John Robert Mallernee

Part 1: RINGO ~ A TALE FOR CHILDREN

Once upon a time, boys and girls, far, far away in a magic land of ice-cream mountains and sugar-frosted hills, there lived a happy, bushy border collie named Ringo.

Boys and girls, scientific tests have proven that border collies are the most intelligent breed of all dogs, and Ringo was a very intelligent border collie among all the other very intelligent border collies, as we shall very soon see in this story.

In this magic land of dreams, Ringo lived on a real Western cattle ranch, just like in the movies, with real cowboys who wore real guns and rode real horses while rounding up hundreds of real cows on a real Western range with deer and antelope and coyotes and prairie dogs, just like in the songs and poems and stories and major Hollywood motion picture productions (with a budget of millions and a cast of thousands) and in television shows.

Ringo lived in a horse barn with a human whom Ringo had properly trained to cater to Ringo’s every whim, want, and need.

The human lived upstairs in the horse barn, and Ringo slept on a nice, big, soft pillow at the foot of the stairs, surrounded by toys, with a shiny metal dish full of meat and kibble and biscuits, as nearby a warm, cozy fire blazed in a woodstove.

Ringo had his own private entrance to go outside, and his own cat to chase, but when Ringo wanted to go back inside, he would bark to let the human know he was ready and then wait patiently by the front door for his trained human to come downstairs and let him in.

When Ringo preferred to sleep outside, he had a nice plastic igloo-shaped doghouse lined with extra-thick layers of sweet alfalfa hay, and it was right next to the front door of the barn, so Ringo could listen for his human upstairs.

Ringo looked like he was always wearing a tuxedo, for his thick furry coat was black all over, except for a wide, white streak on his chest and neck, little white boots on his paws, and a perfect white stripe which ran directly up the center of his snout and between his devoted, very intelligent brown eyes, which ended at his forehead.

Ringo was happy and smiled and laughed (yes, scientists have recently discovered that dogs actually do laugh) and wagged his bushy tail a lot.

Ringo enjoyed chasing butterflies and birds and fallen leaves being blown about by the wind.

Ringo loved to run for long distances, and his human was trained to drive a big red pick-up truck out all around the range, so Ringo could race along with the truck.

In the summer, Ringo loved to wade in the cool mud of the river while slaking his thirst in the muddy waters, but in the winter, Ringo would race about on the thick snow-covered ice of the frozen pond, yapping with sheer joy.

Sometimes, Ringo would visit the human in the apartment, where the human was trained to pet Ringo whenever Ringo would force his snout up under the human’s arm as it was resting on a chair or table.

Ringo had also trained the human to give him hot buttered popcorn while the human watched television.

Ringo admired the human, and marveled at all the strange things that humans do, and Ringo wondered what it might be like to be a human.

Yes, boys and girls, in the far, far off magical land of ice cream mountains, Ringo secretly desired to become a human being, just exactly like the real cowboys who wore real guns and rode real horses while rounding up hundreds of real cows on a real Western range with deer and antelope and coyotes and prairie dogs, just like in the songs and poems and stories and major Hollywood motion picture productions (with a budget of millions and a cast of thousands) and in television shows.

One night, when Ringo was supposed to be guarding the real Western cattle ranch (just like in the movies), he fell asleep from eating all that meat and kibble and biscuits in the shiny metal dish, and from being so comfortable lying sprawled out on the nice, big, soft pillow with the warm cozy fire blazing in the nearby woodstove.

As Ringo snored away and dreamed of sweet and tender puppy dog memories, his sleep gradually became deeper and deeper and deeper, and everything around him grew darker and darker and darker.

Suddenly, Ringo was startled awake by a brilliant white light, brighter than day, which made him feel very unsure of himself.

Just in front of him was a curious looking creature, a pure white Arctic wolf puppy with gossamer wings shimmering on its back and holding a small sugar sprinkled silver doggy bone in its paw.

“AAaaRRRooooooooOOO!!!!” said the curious looking creature.

“You are such a very intelligent border collie among all the other very intelligent border collies that I have been sent from the World of Nebulous Canines (a top-secret branch of the American Kennel Club) to grant you your fondest wish, and for the next twenty-four hours, you are permitted to experience life as a human.”

Instantly, the curious looking creature vanished, along with the brilliant white light, brighter than day, and Ringo collapsed back into his deep, dark sleep.
Ringo suddenly woke up, shivering with cold.

Ringo was a HUMAN!

But – – –,

Ringo had no clothes and there was no blanket to cover up with on the nice, big, soft pillow (which suddenly wasn’t so big – – – Can you boys and girls tell me why?) and there was no fire blazing in the nearby woodstove, so it was no longer warm and cozy.

Ringo got to his bare feet and wandered over to the door, stumbling out into the snow and ice.

Ringo tried to go back inside, but the door was locked and Ringo didn’t have a key to open the door, for Ringo wasn’t wearing any pants with pockets to put keys in.

Since Ringo didn’t have any keys, he couldn’t open the gate, so he had to climb over the freezing metal bars with his shivering body, which wasn’t any fun at all.

So, Ringo hobbled on freezing bare feet to the nearest neighboring ranch, where the people there yelled and screamed and threatened him with a gun.

