In honor of Groundhog Day—well, yes, if we're going to have a day named after some weird animal, we'd better at least honor it—I'm posting a humorous children's story. We're all young at heart so I'm sure you'll enjoy it.
And for those who just realized they're in charge of Family Night tonight, you can always read the story to your kids and then pass out groundhog food ... nuts, berries, maybe a snail or two. However, if you invite me to the event, I'd prefer you overlook the snails and serve groundhog cookies, instead. No, not cookies made from a groundhog (yuck!) but cookies shaped like a groundhog. Aw shucks, don't worry, I'm not picky. Oreos would work just as well.
Ground Dog Day
By C.L. Beck
Photo copyright KMoney56, Wikimedia Commons
“We’re going to have a contest,” our third grade teacher said. “Saturday is Ground Dog Day. There’ll be a prize on Monday for anyone who can tell me if the ground dog saw his shadow.” At least that’s what I think she said. I was too busy dreaming of landing a spaceship on planet Toe-Jams to know for sure.
“Yes?” The teacher nodded at Celia, my red-haired, smarty-pants, next-door neighbor.
Celia twirled her pigtails between her fingers and said, “What if we bring in a picture of him?”
The teacher smiled. “Then you get the prize and five points extra credit.”
Extra credit, extra shmedit. I didn’t care about that. But winning a prize? I wiggled my ears and thought about it. I was certain to win. My dog, Weener, was so close to the ground that grass tickled his belly when he walked. He had to be a winning ground dog.
The bell rang and I tore out of class. My purple Reeboks flopped. My untied shoelaces flapped. Rounding the corner, I planned on all the things I’d do when I won. Like buy an airplane, so I could fly to school in the mornings instead of walking.
Then a terrible thought hit me. Our teacher hadn’t told us what the prize was. “It better not be something lame—like a ribbon,” I said.
Reaching my house, I ran inside. “Mom, where’s the camera?” I called, huffing and puffing. “And where’s …”
“BARK, BARK!” Something flew off the couch. It slammed into my chest, knocked me to the floor and licked me.
“Umph. Glad to see you, too, Weener.” I stroked his brown ears, then got up and started searching.
I looked in the pantry. The camera wasn’t there. I scarfed down a stale saltine cracker and licked a blob of peanut butter from the jar. Next, I checked the closet. There it sat on the shelf.
“Come on, Weener, let’s go see your shadow and get a picture,” I said to him, grabbing the camera. We walked outside. His shadow glided along the ground next to him.
“Weener, look at the camera and smile,” I said.
He flopped on his back and stuck his paws in the air, looking like he’d been shot. The sun went under a cloud.
“Come on,” I said. I picked him up and put him back on his feet just as the sun came back out. I pointed the camera at him again. “Smile and say fuzzy pickles.”
Weener spun in a circle, chasing his tail and barking. Then he fell to the ground in a dizzy, yapping heap.
He made me so cranky. Here I had a ground dog of my own and he wouldn’t hold still for one little picture. I lifted him up and set him on the picnic table. “Now don’t move!”
A voice behind me asked, “What are you doing, Kyle?” I turned to see Celia standing there, making weird Celia faces.
“What does it look like? I’m getting a picture of a ground dog.”
Celia flipped her pigtails around her fingers for a minute. Then she said, “That’s a wiener dog.”
“No fake. Shortest wiener dog in town. That’s why I’ll win the prize on Monday.”
She scrunched up her nose in a know-it-all way. I said, “He’s a great ground dog. You can’t get any closer to the ground than Weener.” By now, I was wishing Celia would fall into a volcano.
She started giggling, her red pigtails bobbing up and down.
“What’s so funny?” I asked.
“It’s not ground dog,” she said. “There’s no such thing. It’s ground hog. Groundhog Day.”
I blinked twice. “Groundhog? What’s a groundhog?”
Celia rolled her brown eyes. “It’s a large, fat rodent with short legs. And reddish fur.” She thought for a second. Then she tightened the elastics on her pigtails. “It digs a hole to live in. Some people call it a woodchuck.”
I crossed my eyes, pointed at my head and made circles with my finger. Celia never noticed. She said, “There’s a famous groundhog called Punxsutawney Phil. If he sees his shadow on February second, there’s supposed to be six more weeks of winter.”
“Uh-huh. Right.” I lifted Weener off the table. “Celia, don’t you have homework to do?”
“No, but I’m going to go watch the Discovery channel,” she said, walking away and twirling her hair.
I patted Weener on the head as we walked back into the house. “Who cares about that ol' prize anyway. And no such thing as Ground Dog Day? Don’t listen to Celia Smarty-Pants. Ha! Next thing you know, she’ll be telling us there’s no such thing as April Tool’s Day, either.”