Archive for the ‘animal stories’ Tag

When a dog steals your heart

Our yellow labrador, Titus Maximus, my husband and I on a walk, taken over seven years ago.

When a dog steals your heart

it becomes that kind of love

where a bond of mutual trust

is formed from the start.

It grows stronger through the years

and when it is his time

and your heart is filled with grief

you watch through your tears

as he’s quietly put to sleep.

You’re thankful for what you had

and the memories that you keep,

but now you say goodbye

after his last and final breath,

and when it’s time to part

you clutch his collar, leash and tags

like they’re pieces to his heart.


Joyce E. Johnson (2015)

Paw notes: Our beloved yellow lab, Titus Maximus was ten years old when we had to have him put to sleep. He had a cancerous brain tumor that caused epileptic seizures with other deteriorating side effects. We got him when he was just an eight week old pup, and he was the most mellow yellow lab we’d ever seen, easy to train, and so loving and affectionate with everyone. Titus was the second lab we owned as we had a black lab once too before getting Titus. Blackjack became paralysed due to deteriorating hip dysplasia and arthritic joints. Although they both were not our only dogs owned through the years they all were very special and we have good memories of all. It never becomes any easier as time goes on when you have to make a difficult decision after they’ve lived a long time, then have to say goodbye and have them euthanized.      

A Frog Named Slime (Day 29 for the NaPoWriMo poetry challenge)

A Frog Named Slime

A frog named Slime covered in grime

Jumped in a pond to scrub himself clean,

 scrubbed so hard he washed off the green

“Look at me now! I can’t be seen,

looking too clean like a shriveled green bean.

“‘I look all shiny with all that sheen.

and won’t look like a frog if I’m not all green.”‘

So away he hopped to his puddle of grime

and happy was he the frog named Slime.


Joyce E. Johnson © (2014)



Buddy trying to catch the bubbles my grandson was blowing at him. Buddy is my daughter’s dog.


What is brown, funny and fast?

Has a wet nose

Won’t sit still

For a picture, or pose?


What has big feet,

speeding tail,

stuffs a shoe with his toy,

and lies on his back

all innocent

and coy?


What is energized

Never tired,

Always moving

Always wired?


What pushes his paw

Up on a warm lap,

Drool dripping from his jowls

Like a tree

Oozing sap?


What won’t hunt

Cause he’d rather play

Is good entertainment

And brightens my day?

Buddy!  🙂


 Joyce E. Johnson © 2014

Maggie Mae

Maggie Mae

Maggie Mae is a mix; a bit of Australian cattle dog,

With a bit of Shar Pei and Chow, we think.

Her coat is the color of cinnamon and honey,

and her tongue is spotted, all black and pink.

We laugh at her antics; they’re just plain funny.

We watch to see what next she does

with her pointed ears raised to the sun.

Everyone loves her; it’s not just because

she’s such a smart dog, trained and fun,

but her rambunctious perspective of life that’s sweet.

A born hunter; she loves chasing squirrels,

watches for prey and is fast on her feet.

But with a scolding to let them be

she understands the rules and command

so with reluctance will set them free.


Joyce E. Johnson (2014)

Paw notes:  The picture above was taken just a few days after Maggie was bitten by a rattle snake and was fortunate to even be alive. Last fall she and my husband were up on our mountain property and Maggie came across a rattle snake, something she had never seen before. Because of her curiosity she could not leave it alone so smacked at it with her paw and it bit her on the muzzle above her mouth. When my husband heard her yelp and saw her jump twice when struck he knew what had happened. We have a lot of rock and boulders on our lot there where snakes and small game hide and nest and large game (deer, elk, black bears, cougars and coyotes are sometimes seen, the deer almost all the time which we love). My husband immediately stopped cutting and clearing wood piles to get her into the back of our car and hurried down to the CSU veterinary hospital where she was treated and anti-venom injections were administered. She was kept over night for observation but, released the next day and doing much better so was able to come home. It was a scary experience for her and for my husband as he rushed her down to Fort Collins over twenty miles away. The shaved part on Maggie’s leg can be seen here where they inserted an IV tube and one of the two puncture wounds can be seen near her nose. She is a survivor as well as a ‘hunter’, but we hope she will be more wary and careful of snakes and game in the future. It will no doubt make our whole family more careful as we hike, walk around and camp out as it is a favorite retreat for ourselves and our kids and grand kids.



