Billy Sure Kid Entrepreneur and the Cat-Dog Translator
A Boy and His Dog
MY NAME IS BILLY SURE. I’m an inventor. I’m also the CEO of my very own company: SURE THINGS, INC. You might have heard of our products. You might even have some of them.
The ALL BALL that changes into different sports balls with the touch of a button? That’s us. The SIBLING SILENCER that, well, silences siblings? Yep, us too. DISAPPEARING REAPPEARING MAKEUP and STINK SPECTACULAR? Well, you get the picture. Sure Things, Inc. has had one success after another.
The best part of being in business is my business partner. Get it? Manny Reyes is my best friend and Chief Financial Officer (CFO for short), which is a fancy way of saying that he takes care of money while I create inventions. Manny’s a genius when it comes to marketing, numbers, planning, selling, advertising, computers. . . .
I could go on. But basically, I invent our products and Manny figures out how to make them into hits. It’s a bit more complicated than that, but in a nutshell, that’s our story.
It’s a Tuesday evening. I’m home after a full day at school, followed by a full day at work. It’s not easy juggling two lives.
My typical day is: Get up (I suppose you could have guessed that part, right?); shower; go to
school; come home and pick up my dog, Philo; then go with Philo to the World Headquarters of Sure Things, Inc. (also known as Manny’s garage). Then I come home, eat dinner, do my homework, maybe read a book or watch TV, and then go to sleep.
And you thought you were busy with soccer and school plays and—well, I guess you’re busy too. I don’t mean to complain—it’s just that sometimes all this gets a bit overwhelming. That’s when I have to remember how much I enjoy inventing stuff.
At this moment, I’m in the “finished school, finished work, finished dinner, finished homework” portion of my day. I’m hanging out in the living room playing with Philo.
“You want this, boy?” I ask, leaning forward in my seat, waving Philo’s favorite chew toy at him. It’s a thick rope made up of colored strands all woven together. Or at least they used to be woven together. Months of chewing and pulling have taken their toll.
Philo jumps up from his doggy bed on the other side of the room, dashes over to where I’m sitting, and grabs one end of the toy in his teeth.
I yank my end back. Philo bares his teeth and growls, a low growl that’s as much a moan or a whine as a true growl.
“Who’s a FIERCE BEAST?” I ask, moving the toy—and Philo’s head along with it—from side to side.
Philo tugs hard, pulling me from my chair. I tumble to the rug and start laughing. Letting go of my end of the toy, I rub Philo’s belly. This always makes him go a little crazy.
I roll over, and then Philo jumps on top of me. We tumble across the room, me laughing, Philo growling and barking.
“What’s going on down there?!” shouts a voice from upstairs. “Some of us have homework to do, y’know!”
That would be Emily, my sister. Last week, Emily only spoke in a British accent. Before that, she only wore black. Who knows what she’ll be into next?
“Just playing with Philo,” I call back up the stairs.
“Well, do it quietly!” she screams down.
I pick up Philo’s chew toy and hold it over my head.
“Do you want this, boy?” I say in an excited whisper, waving the colorful, floppy rope back and forth.
Philo’s head follows the moving rope, as if he were watching a Ping-Pong match.
“Ready?” I ask.
Philo backs up a few steps.
“Go get it!” I shout, tossing the rope over his head.
Philo turns and dashes after the rope. He snatches it up in his mouth, then trots contentedly back toward me, dropping it at my feet.
“Again?” I ask.
“RUUFFF!” he replies.
Sometimes I can almost understand what Philo is saying.
I pick up the rope and waggle it back and forth, then fling it past him.
This time Philo turns his head casually and watches the rope zoom by, then he turns back to look at me.
So much for understanding what Philo says.
“I thought you wanted to play, boy?” I say.
Philo stares at me like he’s never seen me before.
“Go get it!” I say again.
Philo continues staring.
Oh well. I walk to the other side of the room, pick up the toy, and come back.
“One more time.” I toss the rope back over Philo’s head. It bounces a couple of times, then disappears into the dining room.
This time Philo turns and chases after it. He speeds from the living room into the dining room. And then doesn’t come back.
“Get the toy, Philo!” I shout.
No Philo. No toy.
“Bring me the toy, Philo!” I yell again.
