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Johnny was very vain about his looks. He was proud of his body and his ability to swim. He often slicked down his beautiful brown fur. It had two layers that enabled him to keep warm in the cold water of Eagleman’s pond. He gazed into the deep blue water and preened at his reflection. The more he looked, he found it hard to tear himself away from the handsome image in the pond. When he walked, it was with a swagger. Every time he would see another animal, he’d stop and tell him how beautiful his body was.

Found on Pinterest on 7-14-15Muskrat

Found on Pinterest on 7-14-15 Muskrat

The thing that Johnny was most vain of, was his long tail that was covered with scales. It made up almost half the length of his body. His tail was slightly flattened and he used it to steer himself in the pond. It gave him the ability to navigate and propel himself through the water with incredible speed. He was the fastest muskrat from miles around. He never got tired of bragging about his swimming skills in the pond.

His front claws were razor-sharp as were his teeth. He used them to eat his favorite meal of cattail and yellow water lilies. He loved to catch frogs, snapping turtles, and ate the aquatic vegetation in the pond. He would also eat other vegetation on land. There were so many tasty things to munch on. Just thinking about it made him hungry. He became so greedy about having enough to eat that he  thought of building a wall of sticks to keep other animals out of his territory. He had burrowed into the bank of Eagleman’s pond and had made himself an underwater entrance to his home.

Muskrats are sociable creatures that live in a group. Usually a male and female muskrat build a nest for their young. Johnny lived alone. Many of his acquaintances avoided him. They were tired of his bragging and preening. They were also tired of his greediness and selfishness. The female muskrats stayed away from him. He would mark his territory with a strong musky odor that gagged any animal passing by.

As time went on, Johnny realized being avoided or being ignored did not feel good. He had a deep longing inside himself to belong some where. He wanted to be liked by the other animals. Johnny had convinced himself that telling others of his wonderful qualities and beauty would attract them to him. But that was not happening. He kept feeling more and more isolated. It was driving him crazy being alone.

Found on Google on 7-14-15. Muskrat- clipart-etc.

Found on Google on 7-14-15. muskrat- clipart-etc.

Johnny wanted to change his ways. He decided to be more interested in what others had to say, give some of his food to those who had little, and stop bragging on his good qualities. Instead of focusing on himself, he would tell the other animals what he appreciated about them. He would spend less time talking about his outstanding abilities and spend more time seeing to the needs of others.

Johnny found to his amazement that the more humble he became and the more giving he became with others, animals started to talk with him and invite him to their homes. He started to feel liked by the other animals and he felt good about what he was doing for them. He was beginning to feel like he belonged here. The lesson Johnny learned was: ” Giving is its own reward.”1  “It blesses those who receive and it blesses the giver too.”2


1.Richard Carlson. Don’t Sweat The Small Stuff.

2. The Bible. Acts 20