"Well, I'm off to my vet clinic," Tabby announced to Sugarberry, who was just finishing
her breakfast of blueberry muffins. "What're you doing today?"
Sugarberry rubbed a napkin across her mouth, and slumped back in her chair. "I'll be in
front of the keyboard. I'm stuck on the plot to my latest mystery novel."
"You'll do fine once you start work," Tabby urged. "I'll be home for lunch. See
As the door slammed behind Tabby, Sugarberry thoughtfully finished her glass of
juice and then cleared the table before heading to the computer, and, hopefully, to some intriguing
Meanwhile, Tabby slowly trotted towards her clinic; it was early and the dew was still
the grass. The morning was chilly, even with the sun peaking over the horizon; but the canopy of
blue sky promised a gorgeous day.
"Such a beautiful morning," smiled Tabby contentedly. But immediately the smile
into a frown. "Oh, great! I just remembered that the one appointment on my calender this
morning is with Tex at 10:00! What a waste to a lovely day!" And, as if on cue, a little puffy
black cloud came into view in the otherwise clear sky overhead.
As Tabby approached the clinic, her smile returned as she thought to herself, At least I'll
have Emilio for a couple more hours. Emilio was the reason for Tex's visit scheduled visit; he
was a rose hair tarantula that Tex kept as a pet. And although warned by Tabby to keep Emilio
confined to prevent needless injury, Tex refused to limit Emilio's freedom. Which was why
Emilio ended up at the vet clinic so often. And that's why Tabby had developed such an
attachment to him.
This time, Emilio had gotten himself stuck on a fly trap which had caused him to lose a
large patch of his pinkish gray hair; Tabby had wanted to keep a close eye on him to make sure
the hair would grow back properly. And it had, so Tex was taking Emilio home today.
Humming softly, Tabby unlocked the door and entered the clinic. She pulled up the
to let the golden sunshine in the room, and then headed for the containment room where any
overnight patients were housed.
"Good morning, Emilio!" she gaily called as she flipped on the light. "How's my
patient....." Tabby's voice faded away as she reached the plastic case that served as Emilio's
quarters and found that the lid was pushed askew.
"Emilio? Are you there?" she anxiously cried as she peered into the case. But there
no beady eyes starring back at her; all that was in the case was the rock and twig terrain that made
up Emilio's home-away-from-home.
Tabby quickly looked around the room for any sign of the missing critter. She checked
the holding cages and all the cupboards and even the garbage can, but no Emilio. Then she stood
at the center of the room and tried to think back to yesterday and her last sight of the tarantula.
She closed her eyes and tapped one hoof nervously on the tiled floor. "At quitting time I came in
and fed and watered him back in the case and set the lid on top and was just going to snap it on
tight..." --and Tabby's eyes opened wide-- "when the phone rang and I went to answer it!"
With sinking heart, Tabby realized that she had taken the call (which had turned out to
a wrong number) and then had left the clinic immediately after. Emilio had the entire night to
push the lid to the side and explore every inch of the clinic. But where was he now?
Tabby began searching the examining room, turning everything topsy-turvy in her
effort to locate the stray. When finished there, she concentrated on her office, which was untidy
even on her best days; and after her whirlwind attempt to uncover Emilio, it looked like a
Tasmanian devil had gone through. All that was left was the waiting room, and it didn't take long
to cover that area.
Tabby ran her hoof through her mane in distress. "What am I going to do?" she
Deciding that two ponies might have a better change of finding one lost tarantula, Tabby
called Sugarberry. "You've got to help me find Emilio," Tabby begged.
"Anything's better than staring a blank computer screen," Sugarberry responded. "I'll be
Tabby continued to look, and, when Sugarberry arrived, they both began a thorough
search all over again. By the time they'd peered into every dark corner, behind every possible
hiding spot, up into every ceiling fixture, and under every piece of furniture, both ponies were
exhausted and completely hopeless of ever finding Emilio.
Resignedly, Tabby and Sugarberry plopped their tired bodies into the waiting room
Tabby was near tears of frustration. "It's almost 10:00; what am I going to say to Tex
when he comes and Emilio is gone? Especially after all the lecturing I've done to him about
keeping Emilio safely contained!"
Just then, the door of the clinic opened and there stood Friendly, the Bushwoolie. He
entered the room carrying a plastic bucket in one hand, and frantically waving the other hand
through the air. "Tabby! Tabby!" he shouted.
Startled at seeing Friendly so excited, Sugarberry and Tabby jumped to their feet.
is it, Friendly?" asked Tabby.
"Don't be mad, Tabby!" Friendly began. "Mistake! All a mistake!"
"Mistake? What's a mistake?" said Tabby in exasperation.
"Cleaned clinic last night," Friendly continued. "Went home. Took brushes and buckets
Sugarberry looked at Tabby and shrugged her shoulders. Of course Friendly cleaned
clinic weekly for Tabby. But what was he do wound-up about?
"Home! Got home! Put bucket and brushes in closet! Morning came, got bucket out."
Here Friendly blushed. "Spilled pancake syrup on Cheery! Had to clean him up!"
Tabby rolled her eyes. "Friendly, why is this so important? You didn't hurt Cheery, did
"Tabby!" Friendly finally got to the point. "Look!"
Friendly held out the blue bucket toward Tabby. Tabby peered into its depths to see a
cleaning brush. But then, Tabby did a double-take. For the bristles of the brush had a familiar
pinkish gray tint to them.
"It's Emilio!" Tabby screeched. She reached gently into the bucket, lifted him off his
bristly bed, and looked at him closely. He appeared to have suffered no harm in his nighttime
excursion to the Bushwoolie hole. In fact, he yawned and stretched as if he had slept through the
Tabby was still holding Emilio while Sugarberry and Friendly smilingly looked on when
Tex's voice was heard at the door. "Howdy, y'all," he drawled. "What's up?"
"We lost..." began Sugarberry, but she broke off when Tabby gave her a swift
"Yes, yes! Lost..." Friendly helpfully tried to fill in only to have Tabby push him out the
"Err... yes, Tex," Tabby took over. "We lost your... umm... the bill I had prepared for
cost of Emilio's confinement, so this trip to the vet is on the house!"
"Why, that's awfully sweet of you, Tabby," acknowledged Tex as he reached out a hood
to let Emilio crawl onto it. "I appreciate your excellent care of this little fellow. He looks
"I'll miss him here at the clinic," admitted Tabby, "but I'm glad he's all healed."
Tex turned to leave, then stopped and looked back at Tabby. "What, no lecture on
keeping a better eye on Emilio? This is a first!" And he and Emilio went on their way.
Once Tabby was sure Tex was gone, she grinned at Sugarberry and explained, "Sorry
about that kick, but I don't want Tex to ever know that I lost Emilio for all that time. He would
never let me forget it!"
"That's okay, Tabby," replied Sugarberry. "Your experience has solved my writer's
"How's that," puzzled Tabby.
"My villain will smuggle out the stolen diamonds in the maintenance crew's cleaning
just like Friendly accidentally took Emilio out. It works perfectly with the rest of the mystery I'm
writing," Sugarberry explained.
"Cool," said Tabby happily. "Hey, I don't have any more appointments; let's go to the
Satin Slipper Sweet Shoppe for a celebration sundae."
"Sounds good to me!" exclaimed Sugarberry.
"And I want to include Friendly, I feel terrible about shoving him out that way,"
Just then, Friendly appeared in the doorway. "Need bucket," he stated.
"How about a sundae instead?" laughed Tabby as she, Sugarberry, and Friendly headed
across Dream Valley for the biggest sundae ever.