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Outstanding in his field: Chapter 1

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By Leigh Anne Florence

“Dogwood, what have you done?” Dad asked as he cleaned green beans off the ceiling fan while Mom wiped mashed potatoes out of my sister Chloe’s hair. “I’m sorry, Dad,” I said after swallowing some baked chicken, “but when Chloe said ‘food fight,’ I had to throw something.”

“Food fight?” Mom, Dad and Chloe questioned simultaneously.
“Yes, sir,” I repeated.
“I didn’t say ‘food fight,’” my sister said sweetly.
Obviously the mashed potatoes had clouded Chloe’s judgment.
“I said ‘gesundheit,’” Chloe added as Mom and Dad stifled a laugh.
“You sneezed so I said, ‘gesundheit.’ It’s the German word for ‘good health’,” Chloe explained.
 Since Mom and I began writing books 10 years ago, our family spends hours at schools across Kentucky, sharing my books, my story and my motto: Anything is possible, but you have to work and dream like a big dog! Apparently, while I was checking out the cafeteria, Chloe was learning German. I’d never heard the word zoontite, but Chloe was using it in a sentence!
“I’m sorry, Chloe,” I said, certain she would forgive me. “At least it’s just food – and thankfully it was mashed potatoes instead of ribs!”
Then Dad asked, “Woody, do you have any idea where food comes from?”
“From Grover’s Supermarket,” I answered, surprised Dad didn’t know.
Dad smiled, excused himself, and made a phone call. We tried to listen as Dad spoke but heard only “Woody,” “food,” “clueless.”
Was I going to be in the doghouse? Mom and Dad always said our actions have consequences, but Dad knew I had made an honest mistake and had accepted my apology. Chloe and I and my other canine brothers and sisters were fortunate to have parents who loved us – and travel with us as we go around the state encouraging others.
“When you finish dinner and chores, meet Mom and me in the car,” Dad said. Chloe and I wondered whether to be excited or scared.
“Hi Mr. G,” Chloe and I said as we arrived at Grover’s Supermarket.
“I hear you think food comes from my store,” Mr. G said, smiling.
“Doesn’t it?” I asked. “Mom, Chloe and I come every Thursday to buy milk, eggs, bread, apples, potatoes, chicken and other items. Mom loves the store’s outer aisles along the wall. She calls it primitive shopping. Chloe and I like every aisle.”
“It’s perimeter shopping, not primitive,” Mr. G said, chuckling. “Perimeter shopping is where you find fruits, vegetables, dairy and meat, while non-perishable food sits on the inside shelves. Anyway, I can’t take credit for creating the food.”
Mom, Dad, Chloe and I followed Mr. Grover to the “Employees Only” section of the store.  It was an enormous space where Mr. G stored the merchandise. We saw lettuce, tomatoes, boxes of cereal, jugs of milk, loaves of bread and more jars of pickles than we could count. Then I looked toward the back of the store and was shocked.   
“You sell semi trucks, too?” I said after seeing the big trucks backed up to the storeroom.  Everyone laughed. “Woody,” Mom said, giggling, “Mr. Grover doesn’t sell trucks. These semis deliver food to the store.”                                                                                                                       
“I thought Mr. G created the food here.”
“Oh, no, Woody,” Mr. G said. “Much work goes into preparing food for the store. Where do you think milk comes from? Or bread?”
“A gallon jug,” I answered.  
“And bread comes from a plastic bag with a tie around it,” my intelligent German-speaking sister interjected.
“I need to run to the front office for a minute,” Mr. G told us. “When I return, I’ll give you a tour. In the meantime, look around.”
We browsed the storeroom. We saw cases of fruits and vegetables that went from floor to ceiling. There were boxes of baking soda, baked beans and bean sprouts. We saw packs of herbs and spices, jars of spaghetti sauce, canisters of oatmeal and packages of baby wipes. Suddenly, the most mouth-watering smell caught my attention.
“Chloe, do you smell that delicious scent? It’s like beef jerky, juicy steak, pork chops and hamburger meat combined.”
Chloe and I followed the scent to where one of the semis had been unloaded. There sat tenderloins, ribs and filet mignon. “I wonder if any morsels are in the truck,” I said to Chloe.  
We walked inside the back of the trailer to see. While searching, we heard a loud crash. “That sounded like a door slamming, Woody,” Chloe exclaimed. Before we turned around, the truck’s engine roared.
“Stop!” Chloe and I yelled from the trailer. But it was useless. The truck was rolling down the highway, and here we were, stuck in the back. Where were we going? When would we stop? How would we get back to Mom and Dad?