Under the Chicken House

Sam Meets the Striped Kitty Cat     by “Daddy John” Fussner

 Mary in Dog House 5030

One day in late February the sun was shining bright, and the wind was blowing from the south.  There was a promise of spring in the air.  It was warm for late February.  Several red birds could be seen around Dough Doughy’s house, along with a dozen or so robins.  The sparrows were already thinking of building nests, though it was much too early to start.  About a hundred pigeons were sunning themselves on the south side of the barn roof.  There were dark pigeons, white pigeons, old, young, all colors and ages.



Way down in the pasture near the woods, a few deer were grazing on the green grass between the patches of snow.  Near the brier patch, old and young male and female rabbits were busy stuffing themselves with tender green grass and the young shoots of plants making an early growth.  Many little field mice were out looking for food, for they were very hungry after the last cold spell.


Chatty the squirrel lay sunning himself on the big limb of the old oak tree near the creek.  In the creek could be seen little fish looking for food, bigger fish looking for little fish, and the biggest fish looking for all of them.  Tommy Turtle was slowly swimming around, looking for just anything at all to eat.

Turtles and other critters welcome!

Out in the barn, the mice that can always be found in barns were very busy scampering around, looking for stray bits of grain that many have been dropped and keeping an eye open for bits of paper, string, or anything else that would make a warm nest warmer.  Dough Doughy had left the door open so that the warm, fresh air could dry out the barn.

Under the chicken house lived a cute little animal.  She wasn’t very big, and her coat was black except for the white stripes down her back.  She had lived under the chicken house all her life, and she wasn’t afraid of anything in the barnyard.  She would walk under the six big horses much as if their legs were tree trunks.  Dogs worried her not.  They would only try to catch her once.  After that they stayed well away, leaving when she walked near.

She didn’t bother the chickens, except to take an egg once in a while to make her coat shine.  Dough Doughy didn’t mind, for he often fed eggs to his six big horses to make their coats shine.  The only things that tried to get away when she arrived, but didn’t often succeed, were the mice and the very few rats that lived in the barn.  Some of the wiser mice lived in the barn to a ripe old age.  The rats, however, never lasted over a week.   Rats and mice were Petunia’s main food, and with her around, Dough Doughy had few problems.

The warm weather brought Petunia out from her nice dry nest.  She was as hungry as all the other wild citizens of the farm.  She had already eaten everything around the chicken house.  The food Dough Doughy set out for her was filling, but she was a little tired of it; so she was off to the barn.

Petunia hadn’t been to the barn in three weeks; so the mice were playing all over the place.  Petunia entered the open door, stopped, and looked around.  Boy, oh boy!  What a sight for a hungry skunk!  Way, way over near the far end, fully forty feet away, was a big rat, chewing on a bag of feed.  In between Petunia and the rat were about a half dozen mice.

What should she do?  Should she catch a small mouse that she was sure of, or try for the rat, which was forty feet away, but only six feet from his hole in the wall and safety?  What do you think?  Well, sir, almost faster than the eye could follow, Petunia streaked across the forty feet.  Before the rat knew she was coming, it was too late.  Mr. Rat made a fine meal for Petunia.

After a big meal, most animals like to sleep, and Petunia was no different.  She slowly walked out to the chicken house and was soon fast asleep in the sun.  She had been napping for about an hour when she was awakened by a dog barking.  Opening her eyes and springing to her feet, she saw Sam.  He would lunge forward barking loudly and then back off.  He repeated this over and over.  Petunia couldn’t retreat to her den under the chicken house, because Sam was between her and the entrance.

Petunia didn’t want any trouble; so she backed off toward the barn.  Sam kept coming after her, barking every step of the way.  He didn’t know anything about skunks, but he was about to find out.  Petunia reached the barn, still slowly backing away from Sam, when she realized that Sam wasn’t going to stop making a pest of himself.  She turned and ran as fast as she could.  Sam was doing a good job of keeping up with her as they raced across the pasture.

Dough Doughy was out in the pasture rounding up the horses, and he saw Sam chasing Petunia.  “Well, well,” he thought, “Sam is about to learn another lesson the hard way.  He will be a mighty lonely dog before this is over.”

Petunia reached the fence and raced under it and on into the woods, where she holed up in a hollow tree.  The hole was near the ground, but too small for Sam.  Petunia knew she would be safe from harm.  Poor Sam reached the fence and rolled head over tail, unable to stop.  He then had to hunt for a hole under the fence large enough for him to go through.  He soon found the hollow tree where Petunia was holed up.  He barked, he scratched at the hole, and he stuck his head in; he did everything he could to get Petunia.

Soon, enough was enough, and any more was too much.  Petunia turned her tail toward Sam, up went the flag, and out shot the gas, hitting Sam in the face and front.  Sam let out a howl you could hear for a mile or more.  He rolled in the dirt and rubbed his head on the ground, trying to clear his eyes.  After a while, he could see well enough to go home.  Yelping every step of the way, he reached home in record time.

Dough Doughy had waited out by the barn after he drove the horses in.  He listened to Sam as he made his way to the hollow tree.  Dough Doughy knew just what was going on every minute of the time.  When Petunia threw the charge of gas from the glands under her tail,  Dough Doughy heard Sam yelp, and he knew what to do.  Going into the barn, he opened the door in a little cabinet and took out a bottle of medicine for Sam’s eyes.  He then went to the brooder house, where the baby chicks are kept, and filled a big tub with warm water.

