10

The Hedgehogs’ Smart Home – Part 3

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Where we are: Harry and Vivian Hedgehog’s smart home is becoming a nightmare with merchandise arriving without being ordered. Vivian has been working with Euphrates to fix the problem, but it has continued.

Harry and Vivian were extremely disappointed. As much as they liked Venus, they couldn’t keep using her. It was irritating to keep getting things they hadn’t ordered. Besides, it was tying up their credit while the return was processed. They didn’t want to have any problems with their HedgeAccess card. What would happen if something got lost, and they had to pay Euphrates for something they had never wanted in the first place?

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Harry contacted Euphrates to see if they could use Venus but disable her ability to order from Euphrates. The representative told him that Venus had to communicate with Euphrates. It was part of her basic programming. There was no way to separate the ordering function from the rest of the communications sent to Euphrates.

Harry disconnected his chat and thought about what the representative had said. What type of information would Venus need to send to Euphrates except sales information? He looked at the paperwork they had received from Euphrates when they bought Venus. Reading through it, Harry found what he was looking for:

“All conversations recorded by Venus are the property of Euphrates. This information may be used for marketing purposes or for the solicitation of new customers.”

Hogs! He knew he should have found a hedgehog vendor rather than using the Cobras.

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Harry: It looks like there’s no way around it. It’s either get rid of Venus or live with the unwanted items.

Vivian: We can’t just turn off the ordering?

Harry: No. It’s tied into Euphrates’ ability to listen in on what we say.

Vivian: I knew it was too good to be true. We’ll have to pack everything up and send it back tomorrow.

Harry: Why can’t we do it right now?

Vivian: Don’t you remember? Pete and Stella are coming over for dinner. We have to get ready.

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Pete and Stella were Harry and Vivian’s best friends. Harry and Vivian had moved into the burrow next to their friends. The burrows were so close that sometimes they could head each other scratching the ground or running on the treadmill.

Dinner went well. The grub-avocado salad was delicious. And they enjoyed the dandelion wine, although it did come from a human recipe.

Pete: How’s it going with your smart home?

Harry: Not so well. We keep getting stuff we didn’t order. You’re supposed to get her attention, by saying “Venus” before you ask her to do anything. Apparently, if it’s something they sell, the rules don’t apply.

Vivian: Or something. We can’t figure it out. All we know is that we’re not using the “official” words, and we keep getting stuff.

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Stella: What kind of stuff?

Vivian: The first thing was a television.

Stella looked at Pete.

Pete: Was it a Katsu 4K streaming model?

Vivian: As a matter of fact, it was. Then we got some Badger-b-Gone. The most recent thing was a vacuum cleaner.

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Stella: Oh, my hogs! I am so sorry, but we know what happened.

Harry: You do? How?

Pete: After you got Venus, we thought it would be fun to pretend to order things online with our own Venus.

Stella: So, we told “our” Venus to order a few things. We never thought it would interfere with your real Venus.

Harry: It shouldn’t have. That’s ridiculous.

Pete: I agree. But it’s the only possible explanation.

Harry: You’re probably right. Well, it’s a good thing that we decided to get rid of Venus. It’s bad enough that she was listening in on what we say. But she was spying on you too.

Stella (laughing): It’s a good thing Pete and I weren’t very imaginative when we were playing around. You might have ended up with a 4-foot pink armadillo pillow.

Vivian: I guess it’s back to Prickles and Quills for us.

Image result for hedgehogs at home meme

 

18

O, Give Me a Home – Part 2

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Where we are: The Bison family is going to Wyoming to see Jen’s brother Bruce. Bruce has advised them to take the train. John has just discovered that his family will be sharing their space with two jackrabbits. You can read Part 1 here.

John explained the situation to his family and they returned to their car. He opened the door quietly and saw the jackrabbits asleep in the corner. The bison entered, trying not to make any noise. They put their things down as the train started to move.

 The adults settled in for a nap, and JJ went to explore the train. After a couple of hours, his parents joined him, and they went and got something to eat. While they were eating, they watched the scenery.

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JJ: Isn’t this great, Dad? We just sit here, and the train does all the work.

John: I guess you’re right. This is a lot better than walking.

Jen: I’m glad you like it.

The rest of the trip was uneventful. The next afternoon, the train pulled into their station.

Jen: While you and JJ get our luggage, I’ll go find Bruce.

John: If you do, it’ll be the first time he’s been where he’s supposed to be.

Jen: Be nice, John. Remember, he invited us to stay with him.

