Last night was one of those nights where I wondered why I am fighting so hard to keep the dogs with me.
Of course, the day before was one of those days where I seriously questioned my sanity for ever giving birth to a child as well.
Backtrack to the truck loading day from hell (seriously working inside that truck was pretty close to the fires of hell I’m sure), which I wrote about here. What I didn’t mention was the crying and screaming fits of frustration that Sarah went into every time I asked her for help. She helped somewhat early on, but then the littlest task (“please refill my Bubba”) would send her into a wail of agony.
Now, don’t get me wrong, I understand that moving is hard, and she was probably feeling overwhelmed and nervous. I also admit freely that I lacked something in the parenting department and found my ability to empathize sweating out of my pores. I even made an agonized phone call to my friend Jackie, begging and pleading, “Will you please come take my child away!”
Too bad she never got the message. Eventually, another dear friend Hannah realized that Sarah was still at the house and saved both Sarah and myself from completely destroying our relationship in a move-induced haze of emotion.
Meanwhile, the dogs, sensing big things, grew increasingly concerned that they might be left behind. They trailed me around the house and made every concerted effort to escape out the door at any possible moment. Lizzy made it once too, sneaking out an improperly closed door into the garage and making a beeline to the moving truck in the hopes she would be able to climb aboard. Meanwhile, she terrified the unsuspecting male pedestrian who backed away at the sight of a determine 60 lb. dog (who, I should point out, would never hurt a human although she has been known to get a chicken).
Fast forward to yesterday where Sarah spent the morning bouncing between friends, and Nathan and I managed to squeeze everything in so we wouldn’t have to mail anything to ourselves. We then cleaned every nook and cranny of the house. “Have you ever noticed,” I asked him as I scrubbed an area that hadn’t been reached in a while, “that we spend more time cleaning for a place we no longer live in?”
Needless to say, yesterday, as the house became emptier and the cavernous echoes grew, the dogs became more concerned. When we decided to have final lunch with some friends (pushing our already delayed timetable back even further) and left them in a house that contained only trash bags and rooms that still needed to be cleaned, they expressed their concern by tearing into one of those trash bags in revenge. Luckily it didn’t contain anything gross.
Finally, on the road almost 2 1/2 hours later than I had hoped, with Nathan in the truck and Sarah and the dogs with me in the car, things started out noisy. Jasper, the younger dog, feels the need in the beginnings of any car trip, to warn away all creatures bovine or ursine. Let me remind you that we are driving through farm country, where you find cows and horses galore. That lends to a sometimes jarring bark of warning that comes just at the important moment of an NPR story or the best part of a song. Well, at least it keeps me alert.
Sarah, who had escaped a large portion of the packing and all of the final packing and cleaning, began the trip with a zillion questions:
“Did you pack my . . .?”
“Where is my . . . ?”
“Is my . . . in the car?”y
Of course, at this point I have no clue where anything is anymore. All I know is that the house was empty and everything we owned was either travelling with us, given to friends, or thrown away forever.
Eventually, I suggested Sarah ride in the truck with Nathan for a while, leaving me alone with the dogs.
Back to the dogs, last summer, when we moved from Durango to Okoboji for the summer theater, we decided to camp along the way. The dogs were great and seemed to enjoy it. I suggested perhaps we could do the same for this move. Nathan was only able to find one convenient campground along our route, which has turned out to be a blessing in disguise.
Why? We didn’t think about heat that is hovering in the upper 90s during the day and doesn’t really drop down until the wee hours of the night. Last night, we didn’t even roll into our campground until around 11pm, which meant setting up a tent in the dark with two dogs anxious to sniff, explore, and otherwise investigate and one daughter who was denying her need for sleep.
We got the tent up and Sarah settled in, but the dogs were a different story. The tent was simply too hot, and they were not going to stay there. They wanted to be in the car, which was just as hot, but allowed for open windows on all sides. I thought they might be cooler outside, but didn’t want to leave them chained up all night barking at night creatures and the train which seemed to go by about 5000 times last night. So I ended up sleeping in the car, with the windows opened, slathered in bug spray and praying that I wouldn’t be a giant mosquito bite by morning. (Thankfully, I don’t think they were out last night. I only have a few itches.) It took a long time for Lizzy to cool off enough to sleep, and throughout the night one or the other of them would decide something interesting was wandering by. Eventually it cooled off enough for me to sneak out and find my sleeping back (which was in the tent). All in all, not the best night of ”camping” I’ve ever had in my life.
So why am I fighting so hard to keep these animals? Well, just as I would never really give up the daughter I love, the look of relief and adoration on both dogs faces as we finally allowed them in the car was a true reward. Lizzy, who decided she should ride shotgun since the seat was available, would look over at me with trust and love throughout the drive.
That’s why the family will stay together if I have any say. And I do.