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Disclaimer: Names in this posting have been changed to protect the innocent. And the guilty. You know who you are.

Last Saturday promised to be another scorcher, so Tom got up and headed out to run at 7 a.m. instead of his usual 8 a.m. As I’ve mentioned before, Teddy is not a morning dog; in fact, he gets downright grumpy if forced to get up much before 8 (have I mentioned how much I love this dog?). So since I knew he wouldn’t be in need of a wee for a bit longer, I snuggled back down into the sheets for another hour or so of snoozing after Tom left.

A little after 8, I dragged myself out of bed, threw on some capris and a T-shirt, and woke Teddy up. The two of us stumbled out into the backyard; me tugging on Teddy’s leash, slapping the side of my leg, blathering on in a high-pitched plea, “C’mon Teddy. Go potty. C’mon, Fuzz-Butt, do your thing!”; Teddy eyeballing me like I’d completely lost my mind.

When we got about 50 yards away from the back of the house–which took a few minutes because Teddy kept stopping to lay down in every patch of shade we walked through–I heard a low rumbling sound coming from the side of the house and immediately thought, “Oh, crap, I hope the air conditioner isn’t about to blow up.” But it was only 8 a.m. If the air conditioner was thinking about having a nervous breakdown in the god-awful heat, I didn’t want to know about it or deal with it until I’d had a chance to fully wake up. I didn’t even turn around to see if there was smoke. I just kept walking, cajoling Teddy every step of the way to take care of business. Even at that early hour, the heat and humidity were so bad, sweat was trickling down my back and my hair was starting to plaster itself to my head. I just wanted to go back inside.

When Teddy had finally squirted all the trees and bushes in need of a squirt and had determined that all was right in his realm, we turned around to head back to the house. That’s when I saw it. The low rumbling sound was not coming from the air conditioner. It was coming from an ambulance, and I knew immediately why it was there. As we raced up the backyard and around the side of the house, I saw the police cruiser and the firetruck.

The afternoon before, our neighbor, whom I’ll call “Ward,” had started painting his new detached garage. “June,” his wife, had left a day or two earlier to take their boys, “Wally” and “The Beav,” to summer camp and then to go to the lake to hang out with her mom. I knew June was planning to be back in town at some point for a bachelorette party she was hostessing Saturday evening, but as I ran up toward the street, I couldn’t for the life of me remember when she’d said she’d be back.

As I raced toward their house and saw the crowd of firemen, EMTs, and police officers, I had two recurring thoughts: “Good lord, I hope Ward is okay!” and “Thank goodness I put on a bra!”

After Teddy and I navigated our way around the emergency vehicles, I paused momentarily to survey the situation. Two ladders were lying in the side yard as though they’d been tossed out of the way in haste. As I feared, Ward was on the ground toward the back end of the garage, the firemen and EMTs gathered around him. Good grief, the garage is nearly two stories tall at that point, I thought, and I shuddered. I saw that the EMTs were working to get Ward secured onto a board, and I was relieved–at least a little–to know he was in the hands of professionals. I looked around a few seconds more and didn’t see anyone but emergency personnel. No June. No other neighbors. I hesitated, not wanting to be a Gladys Kravitts, asking questions and getting in the way, but wanting to know if June had been notified. A police officer was standing a few feet back from the action, so I approached him and asked if they’d been able to get a hold of Ward’s wife. “She’s right over there,” he said as he nodded toward the crowd around Ward. Phew.

Sure enough, just then June stepped out from behind a tree. When she saw me, she started calmly up the hill. Her demeanor was reassuring. She let me know immediately that Ward was hurt, but he wasn’t going to die. His shoulder was dislocated, his right leg was scraped up, and he was in enough pain that the first words out of his mouth when the EMTs arrived were, “Give me morphine,” but he wasn’t going to die.

As we stood there waiting for Ward to be loaded into the ambulance, June and I commiserated about the fact that he shouldn’t have been up on the ladder in the first place, and she filled me in on the few details she had. Apparently, Ward had gone out early–by himself–to get as much painting done as possible before the heat became unbearable (too late for that, I thought to myself as she talked and I sweated). June had returned home the evening before and, like me, was taking advantage of an opportunity to sleep in Saturday morning. Her reverie was interrupted by the next-door neighbor who came into the house to find her after finding Ward sprawled out in the side yard. That the neighbor found Ward at all is a miracle. Normally she would have left before Tom, who Ward remembers waving at a few minutes before swan-diving off the ladder, but she was running uncharacteristically late that morning. As she opened her garage door, she and her daughter heard his calls for help. Thank goodness. Heaven knows neither June nor I would have heard him. Geez. I didn’t even hear the fire truck coming into the neighborhood with its sirens blaring around 7:30, and it was less than the length of a football field away from my bedroom window when it came to a stop. Unbelievable. And un-nerving. Ward had been lying there waiting for someone to help him for about 20 minutes before the neighbor found him.

