A Key Task

An easy task it seemed at the time…head over to Jeanelle’s house and let her two dogs outside for twenty minutes or so. Put them back in their crates, pick Jeanelle up at her office, and we would be able to head to Atlanta earlier than planned.

I arrived at her house and the dogs were eager for a romp in the yard. Layla aka “The Horse” was a ten-year-old Great Dane. Patten was a four-month-old Boxer/Heeler mix and 100% puppy. Patten also didn’t need to go to the bathroom. He had already relieved himself in his crate. Puppy poo was smooshed against the metal bars of the crate and he had “covered” it up with his towel that was now plastered to the door. Gross. I found paper towels and a plastic grocery store bag and cleaned up what I could. Leaving the side door open, I flung the bag at the driveway’s edge.

Since I couldn’t return the puppy to the crate, I gingerly carried the crate outside in search of a hose. As usual, I was wearing appropriate footwear: 3-inch sparkly sandals that I purchased at Nordstrom’s in Atlanta the month before. My heels sunk into the grass as I circled the house looking for the hose. I found it but the water wouldn’t turn on. I eyed Jeanelle’s koi pond as a water source but figured that might not go over well with her. I called her up and asked her how to operate her hose. For some reason she seemed more focused on my inappropriate footwear.

I blasted the crate with water, creating a muddy mixture of clay and poo, all the while praying to the shoe god that my sandals remain unadulterated. Satisfied that the crate was clean, I retreated into the house and began a search for a towel. Jeanelle called to check on my progress. I told her that the dogs were back in the crate and all four cats were still in the house. There was a long pause on the phone and I was then informed that she only had three cats. I determined which cat didn’t belong and made attempts to retrieve the orange and white stray from under the bed. No luck. Cats are not as easy as dogs and the world is definitely on their time, not mine.

I concluded that since Jeanelle already had three cats and she could handle another one. Executive decision made, I locked up and got in my car. No keys. I looked on the passenger seat, the dashboard, the floor. No keys. I returned to the house and looked around inside, retracing my steps. Her gigantic grey man-eating cat lounged alertly on the dining room table in the exact spot that I was sure I had left the keys. As I approached cooing “nice kitty” as I never bothered learning her cats’ names, the fur began to rise on the back of her neck. Static electricity is always a good sign with cats. I asked the cat to move. She hissed. I begged the cat to move. She looked away with complete indifference. I scanned the immediate area for weapons and picked up a stack of mail. Not unlike the scene out of “Shawn of the Dead” where the main characters flung vinyl records at deranged zombies, I flung bills, postcards and other lethal mail at the hissing and spitting cat that now had all claws out. The stubborn cat did not budge. Using the longest envelope I pushed and prodded the monster, until she finally obliged. No keys and I now had a friend for life.

Through the entire battle, the other cats became interested in the sounds and the stray cat came out for a peek. Enough time for me to grab him and toss him out. I locked the door again and approached the plastic grocery bag of paper towels and poo I had left outside earlier in my adventure. I began praying that my keys were not inside the bag. I shook the bag and listened for the sound of keys. None. I squeezed the bag like a package of Charmin toilet paper. No keys. As I remained in a kneeling position on the ground, I spied my keys on the front lawn. I grabbed them, jumped in the car and blasted the air conditioning for a few minutes before heading down the road. One last phone call came through before hitting the dead zone. It was Jeanelle wondering what was taking me so long.


A Root Beer Note

Many years ago when I was in high school, my dad decided to make root beer. I’m not sure why but suspect the Amish in nearby Lancaster, Pennsylvania may have held a bit of inspiration for him. Maybe he thought he could perfect their imperfect recipe. To me, Amish root beer truly tasted like roots and I preferred the crisp, bubbly flavor of A&W root beer in a can.

Dad made his root beer and lined old fashioned brown glass bottles with the plunger tops along a section of the kitchen counter. The bottles were to remain on the counter for an undetermined amount of time in order to magically turn into soda.

Typically, my sister and I were the first members of the household to arrive home in the afternoons. Our job was to walk the dog and, at the very least, clean up whatever mess he may have made during the course of the day. Liz and I were very good about pretending not to see any mess that Drummer had created in our absence and avoided the area until after our mother arrived home. Locked in our rooms, diligently concentrating on our homework, we could hear her sarcastic comments regarding our temporary blindness as she cleaned up his gifts.

I don’t believe Drummer was a counter surfer like my dog Chase. He was a timid dog, easily startled by any loud noise. One afternoon, Liz and I returned home to find broken bits of bottle mixed with a brownish yeasty smelling liquid on the parquet floor. We eyed Drummer, who was quivering in a corner, as the most likely suspect and cleaned up the mess before my father could view the damage to his precious root beer collection. The next afternoon, we came home to the same scene. This repeated over the next few days and we couldn’t understand the dog’s fascination with root beer and realized the rapidly depleting collection of bottles would be difficult to hide from Dad if it continued. Finally, one afternoon, while watching TV, Liz and I heard several bottles explode in the kitchen. The remaining bottles had rapidly bubbling liquid that seemed angry and alive. We quickly uncapped all the bottles in order to spare the neurotic and whimpering family pet additional stress.

