Read Harry Cat's Pet Puppy Online
Authors: George Selden
“Don't you call him a mutt!” said Tucker.
For if the three of them were drenched, then Huppy was absolutely flooded. Like a soggy sponge he squished along beside Harry, back to the Times Square subway station.
“You're welcome to stay overnight,” said Harry.
“No, thanks,” said Lulu. “There's a guy down on Second Avenue who owns an antique shop. He doesn't know a back window is busted. I sack out down there in weather like this. But I'll drop in later on, this week, to see how the”âshe glanced at Tuckerâ“the little dog is.” And flew off through the winter night.
A time of frantic drying began. Using shredded newspapers, Kleenex, Scot towels, anything they could get their claws or paws on, the cat and the mouse rubbed Huppy dry. Then they fed himâonly a chunk of cheese, all they had, but he ate it gratefullyâand Harry punched up the pillow so it was good and soft.
“Wait!” said Tucker. “Last nightâI saw somethingâ” He whisked out into the subway station, and came back a minute later dragging a piece of red-checked flannel shirt behind him. “Tuck him in.”
tuck him in!” said Harry Cat. “That's your name, isn't it?”
“That's a lousy joke,” said Tucker. But he jumped at the chanceâjumped, in fact, right into Huppy's house, and began to tuck him in like mad. “Now soon you'll be nice and warm,” he soothed.
“Thank you, Tucka.”
The mouse beamed up at Harry Cat, who was on his hind legs, looking down.
“I know. I heard.”
” said Huppy, and laughed to himself.
jumped out of the cardboard box. And looked away.
A minute passed. Then, “Well,” said Harry, “you glad he's back?”
“I'm glad,” said Tucker.
“And what's that on your cheek?”
“It's nothing.” Tucker brushed nothing away. “Some rain.”
“We've been home an hour.”
“A little leftover rain, is all.”
A Growing Dog
That first sneeze in the alley was just the beginning. The sleet, the coldâHuppy got sick. But Harry and Tucker just thought it was sniffles. They had no idea how ill he was until Lulu came calling a few days after they'd gotten the little dog back.
She flew through the station, waddled into the drainpipe, took one look at Huppy, shivering in his box, and said, “That's a very sick dog. Feel his nose!”
“Why his nose?” demanded Tucker Mouse.
“You can tell if he has a temperature. The hotter the nose, the higher the fever.”
“Since when were you a veterinarian, Lulubelle?” asked Harry.
“Ooo, I know all about dogs,” said Lulu. “Maxâhe's the head of the pack that meets in Bryant ParkâMax tells me everything.”
Tucker jumped into Huppy's house. “His nose is burning up.”
“Pneumonia, probably,” cooed the pigeon.
“Thanks a lot!” said Tucker. But he began to worry.
The next day he worried even more, because Huppy's nose was hotter still. And back came Lulu, with more cheery information. “Max says there's nothing that you can do. He says he eats a special grass when he's sick. But it's winter now, and the grass is dead.”
“Well, I think there's something to do,” said Harry. “We'll keep him warm, and give him lots to eat and drinkâhe'll be well in a week.”
“Hope so,” said Lulu. “Toodle-oo!”
well in a week. If anything, he was worse. Harry tried to stay calm, although he too, behind a hopeful smile, was extremely concerned. Someone
to stay calm, because Tucker was franticâmore frantic, that is, than usual. He would feel just as guilt-ridden if the dog died of pneumonia as he would if they hadn't been able to find him at all. And he ran around the drainpipe, as Harry Cat said, feeling Huppy's nose every hour, “like a hysterical head nurse.” Harry sneaked a touch himself every now and then, when Tucker was out scrounging up something for Huppy to eat.
And if as a nurse the mouse overdid it somewhat, in the matter of food he proved himself a hero. Like most sick people, Huppy had no appetite, and to get him the goodies that went down most easily, Tucker risked life, limb, and dignity. He found that the one thing that
was welcome was
melted ice cream. The soup left over when a chunk had melted was not enough; Huppy liked to lap at the sweet solid cold. Very natural too, Nurse Tucker decided, for someone who had a fever. But rushing the stuff in a paper cup all the way back to the drainpipe late at night when the lunch stand had closed was quite a task. (Fortunately, the cover to the vanilla ice-cream container did not quite fit.)
It was when Huppy began to ask for strawberry that Harry suspected he was getting better. He was sure of it one morning after Tucker had taken his temperature for the tenth time that day and Harry had told him to for heaven's sake lay off!âand the dog airily allowed, “Oh, that's all right, Harry. Tucker can hold my nose if he wants to.” (At least, after all these weeksâit already was JanuaryâHuppy had his “r's” by now.)
“He can, can heâmhmm,” Harry purred. “I think instead of nose-holding what you need now is a little fresh air.”
“Fresh air!” shrieked Tucker. “You want him to get pneumonia again?”
“And since we're having a thaw right now, I believe we'll go up to the sidewalk tonight and get you at least ten good breaths. All right?”
“All right.” When Harry Cat agreed with himself, the argument was settled. He didn't want Huppy to become a chronic invalid. Which is often what happens when a sick youngster who is getting better is fed too much ice cream.
*Â Â Â *Â Â Â *
So that nightâafter Tucker had tried, and failed, to tie the piece of flannel shirt around the puppy with a piece of precious stringâthey set out for the sidewalk.
Set out, that is, two steps. Then Harry and Tucker froze in their tracks and stared at each other. The dog couldn't fit through the opening!
