Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Best Laid Plans

There are a few things that Texans are good at--making delicious BBQ out of really cheap cuts of meat, for example--but one thing they are not good at is driving in winter weather. And so this morning, after I got up and learned that school would be proceeding today as scheduled, and after I did several back handsprings across the living room, I tried to hustle the kids into the car before Curious George was over so that we could drive slowly and carefully through the ice to school. Big mistake. The second I turned off the TV Wes dropped to the floor, screaming. Then Charlie picked a fight over a truck he hasn't shown any interest in in over a week.

I finally managed to drag both of them into the doorway of the car and started making chipper threats about what would happen if they didn't get in and buckle up immediately. Like NPR. NPR would happen and sorry, you'll have to listen to Lady GaGa another time. When I was buckling Wes in I smelled that something was amiss.

"Wes, did you poop?!"

"Yes, thank you!"

Always so polite, that one.

I reasoned that I would change him in the car after we were safely at school, nice and early, with plenty of time. I'm gonna get so much done today!! Yay for planning ahead, right? That's foreshadowing right there.

Somehow, by the time we left the driveway we were already five minutes behind where we would have been if I'd just let them watch the end of freaking Curious George. Humph.

At the end of our street a dog was running around outside with no one in sight. It was twenty degrees, and windy, and the grass was covered with ice. I couldn't leave him. So I pulled over and called him. He came close enough to see that he had a collar with a tag, then ran back into someone's yard. I was thinking about just forgetting about it and heading to school, but then I thought about Rossby shivering in the cold with no one to help him.

So I backed up, grumbling, turned around and followed him a little ways until "Snowdog", who now had a name thanks to Wes, stopped walking again, and got out to call his family.

I left a message explaining that I would drive the dog to the vet's office in our neighborhood where he would be warm and that the owner could pick him up there. I should mention that this dog was DISGUSTING. He had a lampshade thing on his head, his tail had no fur on it, and his feet were bruised and patchy. The poor thing. He did have a nice collar on, though, so he must have a family somewhere. I hope.

I followed Snowdog on foot as far as I was comfortable getting away from the car, which was about one house, and tried to get him to walk to my car. "Here, puppy! HEEERE PUPPY! PLEASE COME HERE SO I DON'T HAVE TO MAKE A DIFFICULT DECISION IN FRONT OF MY CHILDREN! PUPPY PUPPY PUPPY!" I waved invitingly at the open tailgate. He dug in his heels. Reluctant as I was to try and pick up what looked to be an eighty pound dog with a skin condition while my three children looked on, I looked around to see if there was someone around who could help.

Then he started walking around erratically and stumbling here and there. OMG DON'T DIE RIGHT NOW. So, so awful. The kids were yelling from the van, "HERE PUPPY! HERE SNOWDOG! MAMA WHY DOES HE HAVE THAT THING ON HIS HEAD? WHAT'S WRONG WITH SNOWDOG?" Oh hell. Oh hell oh hell oh hell.

I had just lifted my hand to knock on the door of a randomly selected house when Snowdog walked onto the neighbor's porch, nudged the door with his nose, and walked inside.

"Oh good!! He's home!!" I thought. Relieved, I got back into the car and put it in gear then left another message. "Your dog let himself into the house at 1234 Maple Street, I hope that's the right place. Have a great day!"

"Where did Snowdog go?"

"He went into his house!" I said, brightly. Laundry laundry laundry! I'm gonna finish the laundry!

"Why is the door still open?" Charlie asked. So damn observant, those four year olds.

"Ummm, I don't know, Sweetie. But he's inside now where it's warm so he can rest." Or die in the middle of a stranger's living room, possibly for them to discover when they return from work. Surprise!

We drove to school. We were only five minutes late. Wes still had a dirty diaper and both kids' faces were covered in jelly that I completely forgot about until a dear friend exclaimed "Oh, Baby, look at your poor chapped face!!" as she helped me carry him (smelly, jelly-faced and all) to his classroom after he refused to follow me up the sidewalk (family planning tip: space your children so you don't have to rely on the whims of a two-year-old when trying to get somewhere in a hurry). Their teachers have come to expect all kinds of wacky behavior from me and were very gracious.

I skipped back to the car, went to a doctor's appointment, then drove back to my house. And tried really really hard not to notice that the door of the house Snowdog had chosen to burglarize was still open. But I did, so then I had to call the SHERIFF'S OFFICE to ask them to come check out the house with the open door. Yes, the Sheriff. Because I live in a John Wayne movie. Let this be a lesson to you: NEVER GET INVOLVED. They took my name and address and so help me if a police car (or a sheriff on a horse) shows up here this afternoon I will be HIDING IN THE CLOSET and letting Charlie do the talking.


Anonymous said...

Bad at winter driving AND putting contact information on their dogs! I feel like this same story unfolded every single time I took Budd for a walk. Of course the last Snowdog we rescued is now fat and clean and sleeping on my bed.
I feel like this post is "to be continued....."

Anonymous said...

We need to find the blog for 1234 maple...she's going to have an awesome post of how some scruffy dog broke into her house :) --abby

Anonymous said...

I was just thinking about this more, and based on my extensive experience of wrangling stray Texas dogs, I would venture a guess that the grossness of the dog has more to do with his/her time outside in the cold and less to do with bad owners. We all remember Jenny's shower when Budd escaped for 0.6 seconds and came back smelling like poop, dead bodies, and sauerkraut. A nice collar with a phone number is better than most dogs have. The lampshade thing could easily have come from rooting in the trash, and for most big dogs you have to wipe ice and snow out of their feet IMMEDIATELY or else it turns to sharp ice chunks which cut the pads. I would look for other things like is he/she underweight, are the eyes clear, collar too tight, understand "sit" etc.
And yes, it is a slow day at work.

Anonymous said...

Ack! I remember that....Bud smelled awwwwfuuuul! Didn't we have to take him to get a bath? Ah memories....--abby

Sarah said...

I always get so pissed when I am late for preschool because why am I missing out on the valuable someone-else-is-watching-my-kids time?? (And yet. I am always late.)

I think you went above and beyond with Snowdog-- good work! And I also want to hear what happened when the occupants of "Snowdog's house" came home.

Bridget McCarthy said...

I just don't understand why you couldn't find the time to snap a picture of Snowdog with the kids... (kidding! kidding!) I'm glad you called the Sherriff because maybe someone was in the house and fell unconscious and somehow Snowdog KNEW that and he totally saved their life because their heat had been turned off and they were slowly dying from hypothermia but Snowdog kept them warm with his body heat and then the police found the person and Snowdog is a HERO?! Please do a follow-up post. Not knowing is killing me.

Rima said...

You are a really, really good citizen! I would LOVE to have you as my neighbor!