Follow The Adventures of Buddy in This Week’s Kids Corner Book of The Week FREE Excerpt – K. Anne Russell’s BUDDY’S TAIL

April 16, 2012
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Last week we announced that K. Anne Russell’s BUDDY TAILS was our new Kids Corner Book of the Week and the sponsor of thousands of great bargains in the Kids Book category: over 250 free titles, over 500 quality 99-centers, and hundreds more that you can read for free through the Kindle Lending Library if you have Amazon Prime!

Now we’re back to offer a free Kids Corner excerpt, and if you aren’t among those who have downloaded this one already, you’re in for a treat!

Buddy’s Tail

by K. Anne Russell

4.4 stars – 11 Reviews
Text-to-Speech and Lending: Enabled
Or check out the Audible.com version of Buddy’s Tail
in its Audible Audio Edition, Unabridged!
Here’s the set-up:

Buddy Boutonniere, a big-hearted Standard Poodle, subsists in the bare backyard of a tract home in the desert city of Yucca Dunes. MacKenzie, a Border Collie, and Javier, a Chihuahua, provide Buddy with companionship and bring him food scraps when his neglectful owners forget to provide for him.

When Buddy’s owners decide to move, Buddy meets a wonderful lady who visits his house with prospective buyers. The poodle’s humans try to sell their dog and Buddy goes through a series of unsuitable living situations. The final family returns Buddy to the tract home not realizing the owners are out of town. His only lifeline, MacKenzie, is killed by an evil Hummer driver while bringing him food. Tiny Javier tries to support Buddy with the aid of Dumb Derek, a Rottweiler whose brain is damaged from years of guarding a chemical dump. The two are unable to help the poodle.

Buddy dies, but is brought back to life by Sonny, the Good Shepherd. Sonny grants Buddy’s wish to go live with the wonderful lady, in return for his promise to go with Sonny when he comes back for him. Buddy has a happy life with the lady and her dog, Skootch. Together they rescue abandoned Leroy and abused Roxanne. Years later, during Skootch’s fifteenth birthday party, Sonny comes for Buddy. True to his word, he goes without complaint.

Sonny takes Buddy to Haven, the canine paradise, where he is reunited with MacKenzie. Sonny explains the rules in Haven; dogs acquire free will and give up their role of caring for humans. Their only responsibility is to help guide other dogs to Haven. Buddy excels at guiding, but on a mission to bring back a bomb dog from Afghanistan, Buddy breaks the rule and helps a human, the dog’s Marine partner.

The residents of Haven are furious with the poodle and he is exiled to the perimeter of paradise. There he meets a young girl who has died of cancer and befriends her, another infraction of the rules. He is dragged before the communal tribunal, where MacKenzie defends him. With the help of the marine and the girl, MacKenzie convinces the judges that Buddy is not an offender, but a hero.

Buddy’s story teaches young readers about the bonds of love and friendship, the role of free will in building character, the importance of responsibility in our lives, especially as it relates to animal welfare, and the acceptance of death as part of life’s journey for ourselves and our pets.

Materials for parents, teachers and kids at –

http://www.buddystail.com

Doggie illustrations were provided by Ron Ruelle (http://www.ronruelle.com).

 

And here, for your reading pleasure, is our free excerpt:

 

Chapter 1

 

Buddy Boutonniere was not the sort of dog you’d expect to find in our neighborhood, and that’s a fact. In Yucca Dunes, tastes in canines ran to Chihuahuas, American Pit Bull Terriers and the occasional Rottweiler. I’m a Border Collie, a bit of a standout myself, but I had an important job at a local golf course, so I belonged. Buddy was a poodle, and not just any piddly-diddly little poodle. He was a Standard Poodle, white as the snow on Mount San Jacinto and tall as its craggy peaks. Yep, he was one long cool drink of milk. He had a frizzy hairdo, ears as big as window curtains, a nose broad enough for roadrunner landings and the silliest tail you ever saw. It looked like a cross between spun cottoncandy and a tumbleweed.

