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Father's Day Play

Father’s Day Play

This year we celebrated Father’s Day a little different than the traditional norm.

My middle son called Friday afternoon on his lunch break at work to see if he could drive up with his almost-three-year-old son the day before Father’s Day. A change in plans at home meant his wife would be helping a friend with their wedding preparations.

We immediately said yes and rescheduled our not-so-set-in-stone plans.

Wise choice.

I threw together a low-key barbeque menu of  ~ hamburgers, our son would provide the meat. My daughter just happened to have made a potato salad that morning. I went with store bought coconut cream pie and chocolate ice cream instead of the usual baked from scratch dessert.

When the two other Joeys arrived, the littlest one was ready for an adventure. He loves the drive out in the country to our home and by the time he is set free from the confines of his car seat, he is bursting with energy to burn.

Our black Lab greeted them at the front door with such enthusiasm, father and son could barely enter. There was a brief petting fest before they advanced to doggie number two ~ the elderly Rottie/Shepherd. “My Jakie, my Missy, I’m here!” Joey promptly helped grandpa feed the dogs their dinner. This was a very big deal, scooping kibble out of the giant bin, dropping the nuggets while listening to the tinkling sound as their shiny metal bowls filled up, and then watching them devour supper without leaving a single morel.

Oh boy.

Grandpa Joe went out to the back patio to turn on the propane and the littlest Joey followed, so did the big dogs.They have learned the BBQ means heavenly smells wafting at snout level and sizzling meats of all sorts flipped on the grill may fall to the ground, right into their pouncing paws. They have a strict one second gravity rule. If meat obeys their secret code call, and lands, it’s then an instant canine protein meal.

Some olive oil spilled, This was a disappointment to the dogs, but not to my grandson. He got to use the hose and nozzle to spray down the cement patio, grandpa’s shoes, shorts and shirt, the sunshade, the wicker chairs, and he was aiming for the table when he was redirected out into the yard. He then requested the nozzle be adjusted to the long-range stream setting. He washed our windows and watered the yard. Such a thoughtful Father’s Day gift for his grandpa. Meanwhile his dad made a run to the market a few blocks away to buy the meat.

I set the table and put out some chips and dip for snacking. When my son returned he seasoned the hamburger and flattened out large-sized patties for the buns. Jenny and I relaxed with the guys while the meat cooked. The dogs stretched out at the foot of the barbeque on voluntary guard dog duty.

We all gathered around the table and my husband prayed a blessing. We then chatted about just about everything ~ jobs, summer vacation, retirements, how juicy the burgers were, gluten-free BBQ sauce without high-frutose corn syrup, Buzz Lightyear and how Joey could find Woody on his plate if he sopped up the catsup with his bun. Just family chit-chat.

After dinner my grandson discovered the bright blue, soft cover baseball and bat set I got for his dad. The three Joeys found some dry grass and played ball. They took turns pitching, catching and batting. Ah the simple joy of an impromptu baseball game. It didn’t take our Lab Jake long to figure out that he could play outfield so he positioned himself and waited, He ran infield a couple of times to throw his body into the trajectory of the ball, and came so close, his jaws wide open like a leather glove.

I have to tell you that my grandson has quite an arm. Not that I’m bragging or anything.

We were about to retire inside when I noticed little Joey standing under the plum tree, his back to the rest of us, diligently and ever so quieting picking plums off a low lying branch. One plum went in his right jeans pocket, and one went in his left pocket. Pick, load, and pluck again. Most of the plums are still green, some a red, but several are a ripe squishy purple. Well that industrious fella turned around with an impish grin like he was wearing a double-holster with two six-shooters. He was relieved of his ammunition just in time for dessert. I guess a banana pudding cup and a bowl of chocolate ice cream top contraband with pits.

After a diaper change and little Joey hugs and kisses, they drove off into the sunset.

It was not by any means an extravagant adventure.

It was ~ family play time, meal time, smile and laugh time, talk and share time, and we got to babysit for a while time.

It was ~ perfect. Only one purple plum burst in Joey’s pocket. And that is what memories are made of.

