The Butternut Notes

by Cyn Mobley

Once upon a time, there was a greyhound named Butternut.

She was a dark fawn with a dark snout, an average-sized bitch in every way except one – Butternut loved to run. She loved it so much that she ran and ran and ran every time the box opened. She was a stakes winner again and again.

During her last race, she was first out of the box, just like always, and the other bitches were eating her dust. Then all at once, they zoomed past her, even that slow stupid brindle who’d snapped at her the day before.

Time seemed to slow down. She watched helplessly as the other bitches got farther and farther away, way ahead of her, way too far, and she tried her best to do what she always did – run hard, poke her snout out in front of them and win. She deserved to win – she always won!

But for some reason, she couldn’t do it. As hard as she tried, as much as she wanted to beat them all, her left leg wasn’t working.

At first, she didn’t notice the pain. She got more and more frustrated – it’s not fair, oh it’s not! – and finally she just lay down and cried. Then the pain hit as jagged ends of the bones in her front left leg tore into her flesh.

People came running out to her and picked her up, and she snuggled against them, still crying. After running, her favorite thing in the world was snuggling.

She licked the track vet’s hand. She knew him well and liked him because he always petted her after she won a race and had to be tested. He was especially good at ear rubs, and he gave her one now as he carefully checked her leg. “Time to retire, Butternut,” he whispered. “You broke your leg. Now hold on – I’m going to take good care of you.”

He DID take good care of her, and her broken bones healed fairly well. She noticed that her left leg swung out a bit when she ran now, but it didn’t bother her as much as the six weeks of cage rest had.

Because she was such a good runner – Butternut always maintained that it was as much a matter of wanting to win as anything else – she went to a very nice farm in Florida. Over the next several years, she had several litters of pups and she was the best greyhound mother in the world – everyone said so.

Just before she turned six, she left the farm and discovered the most astounding and amazing thing in the world – a couch! Why had she never known about couches before?  After a run in the backyard, they were the bestest thing in the whole world.

Almost the bestest thing. Right after a glorious little skin kid, a fourteen-year old girl, who shared her bed every night with Butternut.

It was a wonderful year. Butternut lived with her girl, her girl’s mom, and a big old mellow boy greyhound. There were runs in the back yard and roaching on the couches and beds. Butternut was truly, truly happy.

Then things changed. Butternut didn’t understand why, but the girl’s mom looked sad. She tried to make the mom happy with lickies and roos and snuggles, but nothing worked.

The girl’s mom kept talking about being put to sleep. Now, Butternut understood sleeping, but she didn’t know why any one would have to PUT her to sleep. Sleep was something she did pretty well on her own.

Sure, she got a little upset when they went away and left her with only the big doofus male grey for a day or so at a time, but who wouldn’t? She was BUTTERNUT – didn’t they understand that? BUTTERNUT, the fastest fawn in the world, the best brood bitch in the world, the best at absolutely everything she ever did!

Butternut went to live with a new pack, one that had two obnoxious young greyhounds in it. Uppity, they were. Not properly respectful. The big black male fellow was okay and so was the quiet beta bitch her own age, but those two youngsters and that black furry thing that MIGHT be a dog – why, if they’d been HER pups, she’d have been embarrassed to be seen in public with them.

Since no one has taught them any manners, I guess it’s up to me, Butternut thought one day. So she tried, but the big skin grey who let her sleep on the bed objected. “NO,” she said, and she put a muzzle on Butternut. On BUTTERNUT, the fastest fawn in the world! Unbelievable. Simply unbelievable. Oh, sure, there were still plenty of runs, lots of couches to roach on and much better food than she’d had before, but that didn’t make up for the muzzle.

Or for losing her girl. Day after day, she waited for the teenage girl to come back and take the muzzle off and take her back to their bed, but she never came. Day after day, she ached for a quiet home, one without obnoxious young greys and without what she’d always thought of as Meals on Wheels but that other people called cats and small dogs.

It was all a horrible mistake! Didn’t anyone realize who she was? She was BUTTERNUT, the fastest fawn in the world!

She leaned on the skin grey and looked up at her with sad eyes. “I’m sorry,” the skin grey kept telling her. “Butternut, I’m so sorry.  Here, come sleep next to me. I’ll cuddle you and pet you and we’ll find you a real home, one without obnoxious youngsters and without cats and bait dogs and all those other things. I promise. There’s a special skin grey out there, maybe one with a big doofus male in it, a skin grey that needs a snuggly lady of six and a half years old. We’ll find you your own special person who knows how to do ear scrunches and who will pat you and love you forever. We’ll find that person, Butternut, and you’ll never have to wear a muzzle again.”

Butternut loves pats, snugglies, ear scrunches, running in crazy little circles and tossing stuffies, and teenage girls and my mom, who will admit to being a senior herself. She’s a leaner who will sneak that gray snout that used to be so dark into your hand and give you a little lickie just to let you know she’s there.