“Go get the stupid toy yourself!” Emily shouts from upstairs.
She totally does not get the point of this game.
But she may be right. I’m beginning to wonder where Philo went. As I step from the living room into the dining room, I find the chew toy sitting on the floor. Looking up, I see that Philo is all the way on the other side of the room.
“It’s right here, boy,” I say, pointing down at the toy.
Philo paces back and forth across the floor on the far side of the dining room. He stops, sniffs under some furniture, then turns and walks back to the other side of the room, where he repeats the sniffing, then the pacing, then the sniffing, and on and on.
As he paces and sniffs, Philo lets out a series of low moans and short yelps.
“URRRR . . . YIP-YIP!” he says.
“What is it, boy?” I ask.
“URRRR . . . YIP-YIP!” he repeats.
Now I really wish I could understand what Philo is saying. In fact, there have been many times when I’ve wished I could understand him. Things would be so much easier. I could just give him what he wants and he’d be happy. And then I wouldn’t spend so much time wondering what he’s trying to say.
And that’s when it hits me. I know what Sure Things, Inc.’s next product should be! I will make a translator for dogs!
This isn’t the first time this invention idea has come up. The first time I ever thought of it, I had just discovered the blueprints for the Sibling Silencer on my desk, but I didn’t know where they had come from. Let me explain. . . .
You see, I always have trouble figuring out how to make my inventions work . . . at least when I’m awake. When I finally give up and go to sleep, the completed blueprints MAGICALLY appear on my desk the next morning.
You may be wondering who so kindly and
quietly draws the blueprints for me in the middle of the night. I wondered the same thing at first. It turns out that I do! In my sleep! Here’s how we found out.
My first invention, the All Ball, was a hit, but I didn’t know where the working blueprints came from. They had appeared on my desk one morning, and I didn’t recognize the handwriting. So when I was struggling to come up with the working blueprints for Sure Things, Inc.’s next invention, the Sibling Silencer, Manny rigged an alarm system so that whoever was sneaking into my room to leave the blueprints would get caught. Except the only one who tripped the alarm was Philo. When he did, I discovered new blueprints on my desk, which meant that Philo saw who put them there.
What I didn’t know was that Manny also set up a webcam and watched me work on the blueprints in my sleep. That’s right. Some people talk in their sleep; some people walk in their sleep; but me, I invent things in my sleep!
But before I knew that, I remember wishing at that moment for a device that could translate what Philo was saying through his barks. And that’s when the idea for the DOG TRANSLATOR first came into my head.
I have to tell Manny about this! The time has arrived for the Dog Translator!
I start to head up to my room to send Manny an e-mail, when I hear Philo scraping his paw against the floor. Turning back, I see him reach under a cabinet and drag out a doggy treat. A dust-covered, stale treat.
That thing must have been under there for weeks! Philo happily munches away.
Yuck! Dogs can be really gross sometimes.
See, if I had a Dog Translator, Philo could have just told me he wanted a treat. Of course, Philo doesn’t need a translator for that. Like most dogs, he always wants a treat!
I dash up the stairs. I have to pass Emily’s room in order to get to mine.
“What? You’re done making noise downstairs, so you decided to come here and make noise upstairs?” she asks in her usual warm, loving tone.
“The lightbulb just went off!” I say, pointing to my head, hardly able to contain my excitement.
Emily shrugs without looking up from her desk. “So ask Dad to replace it, genius.”
“No, I mean I just came up with the idea for my next invention,” I say, smiling.
“Uh-huh,” she replies, tapping away on her phone, her thumbs blazing. “I’ll alert the media.”
“Actually, that’s Manny’s job,” I point out.
Emily just shakes her head and rolls her eyes.
“Oh, you were being sarcastic, right?”
With Emily, sometimes it’s hard to tell.
I head into my room, flip open my laptop, and shoot off a quick e-mail to Manny.
I just came up with an idea for Sure Things, Inc.’s next invention!
A few seconds later I get a reply. And this is so Manny:
Great! I’ve got the marketing strategy all planned!
I write back:
But wait, you don’t even know what the invention is!
Manny writes back:
Right, right. Whatcha got?
I write back:
The Dog Translator!
I hold my breath waiting for a reply. A few seconds later it comes:
LOVE IT! We’ll talk tomorrow.
That’s my partner!