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John: I’ll try.

She goes outside, but doesn’t see Bruce. John and JJ join her.

Jen: I can’t find him anywhere. You look. Maybe I missed him.

John: He’s a full-grown male bison. How could you miss him? I’ll call him.

On the phone:

John: Bruce, it’s John…I’m fine. We’re at the station waiting for you…Yes, it’s today…Today IS Thursday…Of course, I’m sure…I have no idea where you live…No, it’s OK. If we get lost, I’ll call…All right. See you soon.

To Jen:

John: Your brother is an idiot. He thinks today is Wednesday. He told me I was lucky he answered the phone. [snort] He’s lucky he answered the phone.

Jen: Is he on his way?

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John: He said that he was bathing and gave me the directions. It’s probably safer that way.

They followed Bruce’s directions and found a nice shelter in a meadow.

Bruce: Sis! It’s great to see you! Beautiful as ever. JJ, almost a bull! John, it’s been a long time!

John (thinking ‘not long enough’): Good to see you. What have you been up to?

Bruce: Funny you should ask.  I have exciting news. I was cleaning up because I’m going to be in a commercial.

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JJ: Really, Uncle Bruce? What kind of commercial?

Bruce: It’s for hoof wax. They should a handsome buffalo with ugly hooves. Then his feet get waxed, and it’s a handsome bison with beautiful hooves.

JJ: You’re the handsome bison?

Bruce: Not exactly. I’m the hooves.

JJ: Oh. Why can’t they use the other guy’s feet?

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Bruce: He has really, really ugly feet. He survived a nasty fungus, but his hooves were ruined.

Jen: So why can’t you be the handsome bison?

Bruce: This guy’s been their spokes bison for a long time. People know his face.

John: You’re going to be Hardwax Jack’s hooves? Congratulations! It sounds like you’ve actually found a job.

Bruce: Thanks, John. I hope I meet someone who sees how talented I am.

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John: Good luck. I hope it works out.

Jen: I’m so excited for you, Bruce! When does it shoot?

Bruce: Monday.

Jen: So you’ll have a few days to show us around.

Bruce: Sure do. As long as it doesn’t interfere with my real job.

John: You have a real job? Maybe it was a good idea for you to move out here. What do you do?

Bruce: I joined a herd out here. Really nice bunch. They needed a night watch bison. So I took the job.

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Jen: That’s great, Bruce. But bison sleep at night.

Bruce: That’s why the job was open.

Jen: How do you stay awake?

Bruce: That’s been a bit of a problem. I started by walking around, but that didn’t work out so well. When I stopped for my break, I fell asleep.

Jen: What are you doing now?

Bruce: The humans have something they call caffeine. In comes in coffee, tea, and soda. You drink it.

Jen: Bison don’t drink those things. It doesn’t sound like a good idea.

Bruce: It took some practice. Humans are kind of scrawny, so I needed to drink a lot. And it tastes awful. I swear, people will put anything in their mouths.

JJ: That sounds awful, Uncle Bruce. Did it work?

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Bruce: I think it would have. But I had to take so many bathroom breaks that I wasn’t much of a guard. Luckily, we live in a safe neighborhood.

Jen: So I’m right. It isn’t a good idea.

Bruce: Well, the coffee wasn’t. But the caffeine worked; I stayed awake. Now I take pills. The people stores sell them.

John: Don’t the humans think it’s odd to be selling to a bison?

Bruce: One of the small humans does it for me. I give him rides in exchange.

John: Do you work every night?

Bruce: Pretty much. I’m going to take off Sunday night to be ready for Monday.

Bruce goes to work and the family relaxes, tired from the trip. Jen decides to do some research on caffeine. She didn’t like her brother taking something meant for humans.

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Next week: Does Bruce really have two jobs? Can bison become addicted to caffeine?

Pictures courtesy of Google Images.

4

Cat Forum: Party Treats

Kommando: Did we tell them that our human sister is getting married in October?

Snoops: I think so.

Kommando: Did we tell them that we’re going to help?

Snoops: I don’t remember.

Kommando: Let’s tell them what we’re gonna do.

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Snoops: What are we going to do? You mean the present?

Kommando: Of course not. She might read this and it would ruin the surprise.

Snoops: It’s a good thing she doesn’t live here. It’s hard to keep that sort of thing secret.

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Kommando: No. We’re going to help with the food at her party before the wedding.

Snoops: You mean that thing they call a shower, even though there’s no water?

Kommando: Yeah. Humans are weird, but I wasn’t going to help if there was real water.