No cats or small dogs. Don’t even consider it. Butternut stalks flies just for the fun of it. (If I had any flies in my house, which, of course, I don’t.) She gets along well with Abe, the 95 lb alpha male, Tweeter the big beta girl, Grady, the very laid back Catahoula Louisiana Leopard Dog, and with Maggie the mellow Airedale, but Spawn and Pilot (17 and 26 months respectively) drive her nuts (which is entirely understandable if you’ve read my other stories – they’d drive anyone nuts! Except me.)

Butternut knows you’re out there. She’s waiting for you.

 *******************************************

Originally posted on 6/5/2002

Butternut goes to the vet

Butternut hopped in the car and curled up on the back seat. What a treat – a ride! And all by herself! None of the rest of the pack was allowed and, as a result, she was completely unmuzzled.

She stuck her snout out the window and snorted, letting the wind puff out her cheeks and flap her lips.

A cat had been by here sometime within the last week. She sniffed again. Male. Tabby, probably. You could always tell.

The drive was entirely too short. Butternut bounced back and forth, keeping a close eye and nose on both sides of the car.

Finally, they arrived at a place she knew immediately. Oh, not this particular one, no – she hadn’t been here before. But the smell of antiseptics and cleaners and alcohol and the healthy smell of kennels mixed with the stink of cats – the combination was unmistakable.

Vets, in Butternut’s opinion, were a good thing. They did odd things and occasionally hurt her leg, but there was always an ear skrunch or maybe a biskie in it for her, and you really could forgive a person a lot for a decent ear skrunch.

Butternut bounced out of the car and led the way into the vet’s office. More of that stupid slick linoleum – it used to baffle her back when she was a pup but now was no trickier than stairs. She pranced confidently across it, knowing they were watching her and showing off just a bit. They were in for a treat today, they were. She was BUTTERNUT, the fastest fawn in the world.

Because there was a stupid cat in the waiting room, they were quickly shown into an exam room. Stupid cats – well, no matter, the other people would get to admire her a bit more on her way out.

She’d only been waiting a few minutes when the vet came in. The vet paused at the door and said, “She is a beauty, isn’t she?” While Butternut was not entirely sure what the words meant, she knew the proper tone of voice when she heard it. Here was a woman who understood what it was to be the fastest fawn in the world.

“Can I have a look at you, honey?” the vet said. She walked over slowly, held out a hand, and Butternut took a sniff. Yikes – CATS. This woman had been touching CATS.

Her opinion of the vet ratcheted down, bolstered only by the warm approval and admiration in the woman’s voice. Butternut finally thawed. Perhaps some evil person had forced this nice woman to hold cats. That had to be it. The ability to appreciate the fastest fawn in the world was entirely incompatible with the concept of touching cats voluntarily – unless it was with your mouth.

“Hmmm, neck lymph nodes swollen a bit – can I see your mouth, baby?” A gentle finger slid in between her jaws and Butternut obediently opened her mouth, choking a bit at the cat stink.. “AH – there’s the problem. She’ll need a dental, won’t she? And we might run a senior panel on her, too, just to see how she’s doing.” The vet wrote something down then turned to admire Butternut again. “She’s really quite a stunner – excellent physical condition – just look at those muscles! That’s the best looking brood bitch I’ve seen in years.

Well, of course she was! She was Butternut and having five litters of puppies – or was it six? – was no excuse not to stay in shape!

There was some more of that silly sticking needles in her leg, but Butternut tolerated it. The vet seemed to have a decent ear skrunching technique – not as good as the vet at the track who’d fixed her broken leg, but certainly adequate for one so young.

“Okay, senior panel, a T-4, and let’s put her on some Clavamox for a few weeks before we do the dental.” The vet paused and almost involuntarily her hand went to Butternut’s ears. She skrunched.

Butternut moved slightly to the left, guiding her into a more effective technique. The vet obediently obliged. Butternut sighed. Yes, she liked to get them young when they were still trainable and had the manual dexterity to do good skrunches.

Later that day, Butternut heard her Person take the phone call. “She is? Yes, of course, that’s wonderful! We’ll schedule the dental next week.” The Person turned to Butternut and said, “Well, you’ve got the blood work of a youngster, Butternut!”

Then you ought to take this muzzle off, Butternut thought. Your mother always takes the muzzle off when She lets me come visit with her and those curly dogs. You should be more like your mother. Butternut cocked one ear and beamed the thought directly at the Person.

Her Person looked sad. “I know. I’m sorry, but you will bite the obnoxious little Amelia Spawn, won’t you?”

Most certainly, Butternut assured her. If you’d nipped her when she was much younger, she wouldn’t be so naughty now. I bet your mother bit YOU when you were that age.

“Not often,” the Person replied. “I was a good pup.”

Just so. Because your mother bit you.

“Eh,” the Person said, and Butternut smirked. There was really no response needed – the Person obviously knew she was right.

“All right,” the Person said. “You can’t play with the other greys without the muzzle, but you can come upstairs and sit with Mom and the Airedales and the Catahoula Louisiana Leopard Dog for a while, okay? And then in a little while we’ll have supper and you can eat quietly in your crate where Amelia Spawn can’t bother you.”

YES! Butternut jumped up and ran to the baby gate. She would visit with the Mom and the curly dogs and everything would be all right.  Because she was BUTTERNUT, the fastest – well, you know what comes next.

