went back to the deer shelter, so Pete could get his family.

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Pete: These guys are incredible. They found our burrow! We can get in the back door. And they got rid of so much snow that we have a tunnel to get down there.

Susie: Wally, you’re incredible. I don’t know what we would have done without you. I was afraid that we were going to be homeless for the rest of the winter.

Jonathan: Mr. Badger, I’m sorry. You guys really are wonderful.

Jonathan hopped over to Wally and hugged him. Wally blushed and hugged him back. They all sat around for a while talking. Finally, the rabbits left to enjoy their home, secure in the knowledge that if they needed it, help was all around them.

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All pictures courtesy of Google Images

13

The Rabbits’ New Home – Part 2

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Where we are: The Rabbit family went for a walk one winter morning. When they arrived back home, they discovered that the wind had blown a huge drift of snow over the opening to their burrow. The snow was so deep that they were unable to dig through it. Luckily, a friendly hawk came along and showed them the way to a deer shelter.

Pamela Rabbit slowly woke up. She realized that it smelled strange in her room. She looked around. She slowly remembered that she wasn’t home, she was with some deer that had helped them the day before.

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Pamela: Mom! Mom!

Susie: Stop shouting. I’m right here.

The rabbit parents were talking with several of the deer.

Pamela: What’s going on?

Jonathan: They’re trying to figure out how to get us home.

Pamela: There’s a whole bunch of then. Can’t they just help us dig?

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Jonathan: You’re goofy, sis. Deer don’t burrow.

Pamela: Oh yeah. I guess not. What’s going to happen?

Jonathan: They haven’t been able to figure that out. If you go out of this bunch of trees, you can see that it’s been snowing. A lot.

Pete Rabbit, seeing that Pamela had finally gotten up, went over to the children.

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Pete: How’s it going, kids? Get enough sleep, Pamela?

Pamela: It was very nice. One of the lady deer let me sleep cuddled up next to her. It was so nice and warm. Are we going home soon?

Pete: We’ve been talking with the adult deer. The weather has gotten really bad.  The deer have graciously asked us to stay until the storm is over.

Jonathan: We’re not going to stay here forever, are we?

Pete: Of course not. But it’s too windy and snowy to do anything else right now.

Pamela: OK. Then I’m going back to sleep.

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Pete and Jonathan laughed. The storm lasted three days. Finally, the sun came out again. But the snow had almost doubled on the ground. The rabbits were in despair. How would they get home?

Susie: I guess we should have built that emergency burrow.

Pete: You’re right. But it’s too late to worry about that.

Molly: You’re welcome to stay with us as long as you’d like.

Susie: That’s very kind of you. But we don’t want to take up your space and food any longer than we have to.

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They heard a rustling in the trees. The rabbits wanted to run, but there was nowhere to go.

Voice: Hi Ho, Neighbors! What do you think of our lovely weather?

A little more rustling, and a very large badger emerged through the bushes. The rabbits were terrified.

Pamela: We’re going to get eaten. I know we are. First the hawk. Now a badger.

Jonathan: Look how big he is, he must eat a lot.

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Molly: Wally Badger! How did you get here through all that snow?

Wally: It’s not so bad. I just dug a tunnel over here.  It was a little lonely in the burrow.

Wally looked around and spotted the rabbits. He ran over to them.

Wally: Bunnies! I love bunnies!

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Jonathan: Are you going to eat us?

Wally (puzzled): Why would I eat you? I just had breakfast.

Molly: Let me introduce you. Wally Badger, this is Pete and Susie Rabbit and their children, Jonathan and Pamela. They got shut out of their home by the storm, and we’re trying to help them get back in.

Wally: I’m sorry to hear that. Maybe I can help. We badgers are terrific diggers you know.

Pete: I’m not sure. It must be awfully deep by now.

Wally: Well there’s only one way to find out. Let me get some friends. I’ll be back in a bit.

Wally raced off before anyone else had a chance to say anything.

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Next week: Badgers to the rescue.

 

All pictures courtesy of Google Images

9

Why Wolverines Left Michigan

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Background: When Michigan became a state in 1837, there were thousands of wolverines roaming the state. So when the day came to choose a state animal, the winner was the wolverine. When the University of Michigan began playing intercollegiate football in 1879, they were the Michigan Wolverines. By the middle of the 20th century, wolverines were scarce. By 1997 there were no wolverines in Michigan, and the white-tailed deer became the state animal.

Here is the real reason there are no wolverines in Michigan. (All narration is done by wolverines.)

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1879 (Ann Arbor)

Jimmy: Dad! Did you hear the great news? Some humans are going to play a game called football. And they named the team after us wolverines because we’re so tough.

Dad: That’s nice, Jimmy. Now help me catch something for dinner.

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1890 (Lower Michigan)

Walter: This meal is delicious. I never knew you were such a good hunter.

Emily: Thank you sweetie. I heard something terrible from Betty. Do you remember her nephew Benny?

Walter: Not really. She has about twenty nephews.

Emily: Anyway, some humans got him.

Walter: That’s awful. Did they turn him into stew?

Emily: No; that’s the strange part. They put him in a cage and said they were taking him to school as a mascot.

Walter: What’s a mascot?

Emily: Betty wasn’t really sure, but they said he’d be great on the sidelines.

Walter: How very odd.

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1900 (Lower Michigan)

Joe: You’ll never believe who we saw today!

Peggy: Who?

Joe: George! That guy that the humans trapped last year to take to school.

Peggy: Really? How’d he get out?

Joe: A few of the humans took him out of his cage. They wanted to paint him maize and blue. He didn’t know what it meant but he saw his chance, bit a guy, and raced out. Well, we don’t really race, but you know what I mean.