Snoops: Did you find any good recipes?

Kommando: I thought so. There were all kinds of things called mousses. I thought it was a typo for mouses. It’s not. People make mousses out of all kinds of stuff. Most of it’s pretty disgusting.

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Snoops: That’s like when we found out that tomato goat cheese spread was tomato goat-cheese spread, not tomato goat cheese-spread. I was pretty disappointed. I thought all I was going to have to do was pick the tomatoes off the goat.

Kommando: There is not a single recipe out there with mouse as the main ingredient. And very little tuna. There is some salmon.

Snoops: Well, maybe we could try the tuna ones.

Kommando: I don’t think so. They mix it with stuff like mustard and lemon juice. One of them even said to use chickpeas.

Snoops: I don’t know what a chickpea is, but it must be some kind of vegetable. Peas are those little rounds things we can chase around.

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Kommando: That’s the other thing. Humans put vegetables into almost all of their party foods.

Snoops: I guess that’s to make them feel better about the cake.

Kommando: They even ruin cheese with nuts and beer and wine and stuff.

Snoops: EWWWW. Maybe this is going to be harder than we thought.

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Kommando: I had an idea. You know how much humans like pizza?

Snoops: Yeah. But they don’t sell mouse pizza.

Kommando: I know that. But we get cheese pizza and put the mice on ourselves.

Snoops: That might work. And cold catnip tea. It will be purr-fect.

 

Pictures courtesy of Google Images (except us of course – tell Mom we want some pictures that don’t make us look like we sleep all the time, but not when we’re eating or bathing or using the litter box – maybe while we’re on bird patrol or mouse patrol)

13

Cat Forum: Valentine’s Day

Kommando: Hey Snoops, look. It’s an advertisement for Valentine’s Day.

Snoops: I didn’t know Valentine had his own day.

Kommando: I think they just stole his name. This is all about buying jewelry and stuff. It says you should do it to show her how much you care.

Snoops: I wonder who she is, and why she needs so much stuff. Let’s see if we can find it on the Internet.

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Kommando: Ooh. Good idea. They know everything there.

Snoops: Hmm. It says it’s the feast of St. Valentine. The celebration of love and affection.

Kommando: And getting stuff. It’s another human holiday for getting stuff.

Snoops: It’s supposed to be romantic. A lot of people use it as a day to propose.

Kommando: Well, it can’t be too important, we didn’t know about it.

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Snoops: That’s because it’s for humans.

Kommando: They love us. Why don’t we get gifts?

Snoops: We don’t like chocolate or jewelry.

Kommando: They could give us salmon.

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Snoops: Humans don’t think salmon is romantic.

Kommando: It’s not for them, it’s for us.

Snoops: Wait a minute. This Internet thing says there are Valentine’s gifts for cats.

Kommando: Does it show a salmon?

Snoops: Forget about the salmon. Humans don’t think dead fish are romantic.

Kommando: Humans are weird. So what do they think we’d like?

Snoops: Actually, this first thing is kinda nice.

Kommando: Ooh. A fake sheep bed! I like fake sheep. It’s really warm.

Snoops: Yeah. That says “love” to me.

Kommando: Anything else good?

Snoops: Well, there’s a collar. But it has a bell on it. It would be worthless when I’m mousing.

Kommando: OK. We’ll put that in the “no” column.

Snoops: I like this next one:

Kommando: Purr-fect! A castle. Mom calls us princesses. She might get us that.

Snoops: Maybe. I think it’d really add to the decor around here.

Kommando: Is there anything there that says, “I love you” in human?

Snoops: Well, this bowl looks like something they might think is romantic:

Kommando: That’d be pawsome! Hearts for the human, food for us! I think we need to talk to Mom about this Valentine’s Day thing.

Snoops: Definitely. Anything that reminds her to feed us is good.

Kommando: Yeah. A food dish and some salmon. The perfect Valentine’s Day.

 

Image result for cats and valentines day

Gift ideas courtesy of https://www.catster.com/lifestyle/valentines-day-10-gifts-for-cats-gift-guide

Photos courtesy of Google Images

 

 

14

Don’t Worry Mama, We’ll Help

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The last time Mama Kitty had been sick in bed, she got up to a complete mess. There were dishes everywhere, food on the counter, toys all over the front room, and mud on all the floors. She just wanted to go back to bed.

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After she had cleaned everything up, Mama Kitty held a family meeting. She said that she understood that the kittens were little, but that if she was sick, everyone had to do something to help out. The kittens nodded solemnly.

