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Puffy Sitting
By Colleen Messina

1     Tiffany Bluefeather wanted a puppy more than new clothes or a computer. She had exerted a great deal of effort over the last three Christmases to convince her parents that she was ready for the responsibility of a dog. She even proposed acts of renunciation, like giving up her allowance for a while. Tiffany had learned how to fabricate many reasons for acquiring things, but so far, she had had little success in the Great Puppy Debate with her parents.
2     Mrs. Bluefeather, whose idea of a large commitment was feeding the fish, balked and stalled. She thought that the idea of getting a puppy was preposterous. Tiffany did not understand her reluctance; a dog was the perfect friend when no one else was around. A puppy could be a canine "papoose" for a teenage Indian girl who wanted something to mother.
3     Tiffany was the type of girl who formed strong opinions quickly, who was fiercely proud that she was the progeny of Native Americans, and who seldom changed her mind. She was the type of girl who carried pliers in her back pocket rather than lip-gloss. The reddish highlights in her dark hair were a fortuitous natural occurrence rather than the result of a salon splurge. Tiffany had always brought home damaged birds that chirped softly and stentorian stray cats that howled.
4     Tiffany's family had recently moved to a new home with a larger yard. At first, her distracted mother had tentatively agreed to getting a dog as soon as they finished landscaping and putting in a fence. Originally, Tiffany wanted a Labrador because many of her friends had labs, but labs seemed too rambunctious, and their large size seemed to stupefy them. Their enthusiastic tails had minds of their own and whipped Tiffany's legs hard. Tiffany imagined a Labrador tail whipping her mom's treasured knick-knacks right off of their appointed shelves. Next, Tiffany imagined getting a Cocker Spaniel. They seemed so soft and cuddly, like a living stuffed animal. Then Tiffany imagined a fuzzy layer of golden-orange fur coating her mother's new sofa set, so a Cocker Spaniel was out of the question. Finally, Tiffany wanted a miniature Schnauzer, which she thought looked just like an old man sporting whiskers. So far, Tiffany could imagine no problems with a miniature Schnauzer.
5     Mrs. Bluefeather was hoping that Tiffany's desire for a puppy would become subordinate to another interest, and maybe even disappear. The newness of their home kept them all busy, but when Tiffany's best friend got a Samoyed Husky puppy, Tiffany's interest surged anew. Then a miracle happened!
6     "Mom, guess what? Robin's family is going on a trip, and they were wondering if I could puppy sit. Please may I do it? It won't be too much work, and it's only for a week. The puppy will bring all of his toys, his crate, his leash, and his food with him," exclaimed Tiffany. If only her mother would acquiesce to this reasonable request!
7     Mrs. Bluefeather thought that taking care of a puppy full time might make Tiffany realize the responsibility involved, so she agreed. Tiffany was overjoyed, and Robin's family was relieved that their precious white bundle of fluff would have a nurturing companion. Robin explained some of the important details of Puffy's care.
8     "He needs to be taken outside every couple of hours. Play with him and brush him. Puffy is a descendant of rugged dogs, so he can survive almost anything except cruelty," said Robin.

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