Billy looked at his litter of seven puppies lovingly. His wife Ruby was licking them as they slept. They looked adorable – all curled up like little bundles. How he longed to cuddle them.
A sound caught his attention. What was that? There it was again. He tilted his head and listened. It sounded like a mouse. Billy growled, then barked loudly.
‘Shush. You’ll wake the pups,’ Ruby scolded.
‘Yeah, but they sleep all day anyway,’ Billy grumbled as he left the room.
He decided to go for a walk. It started raining after a while. Billy ran back home as fast as he could. But the rain was so heavy that by the time he reached home, he was soaked.
He looked at his babies curled snugly beside their mother, nice and warm and dry. While he himself was completely wet. A puddle began to form where he was standing. He shook himself hard. Large droplets of water flew into the air. Some landed on the puppies. They opened their eyes and squirmed, surprised by this sudden shower.
‘Look what you’ve done,’ said Ruby. You’ve made them wet. Dry yourself in the other room.’
‘So now there’s no place for me in my own room?’ Billy thought gloomily as he flopped down in front of the fireplace in the living room.
‘Yo, what’s up?’ said Gordon, Billy’s friend, as he sauntered in. He wore a blingy silver chain around his neck.
‘I’ve been declared useless by my wife and pups.’
‘You’ve been what?’
‘They’re my babies as well. But all they want is mum. It’s mum who feeds them, mum who cleans them, mum who keeps them warm. I feel like an outsider.’
Gordon looked at his friend’s long face. ‘Surely there’s something you can do?
‘Like what?’ asked Billy.
‘I know,’ said Gordon, clapping his paws. ‘It’s Easter tomorrow. Why don’t you do an egg hunt for your pups?’
Billy wagged his tail. ‘That’s a great idea. Why didn’t I think of that?’
The two dogs found an old basket in the shed. Some pots of paint in the attic. And a dozen eggs in the pantry.
Gordon cleaned and polished the basket. Then he painted it a bright yellow. Finally, he wrapped a red ribbon over the handle and finished with a bow on top.
In the meantime, Billy had been working hard painting the eggs. He coloured one a bold orange, another a sparkling blue, the third a bottle green. On one he drew a chick while another had a bunny on it. And the prettiest one had all the colours of the rainbow.
Once the eggs had dried, the two dogs put them in the basket and stood back to admire their handiwork. It looked beautiful.
Billy and Gordon gave each other a high five.
It was evening and soon it would be dark. So they quickly set about the task of hiding the eggs. Billy walked towards the flower bed with an egg.
ATISHOO. He sneezed loudly.
Oh dear. In his excitement, Billy had forgotten he suffered from hay fever and was allergic to pollen.
Hearing voices in the garden, Ruby went to the window and looked out. She watched in horror as Billy sneezed and the egg flew out of his hand. ‘Oh no,’ she said and covered her ears.
The egg landed with a plop and broke into a gooey mess.
Billy held the rainbow-coloured egg carefully.
Ruby covered her eyes as the egg fell into a puddle this time.
Billy groaned as all the colours began dripping off the egg into the water.
‘Gordon, you hide the rest. I aa-aa…’ ATISHOO. ‘I aa…going… ‘
Billy tripped over the hose pipe and fell right on top of the eggs.
Ruby looked at her husband, sitting on a pile of broken eggs and shook her head from side to side. ‘Totally useless,’ she said, and went back to where her puppies lay.
Billy learned for the first time how difficult it was to get rid of the smell of eggs. He had to shampoo four times, before the smell finally left him.
Couple of hours later, a squeaky clean but tired and red-nosed Billy flopped down in front of the fireplace, yet again.
‘I’m a loser,’ he said, his jaw drooping and his tail between his legs.
‘C’mon, you can’t give up so soon,’ said Gordon. ‘We still have the entire night.’
After much coaxing, Billy agreed to give it one more shot. The two friends painted a fresh batch of eggs late into the night. And then at dawn, Gordon hid the eggs one by one. Billy watched him from the door. He dared not step into the garden again.
After breakfast that morning the puppies were told they would be going to the garden for an Easter egg hunt. They barked and wagged their tails excitedly. They had never been outside before.
They rushed out of the door as soon as it was opened. Then stopped abruptly and looked around. The blue sky, the green grass, the trees, the flowers – everything was new and strange for them. They had never seen them before.
Ruby gave them a little nudge. ‘Go on. It’s not going to bite.’
The puppies sniffed and stepped onto the grass cautiously. And what do you know? They began to sneeze. All seven of them. They sneezed softly. They sneezed loudly. Their tiny bodies shook from head to toe as they sneezed. Finally they collapsed in a heap, one on top of the other.
Ruby smacked her forehead as she watched her babies sneezing over each other. As for Billy and Gordon, they laughed and laughed till tears ran down their cheeks.
‘They are my kids after all,’ Billy said with a grin and winked at his wife.
Ruby rolled her eyes and tried to disentangle the puppies.
Amidst all the sneezing and wheezing and tumbling, the puppies somehow managed to find each and every egg and placed them in the basket.
Then, rather pleased, they ran to their daddy, happily wagging their tails and licked him all over.
Ruby smiled at her husband and his friend. ‘Well done you two,’ she said.
Billy smiled back, his tongue hanging out and his tail wagging.