Category Archives: Family

D*mn dog

There are some days — not many, but some — when I would really like to strangle my dog. Today, you may be guessing, is one of them.

Here’s the thing: I am an unabashed dog lover. I think dogs are just the best pets ever. When it comes to dogs, I’ve got it as bad as anyone; just love ’em. But I have to say, I really prefer big dogs. I don’t seem to have as much affection for little dogs. I don’t know why that is. But the bigger the dog, the more I’m going to love it, and the smaller the dog, the more I’m … not.

However I think my next dog, much as it pains me to say, is going to have to be a small dog. Because the big one I’ve got has almost gotten to be too much for me to manage. I probably won’t end up killing my dog, as crazy as he has driven me, but there’s a chance he might kill me first.

As he almost did — again — this morning on our walk.  Do you ever watch the Dog Whisperer? And you know how his mantra is that dogs need exercise, discipline and affection — in that order? That makes pretty good sense, so I’m fairly faithful about walking my dog every day, because I figure a brisk half-hour walk is probably as good for me as it is for him.

The problem is, when we set out each morning, I have to remember that I’m walking Jekyll and Hyde. Which you’d never guess just by looking at him. I mean, look at this:

Sweet, huh? How about this:

What an angel. Most of the time he is, honest. But he has a dark side. (And I’m not just talking about the outside.) He has a problem with other dogs, which is that he really, really loathes them, and will go to any lengths to let them know what an affront they are to his very existence. And there will certainly be biting involved.

And when that happens, and I’m on the other end of the leash, I’m usually the one who ends up getting the worst of it. To wit:

This is the result of him taking off after the *evil* sheepdog who had the audacity to be walking down the same street as us, thus dragging me along the asphalt. Which makes this the fourth or fifth time I’ve come home bleeding (with a ruined manicure to boot) from what ought to be a nice bit of morning exercise, with a 75-pound Labrador Retriever who is apparently possessed by demons.

So I turned the air just a tad blue — sorry, neighbors — as I picked myself up off the pavement and tried to stanch the bleeding as best I could, and did my best to remember that he really is a good dog. Most of the time. When he doesn’t require the services of an exorcist.

Letter to my husband

Dear Coach,

4:50 am: for the first time in 3 months, the alarm goes off. Now your routine changes, from waking at sunrise to waking an hour before it. You will get up, shave, shower, eat breakfast, and drive to work in darkness. Most days, you won’t really mind. Some, you will.

5:30: I get your lunch bag out of the drawer where it has been stowed for 3 months, and make you a sandwich and a fruit salad, your lunch today, as it has been for many years, every week, Monday through Friday. While I do that, you are putting 10 or 12 greens and fruits into the blender for your breakfast. We work together in the kitchen without speaking, the motions of our tasks a choreographed routine we do from muscle memory.

6:00: we eat breakfast together in silence. You read the sports pages; that’s all you have time for. By 6:20, you are upstairs brushing your teeth and putting your backpack together, finishing getting ready for the day. By 6:35 you are out the door; I kiss you and wish you a good day, knowing it will be another 12 hours until I see you again. Maybe longer. And knowing all our weekday mornings for the next nine months will look like this.

I listen to the birds waking as I return to my coffee and the newspaper; I’ve got a lot to do today but I’m not quite ready to get started. And, I’m indulging in a little sadness, facing this tangible reality that summer is over and you must again put on the hat that says Teacher.

The parents of your volleyball players joke with me, every year it seems, that they are going to “borrow” you from me for a few months. “But don’t worry,” they laugh, “at the end of the season we’ll give him back!” Every August, when summer ends, I have to hand you over again, to your students and players (and their parents). I’m not ready. I never am, this time of year.

Still, I say a quick prayer of thanks, for the blessing of being married to a teacher. I love that we get to spend (most of) the summer together, and I even love living in the special rhythm of the school year with you. I love the stories you bring home of your students, and colleagues, and all the adventures of teaching and learning you’ve gotten to experience for the past 28 years.

Thank you for sharing your summer with me. It was a good one this year, wasn’t it? I’m already looking forward to next year, to having you back, all to myself, for 3 months. In the meantime, know that I’m so proud of you, and praying for a great nine months for you.

Happy New Year!