|Snicker. The blog is named after him.|
by Valerie L. Egar
At the shelter, I chose the puppy with the longest tail. It seemed unusually long for a dog his size, but I liked the way he wagged it. His tail was so strong, it made a thump-thump-thump that even people in the parking could hear.
The little dog was white with chocolate drop eyes and snuggled into my arms as I carried him to the car. I named him "Ziti," because of his color. I liked that name a lot better than "Cloud," "Macaroni," or "Q-tip," the names my sister Jenna suggested.
Ziti's long tail whipped the flowers in Mom's garden off at the roots, and knocked my books across the bedroom. "Calm down, Ziti," I said and took him outside to run in the yard.
"I've never seen a dog with a tail like that," said Mr. Krebs, the postman, when Ziti came bounding down the sidewalk to greet him. Later, I saw a few sparks fly out of Ziti's mouth as we ran around and I realized Ziti wasn't a puppy at all.
I ran inside to tell Mom. "Ziti's really a baby dragon."
"Sure he is," said Mom, but I knew she didn't believe me.
I tried Jenna. ""Ziti's not a puppy, he's a baby dragon."
I gave it one last try and told my best friend, Mike. He rolled his eyes. "And Mr. Whiskers is really a saber-toothed tiger, not a cat."
I felt sad no one believed me. I was on my own raising a dragon everyone thought was a puppy. I sat Ziti down for a serious talk.
"No breathing fire in the house or around the dried leave in the yard," I said. He nodded.
"Try to be more careful with your tail. Mom's not too happy about the garden." Ziti practiced moving his tail gracefully, the way a conductor might lead slow music.
"That's very good!"
Ziti appeared to grin and a little smoke came out of his nose.
I knew I had a lot to learn about dragons. Was dog food the proper diet? How big might he get? What kind of exercise did he need? I didn't find too much on the internet: no one had a Facebook page about raising dragons and no one posted any videos on You Tube. I went to the library.
When I asked Mrs. Quirkhorn, the librarian, what dragons liked to eat, she raised her eyebrows. "Have you a young dragon, Terence?" She always calls me 'Terence' instead of 'Terry.'
I thought it best to say no. "I'm just wondering if anyone ever wrote a book, that's all.
She stared at me for a long time. "Are you sure you don't have a dragon?"
"Where would I get a dragon, Ms. Quirkhorn?" I said. "Last time I checked the Humane Society, they only had dogs and cats and a guinea pig or two."
Ms. Quirkhorn lowered her voice to a whisper that was softer than her usual library voice. "I've heard there are a few in the mountains near here," she said. "I think Melissa might have a young one." She pointed to a girl seated at a table reading a book.
I'd seen Melissa in school. She was a year older than me, a quiet girl who often sat by herself at recess.
I didn't know her and and wasn't sure what I should say. "Hey, I hear you have a dragon?" or "Seen any dragons lately?" Nothing I thought of sounded quite right.
I walked up to her table. "I, uh, have a new puppy with a very long tail," I said. "Would you like to meet him?"
"Bug off, creep!" she said.
TO BE CONTINUED
Published in The Sunday Journal Tribune as "My New Puppy, Ziti (Part 1), October 18, 2015. Copyright 2015 by Valerie L. Egar. May not be published or reproduced without permission from the author.