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Every Christmas season my children and I take cookie plates around to our closest neighbors. When the kids were small they all loved going along, usually wearing Santa hats. They took turns carrying the plates up to the door and ringing the bell.
As they have grown older their enthusiasm for this tradition has waned, but I insist that one of them must accompany me on the deliveries. Now the girls take turns and this year fell to Kinzey, my 15-year-old. She volunteered because she knew this year she could do the driving.
When we loaded up the Explorer, our dog Thor dashed around me and leaped into the backseat. This is the vehicle I use to haul trash and run errands in town, and I usually let Thor ride with me, so he understandably thought this was one of the times he was invited along. Kinzey thought this was a very bad idea.
“Mom, some of the neighbors have dogs, and Thor will bark his head off,” she complained.
“Look how happy he is, we can’t boot him out now,” I argued. “He’ll be fine, let’s just go.”
Kinzey started the car, muttering under her breath the whole time about how this was not going to go well. I ignored her dire warnings and told her to go to the end of the road for our first stop.
I delivered the plate and chatted a bit with the neighbor when their big black lab, Frank, came bounding up to the vehicle, barking happily. I gave him a greeting and a quick scratch behind the ears which offended Thor, who was watching from inside the car. He erupted into a frenzy of barking.
Trust me, the “I’m the alpha dog” bark of a German shepherd is not quiet. He was desperate to get out and either play with the lab or tear him to pieces. I’m not sure which activity he was contemplating, but it was ear-deafening inside the car.
Kinzey hollered at me to get in and before I even had my door shut or the seat belt on, she was roaring down the driveway. Due to snow and ice she couldn’t go the speed she would have liked which created a problem.
We were going slow enough that Frank decided to follow us.
Looking out the back window, I could see him bounding after us, ears flopping, tongue flapping out one side of his mouth, an expression of pure puppy joy on his face.
I’m not sure how old Frank is, but he has endurance.
When it became clear he was not going to give up the chase, I told Kinzey to step on it and go all the way home. I told her we would drop Thor off and then drive back to continue the rest of our deliveries.
“‘He’ll be fine,’ you said. ‘He won’t bark at the dogs,’ you said,” Kinzey was shouting over Thor’s continued barking. “I told you this was such a bad idea.”
Ignoring her rants, I watched as Frank dropped farther and farther behind. “He might be giving up,” I told her.
I finally got Thor calmed down and didn’t mention to Kinzey the insane amount of dog fur that was floating around in the back seat. Whenever Thor gets nervous he sheds about a week’s worth of fur in just a few minutes.
We careened into our driveway with Kinzey doing a nicely done corner drift and unloaded Thor into the garage. As we pulled out of our driveway we saw Frank at top the hill, still running at full tilt down the road toward us.
Kinzey’s expression told me explicitly what her feelings were about this matter. I got out and hollered Frank’s name and when he reached us, opened the back door. He leaped in joyfully, his entire body wagging, drool flying, panting huge gusts of the worst road-kill breath we have ever smelled.
“Oh, my gracious! I’m gonna puke!” Kinzey yelled. “That is disgusting!”
She pulled the neck of her sweatshirt over her nose and glared at me. By this point, I was laughing too hard to talk, but I wrapped my scarf over my nose and mouth and pointed at the road, so she would get going.
Frank tried to join us in the front seat, lured by the smell of baked goods.
“Don’t let him breathe on those, Mom, we’ll poison all the neighbors!” Kinzey complained. I shoved the box onto the floorboards and pushed Frank into the back seat avoiding getting licked at all cost.
“At least he’s friendly,” I said, “He got a good hard run and now he gets a ride. That’s a dog’s life.”
I texted the neighbor to let her know we were bringing her escaped pet home and two of her kids were outside to grab Frank when we arrived. With a wave from them and lots of whining from Frank, we left.
We stopped at the next house and when my neighbor opened his front door, two dogs raced past him to greet me and then rushed out into the yard. I apologized for letting them out and he said it wasn’t a problem, he would get them.
However, as I walked to the car, I heard a familiar barking and here came Frank at full speed up the driveway. He had tasted a slice of freedom and now he wanted the whole pie. The two kids were running behind him as hard as they could, uphill, on a slick snowy road, dragging a leash. Frank ran in circles around the other two dogs who were delighted with this unexpected playmate. I dashed to the car and Kinzey and I left, leaving chaos and mayhem in our wake.
“Oh, way to go Mom, Merry Christmas to the neighbors, now they all have to go out in 10-degree weather to take care of their dogs! ‘It’ll be fine,’ you said; ‘it won’t take long,’ you said!” Kinzey started in on more rants, waving around an air freshener. “I’m going to have to vacuum and hose out this whole car. That dog smelled like he rolled in something dead.”
“Look at it this way,” I said, “it hasn’t been boring, now has it? I wonder what we can do to top this next year,” I teased.
“No. I am serious, Mom, this was not OK. Next year? Gift cards. In the mail.”
She may be onto something there . . .