I know this funny ole cat

 too big for small places and fat.

“There is no room to move about

 this tiny space. I need to get out.”

    perplexed was he so there he sat.


paw notes: 🙂 Bobcat is a mixed Siamese and Burmese cat that belongs to my younger daughter and was little more than the size of a child’s hand (a kitten) when they found him quite literally on their front door step, a stray no one wanted. He is now a hefty, funny, and lazy ‘tom’ and rather spoiled by this grandma at least as I will run fresh warm water in the bathroom sink for him to drink, bath, or just splash and play in, whatever he chooses. So, when he sees me come over he hops up onto the sink and waits until I run water for him, then enjoys himself where he has more room. 🙂 He is one of those ‘fat cats’ one cannot help but love and cuddle with. In this particular incident he climbed inside my little granddaughter’s dolly play pen, surely too small for such a fat cat as Bobcat.


Joyce E. Johnson (2014)

Scruffow’s Turkey Farm: no pardon here, Part two

English: a male and female domestic turkey

English: a male and female domestic turkey (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Scruffow’s Turkey Farm: no pardon here

Part two

“But your group is part of a private flock or operation used to increase Scruffow’s own profits and productivity. He has his own butcher, cutting out the middleman. By appearing to raise a higher grade species with the quality vitamin rich feed, Scruffow intends on increasing his private stock. If he keeps up with consumer demands in a private market, he makes a sizable profit. He doesn’t want to alert the FDA with his scam.”

“You and your friends belong to a select group. You’re all going to be at the ugly end of a turkey whacker unless you get out of here.  Now Scruffow isn’t going to get rid of Gerta right away. She’s too important to his breeding stock. But dimwitted Buff there might be the Mrs. choice for holiday dinner, or for someone who is willing to pay the price for a quote, ‘gourmet’ turkey of premium grade selection, top choice. Whatever he labels you, no one will know that you’re really like all those sorry birds down the road selling like a two for one super special at the local grocery. And once Scruffow has reached a marginal number in stock, the ….well, the silencing starts and off goes your…” Squawk imitated his knife hacking gesture again.

“And there’s the bird flu virus too that might keep the turkeys off the dinner table…you know, with people not buying them cause of the infected birds…”

“Squawk, what if we…” Strut’s brain was on overload now.

Strut relayed the news to his friends and they worked on a plan of escape. As if thinking of the horrid probabilities was not enough, there hanging in the turkey hutch above their heads were the deadly tools of Scruffow’s trade and terror. An ax and a hatchet.

As Scruffow came into the turkey hutch to refill their feed trough with the gourmet feed he noticed how fast they were eating the stuff. He chuckled. The feed was actually just a mixture with other livestock feed, looking and tasting differently.  They’re really gobbling this stuff up.  Good. They’re going to be healthy, and I’m going to be wealthy.“ Ha, ha, ha,!”

His plan was working out so well. And so easy. He was building up his flock, selling some at top dollar to private parties wanting the best in the flock and willing to pay more per pound for a ‘gourmet’ quality bird. He had one in mind for the Mrs. as well.

Sid, a hawk and old friend of Squawk’s flew in, landing on the gate to the turkey hutch. He was a huge, strong bird, and happy to be of assistance for the turkeys’ escape. With their wings clipped, they could not fly so would only be able to waddle out of their pen and away to safety with the pen gate opened. That was where Sid came in.

