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Submitted by Dave Free on 20 March 2007 - 9:57am.

The next few weeks were a blur for Jeremy and his sisters. They dreaded the time they had to spend doing schoolwork and rushed through every assignment so they could get back to the bowl and Fuji. Their mom warned them that if their grades dropped Fuji time would be limited just like video game time.

The children worried, but not enough to spend more time at their studies. When the term grades arrived the entire family was pleasantly surprised to find that grades were up. The only exception was Jeremy’s science grade. There was a big red “C” on the top of his research paper about dinosaurs. The teacher’s note read:

“Well written Jeremy. One would think you have actually seen an ornithomimus the way you describe it! However, I was disappointed in your research. There is no evidence that an ornithomimus used its tail to swim. Please be more careful in your research next time. If you would like to re-write it, I will be happy to re-grade it.”

“I think we’ll just let that C stand.” Mom said after reading the note. Jeremy agreed, gave his mom a hug, and shot out the door to join his sisters who were loading the Rhino for a trip to the bowl.

Finding food for Fuji was proving to be a challenge. The grass surrounding the pool was nearly gone and they just couldn’t get enough apples to keep him full. Dad had brought some hay home from the co-op. Fuji ate the hay but he made it clear he didn’t really like it. They tried shrimp feed. Fuji took one sniff and ran the other way snorting and bobbing. He wouldn’t come back to them until the lid was put back on the bucket of feed.

Today the plan was to try seeds, grains, and nuts. It was Elena’s idea. She figured if Fuji had a beak like a bird, maybe he would like the same kind of food a bird does. Jeremy suggested nightcrawlers and worms but the girls said that was gross and set about gathering up every kind of seed, grain or nut they could find in the house.

When they arrived at the bowl, Fuji was waiting was for them. He had lost his fear of the Rhino and ran circles around it as they drove down the side and parked. Elena took out her clipboard and took charge.

“Okay, let’s start with the grains,” she ordered. “Wheat first.”

Madison was in the back of the Rhino. Her job was to hand Jeremy whatever Elena called for. Jeremy’s job was to then offer it to Fuji. Elena took notes on her clipboard.

Fuji tried the wheat but snorted most of it into Jeremy’s hair. He then stuck his snout up at the rolled oats and wouldn’t even try them. Sunflower seeds got marked a “maybe” on Elena’s clipboard. Fuji chomped on them for a time but made several trips to the pool for drinks.

“He might like them more if they weren’t salted.” Jeremy said.

Elena noted it down and they moved on. By the time they finished, Fuji had sniffed, snorted or munched on fourteen different seeds, grains or nuts but only showed interest in sunflower seeds.

“Well that’s it,” Elena said.

“No, one more,” Madison corrected and held up a number 10 can with the words pinto beans scrawled on it.

Jeremy took the can, peeled off the plastic lid and offered it to Fuji. Fuji was as tired of tasting as the children were of testing. He bobbed his head and ran off to the other side of the bowl. He ran halfway up the side and then spun around and came running back at top speed toward Jeremy. Jeremy stood his ground and held the can up. Fuji skidded to a stop and sniffed at the open can. He took a step forward and stuck his snout down into the can. Jeremy held the can with both hands while the dinosaur stuck his beak down into the beans and then pulled it out munching happily.

“Look, he likes ‘em!” Madison said excitedly.

Fuji the can in his claws and stuck his snout back in. Within a few minutes the can was empty.

Later that afternoon Jeremy found his dad at the lab table in the north building. “Hey dad,” he called as he entered the building, “mind if I scoop some shrimp?”

His dad was looking at something in a microscope and didn’t look up. “Uh, sure. What do you need shrimp for?”

“Fuji.” Jeremy replied.

Now dad looked up, “You think he’ll eat shrimp?” he asked.

“Maybe,” Jeremy replied. “I think he needs protein.”

“What makes you think that?” dad stood up and peeled the rubber gloves off his hands as he walked to the garbage can.

“He likes pinto beans,” Jeremy replied.

“Pinto beans?” He asked, surprised.

“Yeah, he really likes ‘em,” Jeremy confirmed.

“Well I wouldn’t share that with your science teacher,” dad said as he took his lab coat off. “I don’t think the world of science is ready for a pinto bean eating ornytheeminus.”

“Ornithomimus,” Jeremy corrected, “don’t worry, I won’t mention the beans.”

“So if he likes pinto beans, why do you need shrimp?” dad asked as he sat down to take off his booties.

“Well mom says beans have protein,” Jeremy explained, “So I was thinking that’s why Fuji like them because they have protein. I tried to get mom to give me one of her chickens but she said no—well she said some other things, but that’s what she meant.”

