Let me tell you about a friend of mine named Sticky Johnson, who lives in a small town up in northern Minnesota.  Sticky had a girlfriend named Louise that he was crazy about. He said she was as pretty as a royal flush in a high stakes poker game.  It always made him proud when he was with her, and he was about to pop the question.  Two things held him back.  He hated to admit it, but Louise was a bit of a nag. “This is for your own good,” she’d say just before commenting on his hair cut, his manners, or his lack of ambition.  Worse than her nagging though was the fact that she didn’t like his dog Rufus, a fluffy English sheepdog that had been Sticky’s best friend since he was in elementary school.  When Sticky loafed on the sofa to watch TV, Rufus was curled up beside him. When Sticky went to sleep at night, Rufus was stretched out on the end of the bed.  When Sticky was driving his car, Rufus was riding shot-gun with his snout out the window enjoying the rushing air.  Sticky thought Rufus was perfection in a fur coat.

     However, Louise found a lot about Rufus to dislike.  “He has bad breath,” she insisted, “and he sheds enough fur to knit a sweater.”  Finally, after weeks of nagging Sticky to “Get rid of the mutt!”  she made her final demand.  With a scowl on her face and hands on her hips, she screamed, “It’s me or Rufus!”

     Sticky was in a quandary; he liked Louise a lot (when she wasn’t nagging), but how could he part with Rufus?  After thinking over his problem, he had an idea.  Perhaps Louise would accept a compromise.

     First of all, Sticky bought Rufus a box of minty dog chews. Then he put the rest of his plan into place.  “Here, Rufus,” Sticky called, hiding a large pair of scissors behind his back.  Rufus came running hoping for a treat, and before Rufus realized his mistake, Sticky had begun to trim  him from nose to tail.  When he was finished, a huge pile of fur littered the kitchen floor, and Rufus stood with his tail between his legs, a pitiful expression on his doggy face, as hairless as a freshly hatched bird.

     Just as Sticky sat eyeing his new creation, Louise sauntered through the door.  She took one look at Rufus and stopped in her tracks.  Sticky looked up at her with a big grin.  “No more shedding,” he said proudly, expecting praise for his creative solution, “and smell that sweet breath. Now Rufus can stay.”

     Louise’s face turned from white, to bright red, to purple.  “What do you mean ‘he can stay.’ He’s still a dirty mutt—he slobbers, he scratches, he licks!  Like I said,  It’s him or it’s me!”  Rufus, whined and lay down on the floor, looking up at Sticky with sorrowful eyes.

     Sticky’s grin disappeared.  First he looked at Louise; then he looked at Rufus.  Then he looked at Louise again and then back to Rufus.  Finally, he said, “See you around, Louise.  Rufus stays.”

     Later that day Sticky decided to take Rufus for a walk.  He put on his coat, hat, and gloves; snapped the leash onto Rufus’s collar, and out they went into the cold winter’s day.  They hadn’t walked a block till Sticky realized that Rufus was shivering like a naked Eskimo.  What have I done? thought Sticky.  Rufus was freezing, and every person and every dog that they passed stopped, took one look at Rufus and began to laugh.  Sticky felt sick at heart.  He had been trying to please a silly, selfish woman, and now poor Rufus was cold, embarrassed and miserable.

     Looking around, Sticky noticed a big sign—“The Cozy Coat Store.”  In the window was the most amazing coat Sticky had ever seen: purple velvet with red satin cuffs and collar trimmed in fancy gold braid. “Aha! Problem solved!” he said.  “We’ll take that beauty in the window,” he said to the clerk. Rufus licked Sticky’s hand and face in appreciation, and proudly strutted out of the store and down the street in his new coat, where everyone they met stopped and stared, but this time with smiles of admiration.

Submitted by June Simmons

Conway Arkansas