There’s always one in every crowd isn’t there? One member of the group with a need to be perfect and act standoffish. In my group of friends that was Miss Petunia, an elegant French Poodle.
Oh by the way, I’m a mini-dachshund named Oscar. My six canine friends and I solve murders and mysteries here in a neighborhood called Happy Hills Arizona. The seven of us meet at the park several days a week to share the latest goings on. We’ve tried to invite Miss Petunia to join our group, but the way she looks down her nose at us we’ve decided to stop extending invitations. We often see her sitting at the edge of the park wearing her black velvet rhinestone collar and satin red bows tucked perfectly over each ear. She never wants to interact with any of us.
Miss Petunia is a full size French Poodle with curly apricot hair. She’s tall and lean with warm brown eyes and a smile that can light up a room. I know first-hand she has a great sense of humor and would give the food out of her dish to any canine in need. The trouble is, Miss Petunia doesn’t show her softer side very often.
Here’s what I’m wondering: With so many positives going for her, why is she so standoffish? Why does she shy away from making friends?
Yesterday morning my curiosity got the best of me. I rallied up the nerve to sit at the park’s edge next to Miss Petunia and start up a conversation.
Here’s how our conversation went:
Oscar: Hi Miss Petunia, may I sit with you?
Miss Petunia: If you want. No one’s stopping you.
Oscar: My friends and I would like to invite you to our food tasting party next week. Do you remember Lady the King Charles Cavalier Spaniel?
Miss Petunia: Vaguely.
Oscar: Well, her human Cynthia is a baker and she’s opening a bakery soon. Cynthia wants to test a new honey peanut butter dog treat recipe. Would you like to join us?
Miss Petunia: I’m watching my weight and I don’t eat sweets.
She moved away from me and a little closer to her human before she continued.
Miss Petunia: I’m really quite surprised you’re asking me. I didn’t think your group of crime fighting canines realized I even existed.
Oscar: Miss Petunia, why would you say that? We’ve tried to include you, but you’ve turned your back on us.
Miss Petunia: You didn’t ask nice enough.
Oscar: Excuse me? I don’t understand what you mean. Someone was rude to you?
Miss Petunia narrowed her eyes and actually scowled at me.
Miss Petunia: No. No one was rude, but I could tell you didn’t really want me in the group.
Oscar: Why do you say that?
She stared down on the ground and started poking at a blade of grass near her right front paw.
Miss Petunia: I’m shy and sensitive. I’ve made friends in the past but they grew tired of me. After a few days they were gone. I don’t want to be hurt again.
Oscar: I’m sorry to hear that. You know Miss Petunia, friendship works both ways. You have to give as much kindness and respect as you expect to gain in return.
Miss Petunia: There you go Oscar, judging and making fun of me. I know I’m not perfect. I’ve built an invisible wall around myself so I won’t get hurt. I’ve learned over the years that it’s better to be rude and sarcastic first, before someone gets a chance to be rude and sarcastic to me.
Oscar: How’s that working for you Miss Petunia? I bet it can get lonely hiding behind that wall. Sometimes you have to take a leap of faith and trust your fellow canines.
Miss Petunia sat up straight and lowered her head so we were eye to eye and nose to nose.
Miss Petunia: Why should I trust you and your group of uppity friends? Why would you be nice to me? I’ll tell you right now, I’m not as perfect as you think I am. I’ll probably end up disappointing you and you will all end up wishing you’d never met me. I’ve been there, done that and don’t need to do it again.
Oscar: None of us are perfect! No one expects you to be perfect. My friends and I accept each other for who, where and how we are right now. I promise no one is judging you. We will accept you just the way you are.
Miss Petunia: It’s been drilled into me since I was a puppy to always be a lady, never let anyone see me sweat and if I can’t do something perfectly then don’t do it all. Now you’re telling me to forget all that and just have a good time being me? No one would care if my bows fall out of my hair, or my paws get muddy or I dribble water on the floor?
I watch as Miss Petunia gives me a beautiful smile. Her brown eyes are actually twinkling with what I am guessing is a feeling of freedom she hadn’t felt before.
Oscar: No one will be judging or criticizing you, I promise.
Miss Petunia: Well then, what time should I be at your house for the taste testing?
And with that began a wonderful friendship with Miss Petunia.
Here’s the moral of the story: If your friends are really your friends, they won’t expect you to be perfect. True friends accept, respect and care about you just the way you are.
This is a work of fiction.
None of it is real. All names, characters, businesses, places, events and incidents are either the products of the author’s imagination or used in a fictitious manner. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, or actual events is purely coincidental.
You can read more about the Happy Hills Detective Club in an Oscar the Doxie Detective Mystery Series on Amazon.com – quick read fun paperback and Kindle cozy mysteries. An Oscar the Doxie Detective Mystery (3 Book Series)
Short fun light-hearted cozy mysteries you can probably read in an hour or so. Pour your favorite beverage, sit back and enjoy seeing the world through the eyes of Oscar the doxie detective. I’m guessing after reading this canine adventure, you’ll realize your own dog knows a lot more than you think.
Here is a link to all the Flash Fiction Friday stories. A new Flash Fiction story is published the third Friday of each month.