Basic Training

“Panda, I think you should get some training.”

by tunnelFoster spoke authoritatively, but then he usually does. We were in the front living room by our new “safari tunnel”, not long after Mom had finished making me my new fatigues. “Training?” I asked. “What kind of training?”BFF“Oh, you know,” came the reply. “Nothing too specialized. Just something basic. Now that you have your fatigues, it kind of seems like you need, well… training.”panda close up“Hmmm…” I pondered. “Basic training…yeah, you could be right. But where do you go for basic training?”  Foster considered for a moment. “I think you have to join the service.”with vehicles2“Well,” I replied. “That’s going to be tricky. Remember, Mom wouldn’t let us join the police force.” Foster nodded. “Copy that,” he said. “We’ll have to figure a way to sneak you out then.”playing with door“I might be able to push you through this mail slot,” he offered. It was a tight squeeze, but somehow I made it out. I was on my way to Basic Training!basic running with guys.pngOn the way there, I ran into a couple of recruits who were running down the road. “Hey, guys!” I called out to them. “Can I run with you?” The men laughed. “Sure, Buddy, as long as you can keep up!”basic runningI ran as fast as I could, and before I knew it I was at the front of the group! I could hear the men behind me saying something like “Dude, where did that panda come from?” Soon I was accepted as “one of the guys”.basic jumping with dogOne thing I was pleased to find out was that I wasn’t the only animal at Basic. I  made friends with an Army canine and he let me practice jumping with him.basic panda jumping through“Woo-hoo!”  I shouted. “That was fun!” The dog and his handler agreed. “Good job,” they said in unison. “Okay, are you ready for skydiving?”basic ready to jump 2I wasn’t, but there was no way I was going to admit it! At first I just watched the men jump out of the plane. basic grab paw“Come on, Panda!” encouraged my new friend. “Grab my paw and we’ll jump together!” basic ready to jumpAfter practicing a few more times with my canine friend, I was ready to jump by myself!basic panda jumpingSomehow it wasn’t much different from falling off our flying carpet back home…basic panda and yellow parachuteFortunately, from our adventure at the Grand Canyon, I was already somewhat experienced with parachutes!basic obs courseAfter skydiving we did a lot of other activities, like this obstacle course. I was surprised at how easy it was for me. Maybe all my experience playing with Foster in the front living room had paid off!basic panda steering jeepThen it was time for driving practice. I have driven a police car, but never a jeep. (When we were on the African savanna, we used a jeep, but Foster drove.)basic panda gear shiftOne thing I noticed was that the gear shift was a little hard for me to reach, but after awhile I managed to catch on.basic on tankI got my jeep driver’s license, but for some reason I was never allowed to drive the tank. basic panda on outside of wallWe even practiced surveillance and reconnaissance maneuvers. “Get behind the wall with me, Panda,” my partner instructed. “We don’t want you in the way of enemy fire!”basic panda behind wallEven though I knew it was only practice, I did feel safer behind the wall!basic panda in DCAnd then the day we’d all been waiting for finally arrived! Graduation!basicgraduation pandaThe celebration was wild! But soon it was time to say goodbye to my new-found friends and go back to Fresno. I knew Mom and Foster would be happy to see me.on windowsill“Congratulations, Bro,” Foster said when we met on the back windowsill. “You made it!” “Yep,” I replied. “I’m glad you encouraged me to go. Basic Training was a great experience!”basic Panda army strong

Panda Strong!

(Background photos from “Army Strong” graphic from Google search.)