Butternut is indeed a gorgeous six year old fawn who will turn seven this fall. She’s perhaps the snuggliest grey I’ve ever met and one who really deserves a home where she doesn’t have to be muzzled. She’s in perfect health – or will be, after her dental – and has a broad streak of playfulness in her. She was bounced from her previous home of a year – where she lived peacefully with a NON alpha big male — when her adopter’s circumstances changed. She adored her teenage girl in that home and slept with her every night. She could live quite well with a non-alpha male or with big dogs that aren’t greys. She does like to run things, so she’d probably do better with only one other dog. Butternut is NOT cat or small dog safe, and while she loves adults – especially teenagers and seniors – we’re not so sure that young children would be a good idea. Butternut really enjoys a good run so a fenced yard would be preferable.

Butternut lives in East Tennessee but we’ll figure out transportation for the right home. One of you out there is or knows of the perfect home for Butternut. Resistance is futile – let’s get this girl HER HOME!

*******************************************

 Butternut deals with mutiny

Butternut was not pleased. By now, the rest of the pack knew exactly who they were dealing with. She had deigned to explain, since they’d been out of circulation so long, that she was indeed the fastest fawn in the world, and it seemed to her that there was little more to be said on the subject.

Of course, there were other colors of dogs that were fast, in their own way. But if one were honest about it, that just wasn’t their strong point, was it? And why should it be?

The brindles had built in camouflage, so it wasn’t as though they really ever needed to run or even be very smart. (Butternut still remembered the stupid little brindle who had snapped at her the day before Butternut’s last race, and considered that sort of ill-bred behavior rather typical of the color. Her close association with Amelia Spawn had done nothing to change her opinion.)

The black dogs had some of the same advantages at brindles at night, but that dark color made them overheat so quickly that they hardly could compete with a fawn. And look at those reds! Perhaps they COULD learn to run fast if they ever bothered to stop staring in the water pail and worrying about their eyeliner – like fawns didn’t have JUST as much eyeliner, maybe even more.

So really, when you got right down to it, a fawn was bound to be the fastest color in the world. It wasn’t a question of color prejudice or anything like that. It was simply the way the world was.

And what really mattered except being fast?

Nothing, as far as Butternut was concerned, and everybody who really counted for anything – which would be the other fawns, of course – thought the same way.

That was why she was so annoyed at Abe and Pilot and Spawn. They KNEW she was a fawn. She’d even politely made it clear in case they were too blind to tell.

So why oh why did they persist in their childish behavior? The rules were quite clear and while Butternut was well-bred enough to grant each one of the three a few mistakes, there was no doubt – not after tonight – that they were doing it on purpose. As if Butternut didn’t have enough her mind.

It wasn’t as if it was that difficult. They all went out in the yard together. Butternut, as the senior and ONLY fawn, began her formal rounds, watching carefully to see what everyone else was doing.

Once she saw a certain event take place, her duty was to locate the exact same place and carefully place her mark of approval on the selected spot. A few chicken scratches in the grass and she was done. Not difficult but it did require a certain amount of attention and dedication to duty. One could not be distracted by lightening bugs and curly dogs.

But tonight, TONIGHT – ah, the annoyance of it all. There she had been, diligently carrying out her duties, when she’d noticed PILOT following along behind HER. Watching HER. She hadn’t dared to believe he would do it, but he did. While she was otherwise occupied, that damned rude fool went right where she had been. ON TOP HER MARK.

At first, she’d tried to believe it was just coincidence. Yes, she knew he had just learned to pee without hitting his ankles, and granted, he was young. There was even some argument that he was a red fawn, which ought to count for something. (Of course, as a real fawn, she knew better, and found it quite offensive that he was trying to pass.)

Then she saw it and could not believe her eyes. Surely he couldn’t have – HE DID IT AGAIN! And WORSE, that silly little brindle that always followed him around DID THE EXACT SAME THING.

An outrage. An absolute outrage.

Well, there was no help for it. Butternut trotted right back over to that spot, hip-checked Spawn out of the way and reestablished her privilege.

She was running a little low, what with five other dogs to monitor, but she did her best, only to look up and see Pilot executing exactly the same maneuver (and this time wetting his ankles) RIGHT WHERE SHE’D JUST BEEN. AND SPAWN, waiting right there for him to finish.

Butternut stopped what she was doing, darted over and shoved Pilot out of the way, and corrected his error. By the time she’d positioned herself exactly, ABE was at the last spot, with Pilot and Spawn waiting their turns.

Well, if they really wanted to get into a pissing contest with HER, she’d show them a thing or two! Butternut trotted over to the wading pool to refuel. (to be continued – probably for most of the night.)

Butternut is still in Tennessee waiting for her perfect home. She IS, of course, the world’s fastest fawn and hugest snuggler in the world but is not cat or small dog safe. She loves teenagers and people in general but probably would do better without small children and in a home with one other laid back dog. Please, everyone – let’s find this retired brood bitch her real home!

Note: Butternut went to GPA Birmingham and was adopted by a lovely senior couple who had no kids and no other animals. It was an amazing fit and last I heard, she was very happy. – Cyn

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