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Three little birds 2010

Three tales in one This story and photo book was inspired by a small, crumpled note scrawled by an eight-year-old friend and a familiar tune by a reggae legend. The first part contains a short story, the second is a family photo essay, and the third is a tribute to Ruby. Woven throughout is a tapestry of love, hope, and wisdom from our best friends - past and present. Enjoy!

Contents Happiness is a warm puppy 1.

2010 2.

Good-bye, Ruby 3.

Happiness is a warm puppy 1.

James slipped out from under his Manchester United blanket and peered under his shade. The sky was gray and matched his mood. His dog Ruby had died a few months earlier and his heart ached. Without Ruby, there was no furry face to stroke, nor wet nose to Eskimo kiss. No velvety, warm coat to snuggle against. No happy dance to greet him. There, perched on the window sill were three tiny, flame-red birds singing. Zureet. Zeeyer. Zeero. Zeery. Dark, unblinking eyes stared at him. James pounded his fist on the window. "Be quiet!" he shouted. They cocked their feathered, heads one way, and then the other. They sang: Zreedon't, zworry. Strange. James thought he heard "Don't worry," like that Bob Marley song his Dad plays on his iPod when James is sad. Since Ruby died, James worried more. He worried about getting his homework right; making sure doors were locked at night and burglars breaking in and stealing stuff.

Tap. Tap. Tap. A black beak pecked at the glass. James pushed up the window something his mom told him never to do.

She felt sorry for yelling at James and folded him in her arms. These days, it seemed, anything could set him off.

"James. James. James." He heard the words clearly. "It is time. Time. Time."

"I miss Ruby," said James.

Time for what? The other two other birds joined the first and sang. "New friend. Friend. Friend." "Friend?" said James. "What do you mean?" Just then, the bedroom door flung open. "What's all the noise up here?" James's mom said as she marched into his room. "Why is the window open? I told you never to open the window," she said. "You could fall out and get hurt." As she moved to close it, she noticed three red birds. James didn't hear any of her questions because he had begun to cry.

"Me, too," said his mom. "Everyone does. Daddy. Grandma and Papa. Granny-mom and Grandpa. Your aunts and uncles, cousins and friends all miss her.� He buried his head in her lap and sobbed. She rocked him back and forth. As her fingers stroked his mess of brown curls she couldn't stop thinking about the Boxer she saw in a car the day before. The dog's head poked out the window inhaling the sweet smell of early spring. How Ruby loved to go for a ride! Ruby's death had been hard on all of them, especially James's dad. For 15 years they had always walked into a four or eightlegged homecoming celebration.

When Gunnar died eight years ago, it had been difficult. For weeks they cried, but Ruby had been such a comfort. James was a newborn. Ruby was barely a year old, yet she embraced her new alpha girl status like the feisty diva she was. "Mom," James sniffed. "I was talking to three little birds. That's why the window was open." "Really?" She raised her eyebrow. “Talking birds?” Like the three birds she had seen earlier. Gone now, she shook her head. James had such a wild imagination. James took a deep breath and said; "They were outside my window and told me it was time for a new friend. I know what they meant! A puppy." "Whoa,” she said. “You know Dad isn't ready for a puppy. Besides, a puppy is a lot of work." "I will take care of the puppy."

"We'll see." "Can't we just look on the computer?" James said. "And see when any Boxer puppies will be born?" "Well, I suppose it wouldn't hurt just to look." A rabbit-toothed grin spread across James's tear-stained face. Searching online, they found a breeder nearby who had Boxer puppies. "Can we see them?" "This was posted a month ago," she said. "The puppies might have found homes by now." "Please?" James clasped his hands under his chin and tilted his head. It was hard for his mom to resist those big, dark brown eyes. "Oh, alright."

She called. There was only one puppy left and the breeder was thinking about keeping it because he was calm and sweet. She told the breeder about her other two boxers, Ruby and Gunnar.

minute. What would he say?

Outside, three little birds hovered.

His dad raised an eyebrow. "We are?"