 

We poked good natured fun at him every chance we got,

Javier and I. Javier was my Chihuahua pal, who considered himself

some kind of Hispanic cultural hero, the Zorro of the back

alleys. That little guy had a crusader’s heart in a chili pepper package.

Truth is he was so short and skinny, Javier had trouble casting

a shadow. He was always afraid of being squashed by some

two-legged dude in cross-trainers the size of skateboards, so he

hung with me for protection when he managed to escape from

his home.

 

Guess I should introduce myself. I’m MacKenzie. That’s a firstclass

name for a female herding dog. Javier always said I never

got it out of my blood. Even after I retired from the golf gig, I

couldn’t help myself, always wanting to look after folks and guide

them in the right direction. Buddy’s situation sure brought out

the mother in me.

 

Javier and I stopped by Buddy’s place nearly every day. Buddy

was dealt a bad hand in the human department. His people were

clueless about our kind. Warren and Lulu Swindell got him for

their daughter, Brianna, who went off to college without so much

as a hi-dee-ho. The parents didn’t realize Buddy would get so big.

HellllOOOOOOO! Anyway, they exiled Buddy to the yard, where

he made do with a lean-to for shelter from the desert sun and

a stunted jacaranda tree for scenery. I preferred my life on the

street to the prison he called home.

 

My pequeño pal and I visited frequently, because Bud’s people

were not only stupid and unfeeling, they were negligent. Had

a habit of going away for days and forgetting to leave enough

food and water. We made a point of checking on Buddy, because

if they had left him short again, I could pick up a snack for him

from the trashcans behind McDonald’s up on Palm Tree Street.

Thing that got me was that Buddy never complained. He took

what life threw at him. Believe me, it wasn’t much, but he always

had a smile and a kind word. He had a disposition as sweet as

desert flowers after a flash rain and a heart as big as the Mojave.

 

I’m going to tell you Buddy’s story. I witnessed most of it firsthand,

and my pals filled me in on the rest. It’s a roller coaster of a

tale, with more twists and turns than a jackrabbit chase down the

arroyo. I guess it’s my story too. I was one smug sister. I thought

I knew how things were, but that peach of a pooch turned my

canine cosmos on its ear.

 

Those dunderheads the Swindells did get one thing right

though—his name. Buddy Boutonniere. Buddy was just the sort

of mellow guy who would go through life with a blossom in his

buttonhole, if he’d had a button hole. That’s why it’s so strange he

turned out to be the one who broke the biggest rule of all.

 

 

 

Chapter 2

 

That Tuesday in May was a typical visit. I remember it like it was yesterday. Javier was wearing his fancy green and red collar.

 

“It’s for Cinco de Mayo. Don’t you guys know anything?” Javier shrugged first one, then the other shoulder, so his nametag hung properly.

 

Buddy poked his nose between the bars of the gate to the  Swindell backyard. “It looks very nice on you. I wish I had a colored collar.”

 

“Yeah, Bud, what were they thinking, giving you that matte

black? Yuck! I see you in peacock blue.” Javier, whose coat was

the color of sand dunes at daybreak, took great pride in his

appearance.

 

Sometimes I got impatient with these two. “Would you guys

give it a rest with the fashion report? Here, Bud.” I shoved a bag

of fries through the bars. “I picked these up for you on the way

over. When was the last time you ate?”

 

“Thanks, Mac.” Buddy sniffed the wrapper, his big nostrils

flaring in appreciation. He selected some fries and chewed, his

eyes closing. After a swallow and a smack of ebony lips, he answered.

“Ummmm, these are wonderful. I stretched out what

they left for me, but I ran short yesterday morning.”

 

“I know how you like your frites, mon ami.” I never forgot

they were his favorite.

 

“We gotta get him some carne asada. After that, he will spit

on those fries.” Javier waltzed over and leaned on the bars.