“Now don't be scared. And don't forget your r's,” said the cat. “You worked hard on them. We'll get you out of here.” Neither he nor Tucker had noticed how
the puppy had grown. “That darned ice cream!” thought Harryâalong with the hamburgers and the franks and everything else that Tucker had stuffed into him. “We'll just have to use the back wayâthrough the pipes.”
It wasn't that easy, however. The back hole to the drainpipe was larger than the frontâand Huppy got through it without too much troubleâbut a few feet in, the pipe split. The way that Tucker and Harry usually took to the street was too small. They had to turn leftâthe first of many left turnsâwhen they should have turned right, and turn downward when they should have turned up. After half an hour they'd gone so far, and in so many different directions, that even Harry didn't know where they wereâbut it felt as if they ought to be in Brooklyn by now!
The cat was leading the wayâif fumbling in darkness through unknown pipes could be called leadingâHuppy inching behind him, with Tucker Mouse bringing up the rear. “Let's take a rest,” said Harry, and stopped. In the cramped pitch-black no one said a word. Then Huppy began to whimper. Harry twisted around and pawed the air till he found the dog's head, which he patted. “I
you, Huppy, I'll get you out.”
“No, you won't! I'll get bigger and biggerâpretty soon I won't even be able to moveâI'll squash myself to death!”
“Let's get going!” came Tucker's anxious voice from behind.
“You two stay here,” said Harry. “I'm going on ahead and scout.”
Huppy couldn't turn around and Tucker couldn't squeeze past him, so he did the best he could by patting the puppy's rump and telling him it would be all rightâwhich he hoped but wasn't at all sure of.
Neither one of them heard the cat come back. “It's always worse right near the end. Two leftâone down, one upâthen a long level right and we're on the street. And you'll never guess where we come out!”
“North Dakota!” said Tucker.
They came out on the corner of Forty-first Street and Broadwayâexactly one block from the entrance to the subway station. But the night was so beautiful, when they'd found a deserted doorway to sit in, that it almost made up for all their effort. A January thawâlike spring in midwinterâis a fragile, strange season. The air was clear, a warm wind brushed the animals' fur, and high above, the remote bright stars seemed far more pure than the city's glitter. Huppy took his ten deep breaths.
But like most puppies when they are frightened, he couldn't keep quiet. “What are we going to
” he said.
“The first thing we're going to do is not worry,” said Harry. “But we
have to talk.”
The time had come to discuss Huppy's future, and with the dog present, because it was
future, after all. Harry explained, as gently as he could, while Huppy's head hung down to his chest, that a cat and a mouse could live in a drainpipe, butâbutâa growing dog couldn't. It wasn't that Tucker and he didn't want him there, or love him very much, it was just that it wasâimpossible. A dog needed space where he could live, and hopefully, a place to play. Harry said he'd been racking his brains for four months, and the only thing he'd been able to think of wasâhe looked away, down Forty-first Street, although Huppy hadn't lifted his eyes from the sidewalkâwas for Huppy to go to Connecticut. The two of them would put him on the Late Local Express, at Grand Central Station.
“Where's Connecticut?” said Huppy.
Harry described Connecticut, where it was, how it looked, and began rhapsodizing about a beautiful, natural park up there, called the Old Meadowâ“Renamed âTucker's Countryside,'” put in the mouse, “and for very good reason!”âand how they had this friend, Chester Cricket, who was very nice and could probably see that Huppy got adopted by a human family, andâ
“I don't want to go to Connecticut!” said the dog.
“I don't blame you,” sighed Tucker Mouse. “The country is a nice place to visit, but I wouldn't want to live there either.”
“It sounds so far away,” said Huppy. “Don't you even want to
Tucker jumped up and tried to grab the dog's neck but fell back and had to content himself with hugging a foreleg. “Of course we want to visit you!”
“Besides,” said Huppy, “I
“There you are,” said the mouse. “You're born in New York, you like New Yorkâdespite the mess it is. Despite the fact you've been thrown away in an alley on Tenth Avenue. Harry, this is a New York dog with a New York problem. We've got to solve it right here in New York. Leave Chester in peace.”
“Then solve it!” said Harry, somewhat sulkily. “Well?”
“Wellâ” At the end of ten minutes of whisker wiggling, Tucker only came up with a meantime ideaâuntil they could find Huppy a permanent home. He went over it with them. If Harry could get them back to the drainpipe that nightâ“Oh, I can. Once I've been through even the craziest labyrinth, I can find my way back again.” And if Huppy would only not grow for one dayâ“I promise!” So Tucker outlined his meantime idea.
They all agreed it would have to do.
The next night the plan was in effect. It was late, almost dawn, and the three animals were sitting in the very same doorway on Forty-first Street. Outside, the winter thaw still held, but inside them there was a dismal kind of chill. All day long, after certain arrangements were made, Tucker and Harry had been busy acting natural. And earlier that night there had been an especially tasty scrounged-up dinnerâwith unmelted ice cream for dessertâbut no one would have called the atmosphere festive, despite all the small talk the cat and mouse made. Huppy had lapped his ice cream in silence. And in silence the three of them now were waiting.
Lulu Pigeon flapped down in front of them. “Okay, men,” she said, “it's all set. Let's go.”
“I need ten breaths of fresh air!” announced Huppy anxiously.
Harry gave the pigeon a private look, and said, “Go ahead, Huppyâhelp yourself.”
Everybody pretended not to be counting, and the puppy took many more breaths than ten.
But soon Lulu Pigeon began to fidget. “We ought to get moving. Max said just before the sun came up. And Max isn't the kind of a guy you keep waiting.”
“Come on.” Harry nudged the dog with his shoulder. “And don't worry.”
“I'm not!” insisted Huppy in a voice that broke off at the end in a squeak.