Saturday, August 02, 2008

Summer Vacation Part 1: Hell Hound Takes a Holiday

Milk Man and I are too soft-hearted to ever get rid of Hell Hound, although she is very horrid. Even leaving her for a few days at a kennel is difficult. "What if she thinks we've abandoned her?" I worry in the car on the way to Murray’s Pet Hotel. We're going to Cape May, NJ for a summer vacation with the kids, no pets allowed. Just a block from the house, struggling to reach the open window with her nose, Hell Hound gets her foot stuck under the front passenger seat. I try to free her, as she is yelping and howling in pain, and Milk Man is pulling over to avoid a collision. She clamps down on my hand, hard. When I finally unpin her back paw, I have a bleeding dog bite. “How am I going to drop her off like this?” I wonder aloud as I unbuckle my seat belt and start reaching into the back seat for a glove of some kind. Milk Man frowns. “You can’t wear that, you’ll look even more suspicious.” All I can find is a baseball glove, because it’s July. “I can put this on; maybe I just came from playing softball.” The husband thinks my idea is stupid and wants to drop her off himself while I wait in the car with the kids. I decide he’s right, as I apply direct pressure to my hand and shoot dirty looks at the dog. She’s laying on the floor of the car now, feigning sleep.

Minutes later, we hear a siren. It’s a cop, passing, and then slowing us down to a stop. The napkin I’m holding is covered in blood, but it looks worse than it is. I sit on my wounded hand as the officer approaches the car. “Hi Folks! We’re closing the road for a few minutes. You can turn right up there.” The officer motions toward an intersection. Milk Man thanks him. Then, instead of going on our merry way, my dear husband remembers that his quota of "2008 Dumb Jokes for the YEAR 2008" has to be met. So he waves the cop back over. Now I'm whisper-yelling at Milk Man, "What are you doing?!" Being half Irish American, he ignores me.

“Hey, officer, by the way, do you happen to need a drug-sniffing dog?” The officer peers into the car. “No, is your dog trained to do that?”

I put my head in my hands, overwhelmed, forgetting that I'm bloody. I can see this joke ultimately leading to a foot-in-mouth situation, or worse. Milk Man obliviously continues. “No, we just KNOW that she’d be really good at sniffing out drugs if you need a dog. Not that we HAVE drugs... At least not ILLEGAL drugs... Not in this car... Um, ...or not at all.”

There is an uncomfortable pause. The baby whimpers from his car seat. Big Brother shouts, “Are we in New Jersey yet, Dad?” The Princess starts screaming a fairytale, “Mommy, don’t let the policeman put Hell Hound in Jail!" She points to a bruise on her knee. "This boo boo on my leg is not from her; YOU just did it.” Freaking out in my mind, I wish I could do-over this day. I'm speechless.

The officer gestures to my bloody hand, asking what happened. I smile broadly, and speak through clenched teeth. “Oh this, …this is nothing, …just a little... flesh... wound. I’m fine. Little Girls! They can be dramatic! Well, have a great day!” I lean over the husband to hit the button that closes the window. The officer looks perplexed, but nevertheless, waves us on, since traffic is building up. Milk Man is annoyed. “Now watch, he’s recording our license plate and Social Services is going to come to our door. Why did you have to show your hand?!”

“Maybe because you started talking about drugs to make a DUMB joke, and we could have been ARRESTED on our way to our summer family vacation,” I retort.

Milk Man defends his bad joke habit. “I was trying to give Hell Hound a new home, and an interesting, constructive job.”

I tell him that if he wants to successfully get rid of Hell Hound for JUST a week, I need to take her into the kennel. “The less YOU say about her, the better. That goes for you, too, young lady," I say to the Princess adding, "Never tell lies about Mommy!" She frowns from her booster seat and mumbles something about Hell Hound NOT going to jail. I feel like we’re filming, Bonnie and Clyde: The Soccer Mom Years. (That’s a movie I just made up, while angrily staring out the front passenger seat window.)

We enter the kennel driveway. In cheery, retro-style lettering the over-sized sign welcomes us to Murray’s Pet Hotel. When I open the car door, Hell Hound attempts to drag me by her leash. We approach the steps and ring the bell. A grisly looking man lets us in. He hands me forms to sign and instructs me to let go of Hell Hound. I smile, with the bloody hand behind my back, politely asking, "And your name is..?" The man is expressionless. "Murray. Sign here," he grumbles, pointing to the "x" at the bottom of the boarding contract. I decide that Murray is not a man of many words, and it seems, Murray also doesn't really like animals. "Who knows what these crazy dogs think,"is his opinion about my fears of emotional abuse caused by leaving her here for a week. Hell Hounds tongue freezes mid-pant, and her eyes grow wide as she watches me head out the door, waving goodbye to her as I go with my "good hand."

I hop into our packed mini van and we peel out of the parking lot. I look down at the bloody napkin that I'm still clenching. Milk Man asks,"You alright?" I shake my head, yes. Suddenly, we're both laughing. Then a little voice calls from the back seat. "Mommy, Daddy, are we in New Jersey yet?"

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Dear Internet Traveler,

Welcome to my writer's blog, started about six years ago for fun. Over time, the writing I have posted has ranged from personal reflection, to Long Island history research, to tall tales for my own amusement, to feature articles for local newspapers. As you can see from topics listed here, I travel in many mental directions in regard to interests. Click on the tabs and labels to explore my strange mind which senses that you may be having a criss-cross day. If so, perhaps this blog will distract you. However, please note that if you tell me my blog is beautiful just to get me to advertise rhinoplasty surgery and cheap drugs from Canada in your comment, I will ask the gods to give you a tail that cannot be concealed.


Loren Christie

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