Through the Fence 7-19-10
July 19, 2010
The great thing about having Labrador Retrievers is they really want to please you, or at least they fool you into thinking they do. Before I got married, my yellow Lab, Honey was more than a pet or a friend; she was more like my child and my best friend rolled into one. She’d fetch sticks and tennis balls on land and in the water and leap high into the air to nab a Frisbee as it sailed overhead. She protected me viciously even if the suspected assailant was my brother, my boyfriend or even my mom. She slept in my bed, went with me to work every day and gave me a comforting shoulder to cry on more than once.
Before I got married, my fiance’s Lab, Bubba, moved in with us. He was chocolate brown and much more laid back than Honey. He preferred fetching ducks and doves to sticks and balls. He and Honey got along great which was essential since we were all about to become a family. But having two dogs at the house meant Honey would have to sleep in a pen like a normal dog – at least on most nights. I don’t think she ever forgave me for that.
At the time, I was custom painting and firing ceramic tiles for luxury homes and needed a small truck to deliver my products. But I was tiring of the solitary life of an artist and was looking for a new career. For a wedding gift, my boyfriend bought me a new car. So, for a while, we had three vehicles – my truck, my new car, and his old Ford Bronco. One afternoon, we were going somewhere with the dogs. We loaded them in the back of the truck and drove around to the front of the house where the Bronco and the car were parked.
Always anxious to go with us, the dogs were super excited, circling around in the bed of my little truck and barking excitedly. When we let the tail gate down and told them to get in the truck, meaning the back of the Bronco, something misfired in Bubba’s youthful doggie brain. He took a flying leap out of my truck right onto the shiny black trunk of my new car. As he flew through the air, it seemed that in an instant he realized the error of his ways. His big brown eyes opened wide and he seemed to say in slow motion, “Ohhhhhhhhhhh Nooooooooooo …!” I could have sworn he was trying to “throw it into reverse.” But it was too late.
He landed and immediately started scrambling, digging his sharp nails into the pristine paint job of my new car that I had hardly driven. Bless his heart; he didn’t need us to tell him that he’d messed up. But the scrambling seemed to last longer than necessary, like those cartoon characters whose animated feet whirl through the air for several seconds before allowing them to change directions. He finally got enough traction to jump down and then right back up into the correct vehicle, where Honey stood wagging her tail and looking smug.
Instead of being furious, I couldn’t help but laugh. Even though my new car had gotten broke-in in a way that I could have never anticipated, it was just too comical to get mad. A little car wax and a lot of elbow grease helped mask that mistake.
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Both those good dogs lived many years after that hilarious incident and continued trying to please us. Sometimes they were successful, but we had evidence that trying isn’t always good enough. I couldn’t ever have foreseen all the ways that those dogs and our future children would mess up, even when their intentions were entirely noble. It was just one of many life lessons during the past 20 plus years that I’ve had to forgive those I love.