 

“I’m sure I would like that, too. I loved the tacos you brought.”

“Javier insisted I stop at Taco Bell. He can’t carry much himself.”

I tried to see around Buddy into the backyard where the

water bowl was. If it was empty, he would be forced to drink pool

water, which wasn’t good for him.

 

“Hey, just because I couldn’t manage the Burrito Supreme,

you don’t have to be acting all grande muchacha.”

 

“No offense intended.” I nosed Javier gently on the top of his

head.

 

Buddy shook the last of the fries on the ground. One bounced

toward the wall, and he walked over to retrieve it. I got a full view

of the empty bowl, and my hackles rose. “Buddy, why don’t you

go on a barking jag? Bother the neighbors so they call Animal

Control.”

 

Si, your people are being cruel to you, man.” Javier bounced

up on his little legs, looking for all the world like he was going to

get in the ring with somebody.

 

“I couldn’t do that. They’re just forgetful. Brianna was very

kind.”

 

“Brianna’s history. Gone off to college, Bud.” In my opinion,

he needed to stop making excuses for them. “You’re left with the

two duds she has for parents.”

 

“They’ll be home soon and will fill my dish.”

 

“I think this is one case where you’re justified in biting the

hand that feeds you.” His brow wrinkled in a furious knot, Javier

nodded toward the empty container.

 

“There are dogs starving all over this valley. I am thankful for

the home I have and loyal to my humans.” Buddy finished the last

of the potatoes, licked the wrapper, and tucked the paper under

his dish so it couldn’t blow into the pool. “Thank you for the treat,

Mac. It was scrumptious.”

 

“I’ll be back later with something for your dinner.”

 

“I wish I could do something for you.” Buddy leaned his forehead

on the bars of the locked gate.

 

“You can, muchacho. Howl your head off, so we can have

ringside seats when they come to give Seńor Swindell a citation.”

Javier was dancing now, his nails tapping on the concrete. “We’d

love to see that come down, man.”

 

“Cool it, Salsa King,” I said. “Buddy doesn’t like to make

waves.”

 

“I don’t have your hot Latin blood.” Buddy winked at Javier.

 

“You got a warm heart, big guy. That much I know.” Javier

squeezed through the bars, waited for Buddy to lean his big head

down, and licked him on the chin. Those big poodle ears folded

down around Javier like a matador’s cape.

 

 

 

Chapter 3

 

Later that night, I brought Buddy the remains of a Big Mac, but the next day Javier and I didn’t get over to his place  until mid-afternoon. A car sat in the driveway, and a stake with a sign on it jutted out of the front lawn.

 

I greeted Buddy with a lick on the cheek. “When did that turn up?”

 

“This morning. A man came with it in his trunk. What does it

mean?”

 

“I know what it means.” Javier strutted over to the stake and

peed on it. “They put one of those up next door. Next thing we

knew, the people who lived there went away and new people

moved in. I still miss the little girl from the first family. She used

to rub my belly.”

 

“Oh, my.” Buddy’s gaze fell to his paws. His front legs were

straight up and down like palm trunks. “I wonder where we could

be going. How will you find me?”

 

“If you’re in this valley, pal, I’ll find you.” My voice sounded

more confident than I felt.

 

Javier passed through the fence bars and surveyed Buddy’s

yard. Except for the pool and a bench in need of some varnish,

it was little more than a cement box. “Let’s not panic yet, amigo.

Perhaps they will not be successful in finding others to take their

place. This is not very attractive, to dogs or people.”

 

I was trying to think of something reassuring to say to Buddy

when I heard it. I was halfway across the yard and picking up

speed before Javier figured out what was happening.

 

“Mac, stop! You could get hurt.” Javier shot back through the

gate, his voice rising to a shrill squeak.

 

Buddy gasped and banged into the bars as if he could part

them. “It’s the Hummer! No, MacKenzie, don’t chase it.”