Before it was all said and done, Ward ended up having to be fully sedated so his shoulder could be put back into place, but he did come home from the hospital that afternoon. Groggy and heavily medicated, but he came home. I’m happy to report, he’s doing quite well as of today, all things–and all possibilities–considered, but I doubt he’ll be up on a ladder anytime soon. For that matter, I’d be surprised if any of the guys in the neighborhood find themselves up on a ladder in the near future–that is if their wives have anything to say about it. The memory is too fresh.

I don”t know about the rest of the guys, but Tom’s not complaining. He’s never been all that fond of dangling from the top of a ladder. Once he knew Ward was going to be okay, he even joked about the new “toys” the guys in the neighborhood were going to be able to buy or  rent–things like hydraulic lifts–that they’d need if they couldn’t use ladders.

Amazing. I’m fighting the nausea I feel every time I think about Ward lying on the ground, all alone, immobile, and in horrible pain, and Tom’s imagining the circus tricks he and the other guys can do in the forklift…or hydraulic lift…whatever. Truth be told, Ward will probably want to be first in line to operate it. Boys. I give up.

We are in the sixth or seventh day of heat advisories here in the Land of Oz. Not an entirely novel state of affairs; although, we usually don’t get these extreme temperatures this early in the summer. No matter. It is what it is. Every time I hear myself moaning about the miserable heat and humidity, I remind myself how lucky I am not to have to work outdoors in it. Unlike the mail carriers, construction workers, and farmers, I have the luxury of ignoring the outdoor tasks requiring my attention, the flower beds that need to be weeded and most of the errands that need to be run. But it is hellaciously hot. Hellaciously. Even Teddy doesn’t want to go outside. Smart dog.

Even so, I would like to propose a new rule that would take effect when the thermometer and/or the heat index goes over 95 degrees, and that rule would be: No Makeup Allowed. Think about it, ladies. If we all agreed to this rule, none of us would stand out from the crowd. None of us could be singled out for ridicule when our lips disappear, our eyes recede into nothingness, and our age spots and red blotches come out of hiding. We’d all be lip-less, eyebrow-less wonders together. Moreover, none of us would have foundation and blush dripping onto the front of our shirts or smeared all over the ear pieces of our cell phones. Nor would we have black smudges under our eyes from wiping away the salty rivulets of sweat that keep dripping from our eyebrows onto our lashes. While we’re at it, maybe we should add an addendum stating that when the No Makeup Allowed rule is in effect, all hair must be worn plastered to the head. Completely flat. No fluffage. No exceptions. Think how much time, aggravation, and hair spray these few simple rules would save us.

If the men complain, we can just remind them that they’re not much to look at in this heat either. Even though they may not have eye shadow pooling under their chins, the dark stains under their armpits that blend into the dark stains running from collar to belt on their backs are not a great look either.

Something to think about.

As I write, Teddy is curled at my feet, snoring and farting. Mostly snoring. He’s been doing that all day long. Clearly, he’s going to fit right into this family. His extensive exploration of the house and visit to the vet yesterday must have worn him out. Plus, I must confess, he stayed up late with me last night while I wrote. We didn’t get to bed until nearly 2 a.m. Believe me, he was none too pleased when I made him get up at 7 a.m. to go out for a wee as I took the trash out. He did it, but I got the squonk eye.

He really is an incredibly good dog. He eats when I feed him. He sits still while I brush him, and he comes when I call his name. His tail never stops wagging–when he’s awake, that is–it’s pretty lifeless when he’s snoring. When he’s awake, he’s just happy to hang out. Very low maintenance. No bounding around, no pestering, just companionable togetherness. I’m in love.

We don’t have the “I need to go out to whiz” business totally figured out yet. Mostly it’s me running back and forth to one or more doors every few hours saying, “Do you need to go outside? Do you need to go potty?” while he just looks at me. He goes when I take him out, but he as yet to initiate the process. We’ll figure it out. He probably finds the current arrangement rather entertaining for now. I’m sure I look like a dolt bolting around from door to door.

