Posts Tagged ‘dogs’


The street that leads to the five-home community in Ramona, California is dissected by an iron gate that, most of the time, opens when you push the remote control. It is a beautiful gate, and right next to it, is a walking trail that says to the would be cruiser of our neighborhood, “We trust you if you are on foot, but we dare you to try and drive into this area uninvited.” After living here for just two weeks, I know that the gate is here for protection. It protects the hood from teenagers. This country road is the perfect little place for lasciviously intentioned boys to park with equally minded, but coy hipster girls.

My house sits about halfway up a steep hill that, at its pinnacle houses the remaining four homes. I drink. I drink while sitting on my back patio overlooking small family orchards, horses, and llamas (Whitney has decided that llamas are nosy animals). I drink while I listen to the barking and howling from coyotes, the relentless caw of the ravens and crows, and of course I drink while I watch my dogs salivate over rabbits that tease them in a similar manner as the hipster girls in the cars down the way do their skinny-jean wearing boyfriends. Rabbits move in stop animation. They find a spot and they freeze. Rabbits stare at you with their side-of-head eyeballs and taunt you while they poop with reckless abandon wherever they please.

My shepherd dog has had enough of this. Lobo, the big, burly and loving shepherd, has declared jihad on rabbits. They are infidels who have the tenacity to waltz into your yard, where you have staked your claim, where you drink and enjoy the country life, and where your dogs should be the only thing pooping with reckless abandon. Rabbits, to my boy Lobo, are a lost cause and should be eradicated. A battle was eminent and loomed ominous over our household.

Enter my poor, poor, good natured, sweet wife, Whitney. Friday night brought frivolity and movie watching to my family. We have made it a point over the years to use our Fridays as a night to relax at home and reconnect. The movie we watched came to an end, and it was time to let the three dogs out for their last shot at reckless defecation. What ensued was murder. It was the circle of life without Elton singing. What ensued was ravenous animality. Even the three-legged chihuahua was overly emotional as she sporadically ran in zig-zagging motions.

One single, solitary rabbit had found his or her way into the yard. Unfortunately for the rabbit, he or she did not take the tenth of a second necessary to dedicate to memory how it came to be in the yard. This is a life lesson to you, people. Always have a way out. When you walk into any place, a restaurant, a club, a store, or even a church, you have to know where the exits are located. You have to know where you can hide. You have to be engaged in your surroundings, because in the moment of confusion and chaos, you will run around moronically wishing you had been. A prepared rabbit lives to see another day. There are those out there that wish to do harm to unsuspecting and under prepared individuals, and Lobo, the alarmingly agile shepherd, is just such an entity.

Maybe five seconds passed. Lobo had cornered and overwhelmed the rabbit. Surprisingly, Baby, the old, but ferocious heeler was an accomplice in the cornering. Like dogs do, Lobo grabbed the unprepared rabbit and shook his head back and forth with such violence no rabbit spine could have survived. That was the end. That is as far as Lobo, the hunter, the manliest of all my dogs, had planned. He had no exit strategy, so he just pranced around the yard with his spoil of war. Dropping it in the middle of the yard, Lobo circled it and said, “This rabbit, is my rabbit. This rabbit is the first of many rabbits I will kill. This rabbit is…” Lobo stopped talking abruptly when I chased him off with a shovel. I stood over the rabbit.

Okay, for reals now, enter my poor, poor, good natured and sweet wife, Whitney.

“MURDERER!!!!” Whitney yelled compassionately. There Whitney stood emotionally moved to tears. “What did you do. Our dogs have tasted blood! What do we do!” Whitney continued, all the while Lobo is circling the area fist pumping as if he just created fire, but alertly scoping the scene for follow-on insurgent rabbit attacks.

“Whitney!” I yell. “They are dogs, and these are rabbits, this is what dogs do, now, you need to go inside.” I tell her to go inside because I know the rabbit is still alive and suffering. I am going to have to finish the job. Of course, and as I should have expected, Whitney needs background information and she needs it immediately.

“Why do I need to go inside?” “Why are you holding that shovel?” “How did Lobo kill it?” “Lobo will now want to kill everything and so will Baby.” “Our dogs are murderers and YOU are not even registering the gravity of this situation.”