Squawk snatched the socks hanging from a clothesline and Gerta went to work filling them with the gourmet feed.  Then, they all went over their escape plan.

Scruffow went about his chores not noticing anything unusual.

Squawk would relish directing a good performance. It was time to start the show.

Sid came in low, screeching loudly and circling above the farmhouse. He landed on the fence post near the turkey hutch acting aggressively towards the turkeys.

Scruffow watched the erratic, crazy hawk hanging around the turkey hutch. He thought the bird’s behavior very bizarre. The hawk lunged at Buff, pecking at his neck and head.

“Caw. Caw. Good going Sid! You’ve got Scruffow’s attention.” Squawk crowed, prompting them from his watching post.

“Yea! But he doesn’t have to drill a hole clean through my brain,” hissed Buff.

“Hey numskull, your head is so hard that a woodpecker wouldn’t make a dent. This has to look good. Be convincing.” Sid said.

Strut, Sam & Gerta now entered front and center, appearing to be frightened and frenzied, afraid of the big, mean hawk. They ran around, hysterical as if they had already met with a ‘turkey whacker.’ “Gobble, gobble, gobble.” Their noise and commotion attracted attention from everyone on the farm. Even the squealing pigs. The turkeys gobbled so loud, even Mrs. Scruffow came out, ready with a broom to go after the horrid rabid hawk.

Sid flew off, finished with his role, until he was needed much later. Buff began to teeter dizzily on his skinny legs. He fell, not making a sound.

“That crazed hawk could be infected with the ‘bird flu’ virus. I will have to kill those four and quarantine the rest of the flock,” said Scruffow. “We can’t sell any of them now, or risk eating one for holiday dinner.”

“You still shooting those pigs with steroid shots?” the Mrs. asked Scruffow.

“Yea. I’m making a tidy sum off of those too, but my turkey operation will have to be put on hold for a while.”

The Scruffows watched the turkeys closely, but did not go near them. Another one was now gravely ill and fell too, lying in a still heap. Now the others were acting strange.

Late that night after Sid worked the latch loose on the gate, Strut, Sam, Buff and Gerta waddled quietly out of their pen, their socks filled with ‘gourmet’ feed.

“I’m not going to miss this place,” said Buff a bit too loudly.

“Shh! Quiet, you numskull, you’ll wake the Scruffows.” Strut led them out.

“Numskull! An appropriate name for one whose brain is denser than a hay stack.” quipped Squawk, flying point.

Sid flew back to the last remaining turkeys in the turkey farm. He had “unfinished business” to attend to. With quick precision, he went to work un-latching the gates to the pens and hutch.

Soon after, another flock of turkeys could be seen marching down the road behind him gobbling a happy tune to their freedom. “Gobble, gobble, gobble.”

Weeks later when Strut, Sam, Buff and Gerta  were safely ensconced at their new home on a quiet turkey preserve, Squawk reported the latest news to them.

“The Scruffows came down with the flu after the holiday. They had ham for dinner.”



Joyce E. Johnson © 2013

Posted November 28, 2013 by Joyce in Fiction

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Scruffow’s Turkey Farm: no pardon here

Heritage Turkeys at Springfield Farms in Spark...

Heritage Turkeys at Springfield Farms in Sparks, Maryland. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Scruffow’s Turkey Farm: no pardon here

“Hey Strut! Get a look at this.” Sam stood on spindly legs peering inside their feed trough. He poked through the yellow corn with his beak. “There’s a new kind of grain mixed here with our old stuff. Looks like some kind of granola.” Sam scooped up a beak full. He took more, then a little more. The chewed grainy granola slid pleasantly down his gullet.

“Hmm. Farmer Scruffow brought us some decent food for a change. Not the usual stuff we’re used to. Hey, ‘bird brain,’ come look at this.”

Strut padded over to the corrugated steel trough. Called ‘Bird brain,’ for his ability to analyze everything stirred the concoction with his beak, tasting it. He agreed. “It’s definitely an improvement. A better quality premium grade feed.”

