Peanut Butter Jones, a 5 pound chihuahua who lived life in a pink sweater and wore dog goggles in the sunlight, lived in a small home with her the woman she dubbed “the lady.” One morning, after many unsuccessful attempts to chomp on some floor cheese, she decided she would not be bamboozled by the yellow holey cube glistening in the sunlight. The last three cubes of cheese she had eaten resulted in her nose being bopped as metal snapped onto the wood the cheese sat on. She had no idea why someone would create a plate that bops you on the nose when you ate from it. Maybe the lady of the house was trying to tell her something. Maybe she needed to drop a few pounds and this was supposed to teach her that she shouldn’t eat every single piece of food that hits the floor.
If that was the case, though, wouldn’t the lady just stop dropping food on the floor altogether? Why would she purposely place cheese in this…this, for lack of a better term, trap? Is nose bopping a new grooming technique? Like how every Sunday the lady clips her nails and every other Saturday the lady gives her a bath? Now, for some reason, she needed to be bopped every time she ate a piece of cheese? That didn’t quite make sense, but what other reason could there be for placing a cube of perfectly good cheese on the floor and bopping whomever tried to eat it?
Peanut Butter’s friend, Harry the mouse, scurried across the floor as she pondered what cheese and bopping had to do with each other. Harry never got distracted by the cheese, which is good, because Peanut Butter wasn’t sure he could survive the massive bop that would be inflicted upon him if he tried to eat it. But Peanut Butter didn’t have to worry about Harry – he was a vegan.
When Peanut Butter first met Harry over some cracker crumbs the lady’s human child had dropped, Peanut Butter asked why he had never seen him around before. Harry answered that he had just moved in to a small hole in the wall. Then Harry informed Peanut Butter that he had high morals, and that he refused to eat anything that comes from an animal. As a vegan, Harry didn’t eat meat, chicken, turkey, fish, eggs, milk, butter, honey, or cheese.
Peanut Butter asked him what the purpose of life was without those things, and Harry said that the purpose of living was to make the world a better place for the next generation of mice. He wanted equality and equity. Dogs and cats got to live in houses and be treated like royalty, but mice had to scrounge around, sleep in walls, and live off the table scraps of humans all while hiding the fact that they’re even there at all.
Harry didn’t understand what was so bad about mice. His biggest hope was that one day mice would get the same respect as other house pets. Things were getting better for the mice as a people, but there was still a long way to go. Peanut Butter agreed that mice rights were very important and told Harry that he would help in any way he could – except by becoming a vegan. Peanut Butter could not possibly stop eating meat. Or chicken. Or turkey. Or butter. Or cheese. Her favorite snack was leftover meatloaf slathered in the cheesy sauce the lady made to put on top of broccoli. (Peanut Butter didn’t quite understand the purpose of the broccoli, but if it meant she got to have some cheese sauce, she was all for it.)
She had to keep her weight up anyway. As a chihuahua with little-to-no body fat, she could literally blow away in a strong gust of wind. She needed lots of food to help her bulk up so she could eventually reach her goal weight of seven pounds. That’s what all the cool chihuahuas in the dog park weighed.
Peanut Butter stared at the cube of cheese sitting on the bopping device and decided she would rather eat the cheese and have her nose bopped than not eat the cheese at all. Just then, the lady came into the kitchen and saw what Peanut Butter was doing. She said something and sounded upset. Perhaps she had meant to give Peanut Butter the cheese and didn’t want her to get bopped. Well, that was very kind of her, Peanut Butter thought. I’ll have to give her some licks later.
Peanut Butter didn’t speak human. She tried to learn for a long time. She had looked through translation books her friend Harry had given her, but she was unable to master it, and she didn’t know why. I suppose, Peanut Butter thought, if I knew how to read that would help.
But Peanut Butter was very good at reading facial expressions and was extensively educated in music, which helped her understand the humans’ phrases because of the way they spoke. For instance, if a human says something in a high-pitched voice, usually that meant something good is going to happen. If a human says something with a stern, lower-pitched voice that usually meant you were in trouble. And for some reason anytime the human looked nervous and gave you lots of treats before you got in the car, that usually means you were going to the dog doctor (who makes you endure the most horrible thing imaginable - sitting still for long periods of time).
Peanut Butter didn’t appreciate being taken to the dog doctor, as she had a lot of things she could be doing instead of sitting on a cold table covered in crinkly paper while the dog doctor violated her personal space. For instance, she could be chasing a ball, or pooping on the sidewalk, or even licking butter from the butter dish. But the dog doctor didn’t care about that.
Harry spoke human fluently, so sometimes he would translate for Peanut Butter. Apparently, her lady said the words, “sit” and “stay” a lot. Those were supposed to be commands, Harry had told her, and they were meant to tell Peanut Butter to stay still. Peanut Butter did not appreciate being commanded to do anything, though, and if Harry translated those words to her, she would usually go running around the house. The lady hadn’t seemed to catch on to the fact that “sit” and “stay” were Peanut Butter’s trigger words.
On this particular day, Harry was strolling by the cheese-filled boppers looking for some cracker crumbs. Peanut Butter couldn’t help but notice he looked extra dapper.
“What are you up to today?” Peanut Butter asked.
“My friend Sanjay is coming to town,” he said. “He’s from abroad.”
“What does abroad mean?” Peanut Butter asked as he sniffed the cheese and tried to resist the temptation to gobble it up.
“It means he’s from far away. He traveled from another country to get here.”
“Wow! How did he do that? And how do you know him if he’s from another country?” Peanut Butter asked as she drooled over the untouched cheese.
“Well, he snuck into some lady’s baggage at the airport. When he arrived in the United States, he snuck out and took the first train to our town. People are used to mice on trains, so it wasn’t very difficult. And we mice have a very intricate system to help us stay in touch with each other. It’s called the MIA - Murid International Association.
“What’s a murid?” Peanut Butter asked, scanning the floor for any extra crumbs she may have missed during her usually sweep of the kitchen.
“It’s a fancy name for mice or rats,” he said. “The MIA helps all of us mice communicate so we can stay united and help each other survive in this cold world that wants people to believe that mice are pests who need to be exterminated.”
“That’s really great. Dogs don’t have anything like that,” Peanut Butter said as she spotted a stray crumb. “We do, however, have a very intricate system to investigate each other - you know, to make sure you understand who you’re dealing with when you meet a new dog.”
“What’s that?” Harry asked.
“It’s called a butt sniff, and it’s very complicated, just like your system for mice.”
“Is it where you sniff each other’s butts?”
“Wow, you really catch on quick, don’t you? Dogs are born with the instinct to do that, but for a layperson - or lay-mouse I suppose - to come along and figure out the system so quickly…You really are smart, Harry. I don’t know why all of the people shriek when they see you.”
“They’re afraid of my intelligence,” Harry said.