  Soon Sam was home, his eyes were taken care of, and he had been given a hot bath, a good drying off, a warm bed in the brooder house, a hot meal, and plenty of time to think about chasing striped kitty cats.  For about a month, no one came near Sam except to bring him his food.

More of Dad’s stories at


Room(s) of Requirement 

We adopted a new name for the spare room formerly named “junk.”  It’s a more positive view of that room and its contents, a reflects a willingness to share.  (more on giving, Wopila)   https://storytellermary.wordpress.com/2012/05/08/wopila-a-give-away/

 It has, among other things produced —

Stationery and ink pens for Moriah and Robin for camp and school,

A shoulder bag for Alan Portman’s  new Tablet, (though we had to branch out to the kitchen stash of more recent bags to find one that exactly met his size specifications)

Some fabric, piles of yarn . . .

Books and tapes and much miscellany.

. . .  and currently, if anyone needs AAA batteries,  I seem to have bought too many, so come on over . . .


 (photo: Mary in the doghouse)

Here’s my dad’s story of a doggie version of that miscellany . . .

Sam the Pup  by “Daddy John” Fussner

Early one morning just as Dough Doughy was sitting down to a nice hot breakfast of hot cakes, bacon, eggs, milk, orange juice, and coffee, he heard a noise at the kitchen door.  Something was whining and scratching, trying to get in!

“What is making that noise?” asked Dough Doughy as he pushed his chair back from the table.  He went over and opened the door, and there stood a small puppy, about ten weeks old.  It was thin, long-legged, big-footed, flop-eared, and crooked-tailed, and its coat looked like it had been made out of left-overs.  Dough Doughy picked up the pup and closed the door.

“Well, well, what do we have here?” asked Dough Doughy.

“I don’t know, but you name it, and you can have it,” laughed his wife.

“Why, madam,” replied Dough Doughy jestingly, “’tis easy to see that he could rightfully have but one name.”

“And what would that noble name be?” asked his loving wife as she placed a small pan of milk on the stove to warm.

“Sam, of course,” answered Dough Doughy.  “It is plain to see that he is a mixture of all breeds, just as the U.S.A. is a mixture of all races of people.  Therefore, I think we ought to name him after our good old Uncle Sam. In looks he seems to have picked up the worst traits of all the breeds, but perhaps he has the best of all the breeds between those two floppy ears of his.”

“Let’s hope he does have a brain,” remarked his wife as she gave Sam a bowl of the warm milk.  “He sure doesn’t have a surplus of good looks.”

Sam was just a pup, no more, no less, a pup that was just there one cold morning.  No one knew or was ever to find out where he came from.  Sam was not a prize-winner for looks when he was a pup, and he didn’t improve any as he grew older.

His feet, though far too big when he was a pup, seemed to be in a race to see which of the four could grow the fastest.  Not to be out-done, his legs seemed to be trying to get as far away from those big feet as they could.  Nobody, but nobody could remember a dog with longer legs.  It was decided that he had the legs of a greyhound, with a few changes.  His feet could only be from the St. Bernard, the large dog of the Alps, which has large feet to help it walk on snow.

His looks surely didn’t improve as your eyes took in the details of his body!  Sam was broad-chested, much like the bull dog.  The length of his body looked as if it was measured for a dachshund, the little sausage dog.  For Sam, it did add a little more space between his long front legs and his longer rear legs, but not nearly enough.  His long rear legs were always trying to pass his front legs.  His front legs acted as if they didn’t even know the back lags, and Sam’s big feet were forever getting all tangled up, tripping him.

Sam’s ears, long when he was small, acted as if they were afraid of being so high off the ground.  The faster Sam’s legs grew, raising Sam higher and higher, the longer his ears grew, reaching in vain for the floor.  Soon they were so long that they would overlap if held together under Sam’s short, fat neck.  While every other part of Sam was running a race, Sam’s neck seemed to stop growing.

Sam’s tail was long, slim, and crooked when he was a pup.  It stayed long, slim, and crooked as he grew.  As for his skin, it looked as if it was a hand-me-down coat.  Take a small three-year-old boy, dress him in his large five-year-old brother’s clothes, and that’s Sam.  No doubt about it, someone in Sam’s family tree was a big, sad-eyed, loose-skinned bloodhound.   Sam’s color, though, was not of that ancestor.  It looked as if Sam’s color came from all of his ancestors at least as far back a Noah’s ark, with a few odd bits picked up from other sources.

It was Sam’s eyes that really were Sam, for the eyes are the windows of the soul.  Sam’s eyes were bright, intelligent, alert, and had a proud, sad look.  Sam’s eyes saw everything, and his brain was a thing of wonder, always alert, always coming up with the right answer, always doing the right thing.  It was only when the body received the command from the brain that things went wrong.  Even the most intelligent, alert brain in the world couldn’t cope with the body poor Sam was stuck with.  For instance, when the brain asked for a burst of speed, Sam’s legs responded like a greyhound’s, but four big feet would trip him, and over and over rolled Sam.

Sam had a normal puppyhood.  He soon learned to bring his master his evening paper, house slippers, and other items.  However, it took Sam a long, long time to learn not to chew on house slippers, newspapers, furniture, and many other items.  For chew he must!  A young puppy’s teeth are growing and need to be used.

At long last he was taught to act as a dog should act around the home.  Dough Doughy was very proud of his dog, Sam.  As he said, “Sam has the best of all the dogs in his family tree, but,” he added, “’tis a shame it was a nut tree.”

More of Dad’s stories at