To our relief, Dad did not attempt to recreate or fine-tune his root beer adventure and eventually moved on to an assortment of various hobbies through the years: model ship building, soap making, needlepoint, non-exploding Amish 3-bean salad, bread making and wood working. I am pleased to report that none of his current hobbies terrorize his dog or mine.


Long Lonesome Road

It was a beautiful sunny afternoon and a perfect day for a three-hour drive to Rossman Apiaries in Moultrie, Georgia to pick up bee keeping equipment. I never thought that I could leave from Point A in Georgia, drive three hours and still be in Georgia! Florida or Alabama maybe but Georgia? Still? None of the dogs came along for the ride in my old single cab pick-up truck.

I pondered the meaning behind some of the town names like Ty Ty or Sylvester and laughed as I passed a road sign for Long Lonesome Road. I gave up on the GPS hours before as it kept directing me down improbable roads and relied on the Google Maps directions which also proved unreliable when I reached my destination miles before the directions told me and on the opposite side of the road.

The truck tires crunched on the hot gravel stones that made up the driveway. The school next door had just let out for the day and the sounds of laughing children drifted toward the warehouse. I was greeted by a small black dog with mottled white “socks” for paws. She had no collar but clearly owned the place. As I approached the entrance to the warehouse and obeyed the large stop sign that instructed customers to wait for their orders, the small dog coaxed me into petting her head. She looked to be a cross between a pit bull and something else. As I stared at her mottled white feet she looked an awful lot like the timid Australian Sheppard lounging in the shade of another building on the property. She rolled onto her side, exposing her belly and I patted it. Puffs of dusty gravel rose from her skin with each pat and I thought that the dog spent a large amount of time rolling in the dirt driveway. I decided to call her Pig Pen.

The waiting area of the warehouse was too hot and I retreated to my truck, leaving the passenger door open and leaning against the seat. Pig Pen trotted over and placed her front paws on the running board to get a good look inside. She demanded a few more pats before she crawled under the truck for shade. She didn’t stay there very long. A Monarch butterfly hopped from one piece of gravel to another within view of the dog. Pig Pen popped from the shade and into the sun following the path of the butterfly which seemed oblivious to her nose. Finally, my order was ready and loaded into the back of the truck. As I drove away, I could see Pig Pen sitting in the entryway to the warehouse watching me go. When I reached home three hours later, my four dogs felt that I had been gone for a lifetime and they didn’t even care that I carried the smell of a small black dog from Moultrie, Georgia.


The Growler

I had errands to run in the Lake Oconee area and decided to spend some one-on-one time with one of the dogs. I didn’t want to bring the leash which eliminated Chase and I wanted to bring one of the dogs that didn’t need assistance jumping into the car. This eliminated Molly and Charlie. George, or “Cujo”, was the chosen one. He happily ran to the car and jumped into the back seat. He spent the first part of the twenty minute drive trying out each and every part of the back seat…a luxury for him because he usually is required to share it with two other dogs. George loathes sharing.

It was a beautiful and sunny day. George chose a window and looked out at the scenery. He is a dog that growls. He growls when he is happy. He growls when he is unhappy. He also growls when he is trying to protect his car. George feels that the car needs to be protected from other cars that pass by, people walking in their yards, cows, horses and goats.

This area of Georgia proudly declares itself to be dairy country. At least that’s what all the signs lining Highway 441 declare. Dairy country means cows. Cows mean non-stop barking, growling and spitting as every square inch of this highway is lined with farms. Every field is crowded with cows. George does not like cows.

I finally reached my first destination, which was thankfully cow-free, and rushed inside for a brief moment. Next stop was the bank. I opted to use the drive through for my banking needs. As the canister made its way through the clear tube, I could see George’s eyes following its upward path. He was watching all of the canisters go back and forth through the tubes; unsure if this was something acceptable. My canister returned to me empty and the teller asked for me to send it back so she could give me my receipt. As my canister made a return trip, George made up his mind. Moving canisters were something to loathe and George barked violently at it. When it returned, I opened it to discover a receipt and two dog treats. I handed the treats to George and wondered if he was rethinking his position on the bank drive-through.

The return trip was pretty much the same due to the cow population. He did enjoy the stop through Chik-Fil-A. George likes waffle fries. I could tell because he growled. Upon reaching the house, George jumped out and trotted to the door, wagging his tail furiously. He growled at the three other dogs waiting there to greet me and headed for the water bowl. I think he enjoyed the ride.