 

I heard them. They were far away, like the voice of my conscience,

but I could no more stop than I could change the color

of my fur. I hated that Hummer. I hated its metallic growl and the

smelly gray streaks its left on the road when it turned. Most of all

I hated the man who drove the moving black mountain.

 

I fell in behind the beast as it cruised past Buddy’s house. The

harsh sounds blaring from its windows fueled my anger. Barks

flew from my throat like summer thunder. The thing picked up

speed and sailed away from me, smoke spewing out of its tail like

the beginning of a brush fire.

 

Panting, I trotted to a halt at the next street, the taste of oil

fouling my tongue. Someday, I would catch that evil man and get

even for Howie.

 

I returned to Buddy’s place in time to see his humans packing

their car with suitcases. Javier had curled himself up in Buddy’s

shadow, and the two watched as Warren Swindell eased his

paunch behind the wheel and closed the dusty station wagon’s

door.

 

I collapsed on the walk, my panting more under control, as

the car backed into the street.

 

Carumba, they could have waved at you, Bud.” Javier shook

his head and stretched.

 

“They filled my bowls, and I got table scraps at lunchtime.”

 

“Big of ‘em.” Javier leaned over Buddy’s food dish and sniffed.

His nostrils wrinkled as if he were smelling road kill.

 

Buddy changed the subject, sliding his paw through the

bars until it touched my hind foot. “Mac, I know you hate that

Hummer, but you must be more careful. It is a contest you cannot

win. Howie would not want you to be taking such risks.”

 

“We’ll see.” I sat up, perked my ears and a ring of fire gripped

my heart. I could just detect the growl of the wicked thing in the

distance as it sped through our neighborhood.

 

 

 

 

Chapter 4

 

In the weeks to come, Buddy’s life changed for the better. The boredom he endured at the Swindell homestead was broken by a parade of humans. People arrived in groups of two or

three, toured the house, examined the yard, craned their necks to study the roof and the chimney of the trim little house, and returned to their cars chattering like crows on a newly

mown lawn.

 

Javier pumped Buddy for details about the visitors, mostly

about their shoes. The bigger the shoes, the wider Javier’s eyes

got as Buddy described the visitors, until I was sure they would

pop out and roll into the rose bed.

 

Buddy was happy to share his news even though we realized

that the tours would end and he would have to go away someday.

But Buddy never had news before, so it was sweet to have the

tables turned and be listeners for a change.

 

That Saturday, we were late. Javier was caught sneaking out

through the open garage by Papa Borrego. He was stuck in the

house until the Borrego family’s youngest, little Juanita, left the

front door ajar when she crossed the lawn to check the mailbox.

 

When Buddy saw us coming down the street, he jumped up,

danced a few steps forward and draped his paws over the top

rung of the gate, his sail-like ears swinging in the breeze.

 

“You look ready to burst, man.” Javier pranced through the

bars under Buddy’s rangy torso, so smug about his escape from

Juanita that he didn’t shy away from Bud’s big feet for once.

 

“I have had the most wonderful day.” Buddy sprang to the

ground, flung himself in front of us, crossed his legs and broke

into a silly grin.

 

“We’re all ears.” Javier shot his up to their full three-inch

height.

 

“A lady came. No, let me back up and start at the beginning.”

 

“Was the man with the gunboats here?” Javier tucked his

hind legs under and shuttered.

 

“Yes, he was here. He’s always along, with a big pile of papers

stuffed under his arm, talking as fast as a pigeon in mating season.”

Buddy winked his gravy-colored eyes.

 

“Oh, man, his feet are huge.” Javier grimaced, eyes closed, his

front paws shaking.

 

“Snap out of it, Javier. Buddy, about the lady?”

 

“Actually, there were three ladies. The two younger ones

stuck with the talky man.”

 

“Bigfoot!”

 

“Javier, chill!” I sidled next to Javier and stroked his cheek

with my muzzle to calm him. “Buddy, get on about the women.”