Gerta waddled over. Her full-feathered white coat and natural boa clung to her well-endowed frame. A wiggle to her waddle caught the attention of the male turkeys that followed in her wake. “What are you all gawking at?” she asked.

“Gobble, gobble.” Sam croaked, his beady eyes bulged at the sight of her lofty breasts, stout thighs, and fanned spray of white feathers. Her large red beak made him dizzy, and his wattle quiver with excitement.

Squawk swooped down on the fence post, stirring up the molting turkey feathers in the pen. The nosy, black crow knew everything that went on at Scruffow’s Turkey Farm.

“Hey, Squawk. What’s up?” asked Strut.

“YO!. I haven’t had breakfast. How about sharing your …Hey! Is that some new feed, there? I overheard farmer Scruffow talking with farmer Sniffoo. Scruffow’s going to select one of you to be his guest for Thanksgiving Day dinner.” Squawk swiped at turkey feathers settling on his shiny black coat.

“I think he has plans for you all and one especially for his guest on….”

“Wo! You mean one of us gets to have dinner with the farmer and his wife?” Buff said.

“Hey, idiot. Does your pea brain not comprehend what kind of “guest” you’d become?” asked Squawk.

“Strut? Does that mean what I think it means?” Sam asked, nodding at the grain trough with his beak.

“Yes. One of us is going to dinner at the Scruffows. Slow roasted, dressed up on a platter, seasoned and stuffed. Then the farmer and his wife will toss out our remains in the trash. The gourmet grain is to help fatten us up like a pig so we will be plump and juicy.”

“You mean …” Buff could hardly get the words out. “Like a centerpiece?” The thought of him being slow roasted and served on a platter gave him the shudders and shakes.

“Remember Joe?” asked Squawk. “He went last year. I remember seeing the farmer carrying Joe’s carcass to the garbage can just hours after he ‘invited’ him to dinner. He was a tough bird. To capture that is. I bet he tasted juicy and tender after they fattened him up. He put up a real fight though. Feathers flying all over the place and then…well, you know the rest.”

“Oh my. To be so disposed…” Gerta’s beak and gullet turned as pale as her white boa feathers. Her rotund frame swayed, wobbling on thin spindly legs before finally falling to the ground like dead weight. Sam quickly trotted over and frantically fanned Gerta with his wings. She came to, but sat visibly shaken in a disheveled squat. Helping her upright proved to be harder. He tugged too hard accidentally pulling some of her prized feathers from her wings.

“What are we going to do, Strut?” asked Sam.

“We’re going to get out of here!” Looking over at Squawk, Strut said. “And we’re going to need your help, Squawk.”

Turning their heads toward a loud racket, they watched in horror at a truck rumbling down the street filled with live turkeys from the neighboring turkey farm. The open slats in the sides of the enclosed truck showed beaks, wings, and legs poking through the packed truck.

“Hey, dudes. You better come up with a plan fast. I won’t be anybody’s centerpiece,” exclaimed Buff.

Squawk flew over to the telephone pole where all his friends gathered. Their squawking, tweeting and chirping could be heard from one end of the road to the other. He then flew back to the turkey hutch with news.

“Strut, you know those trucks we saw?  With all the turkeys in them?” asked Squawk?

“Yea? Where were they going?”

“Trucks leaving from the turkey farms are packed and loaded with live turkeys. Hours later, the trucks come back empty. The turkeys are unloaded into a place where humans in rubber boots, aprons, and gloves put them onto moving ramps. They are …” Gulp. “Silenced! I mean no more gobbling, just one last screech, and …zilch.” Squawk’s wing swept across his neck imitating the hacking stroke of a turkey ‘whacker’.

Strut’s eyes looked as big as half dollars as he realized that he and his friends faced the same fate.


To be continued …

Joyce E. Johnson (2013)

Posted November 27, 2013 by Joyce in Fiction

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