My teenager and I were sitting on the steps with the dog. It has been a dry winter, and with more than a week of warm February weather, everyone is watering. At our house, the sprinkler needed a quick fix in the yard after it fell off the hose when my son moved it from one spot to another. “I can’t get it back on.”
I was putting my shoes on to help out and hoping the dog poop had been picked up before he had watered the grass. ”If you don’t pick the poop up first, then it’s gross to pick up when the grass is wet.”
“It wasn’t me,” he said. “Dad started it. Blame Dad.”
So, I belted out a little South Park “Blame Canada!”
He chuckled. “Mom, that was actually funny… and surprising.”
“Didn’t think I had any South Park in me, did ya?”
My first grader has been bringing a stuffed puppy with a Santa hat to school. He keeps it in his backpack for when he is feeling sad or frustrated. A quick hug with Santa Dog, and he is off and running again.
Our real dog, however, is lacking in Christmas spirit even if she flies across the yard like Blitzen.
First, our stellar dog ate the roof off of our son’s very cool Atlanta Falcons gingerbread house while we were out on Christmas Eve. Aren’t we smart that we didn’t leave the Christmas presents under the tree?
And on December 23rd, I overheard one holiday season substitute mailmen say to another, “I wouldn’t get out of the car if I were you. Not with that Rottweiller staring at us.”
“Why do I keep losing with that many points from Peyton? Is anyone else playing out there?!”
Globs of oatmeal on the kitchen table, spoons frozen mid-journey to debate rankings, Super Bowl chances, quarterback records, and fantasy teams.
Lots of 6 a.m. chatter.
“You lost to the dog again!”
“The Buccaneers are going down!”
Missing sports pages.
Thousands of “I just need to check my fantasy team” when they should be…
memorizing vocabulary words
studying metamorphosis, maps, math and Mesopotamia
eating, playing, bathing, sleeping
listening to their mother…
…who wishes that football season and the start of school did not collide like this.
It is a good thing that all went well in March 2013, while on safari in South Africa. I have bad luck with vacation animals, and that was the only recent trip where the beasts were not on the attack even when our jeep got stuck a few yards from an alpha lion and his fiercer looking ladies.
On other trips, however, there were the all-night partying roosters who never learned to wait for sunrise.
The pack of chickens, led by Geraldine, who chased me through the barn, pecking at my calves because I had not brought them grapes.
The toad that made our dog vomit five times after going after “frog’s legs” for an appetizer.
The crazy swans who swarmed every time we went near the water, sending the kids into high-decibel shrieks and the Puritans in neighboring lake homes wishing we had never come.
And now, falling asleep each night, is it the swans or the frogs honking?
I miss our dog. She may roam the halls, nails clicking on hardwood floors like an alarm clock we do not need to set, but she sleeps through the night and doesn’t bite when she is hungry.
Last Sunday was a perfect summer day. Sunny, no humidity, still cool. On our walk, the dog and I passed moms coming out for the Sunday paper, families piling into minivans on their way to church, early bikers hoping to finish their ride before the heat set in, other rambunctious pets eager to say hello.
We passed the Anglican Church, white with pale blue trim, where the singing had just ceased. We turned the corner at the Quaker Meeting House, also silent, but full if the number of parked cars were any indication. The dog sniffed at the grass, tugged at her leash to keep moving.
When we reached the Russian Orthodox Church a few blocks past the Quakers and Anglicans, I could hear the murmur of parishioners through open windows. My dog once again stalled to sniff the grass, and I watched the white of the cottonwood trees float to the ground around us.
Then a blatant act of rebellion from a dog always tempting fate, seeking adventure, poised for battle. She pooped at the bottom center of the church steps – a wet one that I could not fully lift from the grass with the purple plastic bag I carried for that purpose.
Did they hear me scold her mid-prayer? “For god sakes, Star!”
A few snickers, heads still bowed? A single set of eyes raised to the window?
A gentle smile from an elderly priest? Until their discovery at the bottom of the stairs…
…a Ukrainian nationalist at work on an otherwise peaceful Sunday.