Tomorrow I have to leave him alone for a few hours, and I’m not looking forward to it. Not because I’m worried he’ll be naughty while I’m gone, but because he was clearly sad when I had to leave him for a little while yesterday afternoon. He followed me as I walked through the kitchen and out to the garage. I had to shut the door in his face! Aghhhhh! As I backed my car and my guilt out onto the street, I realized I’d forgotten something. I had no choice but to go back inside. When I opened the door, I found Teddy lying on the kitchen floor, staring at the door. Ouch. Happily, when I came back through the kitchen to leave again, he was at his water dish and stayed there as I said my goodbyes and closed the door. I crossed my fingers that he’d just go back to the living room and resume his nap. Then I tried not to think about it. When I returned a couple of hours later, he was lying on the kitchen floor, staring at the door. Oh, man. I think it’s safe to say I’ll be feeling guilty the entire time I’m gone tomorrow. But again, I’m sure we’ll get it all figured out. He’s a smart dog. It shouldn’t take him long to figure out this is a permanent gig.

Last Thursday, Carey’s sister-in-law, Jenny, sent her an email about a dog that needed a home. Bless her pointy little head, Carey promptly forwarded the email to me. Let it be known, I was actually being a good do-bee for a change, sitting at my desk writing, when the email came in.

The subject line of Carey’s email clearly read: Needs a good home… I tried to ignore it. I kept writing. Finally, I couldn’t stand it anymore. I opened the message, looked at the pictures of the dog, and then closed the email. I tried writing again. Dang it! Seriously. Dang it! Within minutes, I had the email opened back up and was printing off the pictures. Forehead smack.

Please understand. I was not looking for a dog. I cannot emphasize that point enough. Tom and I had agreed that we weren’t getting one until we had the yard fenced. Even so, I emailed Jenny, requesting the woman’s contact information and any other details she could provide. All Jenny could tell me was that he was a stray, his name was Huckleberry, and he was thought to be about seven years old. Oh, and he had a bum wheel.

I called the woman, left a message that I’d like to have more information about the dog, and then carried my cell phone around with me like one of those couriers who’s handcuffed to a briefcase full of cash. Heaven forbid I’d miss the call! What was I doing? I didn’t even want a dog!

The woman didn’t call back until that evening while I was at book club. Normally, I wouldn’t let anything interfere with the focused, in-depth discussions (translation: drinking, gossiping, and general hee-hawing) we have at book club, but in this case I made an exception. I took the call. I took notes.

Turns out the woman, who lives on the other side of the city, is a foster mom for dogs from a local animal shelter. She was able to tell me that Huckleberry (a name bestowed on him by the staff at the shelter) had been neutered the previous week and had tested negative for heartworms. Also, she said, a vet had taken x-rays of his bum left leg and had determined that he did not have any broken bones.  Good news, on one hand; however, no broken bones probably meant the limb had nerve damage. Apparently, the vets associated with the shelter discussed possible treatment options ranging from amputation to medication. Thankfully (in this particular instance), like most animal shelters, the shelter responsible for Huckleberry was strapped for cash, so they didn’t rush into a procedure like amputation. But I digress. On Thursday night, my biggest question was–in light of Huckleberry’s three-wheeledness (temporary or permanent, it made no difference)–can he do stairs? I asked because the only way out into our backyard is down a long flight of stairs off the deck or down a long flight of stairs to the basement. It’s a valid question. But why was I asking? I didn’t even want a dog. Yet. Sigh.

After the foster mom assured me she was…uhhh…confident that Huckleberry could…probably…do stairs…she thought…but then maybe she hadn’t actually seen him do stairs…I heard myself say, “So, when could we come meet him? Are  you available tomorrow night?” Again, forehead smack.

Early the next evening, Tom and I made the trek across town to the foster mom’s mother’s house where Huckleberry was holding court. What a face. After general pleasantries during which he gave us the once-over, he proceeded to lie on my foot, making it known I was more than welcome to provide head-scratching, belly-rubs, and all-around general adulation. He wasn’t rude about it. Quite the contrary. He was most polite and well-behaved. He was also just so dang cute, I couldn’t deny him whatever he wanted. I was ready to take him home. But the foster mom had told me during our initial conversation that we’d have to complete all the adoption paperwork prior to taking him, so we hadn’t come prepared to do anything more than meet him. If we wanted him, the shelter would fax us the papers which we would then fill out and fax back. Once that was all taken care of, we could pick him up. We left that evening with the intent of adoption.

