34: Taking Care of Business

34: Taking Care of Business

From Chicken Soup for the Soul: I Can't Believe My Dog Did That!

Taking Care of Business

You can avoid having ulcers by adapting to the situation: If you fall in the mud puddle, check your pockets for fish.

~Author Unknown

Mornings are a busy time in our family. My husband and I wake up each morning and set about on our different tracks — his to shower and get ready for work, and mine to get the family up, fed and out the door to wherever they happen to be going.

We have two kids, a nine-year-old daughter and a six-year-old son. We also have two dogs, a fifteen-year old Bichon Frise named Scout and an adopted Beagle named Sugar, who is around three years old. I never set out to adopt a Beagle, but we fell in love with her when we fostered her, and we couldn’t bear to give her up.

The problem with Beagles, I have learned since the adoption, is that they run away, especially if you border five acres of woods, which we do. Sugar needs to be walked on a leash, not simply let out. Despite our fenced-in back yard, Sugar can escape before you have time to blink, and coming back is not her forte.

Getting the dogs out the back door to do their business is often a production since the dogs are working at different speeds. Sugar is raring to go. When I grab her extendable leash, she wags her tail and dances around my ankles.

Scout, at fifteen, is a little different. We’re not sure how blind and deaf he is, but it’s not total. If you yell in his general direction he cocks his head like he might have heard something. His eyes are worse. They have gone from black to cloudy blue.

When it is time to go out and we are near the door, Scout always gets bonked by the irrepressible Sugar. However, it’s calm once we get outside. Scout is off leash and has his usual spots where he routinely does his business. He’s like a slow-motion boomerang. He goes out full and comes back empty. For all his old-age troubles, he’s very consistent when he is let out.

This past summer was particularly crazy because, after four and a half years of trying to get our town to agree to let us connect to the town sewer that ran down our road, they were finally letting us.

Since having a sewer would let us add a bedroom onto our small three-bedroom ranch, this was very exciting news. But it also entailed digging a four-foot-deep trench from the road, down our driveway, and around the back of the house. And, it also meant workmen, kids playing in large piles of displaced dirt, a ruined backyard garden, a deep trench to bury pipes, and big machinery everywhere.

One day after “the sewer project” had just begun, the kids and I had arrived home from their first day at a new camp. We were later than usual, which meant the dogs really needed to go out — especially poor old Scout with his aging bladder.

It was the first time we had all seen our driveway completely torn up, with a digger and a mini-dozer going strong.

Since my normal access to the house was blocked, we had to leave our car on the street, walk up the driveway, and carry everything in. This led to complaints from the kids, of course. Hot, tired, and hungry, no one wanted to carry their own camp bags, not to mention the groceries.

When I walked into the house I noticed that the back yard also had a deep trench going through it. Wow, it sure didn’t take long to destroy things.

As usual, my kids were grumbling, the dogs were barking in their cages, and my arms were laden. I dropped the bags in the mudroom, unlocked the dogs’ cages, leashed Sugar up, and headed to the back door. I heard the kids rummaging through the fridge, and I yelled at them to wait for me to make them lunch.

“You’re going to ruin your appetites,” I yelled.

I opened the sliding back door and Sugar tore out after a chipmunk, only to be held back by the retractable leash.

“Sugar!” I yelled after her as she almost dislocated my shoulder.

Sugar had to wait for Scout to slowly, almost blindly, work his way out the door, and down our house’s one step to the patio. Then I needed to close the heavy, sliding glass door behind us. Finally Scout made it, I closed the door, and followed Sugar.

I suddenly realized that it was a little stinky — they had had to dig the trench through our old septic system’s leaching field to lay pipe for the sewer.

Lovely. I watched carefully where I stepped, finally getting to nice green grass away from our house.

Sugar and I completed our regular loop and started back toward the door. I scanned the yard for Scout but I didn’t see him.

Where on earth could Scout have gone?

“Oh my God,” I said out loud.

I ran to the sewer line trench, which I hadn’t noticed had been cut right in front of where Scout usually did his business.

When I looked in, Scout was standing four feet below me, up to his belly in septic sludge, turning around and around, wondering how the heck to get out.

It took me a moment to process what was right there in front of me. I quickly went through the stages of grief: shock, denial, guilt, anger, bargaining, and finally acceptance.

“There’s only one way out, Scout,” I said from above. “And here I come.”

~Jennifer Quasha

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