 

* Note this writer/photographer was having so much fun I forgot to take any pictures. I did shoot the contraband fruit 24 hours later.*

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Confessions of a Poop-Eating, Mischevious Black Lab. (As told by his Human)

I am a professed dog lover. I can’t help myself.
As a child I longed to have a puppy but my mother felt raising seven daughters negated my incessant pleas for a puppy.
Every once in a while my father, an only child that had grown up with his father’s hunting dogs, came home with a puppy in his coat pocket. My mom couldn’t resist at first, she’d cuddle and cradle the warm little ball of fur. But after a few months of puppy accidents in the house while she was at work and dad was at school teaching, my frisky, chewy, playmate went to a new home.
I was always devastated. My mother would remind me I had six playmates that didn’t shed fur. I don’t believe I understood her reasons back then. It wasn’t until my husband and I got our oldest son his first puppy, then had to take Samara to a farm when we got a three-year accompanied-tour, military assignment to England. It was a six month quarantine for our beloved Boxer/Norwegian Elkhound if we kept her. Then I realized each decision my mother had made was painful for her too.
After thirty-eight years of marriage, my husband and I for the first time have two dogs, not one, that stole our hearts at the pound and came home to share our lives.
Well, Jake the Black Lab/Newfoundland Retriever, and Missy, the Rottweiler/German Shepherd, actually belong to our daughter, Jenny. But Joe and I share grandparent rights. I have main custody because as an author, I write in my home office, and Missy and Jake have their special personally selected spots to relax as I tap away at the computer keys. That’s right they lounge while I work away ~ Missy stretches across the carpet to the right side of my desk chair, and Jake spreads out on all three cushions on the black leather sofa behind me. And I have to look close to see him there because he blends in and disappears until his pink tongue hangs outside his gums.
Jake was but a two-month old puppy when Jenny and I were besotted by this adorable little runt in a liter of six siblings. He was the last one left after our three daily trips to the local pound. Three snuggling puppies stacked upon each other in two neighboring stalls. He was lonely that last visit and meekly approached us. “Harley” padded up to the the wire fence and licked our fingers and hands. Jenny and I looked at each other and without a word spoken, fell in love.
We had also had noticed an older dog, an eight-year-old named Missy. She was on the short list to be put to sleep. She had been adopted once and returned because she did not work out as a ranch dog. She didn’t bark.
Unable to chose between the two, we tried them together in the, “Meet and Greet Room”. We hoped Missy might show maternal instincts for the bashful pupster and it appeared she was quite taken with him too.
So we brought our furry children home. And then the fun began! Missy was not in love with Harley even after we renamed him Jake. It reminded me of when we’d bring home another baby and the older siblings went through an adjustment period. This happened three times.
Jake turned out to be not so bashful after all. Did I mention that Jen and I had noticed one of the puppies in his stall was gasp, a poop eater? Guess who. That’s right. And Missy was disgusted with this particular facet of Jakey’s quirky personality. Jenny almost renamed Jake, Chewy. And boy did that shoe ever fit. Nothing was sacred. NOTHING! Shoes, socks, purses, my favorite writing pens, Jenny’s favorite bras, Joe’s Cal Fire work boots, the dining room table legs, the pom-poms dangling from the patio tablecloth, the patio chair pads, my potted plants and planters, the picket fence plant table, and worst of all ~ BOOKS! The actual list is much longer but I think you get the general idea.
Jake still tests all of us but his zest for life, curiosity, and sweet cuteness eventually even won Missy’s heart. He isn’t such a chewy anymore but every once in a while he takes something and renders it unrecognizable, like my decimated vacuum cleaner attachments that I still haven’t replaced. Maybe Dyson will consider doing a commercial about Jake and give me new attachments? One can always dream.
Jake bolts out our front door like lightening every time we open it. One might think he was fleeing an unloving home the way he runs without looking back. Missy watches him go and shakes her head as she burrows in her comfortable bed. Oh yeah, Jake has chewed up six of his comfy new beds and he nibbles on Missy’s beds too.
Jake has many endearing qualities that outshine his testy behavior. He sits on the right sofa cushion, settles his chin in the high back indentation, and gazes longingly out the huge living room picture window. He is a people watcher. Jenny says she uses the window like some parents use the TV as a babysitter. He is a social butterfly and only barks at by-passers that give him an uneasy feeling. He is a good watchdog. He loves his human family.
