by Frances Edstrom
The-dog-who-must-not-be-written-about has been a frequent visitor at Lake Winona Manor lately, visiting his various friends and (he thinks) admirers. In the car on our way there one day, he announced that he had "met someone" on one of our visits.
"Oh, really," I said. "Do you mean someone ‘special'?"
"Oh, yes, very special," he said.. "In fact, we've decided to spend the rest of our lives together."
"Um," I struggled to find the right words. "Does this mean this someone is moving in with us? Or are you, um, leaving home?"
"Oh, we haven't worked out the details quite yet," he answered. I began to get a little peeved.
"Well be sure to let me know when you do!" I said, rather snappishly. "We're almost out of dog food, and I don't want to buy a fifty-pound bag if you're leaving me!"
I realized that suddenly I was transported back to my dating days, that same angry feeling welling up within me that a guy could find someone better! I took a deep breath. "This is only a dog," I said to myself. That helped me to put it in perspective for a minute, but then the thought burst into my head, "Yeah, but he's my dog. It's my shoes he chewed up! It's my couch he ruined! It's my new carpet he yarped on! I'm the one who pays the vet bills!"
It took all I had to say calmly, "You know, you can't really leave home. If you do, you'll be considered a stray, and Animal Control will pick you up, take you to the kennel, and you'll languish there until I come to pick you up! And same for your girl friend."
"Who said anything about a girl friend?" he said, turning his head so fast that his ears swung around like a carnival ride.
"Did you think I meant another dog?" he continued. "Now that would be ludicrous, me running away with another dog like one of those silly movies on the animal channel. What do you take me for?"
I pulled over to the side of the road. "Do you mean to tell me," I shouted, "that you've met another human BEING that you want to go live with?" I was beginning to sputter.
"Fran," he said, putting his paw gently on my arm, "Fran, I know this is difficult""
"Difficult! Dogs don't do this! This is just not the way things work! I'll get the guy for dognapping!"
The car was silent for a while.
"Fran, I just feel that I have to spread my wings. You've given me a good life, but it"just hasn't been enough."
"Enough what, you canine cad?"
"Fran, you just aren't very exciting. All we do is sit at home and take a walk now and then."
"Yeah, and look what happened when I took you visiting!" I yelled. "Where do you think you're going with this guy that will be all that exciting?"
He threw his head back and stared off into the distance. "We will explore the highways and byways. We will drink in the sights and smells of life. We are going to the ends of the earth!"
"You told me that Pickwick felt like the end of the earth! You get carsick on long trips! What are you thinking!"
"Calm down, Fran. We have some time to work this out. He and I can't leave until his doctor says he can go. And then we're going to get in his old pickup with the camper top and take off! First stop Nashville!"
I'm practically speechless. Not even in soap operas do they have such bizarre story lines.
"Doctor! Pickup! Camper top! NASHVILLE!"
I turn the corner at Hamilton Street.
"What are you doing?" you-know-who asks.
"I'm taking you home. You obviously need some time to think. And then I'm taking you to one of those pet psychologists in Minneapolis," I answer.
"Fran, you have to accept the fact that our relationship is undergoing a little"change," he said in an annoyingly calm, smarmy way.
"Listen, Buster, I'm accepting nothing. This is nuts. You're going to run off with a guy in a pickup truck. You, who needs to be groomed once a month"who needs his ear hairs plucked"who won't pee anywhere except his own backyard!"
"Now do you see why I feel trapped in this relationship?" he asked.
"I changed my mind," I said.
He gave me a lick. "I knew you'd come around. Oh, thank you, thank you! Please release me, let me go!"
"I finally understand," I said.
We drove into the driveway, and I took his leash and led him into the backyard.
"I don't have to go," he said.
"Oh, no," I said, summoning as much sarcasm as I could, "you don't have to go. You have to stay. In the pen with Ruby the Lab!"
"Yuck! She stinks! She's ugly!"
"Yes, this is the perfect place for you to ‘drink in the sights and smells of life' right here at home," I said. "I'll be at the office."