Not long after, Mama Kitty caught a bad cold and had to stay in bed. Remembering what she said, the kittens got together to talk.

Muffin: Remember what Mama said? We all have to help. I’m going to make her some catnip tea.

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Thomas: That’s a good idea. You can be in charge of cooking too. I’ll be in charge of muddy footprints.

Princess: I’ll put away toys.

Bubba: And I’ll eat all the leftover food.

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The kittens agreed it was a good plan.

Muffin didn’t know how much catnip to put in the tea, so she guessed. When she was finished, she took it to Mama.

Muffin: Mama, I made you some catnip tea. I thought it would make you feel better.

Mama: That’s sweet, honey.

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She took the cup, and sipped it. She started coughing.

Mama: Sweetie, how much catnip did you put in the tea?

Muffin: I wasn’t sure how much to use, so I filled the teapot halfway.

Mama (trying not to choke): That’s a little too much. Next time, a teaspoon will do. But I love this.

She took a long drink and emptied the cup, hoping Muffin wouldn’t offer any more.

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Mama: Thank you so much. I think I need to sleep now.

Muffin happily left the room with the empty cup.

Mama slept all afternoon, trying to ignore the banging and bumping in the next room. She politely refused the tuna that Muffin brought in later.

Mama stayed in bed for two days and got up the third morning feeling much better after all that sleep.

When she went into the front room, Mama was surprised. It looked a lot cleaner than she had expected. The floor was clean. No toys and no mud.

Mama: You kittens did a wonderful job of keeping the house clean.

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Princess: Thank you, Mama. I didn’t realize we had so many toys. I filled up the toyboxes and had to put the rest in that chest over there.

Mama looked to see her china cabinet overflowing with stuffed mice and bags of catnip. At least they were soft toys.

Mama: Thank you for keeping the front room so clean. I don’t have to worry about tripping on anything.

Thomas: Come into the kitchen and see what I did to keep the mud out.

Mama hesitated. Was she ready to see that mess? But Thomas was waiting, so she followed.

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Thomas: See? I put down towels at the door so we could wipe our feet.

Mama looked down at her best linen towels covered in mud. But there was no mud anywhere else in the house.

Mama: Thomas, that’s a wonderful idea! Thank you.

Mama looked around. The kitchen was fairly clean. There were dishes in the sink, but the counters were clean.

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Mama: The kitchen looks good. I’m proud of you.

Bubba: Thank you, Mama. I ate all the extra food, so it wouldn’t sit out.

Mama looked at Bubba. Despite his name, he was not a large kitten.

Mama: How did you do that, sweetheart? You usually can’t even finish your own food.

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Bubba: I didn’t realize how much food it would be. I took some to share with my friends. We had a party.

Mama Kitty started to laugh. She hadn’t realized how resourceful her kittens were.

Mama: I’m so proud of all of you. You took care of the house for two days and it looks wonderful.

Then they all curled up in front of the fire and cuddled.

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9

Cat Forum: Seriously, Human?

Greetings. Snoops and Kommando Kitty here. We’ve been going through our correspondence and noticed a trend. A lot of cats are wondering why their humans ask such silly questions. The short answer is: we have no idea.

However, we have come up with some possible answers. Which one you use will depend on your level of cattitude. If you have better ideas, let us know and we’ll share them in a later.

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Does kitty want snuggles?

  1. Don’t you remember our snuggle appointment is 2:30 am? I’ll let you know if I’m available other times.
  2. Don’t ever wake me up to ask that question again.
  3. I suppose. But remember: it’s a favor because I love you.

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Fluffy, do you like the new puppy?

  1. Can you return it?
  2. I suppose he can stay if you can get rid of the smell.
  3. Oh good! You finally got me the servant I’ve been asking for. I hope he’s easier to train that you were.

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Don’t you love the new, all-natural, low-fat food I got you? You look slimmer and sleeker already.

  1. It tastes like wood, and I’m starving to death.
  2. I’ve been feeding it to the dog, and I’m starving to death.
  3. I hope you enjoy the chunks I put in your soup so you can appreciate the “interesting, non-carnivore” flavoring.

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Why did you put a mouse in my slipper?

  1. I thought you might want a snack in the middle of the night.
  2. You are the worst hunter I have ever seen. I wondered if you could find a mouse if it was right under your nose.
  3. I thought it would make a nice storage facility for my back-up snack supply.

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Will you please stop clawing the chair?