Peggy: So did he tell you what a mascot is?

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Joe: Apparently when these humans play a game, they like to have a tough animal to represent how tough they are. And if they actually have one of those animals, they show it off to intimidate the other team.

Peggy: Goodness! How awful for the animal.

Joe: George said it wasn’t as bad as it sounds. They fed him as much as he wanted and walked him and gave him a good place to live. But the games were really noisy. And they wouldn’t let him eat any of the injured players, even if they were on the other team.

Peggy: Humans are strange. You would think they would want to eliminate as many enemies as possible.

Joe: George said that they will look for a replacement. We all need to move.

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1910 (mid-Lower Peninsula)

Paul: It looks like it might be time to move north again.

Jan: But it’s so nice here. We have the lake, the sun spots, the children have lots of friends. And there’s plenty to eat.

Paul: It seems that some of those “football players” live around here. They took Jenny with them when they went to school.

Jan: Oh, no! They took a girl?

Paul: Yep. But humans are clueless. They probably can’t tell the difference.

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1920 (below the Straits of Mackinac)

Bill: We’re going to have to do something. Those humans can still find us up here.

Jack: And they want more than one of us now. “In case one dies or runs off.”

Pete: I heard that some of the other students want us as pets. It’s ridiculous. Don’t they know we’re vicious?

Bill: I heard that some of the girl humans think we’re cute.

Pete: Grrr

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1930 (far west of the Upper Peninsula)

Don: Hon, I don’t want to scare you, but the students found us again. They have some kind of contest to see who can capture the biggest, meanest wolverine as mascot. The rest are going to be pets down there.

Ann: I am frightened. You’re a big, mean guy. What if they take you?

Don: It’s OK. The guys and I have a plan. Tonight we’re all going to move over the border to Wisconsin.

Ann: Don’t they have mascots in Wisconsin?

Don: Yes, but they’re badgers. And the fewer of them the better.

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Bucky Badger is the mascot for the University of Wisconsin

Note: Cat is a Michigan alum and would never have a wolverine as a pet. Go Blue!

(All pictures are courtesy of Google Images)

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11

Mama Cat and the Badger

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It was Christmas Eve, and Mama Cat was totally exhausted. Her reputation as an herbalist and healer was spreading and she building a good practice. But all that work had put her behind in her Christmas preparations. She had just finished the baking and wrapping. But the house was a total mess.

She was startled by a loud knocking at the door. She hoped it wasn’t that lousy Tom. She should have known he had two other kitten mamas. Mama Cat opened the door.

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It was a very large badger. Mama Cat almost fainted with fear. He asked if he could come in. She nodded and pointed to a seat.

“Are you here to eat me?” She was terrified.

The badger looked hurt. “Of course not. I am asking for your help.”

Mama Cat looked confused. “What could I possibly do for you?”

The badger looked at her hopefully. “My name is Reginald Badger, and I live in the forest. My son was playing with some friends and it got a little rough. He was clawed rather badly. My wife says that you can heal animals and was hoping that you would help our son.”

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Mama Cat looked around the house. “But it’s Christmas Eve, and I have five kittens in the other room who are waiting for Santa Claws.” Reginald looked crestfallen and nodded. “I told Margery that you probably couldn’t make it. I apologize for intruding.” He got up to leave.

Mama Cat looked at his sad face and then around the room. How long could it possibly take? And how could she let that little badger die? “I think there is time to help your son before the kittens wake up. Let me get my things.”

As she gathered her things, she hoped that she wasn’t volunteering to be Christmas dinner for a family of badgers. Reginald took her bag and offered a ride on his back. Mama Cat was feeling worse and worse about her decision.

As Reginald ran through the trees for what felt like an extremely long time, Mama Cat began to worry about getting home in time to finish getting things ready for the kittens. “I wonder if Santa Claws will leave presents at a house that doesn’t offer him a bowl of cream?”

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Finally Reginald stopped. Mama Cat climbed down as he opened the door. She swallowed nervously and followed him in.

Suddenly Mama Cat was being hugged. “Oh thank you Ms. Cat for coming all the way out here on Christmas Eve! I’m Margery Badger, and we are so grateful that you are here. I know that you can help Eugene. Let me show you the way.” Mama Cat was a little overwhelmed. “Please call me Belle. I hope I can help.” She followed Margery into another room.

There was a much smaller badger laying on the bed. He was asleep but was moaning in pain. Belle looked at the wound. “It is rather nasty isn’t it? Let me see what I can do. Would you please bring some warm water so I can clean it out?”

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Margery quickly returned with the water. “Now would you please boil some water and let these herbs soak in the water for 10 minutes?” Belle carefully cleaned the wound and got a better look at it. It was deep, but didn’t seem to have caused much damage.

She took some spider webbing and put it in the wound to stop the bleeding. When Margery returned, Belle poured the hot liquid into a cloth and applied it to the wound. “You will need to re-apply the poultice every six hours for two days. Belle handed Margery a second herb. “Make a spoonful of this into tea several times a day. It smells and tastes horrible, but it will help with the healing.”

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Both of the badgers hugged Belle and asked how they could repay her. Overcome with fatigue again, she said that a ride home would be nice.

When she opened the door to her house, Belle was amazed. It was spotless. There were gifts from Santa Claws for the kittens and a note on the table.

“Dear Belle – Since you were away helping the badgers, I decided that the best gift for you would be to have an elf clean your house. Have a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year! All the best – Santa Claws.”

Belle thought she must be dreaming and curled up with the kittens.

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