I have to tell her the details, because I think the reality of the situation will be enough to make her head back to the safety of the house. “Whitney, I have to kill this rabbit, because it is suffering.” She responds in the only way Whitney could, “Heath, you need my moral support through this…”

At this point, all I can think of to do is the same thing I did to Lobo when he was rambling on about his kill. I run at Whitney with a shovel and yell, “Go inside, already!!”

Gentlemen. I commend to you today that running at your wife with a shovel was the wrong action. I am not sure why I thought that a shovel run would somehow fix the situation. In the end, I have not lived down this portion of my decision making that night. But, I, like Lobo, didn’t plan beyond the actual moment of action. I thought that Whitney would react like Lobo and just sprint away from me. Something in my mind said, “If you run at her with a shovel, she will retreat indoors, calm down, and respect you all the more after this fades away.” That was all I needed. Again, after a day of retrospection, running at your wife with a shovel is never a good idea.

Whitney will not be run at with a shovel and in the midst of all of the back breaking and war, Whitney’s voice echoed out into the darkness. “CAN’T YOU SEE I JUST NEED TO BE HELD RIGHT NOW?” There I was, shovel above my head trying to get her to flee into the house, stopped cold. “I just need to be held, and you are chasing me with a shovel.” While I did not believe that this was the moment for holding–a suffering rabbit needed to die and all, there was somehow something else in her voice. It was like she really was saying, “You. Ran. At. Me. With. A. Shovel.”

After a few moments, I was able to get her into the house. I finished the job and coerced Lobo, the dog who made me kill, who made me foolishly run at a woman, with a shovel back inside as well.

I found Whitney in bed, holding tightly to her chest the three-legged chihuahua saying, “You’re the only dog I love.” She repeated it like Dorothy trying to escape Oz. We both fell asleep.

In the morning, I woke up naturally to the staring eyes of Whitney. She is so beautiful. She was tracing the shape of my face with her eyes. It was almost like she was discovering me for the first time. I expected her to sing my praises for the manliness I exuded only hours before. Our eyes met. Whitney said softly, “Remember how last night you ran at me with a shovel.”

I had no clue what she was talking about.

I just wanted you to know, because I have been holding it in for years.

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Two and three quarter days into my three day trek from Pensacola, Florida to Fredericksburg, Virginia, the phone rings in my truck.  Directly to my front, I can see my future.  Dark storm clouds are billowing towards my caravan pushing their way around the buildings of downtown Richmond.  My caravan, a motley crew, made up of a truck whose occupants include a handsome driver named, me, and two heavily sedated dogs, as their travel anxiety causes driver anxiety.  Following the truck, is a car whose occupants include a seven month pregnant woman, her swollen feet, which the pregnant woman contests are their own entity in themselves now, and behind her, in the rear passenger side seat, a three-legged Chihuahua sits shaking, because that’s what three-legged Chihuahuas do.  I am going to get to the phone call trust me.  Just not yet.  I want you to sit there and wonder why I would start this blog off by alluding to a phone call near the end of the journey and not the beginning of the three day drive that tested every facet of my being, from the fibers of my marriage to my ability to handle stress while manipulating a trailer through horrifying situations.

Trucks.  Huge trucks.  Huge trucks everywhere.  They growl like monsters.  They roar when they pass me, and the inhalation leading up to said roar sucks the trailer I am desperately trying to keep behind me towards them.  For split seconds every time I am passed by these beasts of the roadway I lose control of my train.  I feel it; my stomach feels it, and behind me, my pregnant wife has decided at these moments she should text me, the following, “Honey, are you okay, just checking cuz you’re swerving into the trucks…” 

I don’t know why but I have always felt like truck drivers are intimidating.  I feel the same way I would when I drive around them that I would if I was playing a pickup game of basketball with Michael Jordan—that being, completely out of my league.  I do this thing when they pass me to let them know I think they are cool.  One quick off and on of my brights to say to them, “you are past me, please feel free to come back over into this lane.”  They love me for this.  Sometimes they blink their taillights at me in an expression of gratitude.  I act like the kid who is trying as hard as he can to be part of the “in-crowd.”  At gas stations, I go out of my way to say hello them while standing in front of my trailer, my “beast of the roadway” leaning in the coolest pose I can muster.  I see them in the restrooms of the truck stops we frequent along our route and I probably spend too much time watching their mannerisms.  Once, Pregnant Whitney and I pulled into a gas station and walked in front of about five big rigs filling up their tanks.  I proudly escorted my pregnoid wife from their right to left and for just one awesome instance, I thought, “yeah, this is my lot lizard—I knocked her up.”  I was so proud at that moment.  Seconds later, Whitney did this weird pregnant leap, which actually means she stepped an inch farther than comfort would normally allow.  She lets out an odd whimper and then immediately stops, looks down and pulls the dog away from something that is unbelievably tantalizing.  Moments earlier, I had pulled a chicken bone from the dog that she had found on the side of the lot, so I assumed it was something similar.  Wrong.  There laying in all its awesomeness was a freshly used condom….My trucker brothers had been busy on this very piece of land…..I wanted to take a picture for my scrap booking….