“I’m getting to the good part. The older lady didn’t seem interested

in the house. She came outside and sat on the bench by

the pool.”

 

“So?” Javier’s voice was back in its normal range.

 

“Except for the pool man, people hardly ever come into my

yard. And nobody sits.” Buddy shot up onto his haunches. “Then

she motioned for me to come to her.”

 

“What did you do?”

 

“I obeyed. She patted my head. Not like Mr. Swindell. He

bonks me and flattens my topknot.” Buddy’s eyes went out of focus,

his head swaying from side to side as he recollected. “She

rubbed under my ears. Stroked my cheeks. I don’t think I’ve ever

felt anything so good.”

 

“Did she do it right here?” Javier was pointing to the special

place on his own ear. I could not remember the last time I’d

had my ear stroked the way Buddy described. A wave of sadness

swept over me.

 

“Yes, that’s it, but there’s more.” Buddy was up now, pacing.

“She patted next to her on the bench. I didn’t know what to make

of that at first. Then I had an inspiration. I jumped up and sat next

to her.”

 

“Whoa!” Javier’s eyebrows arched, sharp as tortilla chips.

“I’m not allowed on the furniture. That was a risky move.”

 

“Her hair was gray, you know, like the hairs above Howie’s

eyes. Her eyes were green like new shoots of grass, and she

didn’t look through me. She looked right into my eyes. It was

something.”

 

“How long did she stay?” I asked.

 

“I can’t rightly say. I lost track of time. When the others came

for her, she had her arm around my shoulders and was scratching

my side.” Buddy blinked, a tear glistening on his lash.

 

“Some people are good like that. Mamacita Borrego, when

she is not so busy with the cooking and the cleaning, sits with me

sometimes. She cradles me in her apron.”

 

I thought of Jamie, my first handler at the golf course. Jamie

knew how a dog wants to be treated. We were a pair. Everyone

said so. I would race along the fairway faster than the breeze,

Jamie following me in the cart. I could chase geese off the fairway

all day long for that man. We were inseparable until he broke his

leg. Then Kurtz came.

 

I swallowed hard and tried to recall Jamie’s face. It would not

come. Only his salty scent and the firm touch of his palm on my

head.

 

“Maybe she will buy the house,” I said. My voice cracked a

little, but my friends didn’t notice.

 

“That would be wonderful. If Mr. Swindell would let me stay.”

Buddy spun around, his silly tail bouncing.

 

“Speaking of the Swindell hombre,” Javier nodded to the

driveway.

 

As the car pulled up, I sent a little prayer heavenward that

Buddy’s wish would be granted.

 

 

 

Chapter 5

 

I sunned myself after bathing in the runoff from the sprinklers at the new subdivision. The days were getting hotter, and I had to cool off after all the exertion. I found the Hummer in the strip mall where the McDonald’s was located and gave chase.  Memories of Howie’s end made my blood run hot as chipotle.  I did not abandon my pursuit until the evil one gunned down the on ramp to Interstate 10. I was arranging my still damp fur when Javier tore across the intersection and slid into me on the wet concrete.

 

“Something has happened at Buddy’s.” He managed to spit

the words out between pants.

 

“What’s up?” I stood and shook the rest of my coat into place.

 

“The sign’s gone. You know what that means?” Javier’s

spring-loaded tail vibrated.

 

“Tell me.”

 

“It means the exchange of humans is about to happen.”

 

“And that means we are about to learn what is going to happen

to Buddy. Let’s get over there.” I set off at a slow trot so Javier

could keep up.

 

Buddy was not at the gate when we arrived. The Swindell’s

car and another vehicle filled the driveway, and a third car parked

behind them in the street. Javier slipped through the bars to go

and find our friend, and I waited, staring at the gash in the lawn

where the sign had been. The earth was disturbed like a freshly

dug grave., and a worm fought to bury itself out of sight before a

bird noticed it.