Soon (but it was so cold, it sure didn’t feel like “soon”), a volunteer ambulance crew drove up, followed eventually by a deputy sheriff wearing a gun and a star and a cowboy hat (just like they do on television).

Ringo couldn’t explain how he got there or why he wasn’t wearing any clothes.

He tried to tell the people that his name was Ringo and that he was almost four years old.

Four years old is okay if you’re a happy border collie, but it makes no sense if you’re a grown human being shivering in the snow with no clothes and no keys and no official government-issued Social Security card.

So, Ringo was taken to the county jail, where he was observed very closely for psychiatric abnormalities.

But, at least Ringo was in out of the cold, wearing orange coveralls, and eating bacon and eggs and toast, and drinking orange juice.

Unfortunately, Ringo was not alone in the jail, and the other humans in the jail with him were not nice to him and were not properly trained to cater to Ringo’s every whim, want, and need.

But Ringo HAD been a dog, and he knew how to twist and turn and snarl and snap and growl and bite and scratch, which the other humans weren’t expecting, so they finally decided to leave Ringo alone.

Still, Ringo was beginning to see that it wasn’t as easy to be a human as it was to be a happy border collie in a far-off magic land of ice cream mountains and sugar-frosted hills, on a real Western cattle ranch, just like in the movies, with real cowboys who wore real guns and rode real horses while rounding up hundreds of real cows on a real Western range with deer and antelope and coyotes and prairie dogs, just like in the songs and poems and stories and major Hollywood motion picture productions (with a budget of millions and a cast of thousands) and in television shows.

Several humans wearing nice suits and ties (but not as nice as his own Border collie tuxedo) came to examine him and ask him lots of questions, for which Ringo had no answers.

You see, boys and girls, Ringo had never been to kindergarten or first grade or second grade or even third grade, so Ringo didn’t know anything about “Dick” or “Jane” or “Spot” or why Dick and Jane and Spot were running.

Ringo didn’t even have any keys to open doors and gates with, and Ringo didn’t have an official government-issued Social Security card.

So, when the men wearing the nice dark suits and ties (but not as nice as Ringo’s own Border collie tuxedo) asked him questions, Ringo could only tell them he was almost four years old.

Four years old is okay if you’re a happy border collie, but it makes no sense if you’re a grown human sitting in the county jail wearing orange coveralls with no keys and no official government-issued Social Security card.

Some big men wearing uniforms and badges and jingling keys told Ringo to get busy and mop the floor, but Ringo had never mopped a floor in his entire life and didn’t even know what a mop was.

So, Ringo got yelled at a whole lot by a lot of very unhappy angry humans with red faces and loud voices, which made Ringo think about his good human who was properly trained to cater to Ringo’s every whim, want, and need.

That night Ringo wept with bitter confused loneliness as he slowly fell to sleep in the county jail cell.

Boys and girls, do you feel sorry for Ringo?

Does Ringo make you want to cry too?

Well, boys and girls, cross your little fingers and shut your little eyes and let’s all say – – -

“Shalla Walla Kalla Balla Kazamaramama BOOM!”

Guess what?

When the big men wearing uniforms with badges and jingling keys walked by the jail cell, there was a happy border collie, wrapped in baggy orange coveralls!

“Now, how did that dog get in here?”

“Where’s that inmate that’s supposed to be here?”

“He’s escaped!”

“How did he get out?”

“That dog doesn’t belong in here!”

“Get the Animal Control Officer in here NOW!”

“Somebody’s got some explaining to do, and it better be good!”

All through this fuss, Ringo wagged his bushy tail and smiled and laughed (yes, scientists have recently discovered that dogs actually do laugh) and hoped one of the big men wearing uniforms and badges and jingling keys would bring him some eggs and bacon and toast and orange juice.

Soon, two of the big men wearing uniforms and badges and jingling keys took Ringo out of the jail to a pick-up truck, but because Ringo was so happy and friendly, and wagged his bushy tail so much, the big men wearing uniforms and badges and jingling keys got careless and didn’t hold on to Ringo very well.

That’s when Ringo broke free and raced pell-mell down the street, around the corner, up the alley, and disappeared over the horizon, running all the way from the town, across the country, up the sugar-frosted hills, near the ice cream mountains, down through valleys of fantasy, past homes of giggling children, on, on, on, and away, for miles and miles and many more miles, until at long last – – -,

Ringo was finally back at the real Western cattle ranch, just like in the movies, with real cowboys who wore real guns and rode real horses while rounding up hundreds of real cows on a real Western range with deer and antelope and coyotes and prairie dogs, just like in the songs and poems and stories and major Hollywood motion picture productions (with a budget of millions and a cast of thousands) and in television shows.

Ringo barked and stood patiently at the front door waiting for his human whom Ringo had properly trained to cater to Ringo’s every whim, want, and need.

Soon, a very happy Ringo was fast asleep on his nice, big, soft pillow at the foot of the stairs, surrounded by toys, with a shiny metal dish full of meat and kibble and biscuits, as nearby a warm, cozy fire blazed in a woodstove.

And so, boys and girls, far, far away in the magical land of the ice-cream mountains and sugar-frosted hills, Ringo and his properly trained human lived happily ever after.