Tuesday, July 09, 2013

In which Curmudgeon doesn't kill the little dog Rodent and the entire family expresses surprise

I mentioned Saturday that Oldest Son and his wife Abby foisted their dog Rodent on us last Friday. They were going to drive south, you see, and see what they could see.

"Did you know there's a lot of pet-friendly hotels and motels along the Interstate these days?" I asked... or I started to: Long Suffering Spouse silenced me with a quick elbow.

"I hope you don't get too much rain," my wife warned. She'd seen a national weather map. There were flooding rains from the Florida Panhandle on north.

"We'll go around it," Oldest Son said, "and if we can't, we'll just come back home."

I silently resolved to do my Rain Dance just as soon as no one with elbows was looking.

Rodent likes our house -- as long as Cork (the Irish setter that Hank and Older Daughter own) isn't also visiting. When Rodent has the house to herself, there's more room for her to run around. She was running around now, this morning, clearly becoming increasingly confused: She couldn't find Younger Daughter.

Long Suffering Spouse is a soft touch, sure, but Younger Daughter is Rodent's special friend and protector. Rodent isn't too sure about how she likes having to share Younger Daughter with the Baby-to-be-named-later. She's shown some signs of jealousy. But now it was obvious watching her run and sniff and look -- she could smell Younger Daughter and the baby but she couldn't find them.

Long Suffering Spouse, of course, figured it out, too, probably before I did. When Rodent came within reach, my wife scooped her up and told her that Younger Daughter and her family were in Minnesota for the weekend. (I don't really think the dog understood, but you never know.) Meanwhile, Oldest Son busied himself, putting down the puppy pad in the bathroom off the new den and putting Rodent's dog food in the refrigerator. He grabbed the dog and walked her back to the bathroom, set her down on her pad and ordered her to do her duty. She did, and entirely on the pad, too.

"Good girl!" Long Suffering Spouse enthused, as Oldest Son showed her where he'd put the doggy treats.

Soon Oldest Son and Abby were back on the road. Rodent moped for awhile but then went outside with Long Suffering Spouse and actually ran around the backyard a bit. Yes, this behavior was almost truly canine -- Rodent has shown some other dog-like behaviors as well in the last year or so -- but she's still basically an unusually cuddly cat.

When the dog came, our long weekend changed. We'd been looking forward to real peace and quiet -- Youngest Son still had to get up and go up to Wisconsin -- but, when he left, but for the dog, we were going to be truly alone for the first time in over a year. You may not be able to understand unless you've lived through something similar, but there's something positively exhilarating about not having to wait for this one to come home or not having to worry about waking the baby when going up the stairs, or being able to put a movie or TV channel on without any fear of a kid coming in and wresting the remote control from your hands and putting something else on instead. We could eat when we were hungry, without catering to anyone else's schedule.

Or we could... but then we had the dog.

Long Suffering Spouse had errands to run... but there was the dog to consider. Do we need to lock her up? Should I stay home and watch it? We lost precious time considering these things.

On Thursday, Monday seemed so far away. By Sunday evening, when Olaf and Younger Daughter and the granddaughter returned and Oldest Son and Abby showed up to claim their dog, the weekend seemed to have vanished in a blink. Or, if we're being seasonal, in a fireworks burst.

In the City of Chicago, where I live, fireworks are absolutely and totally illegal. Even sparklers were supposedly banned at one point recently (you'll find conflicting information on this point if you search the Intertubes). The City ordinance, whatever it bans, doesn't stop our neighbors from stockpiling every conceivable type of ordnance. Shells of every kind, some of them as large as any launched during the official fireworks show at Navy Pier, are fired off constantly in our small corner of the city from shortly before sunset until the wee small hours of the morning. The air gets thick with smoke and stinks of sulfur.

By about 1:00 a.m. on Friday morning, I was ready to wring the patriotic necks of all the idiots who were still launching missiles up and down our street and all the neighboring ones, too. Of course, I was also afraid to venture out of doors. (A woman at one Chicago park, who'd been part of a crowd that gathered to see their neighbors set off all their illegal fireworks, lost her foot when a rocket went straight at her instead of straight up into the sky.) Eventually, I chose sleep over confrontation: Rodent was coming over in a few hours whether I slept or not.

I mentioned the incessant barrage on Thursday night to lead you somewhat astray. You probably thought that after a pyrotechnic display such as I've described, the remainder of the weekend would be peaceful and quiet, eerily quiet, perhaps, once everyone's ears stopped ringing.

But, of course, that's simply not true.

Despite setting off explosives Thursday night as fast as they could light new matches, many of my neighbors had quite of bit of bombs left to detonate as Friday dawned.