  1. No.
  2. I’m bored. I’ll stop if you buy me a hamster.
  3. In a few minutes. I’m almost done.

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Why are you always begging for treats?

  1. I want to get rid of these ones so you’ll buy the kind I like.
  2. I’m starving.
  3. I like the way you look when I keep coming back. And your voice gets funny-sounding too.

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Why are you standing at the back door?

  1. I want to go out, and it was raining when you opened the front door.
  2. I want to go out to see if they delivered my package back here.
  3. I let the puppy out. I’m waiting to see if he comes back.

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Why did you whack the dog in the nose?

  1. He looked at me.
  2. He looked too peaceful sleeping there.
  3. It’s a game I invented.

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Why won’t you let me take your picture?

  1. You don’t respect my privacy when I’m bathing.
  2. You never pay me for posing.
  3. You always have that thing in my face. Even when I’m sleeping.

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Why are you mad at me?

  1. You made me wait for breakfast while you used the bathroom.
  2. You smell weird. You were around other cats.
  3. You bought that icky litter that stinks and sticks to my paws.

We hope these suggestions are helpful. Just remember, some human qualities are just too strange to understand. Like why they get mad if you sleep on the kitchen counter but think it’s cute if you sleep in the sink.

Just remember: A snuggle and a purr will get you out of pretty much anything you do. Your “cute” face usually works too.

Purrs and Head Bonks,

Snoops and Kommando Kitty

 

10

On Dragons, By Dragons (Part 2)

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So far: Donnie Dragon asked his father why people don’t believe that dragons exist. His father is explaining how they became invisible. Part 1 is here.

The next night, Donnie asked his father to continue his story.

For many years, the dragons thought they had a safe home in Asia. Then they noticed something.

Every time a dragon was sick, a crowd of people appeared. If the dragon recovered, they went home. If the dragon died, a few people would wait for the bones to turn to ash and collect them.

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The humans believed that the bones had special powers they could use. The dragons were offended that they could not mourn in private. The dragons were angry, but the people would not stop.

Things were different in the West. For some reason, those people decided that we were evil from the beginning. It may have been the result of a couple of unfortunate incidents in England.

First, a sick dragon was flying home. He sneezed and accidentally set a village on fire. The humans decided that it was intentional, and dragons could not be trusted.

Then a young male dragon fell in love with a beautiful human girl. He took her to his lair against her will. Her father killed the dragon and took his daughter home.

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It was a huge scandal. The humans used the event as more proof that dragons could not be trusted. The dragons were angry that the humans killed one of them without asking why it happened.

The stories spread from one human village to another. With each telling, the story got worse. Eventually, people believed that the dragon had come down from his lair and set the village on fire. In the confusion, he had kidnapped all the young women and took them home to eat. Only the courage of one man had saved them.

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Donnie interrupted his father.

Donnie: But we don’t eat humans. Mama says they’re too fatty and not good for us.

Dad: I know. But it was too late to reason with them.

He continued the story.Image result for medieval village

Every time someone disappeared from a village, it was blamed on the dragons. We moved further and further away, but it was always the same story.

Some “brave” human would track down a dragon, lure the dragon close, and put a spear through his throat. Then the human would cut off the tail (no bones) and take it home. They never brought back the missing person because they “had arrived just as the dragon finished eating.”

The dragons sent a representative to town. He was trying to straighten out the situation. But as soon as he landed, he was attacked. He barely escaped with his life.

Image result for meddle not in the affairs of dragons for you are crunchy and good with ketchup

A bookseller created a warning sign for the dragons to put at the entrance to their lairs, but it didn’t do any good. It was written in English, but the villagers couldn’t read.

Donnie: What’s ketchup?

Dad: I’m not sure. I think it’s a sauce to make humans taste better.

The dragons left for a place called Wales. Those people were much friendlier to them. But the situation was not good. The dragons were afraid all the time.

The Western dragons and Eastern dragons met high in the mountains of Asia. They decided that there was probably no way to repair the relationship with the humans.

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Because dragons are generally peace-loving creatures, they tried to find a non-violent solution. They looked through the Book of Spells. Finally, they found one that would make them invisible.

Some of the Eastern dragons weren’t happy with the solution. They had human friends they would have to leave. But there was no other answer.

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The dragons decided that they would all live together in those mountains. And here we are.

Donnie:  Do you think the humans will ever be able to see us again?

Dad: I’m afraid not. The spell can’t be reversed.

Donnie: That’s good. I don’t want to set someone on fire just to keep my tail.

Image result for and they lived happily ever after