As the trip begins, I can tell that my truck is in an uphill battle against the trailer.  My first acceleration to 65 mph took five minutes and I could watch as the gas gauge fell.  I looked up to the monitor that lets me know the fuel economy: 7 MPG.  Excellent, this was a good decision.  As the trip would wind up, I filled up my tank every 150 miles…..this is not bragging.  My wife filled her car up twice.  Excellent, this was a good decision.  I keep noting that the trailer is riding awfully.  Lurching forward, and pulling the truck downward in such a sharp motion, I thought that it was bad.  At the first stop, my wife, who is pregnant and has extensive knowledge of pulling a trailer or at least in her head she does, points out that the trailer is probably connected incorrectly; I ignore her opinion…remember the phone call…

Day two, my wife pulls out from behind me on the road and snaps a picture of my truck pulling the trailer.  She posts it to FB with a statement worshipping her ruggedly handsome husband pulling the trailer like a professional.  Comments pour in rooting us on as we struggle down Interstate 95.  My father was noticeably absent in my travels.  Not a word, a comment about how proud he is of his manly son who, like him, now pulls a trailer down the highway.  This could have been a connecting moment in our lives.  Maybe it could have been that moment in the father-son relationship where he thinks, “My boy has become a man.”   Nope, nothing, silence.  Our convoy continues northbound.

At some point on the evening of the second travel day, Fred Flintstone had entered my wife’s car and exchanged his feet with hers.  Initially, I was in such a hurry to fill up my tank and get back on the road that I didn’t notice what had progressed from knee down to my pregnant companion on this hellish journey.  Something happened.  It looked as if a balloon artist that worked at amusement parks constructed her legs out of those condom shaped balloons in such a manner that no distinguishable difference existed in the circumference of her legs from knee down.  At the bottom of her leg, where normal people have feet, were five round little balloons extending outward as if the balloon artist had adapted toes by twisting the balloons.  Couple this with her new walking style, and I now had a pregnant wife who looked like she was walking on wooden clubs with nubs for toes.  Cute as can be, but nevertheless, she was walking on wooden clubs.  Somewhere, Fred Flintstone was gallivanting around with Dino on a pair of normal human sexy feet, while my wife was a prisoner to wooden club legs adorned with Fred Flintstone feet. 

The storm clouds continued pummeling the scenery and at any moment, I knew I would be pulling my trailer through unknown roadways in a torrential downpour.  My phone rings and I look to see who would call me at this moment.  Had someone sensed my stress?  Had God shined down upon me with some voice that could calm my nerves?  It was my father.  I hastily answered waiting for the words from his mouth of recognition of my trailer pulling prowess.  My dad started talking, at first bantering about being on the road, but quickly, cutting to the chase.  The following exchange occurred two and three quarter days into my three day journey from Pensacola, Florida to Fredericksburg, Virginia:

Dad:  Son, I saw the picture Whitney posted of you pulling the trailer on Facebook.

Heath:  Yeah? (Said in a manner that knew the following words would be a moment I could not forget).

Dad:  Whitney got a good picture of the moment.

Heath: Yeah?  (Said in a manner that knew the following words would be a moment I could not forget).

Dad:  Two things.

Heath:  Yeah?  (Said in a manner that knew the following words would be a moment I could not forget).

Dad:  Your truck is too small, and the trailer is hooked up wrong…..

I immediately flashed back to when Whitney first pointed it out…I can’t stand it when she is right about things I ignored the first time she said it…..whatever.  So, I sit here in Fredericksburg, Virginia proof that you don’t have to do things right to get them done…  I sit here in the freezing catacombs of my trailer with my three dogs who all want dog mittens to keep their dog paws from freezing.  My wife sits across from me wearing summer gear wiping the sweat from her pregnant brow.  Excellent, this was a great idea….  

More to come…..