 

Before my pals reappeared, a man and woman, each carrying

a stack of papers, left the house and walked to the driveway. They

shook hands and headed to their respective cars. They both had

pulled away by the time Javier and Buddy reached the gate.

The muscles over Buddy’s eyes were pinched and his lip

hunched to one side.

 

“What are you puzzling over?” I slouched against the wall in

a patch of shade.

 

Javier passed through the bars to my side. “We watched the

people through the picture window. The woman kept pointing at

Buddy.”

 

Buddy took up his usual position behind the gate. “Mr.

Swindell shook his head over and over.”

 

“Which way?”

 

“Like this.” Javier did the “no” shake, jiggling his name tag.

Buddy sighed. “She is one of the women who came with my

lady, the one who sat on the bench and looked into my eyes.”

 

“She must have asked for you, man. That’s what it means.”

Javier sat, his little tail rotating like a propeller.

 

“And Mr. Swindell refused.” Buddy hung his head. “Why

would he do that? I know he doesn’t want me.”

 

Try as we might we could not shed any light on the scene

Buddy had witnessed. The sun moved to our side of the wall,

bathing us with warmth. My morning chase caught up with me,

I stretched out on the soft lawn and slipped into a welcome nap.

 

I dreamed of Howie in the happy times. We played in the park,

dodging around the statues. Sometimes, I let him win the race

to the hotdog stand at the baseball diamond, where the vender

gave us broken rolls smeared with generous squirts of catsup.

 

Startled awake by the sound of the garage door, I lifted my

head in time to see Mr. Swindell’s rear back into view as he

dragged something out to the driveway.

 

“Buddy, is that yours? It’s the biggest carrier I’ve ever seen.”

Javier was rubbing his eyes. “That would be a condominium for

a guy my size.”

 

Mr. Swindell returned to the garage and came out again carrying

two bowls and a leash. He placed the bowls on top of the

carrier, walked to the street, and shaded his eyes as he looked

down toward the Palm Tree Street intersection.

 

“I’m not scheduled for a grooming.” Buddy’s voice trembled.

Mr. Swindell waved with his free hand. A white SUV slowed

and turned into the driveway.

 

As a man and woman got out of the SUV, Swindell headed

for us.

 

“Beat it, pint size,” he said to Javier who sat frozen like a

statue  in the middle of the walkway. My friend ricocheted away

from the approaching feet and cowered beneath an hibiscus

bush.

 

“I don’t like the look of this.” I stood my ground.

 

Swindell unlocked the gate, attached the leash to Buddy’s

collar, and led him toward the carrier.

 

Buddy turned his stricken face to me. “This is it. I’ll never see

you again. There’s no time to say the things I wanted to say.”

 

“Be brave, Bud. I won’t let you out of my sight. I’ll chase the

car.”

 

The door of the carrier closed on him and the two men lifted

it toward the rear of the SUV.

 

Buddy fought to remain standing as he was lifted, but he lost

his balance and fell, his face jammed against the wire mesh. The

men cursed at him to be still and strained to guide the big cage

home.

 

The last glimpse I had of my friend was of that proud puff of

a tail smashed against the bars of the crate before the woman

slammed the hatch closed.

 

“Look, Javier, there’s the answer to the mystery.” Javier

peered out from under a red hibiscus blossom in the direction I

indicated.

 

As we watched, the stranger counted bills into Mr. Swindell’s

palm. When he was done, Swindell handed him an envelope with

the silhouette of a dog in one corner.

 

Javier’s eye narrowed to slits. His voice came in a hiss. “So,

Seńor Swindell did not want to give Buddy away to someone who

would love him, he wanted to sell him to the highest bidder.”

 

The SUV backed down the driveway.

 

“Go to your house and wait for me, Javier. I’m going to follow

Buddy’s trail.”

 

“May your paws become wings, amiga.”

Continued….

Click here to download the entire book: BUDDY’S TAIL

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