When Jake was two, he’s almost five now, he was diagnosed with Epilepsy. His first grand mal seizure was on a Christmas evening and it was a bad one. Thank God he doesn’t remember any of them. The seizures scare our old girl, Missy stays back when they happen. But that’s okay, eventually they both forget about it and life goes on.
Two days ago Jake pulled the cord out of my son Matthew’s Xbox game and carried it out to the back patio. He didn’t chew it up, not a tooth mark. He’d never touched any electronics before, except for two small cell phones that had to be replaced. Needless to say our son wasn’t happy but he was relieved the cord wasn’t demolished and was still usable. Jake didn’t tell why he behaved so, but I don’t believe he will do it again. He was repentant and tried to make up to Matt the rest of the day.
Sometimes he’ll place something in the middle of the living room floor, it’s intact but you know he could have destroyed it if he’d wanted to. He did this with my Brighton wallet recently. And it was full of payday cash. (He has a penchant for twenty dollar bills) He sat on the sofa and watched me put my wallet back in my purse. The one he had unzipped. No explanation, but I suspect he was upset with me for lacing up my Nikes and walking my husband to work. We usually walk the dogs together. You’d think Jake would have left his leash in the middle of the room, now there’s a direct hint.
A few months ago both dogs slipped under the backyard fence and went for a stroll out in the wetland area behind our home. Missy ended up falling in a neighbors pool and almost drowned. Jake came back home to fetch help. I didn’t even know they had escaped. My neighbor later told me he was able to rescue Missy because Jake alerted him that she was in danger. It was freezing cold that day. Jake saved Missy’s life.
Other lab owners say Jake will outgrow his adventurous antics. I love Jake just the way he is. Some days Jake is easier to love than others, like when I cried because a friend had died unexpectedly. Jakey rested his big heavy head on my lap, and placed a paw on my knee to comfort me. He stayed for an hour. He knew my heart was hurting.
I still no longer leave anything I really care about at a level Jake can reach, especially on the upright piano. And he can reach to the outer edges on the top. I think he gets bored, goes hunting, and retrieves. Those large wedded paws can sideswipe anything down to the floor. He is a double retriever after all ~ Labrador Retriever, Newfoundland Retriever.
And whatever Jake eats, he poops out. That is my husband’s fun job, poop scooping the backyard with the extra large handle jaws of reclamation. Believe me, any crime we didn’t catch Jake in the act of, is exposed on the Saturday morning search and find, examine and dispose, “What the heck did this used to be? Jacob, come here! Now!”
Jake will also bring me his treasured nylon bone to exchange for something of mine he is curious about. Many mornings I wake up to a wet snout at eye level on my side of the bed, and a chewed-up bone dropped beside my mouth. Jake’s tail is wagging like an egg beater in hopeful anticipation of whatever it is that caught his fancy. I do a speedy scan of the room when this happens because the object he has zeroed in on is in imminent danger of a grab and go for it, if I don’t figure out the desire of his thumping heart fast enough. This is how I once ended up with a ratty gnawed down to a microbe hunk of plastic, and he made off with a handcrafted leggy bird I’d purchased for a friend for Christmas. Apparently the body was stuffed with yummy smelling decorative bark. He waited about ten seconds that time. Human must think faster in the future.

If you are considering getting a dog, I recommend a lab. They have hearts of gold, and bellies of steel. They will protect your children and guard your home with their life.
My lab, all 85 lbs of him, jumps on my lap in a lightening storm and curls up like he weighs 5 pounds. He begs for the “C” word (a cookie) and waits patiently for his daily “w” word (walk), and he is smart enough to learn what these letters mean if you spell out the word.
Visit your local pound and save a beautiful creation of God from the short list. Be wise and research the bred of dog first. If you’ve never longed for a dog like me, maybe a cat curled up in your lap is the companion you can open your heart and home to.
And older dogs and cats just want to be loved, like you and me. Try out the “Meet & Greet Room” first. I suggest a couple of visits over a period of weeks. And don’t be surprised if you end up with two new friends that become family.
P.S. ~ As I finish writing this blog, I have one dog laying on the right of my desk chair, and one laying on the left. I am penned in with love. Sigh…                                                                                                                      025

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