Dad chuckled, “So you think shrimp might be a good source of protein for old Fuji?”

Jeremy nodded, “Yep.”

“Well, he might as well eat them I guess.” Dad replied with a sigh, “nobody else is going to want them. Go ahead and scoop him a bucketful.”

Jeremy ran for the buckets in the sink. “Uh, uh, uh,” dad corrected, “Coat, gloves, booties?”

“Sorry,” Jeremy said. He ran over to the lab coats and began pulling one on.

“Don’t forget to make sure the door shut behinds you when you leave.” dad said as he opened the door and walked out.

“Got it dad!” Jeremy called after him.

Five minutes later Jeremy had the shrimp in a bucket in the back of the Rhino. Then he ran in the house to get a drink and his helmet. As he filled his cup at the kitchen sink he could hear his dad talking in the family room.

“I’ve done everything I can think of,” he was saying. “The little buggars just won’t grow. We’re out of money for feed and the guy from the bank will be here next week. There is no way he is going to extend us any more money when he sees those charts.”

It was quiet for a few moments and then Jeremy’s mom said, “I’m sure something will work out.”

Jeremy didn’t wait to hear the end of the conversation. He called out, “Going to the bowl. Be back before dark!” He grabbed his helmet and went out the door without waiting for an answer. As he ran past Blue’s kennel Blue whined. Jeremy paused for a moment and petted the dog through the chain link.

“Sorry boy, I can’t take you with me this time,” he said and then ran on to the shed and the Rhino.

Fuji was munching on one of the bails of hay by the pool when Jeremy pulled up.

“Hey boy,” Jeremy called, “I’ve got something new for you to try. Fuji bobbed his head and snorted, then trotted over to the Rhino. Jeremy pulled the bucket out. He couldn’t get the lid off with his fingers and had to find a couple of screwdrivers in the toolbox to pry it off. Fuji waited patiently and sniffed at the bucket as Jeremy worked on it.

When the lid finally came off, Jeremy lifted the bucket up by the metal handle. Fuji reached out and grabbed it with his two claws and pulled it out of Jeremy’s hand then he stuck his snout down into the water. Without warning he snorted loudly, whipped his head to the side, and flung the bucket into the pool of water.

“Hey!” Jeremy shouted, “If you didn’t like them all you had to say was ‘No thank you.’ You didn’t have to throw them.”

Fuji continued to snort like he was trying to clean something out of his nostril. He tossed his head about and began running circles up and down the sides of the bowl.

“Wait till dad finds out that even dinosaurs don’t like his shrimp!” Jeremy yelled at the running dinosaur. He grabbed a shovel out of the Rhino and standing on the edge of the pool was able to fish the bucket out. Not a single shrimp left. Jeremy tossed the empty bucket into the back of the Rhino where it landed with a clank. Fuji ran to the Rhino, grabbed the bucket with his paws and threw it back toward the pool. Jeremy jumped and caught it before it went into the pool.

“You want to play, is that it?” Jeremy said. He grabbed the bucket by its metal handle, spun around and flung the bucket over the dinosaur’s head and up the side of the bowl. Even Jeremy was a little surprised how far it went. Fuji watched it fly over his head, then spun and ran for it. When he reached it he picked it up and flung it back towards Jeremy.

It bounced and landed at Jeremy’s feet. He picked it up and flung it off in the opposite direction. Almost before the bucket left Jeremy’s hand, Fuji was running past chasing the bucket. This time instead of picking it up with his claws, Fuji stuck his snout in it and flipped his head up launching the bucket high into the air. When the bucket landed, Fuji did it again and again.

Jeremy shook his head and laughed. He climbed back in the Rhino. “See you later boy!” he yelled, as he drove away.

Jeremy was surprised to see a black SUV pulling out of the ranch drive as he approached. He waved at the SUV when it passed but couldn’t tell if anyone waved back because the windows were so darkly tinted.

Entering the kitchen a few minutes later Jeremy announced, “Fuji now knows how to fetch!”

“Really?” his mom responded.

“Well kind of,” Jeremy replied. “He doesn’t actually bring it back to you. Sometimes he throws it back to you and some times he just throws it to himself.”

“Throws what?” Madison asked. She was putting the plates on the table.

“The bucket I took the shrimp to him in,” Jeremy replied over his shoulder as he stood at the kitchen sink washing his hands.

“Did he like the shrimp?” dad had now entered the kitchen and joined the conversation.

Jeremy wiped his hands on a kitchen towel. “Nope. He threw the whole bucket of them into the pool.”

Dad shook his head, “Can’t even get a dinosaur to eat my shrimp!”

“Let’s eat!” mom called out ending the conversation. “Everybody to the table.”

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