As sunset neared on Friday night, the cacophony began anew. It may not have been as constant or intense, but it was still plenty loud to terrify the little dog. After whimpering a bit, she leapt up on Long Suffering Spouse's lap while my wife tried to comfort her. Another bang, though, and Rodent climbed up on my wife's neck.

I thought we might have gone out Friday night. But we couldn't possibly have gone anywhere under these circumstances.

It was decided that the dog would sleep in our room Friday night. By this I mean Long Suffering Spouse decided it, overruling any objections I cared to make. I didn't really protest too much: The dog would be frantic when some idiot decided to ring in the hour of 2:00 with his last rocket. We put the dog bed we'd acquired for her in our room; Rodent ignored it. She wandered around the room much of the night; we kept the door closed so she didn't wander anywhere else.

In the morning, I was gratified to see that Rodent had not left any trail markers in the course of her wanderings.

I probably relaxed a little.

I should never, ever relax.

Long Suffering Spouse and I did decide to use a little of our semi-freedom to go out and see a movie. (We gated the dog in the bathroom with her puppy pad.) And after the movie we even went out to the store to buy supplies for a project Youngest Son is working on -- and, of course, to buy a dog toy because Long Suffering Spouse felt bad about locking up the little dog -- even though Oldest Son and his wife leave Rodent locked up in close quarters for 10 or more hours a day while they're at work.

We turned our phones off in the theater, of course.

My wife's rang the moment she turned hers back on. It was Younger Daughter. "Did you talk to Older Daughter yet?" she asked. "No," said my wife. "Why?"

"She was worried sick about you," Younger Daughter said. "She tried your cell phone and then Dad's and there was no answer at the house and then she called me. I told her you were probably at a movie, but she was still worried." Younger Daughter paused. "Where were you, anyway?"

"At a movie," Long Suffering Spouse confirmed. My wife likes to use the phone on speaker, so I can hear and talk, too, if necessary.

"Which one?"

Long Suffering Spouse told her.

"I even guessed that right." Younger Daughter was obviously pleased with herself. "But, I have to warn you, the reason she was looking for you is that she and Hank are talking about coming up tonight. With Cork."

"No!" I shouted. "No way!"

"Your father says that that might not be a good idea," Long Suffering Spouse translated.

Apparently, Older Daughter and Hank had decided, without consulting us, to change their itinerary. They had been talking about coming up with their dog sometime this week, we'd been told, because they had the whole week off, but now they were going to start their vacation with us instead of stopping on their way back.

Most of the rest of Saturday afternoon and into the evening was spent negotiating with Older Daughter. Eventually she was persuaded not to come Saturday night. She was a little put out with me (and she never even heard me shouting), but I didn't want to have to deal with the two dogs in the house at the same time. It's bad enough at Thanksgiving or Christmas when we have lots of hands to hold this dog back, or that one, but now we would be seriously undermanned. (And in danger of being seriously overdogged.)

By Saturday night, the fireworks barrage was much more sporadic. Rodent still wound up wrapping herself around my wife's neck however. "I don't need a scarf in this weather," my wife admonished the little dog, but to no avail.

We decided to repeat the experiment of allowing the dog in our room again.

Sunday morning, I got up to answer Nature's Call and get ready for church just as on any other Sunday. I saw the little dog actually in the little dog bed provided and was happy. Rodent didn't seem anxious to go anywhere so I went about my business first. Long Suffering Spouse got up to take her shower while I was getting dressed. She got out of bed and headed for the door -- the dog, by the way, still in the little dog bed -- which was by the head of the bed on Long Suffering Spouse's side. But my wife did not make it all the way to the door. She stopped, pointing down at the floor.

"What's that?"

We have a dark and shabby rug in our room. It's a small room, with smaller closets. There is stuff piled up on the floor at all times. Dust bunnies and other fuzzies tend to proliferate in such close quarters. Even after my shower my eyes were still not all the way open. "I don't know," I harrumphed, "probably just a fuzzy." I bent down to pick it up. It might have been a dark fuzzy on our dark and shabby rug.

But it wasn't.

"Oh, for crying out loud," I said -- and Long Suffering Spouse, positioning herself between me and the dog, said, "Go wash your hands. I'll take care of this."

No wonder the dog was staying in her little doggy bed. She had littered the floor. How I'd not stepped in it, I'll never know.

We told this story to each of the kids -- and their respective significant others -- as they arrived home Sunday night. And the response -- Youngest Son's, Oldest Son's, Younger Daughter's -- was each time the same: "And the dog's still alive? Wow."

Such a reputation I have.

1 comment:

Empress Bee (of the high sea) said...

wow is right! my goodness, want a pet rock curmy? they don't do that. they can be demanding though.

smiles, bee