"Ruby really looked after James," she said. "Can we at least take a look?"

"James, we're just looking," said his mom.

As she continued to talk on the phone, James could barely contain his excitement. He ran circles around the kitchen, slipping and sliding in his socks. “We have an appointment after lunch.” she said. James clapped his hands and jumped up and down. "We're just looking. Don't get your hopes up, James. We don't know if this puppy will be right for our family. Besides, we still have to tell Dad." James's Dad had been in Los Angeles for the past week. He was due home any

As soon as his Dad walked through the door, James ran to hug him. "Daddy, we're getting a puppy."

"I don't know," said his dad, shaking his head. “This is a surprise.” "It's time, Dad," said James. "Three little birds told me." "What birds?" asked his dad. James told him what he had told his mom. "That's quite a story, James. I don't think I'm ready for another - " "I will be responsible," interrupted James, his words spilling out at high-speed. "I'll give him attention and feed him. I'll walk and play with him. I'll take him to the bathroom and train him. You'll see. A puppy will cheer us all up."

"Slow down, buddy," laughed his dad. "It sounds like you've thought a lot about this." James nodded. "We'll take a look," his dad said. "But no promises." James smiled and pulled on his jacket. At the breeders, there were many dogs Boxers, and other breeds including Boston Terriers and Chihuahuas. Not one barked when they entered the room. James was only interested in seeing the puppy. On the far side of the room, in a crate, he saw him. Dark, with stripes like a tiger - the breeder called his coloring brindle - he had long, floppy ears and a snow-white chest. His Mom and Dad said that he looked like Gunnar. "Why didn't anyone choose him?" asked James. "I think it's because he's different looking from the others," said the breeder. The

puppy had a pink eye, but it wasn't really his eye that was pink, it was his eyelid. "All dogs have a third eyelid that helps keep the eye clean," explained the breeder. "It looks like skin," said James. "That's right," said the breeder. "His third eyelid stands out more in his right eye than his left because it doesn't have any pigment, or coloring. So his eyes look a bit odd." The puppy walked towards James. "Do you want to play?" asked James, and rolled a ball. The puppy chased it and returned, dropping it at James's feet. When the puppy pawed and pounded at his toy in a playful cat-like way, everyone laughed. It was a natural Boxer trait to “box.� When James walked around the kitchen, the puppy followed him. James called; "Here puppy!" The puppy trotted to him with his perky tail in the air.

"The pup is really good with James," said the breeder. "I would really like to see the puppy in a home with kids." James's mom and dad looked at each other and smiled. Being around Boxers and seeing James with the puppy felt good. The puppy was perfect for their family. "I think we're ready," said his mom. His dad nodded. "What shall we name him?" asked his mom. James and his dad were wearing their new LA Galaxy soccer jerseys. Printed on the back was Beckham – one of the greatest soccer players in the world. "What about Beck?" said his dad. "Beck," said James, thinking for a minute. "I like it." The puppy licked his hand." At home later that afternoon, James snuggled with his new friend. He began to sing: "Don't worry about a thing, / 'Cause every little thing gonna be alright." Like sparks rising into the air, three little birds flew away.

The End.

2010 2. Play more. Worry less. Stay curious. Be kind. Drink fresh water. Smile. Nuzzle your loved ones. Stretch. Exercise everyday. Listen.

Eight is great.

Kids are good for you.

Soccer is a way of life.

Family fun is always near...

... and never far away.

Third grade happens to everyone.

Gathered in love. First communion.

Be thankful.

Good-bye, Ruby I miss the wagging little tail I miss the plaintive pleading wail I miss the wistful loving glance I miss the circling welcome dance. - Henry Willet

Ruby: 2001 - 2009 She is your friend, your partner, your defender, your dog. You are her life, her love, her leader. She will be yours, faithful and true, to the last beat of her heart. You owe it to her to be worthy of such devotion. - Anonymous

I hope we were worthy.

Beck and James 2010

Three Little Birds  

A family storybook