Monday, April 18, 2016

Mrs. Jones and the Cactus Chase

I can't watch the puppy right now. I just put on my best, giant floppy hat.

Afternoon Readers,

How is everyone?

If you answered, "No getting the crap bitten out of me by a Labrador," then congratulations, you're about eight steps ahead of me both in life and chances of becoming a hand model.

I'm being maimed by puppy teeth. Shoes are being maimed by puppy teeth. My favorite sweater that makes me look like I own a yacht, boat shoes and a charming vacation home off the coast of Maine has been ravaged. Me no likey. If there's some sort of patron saint for people who aren't animal people but have to take care of animals all day, I hope they're listening. Because let's recap last week, shall we?

We shall.

But first, it's noteworthy the cast of characters has been tweaked. No, I didn't have another baby in last seven days, but the smallest Kellerman has finally earned somewhat of a permanent title, gifted to her by Doc, adopted by her mother, and used until she turns eighteen and refuses to speak to me anymore.

It started in the hospital.

"Mrs. Jones. But why Jones? Why not something interesting, like Piggle Wiggle or Barbara Walters?" I asked.

Doc looked at the new baby and back up at me. "Because her name is Jones," he said with the finality only a three-year-old commands. No negotiating. Just the facts.

And so it came to be that I set the baby down on Monday and gave her strict instructions not to go anywhere. "All right, Mrs. Jones. I'm going to take the dog out to potty. No rolling off the play mat. No scooting. Absolutely no miraculous walking behavior. I'll be right back. Two or three minutes, tops." I instructed.

Mrs. Jones smiled and hugged her beloved zebra, more intent on biting it's nose off than watching me struggle to get Ned Yost out of his kennel. I picked up the brown puppy and carried him outside, praying he wouldn't pee on me or wiggle so much I dropped him before we got to our designated poop zone in the yard.

"Ok, do your thing." I tapped my foot and waited. Thankfully, the little dog did his business without needing to be talked into it. While he finished up, I turned to look at the postman pulling away from the mail box. I turned back around. "Ok, let's g-"

But Ned was gone. I spun around a few times, calling his name and gesticulating at no one until I finally spotted him... in the neighbor's yard. This wouldn't have been so bad if:

A. The neighbor's had a way to access their yard by gate
B. Dog retrieval didn't require my thirty-one-year-old body to hop a fence as high as most fences found running along America's most beautiful prisons
C. There wasn't an inexplicable, giant patch of cactus growing just on the other side

"Ned! Ned, nooooo." But it was to late. The puppy charged, headlong, for the freakishly big group of prickly plants. "Stop. Stop right now." I shouted.

There have been two times in my life where I've been forced to engage in acts of valor. Once when I had to dive to save a perfectly-good ice cream sandwich from hitting the filthy carpet on a hot July day, and now this. I took a running start.

"Oomph." The fence hit me in the middle and got stuck on my baby gut. Like a maimed pole vaulter, I dragged myself over the iron rail and fell onto the other side. "Ned Yost, you get the hell out of there. You'll be covered in needles." Inching closer and nursing a bruised rib, I reached for the dog.

But I was too slow, a sure indicator of my lack of enthusiasm for cardio.

Ned shot back through the fence and headed for the far side of our yard. Taking another running start, I managed to clear the fence, catching my right boob on the aluminum, and sprinted after the animal who'd barged in on my life and was doing his best to make sure my calves looked amazing.

So close. The dog stopped at the edge of our yard just long enough to spot Salvador Perez, decide to pop through the fence, and chased the black cat around the garden and to the front porch.

I hit the lock on the gate and ran as fast as I could, no doubt letting the neighbors know they were lucky enough to be living next to woman who just barely had her life together.

Where were her kids?
Who gave her an animal?
Why was she wearing running shoes if she had a bumper sticker on her van that read, "If I'm running, it's because the zombie apocalypse has started"?

Gathering the last of my energy, I ran to the front porch and caught Ned by the butt and somehow pulled him to my chest. Breathing heavily, I limped us both back inside, where Mrs. Jones was crying pitifully into her play mat.

"Look, I found him."

More crying.

"I know you're upset. In baby time, fifteen minutes means you've been abandoned and have to raise yourself. But you really should've seen me clear that fence. Two parts horrifying. One part false hope."

Mrs. Jones wasn't keen on forgiveness, choosing instead to cry on my shoulder while my heart rate dropped to something that wouldn't kill me.

So that's pretty much where we're at. The baby has learned to resent me at five months old, and everything I own has teeth marks in it. But as long as I don't have to hurdle anything else in 2016, everything may be ok.

I hope.

And now, if you'll excuse me, I have to go wash and stretch my sweater back into a human shape.

Until Next Time, Readers!

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