“There is a groundhog in the car,” said Mr Wicked. [With apologies to Mo Willems, whom Number Two Nephew loves because he can read Elephant and Piggie all by himself.]
“What?” said the humans. They looked at the car. “What are you barking at? Bad dog. Do not scratch the car. Do not jump up and down on the hood.”
“But there is a groundhog in the car,” said Mr Wicked.
The humans looked under the car. They opened the hood and looked into the car. “There is nothing in the car,” they said. “It was just a squirrel. It ran under the car and out the other side. Silly dog.”
“But there is a groundhog in the car!” said Mr Wicked.
The humans went back into the house.
Mr Wicked sat down to watch the car. Mr Wicked had a special bark he used to ask for things. It was, “Woof!”
“Woof!” he said, and he waggled just the base of his tail, which was also a good way to ask for things. “Woof!” He waggled just the base of his tail again. Usually his humans, who were clever humans, knew that that meant he wanted something he could not reach. This was how he asked for his ball, when it had rolled far away under the couch. This was how he asked for his supper, when the humans put it on the washing machine to cool and forgot it was there. This was how he said, “You have thumbs. I don’t. Please use your cunning primate hands and get me that thing!”
Now he said, “There is a groundhog in the car. Please make it come out.” Woof! Waggle.
A human came outside again. “I am trying to write,” she said. “Do not bark outside my window.”
“Mr Wicked, there is nothing in the car. Look, I will show you.” The human looked under the car. She opened the hood again.
The human jumped back.
“Good dog!” she said. “There is something in the car!”
“Woof!” said Mr Wicked. Silly humans!
The human peered into the car. Was it a bird that had flown up into the engine? Was it a squirrel? It sounded much too loud for a squirrel. She looked here. She looked there. She got her hair full of black gungy rustproofing stuff. Mr Wicked stood up to look too.
“Do not stick your head under the hood,” said the human, who was sticking her head under the hood, and she put Mr Wicked on his leash. “Where is the thing?” she said.
Mr Wicked used his super nose. He ran around and around the car. He tried to crawl under it, but he was too big.
He tried to dig. If he dug a hole, perhaps he could fit under it then. Dig, dig, dig!
“This is supposed to be a paved driveway,” said the human. “Even though it’s very crumbly, I don’t think that will work. And now you are all covered in black gunk.”
She put Mr Wicked in the car, where things could not fall on him or bite him. That was silly. The groundhog was not inside on the seats! How could he help if he was inside the car?
The human stuck her head into the engine again.
The human looked up.
“There is a groundhog in my car!” she said.
Mr Wicked waggled his tail. “That is what I said. There is a groundhog in your car.”
The human squirted the groundhog with the plant mister. The groundhog glowered at the human with its beady rodent eyes. It shuffled back and forth on the axle. The human hooted the horn. The groundhog squinched its ears. The human poked the groundhog with a bamboo garden stake. The groundhog chattered its teeth and squirmed into its cozy place under the cylinders.
Mr Wicked could see it was going to be a long morning.
The human got a hairdryer and a long cardboard tube out of the wrapping paper. Perhaps Mr Wicked would get to chew on the tube! He hadn’t done that since Christmas. No, the human used the tube to blow hot air at the groundhog.
Aha! First she had washed the groundhog. Now she was drying the groundhog. That was better than washing Mr Wicked, but it was not getting the groundhog out of the car.
The groundhog chattered its teeth some more.
The human bounced the car up and down. Mr Wicked hoped he did not get carsick. She prodded the groundhog with the bamboo garden stake some more.
Mr Wicked sighed. This, he felt, was what an educated dog such as himself would refer to as an impasse, should anyone ask his opinion.
The human got some small sticks from Mr Wicked’s stick collection and used them like chopsticks to remove rather a lot of chaff and fluff that was nestled into some bits of her engine to make a cozy groundhog pillow. The groundhog grumbled and chattered its teeth.
The other human came out and made hooting noises through the tube at the groundhog. He stood on the bumper and bounced the car up and down some more. Mr Wicked thought this was amusing, but the groundhog was not impressed.
They poked the groundhog again, but both they and the groundhog were getting bored of this. When they let Mr Wicked out of the car, he stuck his head into the wheel-well, because the groundhog was looking out through a hole there.
The groundhog hissed. Mr Wicked jumped backwards ten feet. This was not a friendly groundhog!
Finally the humans phoned their friends.
“Help, help, help!” they said. “There is a groundhog in our car.”
“What?” said their friends. “We cannot hear you. We are in PEI!”
“There is a groundhog in our car!”
“There is a groundhog in your car?”
“There is a groundhog in our car! May we borrow your machine that sounds like unhappy rats?”
Then the humans went away to someone else’s house and ate ice-cream, to console themselves. Mr Wicked did not get any ice-cream, because it had chocolate in it and was Bad For Dogs. He did not think that was fair.
While they were away, the groundhog got out of the car.
When their friends came back from PEI, they brought over the machine that sounds like unhappy rats. They also brought their small boy, who was a great friend of Mr Wicked’s. This cheered up Mr Wicked, who had had to have his head washed with bath oil to get the oil off his face, which had made him feel Gloomy, and also smelly. The small boy tried to feed him rose petals.
They plugged in the machine that sounds like unhappy rats and left it squealing at the car, to make sure the groundhog did not come back.
The groundhog decided to go and live under the shed. At least until the next time it rained. He could always move back into the car when his hole flooded again.