By the next morning, however, we were thinking with our heads instead of our hearts. Even though Huckleberry had managed to navigate the few steps at the foster mom’s mother’s home, he wasn’t terribly sure-footed. Standing at the top of our long flight of stairs, looking down, my stomach knotted at the thought of the poor little dog trying to get down without tumbling head over tail. Tom felt the same way. Early that afternoon, the adoption application arrived by fax. We stared at it. Then I called the foster mom and told her we just didn’t think putting Huckleberry in the position of having to manage all the stairs in our home was in his best interest. She said she was disappointed, but she understood. And I know she did. Still, I had mixed feelings. Even though I hadn’t been looking for a dog when I opened the email on Thursday afternoon, I just couldn’t shake the feeling that Huckleberry belonged with us. But I also couldn’t shake the feeling that it would be incredibly selfish to torture that sweet little guy every time he needed a wee. Huge sigh.

Late Monday night, I opened my email box to find a note from the foster mom (clearly a pro at finding homes for her charges) with a video attached. A video of Huckleberry going down the stairs. Lots of stairs. I showed it to Tom. He chuckled and looked at me with that oh-for-crying-out-loud look he gets and said, “Go get him.”

Tuesday morning, I filled out the adoption application and made arrangements to drop it off at the shelter in person so I could pick up Huckleberry’s medical records and the x-ray of his leg. I called the foster mom and set up a time to pick him up. I called and made an appointment with our vet (whom I love dearly) for today, and then I ran over to Petsmart for the necessities.  Huckleberry and I were home having dinner together by 6:30. Unfortunately, Tom had to go out of town this week, so he’s missing all the fun.

Huckleberry’s first night at our house went well, as did his appointment with our vet this morning. I’m happy to report he’s a healthy little guy, most likely a mix of Shepard and Shar Pei, who only needs more meat on his bones and lots of love. Unfortunately, our vet thinks the damage to Huckleberry’s leg is permanent. Not to worry, he’s managing the stairs and has already thoroughly explored the yard, including the bog at the very back which is currently full of water. He and Tom will get along famously. I refer you to an earlier post in which Tom has his own adventures in the bog. I’ll share Huckleberry’s adventures another day.

Carey and Brian have both been over to meet Huckleberry. With any luck, Austin and Otis will make it over to meet him soon. Otis and Huckleberry are clearly cut from the same bolt of cloth. You’d be hard pressed to find two more laid-back, mellow pups. They should get along famously.

The only concerns I have with the whole business are Huckleberry’s lack of interest in treats and his name. I’ve never met a dog with less interest in doggie treats (how in the world will I bribe him?). Even more important, I don’t think he looks like a Huckleberry. I think he looks like a Teddy. The kids like the name Huckleberry or Huck and give me the squonk eye when I call him Teddy. But Tom seems to like the name and says to call him whatever I want, so I will. Meet Teddy. He’s our new dog. I love him. You will, too.

Teddy, the Three-Wheeled Wonder Dog

I finally got to play with my Monday night golf league. About time. The league started back at the beginning of April, but between rain-outs, having company, being out of town, and life in general, I haven’t managed to get out there, that is until this Monday.

The upside of Monday evening was I got to meet some of the ladies in the league. The downside was I played like…well, I don’t know what I played like. My game defies description. Suffice it to say, I could not find the holes. I had little or no trouble getting to the greens, but I couldn’t sink a putt to save my soul. On at least two holes, I putted past the cup at least four times. The ball always rolling within a inch of the edge of the cup and then coming to rest at least three or four feet past the cup. Often farther. You could almost see the ball smirking. It eventually became a joke. A twisted, painful joke.

I wish I could blame it on the gal in our foursome who was so slow she all but went backward. Truly. She was a sweet lady, but she’d obviously did not subscribe to the concept of ready golf. Slow to get out of the cart. Slow to get to her ball (often without a club). I swear, I never saw her move faster than a mosey, and she took multiple practice swings on every shot. Personally, I think there ought to be an iron-clad rule that any golfer who takes more than one practice swing  before a shot is instantly vaporized. But I digress.

As frustrating as it was to lose sight of the foursome in front of us and to be pushed by the foursome behind us, I can’t blame Pokey McPokerson. Well, actually, I can blame her for making us take nearly three hours to play nine holes, but I can’t blame her for my poor performance. I just sucked. And the really sad thing is I can’t wait to get back out there. Why is that? What is it about golf that makes a person want to go out and publicly humiliate herself over and over again? Six years ago, I wouldn’t have played a round of golf at gunpoint, and now I’m salivating to be on a course every chance I get. It’s a disease.

I’m guessing my performance on Monday night made quite a first impression on the other women in the league. If it didn’t–if they missed seeing me play–the score I had to post in the clubhouse will certainly WOW them. They’ll be fighting over who gets to play with me. Groan.

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