One lovely fall Friday not so long ago, six children sporting various amounts of fur and legs were awakened at 6:30am, because the bus picks up the human children at 7am. It was a chilly October morning, and the adults communicated mostly in quiet grunts or sighs, waiting for a single-cup-at-a-time coffee maker to HURRY THE FUCK UP. Before the sun was up, the human children had ramped up from sleepy-eyed mumbling to “I NEED ANOTHER SOCK!” and “WHERE’S MY CHROMEBOOK!” at increasing levels of volume, bookbags were found, masks were collected, shoes were put on, all in plenty of time to walk down the driveway in time to catch the bus.
Meanwhile, someone opened the sliding door and the canine children thumped down the stairs of the deck to the grass, joyfully barking right along with their morning business. And then they were quiet.
It took a couple of morning-fog moments for me to hear the silence outside. After all, there were socks and cereal and band schedules and commiseration regarding the overriding “pants are bullshit” philosophy of the household while encouraging some sort of appropriate-for-school butt-covers to be worn. But eventually, I did hear it.
There is zero difference between toddlers and dogs when it comes to the gut-wrenching “oh shit” dread of silence. And as it turns out, not a lot of difference in the results. I walked out on the deck in my pajamas and socks. No dogs. I bent over the rail to see if they were digging in the dirt. No dogs.
The 5′ high temporary (plastic) fencing we’d strung, which had served perfectly for months, had been completely knocked down in one spot, facing the woods.
I ran inside, put shoes on, and quietly told SK the dogs were gone. I knew the twins would particularly worry, and the likelihood was both foolish monsters had run after a deer and would come back whenever they felt like it. Except a busy highway with MANY big trucks is only half a mile away, and a golf course is adjacent to the property on two sides. All I need is a dog scaring or pissing off a golfer.
I wasn’t quiet enough. The twins heard me and came outside to yell for the fool dogs. I wasn’t going in the woods at 6:45am when it was still dark, so we just kept yelling as we walked to the end of the driveway to catch the bus. And then I saw her. Minerva’s lanky white teenage body streaking along in the parking lot at the golf course. Because OF COURSE she was over there. I found Ragnar on the other side of the driving range, where the range meets a farmer’s field and (presumably) there are ALL the interesting smells. We walked back to the driveway as the bus was picking up the kids, so at least no one was worried on their way to school.
You’d think that was the end of the shenanigans for the day, right? We fixed the fence, started work, no big deal. The oldest of the horde had a marching band performance during the football game that night at the high school, so the dogs and I hung out for the day. They mostly napped, I mostly worked until the kids got home and all was well. Until I let them out to pee (the dogs, not the kids, although one DOES like to pee in the back yard whenever possible). I was standing there, even, and they were out of their fence and across the 2 strings of wire fence separating the woods from the golf course in SECONDS. With zero recall, of course, because they’re big fluffy jerks.
Did I mention it was 15 minutes before the whole family had to take the oldest to school for band and the football game? Yeah.
The golf course girl, interested in a break from her boring day, gave me a golf cart to go track them down. And I probably drove that golf cart above the suggested speed limit for safety, asking random people if they’d seen two idiot dogs running around. I was about halfway through the greens when a charmingly kind group of 30-something dudes said “are you looking for dogs? We saw them a few minutes ago – they’re headed back to the clubhouse.” Of course they were.
The golf course had a wedding that afternoon. Why WOULDN’T they want to get involved in that?
When I got back and parked the cart, the manager met me. Minerva had apparently gone home on her own, he’d already gone to speak with SK, and Ragnar the Idiotic was locked in the clubhouse with the bored girl. Perfectly happy to have had an adventure, unrepentant and (thankfully) had not interrupted or disrupted the wedding. Yet. The manager and I chatted about how this probably shouldn’t happen again (duh, dude, I don’t actually WANT my dogs tooling around loose in acres of huntable woods near a major highway OR a public area full of people who might not think an 80 pound German Shepherd is joyfully smiling when they see teeth). For the record, the manager was very NOT angry at all, and not worried about it other than he wanted to know our plan to fix the problem.
The dogs were locked in the house for the rest of the evening. The rest of the not-dogs had already gone to the high school. I took some mental breakdown time before going to my first football game since second grade (yeah, I went to one of those tiny K-12 schools for the first few years, and we had high school afternoon football games more than once. I avoided sportsball events in high school.). The non-marching band human children (as opposed to the furry ones I’d left locked in the house) seemed happy enough with older friends to hang with and all the snacks they had when I got there, a half hour or so before the game.
By the time we were close to the end of the first quarter, they were less happy about being there. They asked me to explain what was going on, which I still think is hilarious since I know squat about sportsball beyond the very basics (what a down is, what a touchdown is, yeah that’s about it). They didn’t have tablets or phones or other distractions with them, particularly the youngest. Snacks do not last for an entire football game. Fussing about boredom began as we waited for the second quarter to wind down and wondered if the massive thunderstorm on the horizon would hit the football field before the marching band came out at halftime. A lightning storm in an outdoor football stadium with metal bleachers sounded fun.
Then the youngest (he who loves his tablet the MOST and didn’t have any electronic distraction) decided to be a canine and repeatedly licked my upper arm (at random). I don’t know why, but he IS the SK’s son, so maybe I should be concerned.
Ultimately, the marching band was excellent, the twins embarrassed their brother by screaming his name every time he marched close to the stands, the storm did NOT hit us during the game, and we left after the band performance.
Oh you thought that was the end? OH NO. We needed to feed the starving horde. Took the littles to Applebees, got our orders in, and their mom walked in with her partner and their friends. Because when you live in a small town with few restaurants already and the Perkins is closed while they fix the damage from a kitchen fire, options for inexpensive-but-not-fast-food are LIMITED. Nothing odd about this at all, as I’m discovering. Luckily it’s not actually awkward, because I like their mom fine and she appears to be ok with me as well. So if you were looking for a karen-fight sorry to disappoint.
After appetizers showed up, the oldest called to say he was done and can Dad come pick him up now please. So SK left. Our food showed up about 5 minutes later. Because that’s how the day rolled, for all of us. Everything about this is normal, right?
Are you still here reading? Really? Are you tired after all that? ME TOO. Adventures with the horde are unpredictable and exhausting. And I wouldn’t change any of it (except the dogs escaping to play golf, because that’s just wrong and they’re clearly not good at it anyway).