Attack on Safeway

Me and Rosa in Sedona. Got her well in hand for a change.

I was always into dogs. The family drama Lassie was on when I was a kid and I remember how emotionally involved I was when Lassie got lost. Culminating a three-part special, the collie bounded over the rise back to the home where the boy, Timmy, trying to close out his grief, is burying her toys in the yard. I didn’t want anyone to see I was crying. From sheer smell, instinct, and love, she found her way back, hundreds of miles. I guess this sort of thing can happen.

There’s something about dogs that’s visceral for me.

Dogs are better than people. There, I said it. Don’t be offended. I’m including myself. The fact that my dog, stuck in the house with my fresh corpse, would in about four days’ time begin eating my feet in no way alters this evaluation.

Perhaps it is this “weakness” for the species that has made me a bad trainer. The first thing you learn about training a dog is not to give it too much freedom. I learned this through assiduous non-application. I have blogged about my life as a high school teacher. Well, it’s safe to say that my weaknesses as a classroom manager parallel my weaknesses as a dog trainer.

Because of this, my wife and I must keep the lively Airedale behind gates all the time – certainly when we are eating, as she will, with nary a qualm, try to steal the food off our plates. I’m not sure all dogs are as food crazed as Rosa.

Riding with her is tricky. We used to keep her in the hatchback, using a dog fence I rigged to separate her from the rest of the ride. But she hated it, and the improvised gate warped the sun roof (you still can’t open it all the way), so we decided the back seat was segregation enough. My old Saturn was even worse; I’d let her anywhere she wanted, and the orally fixated pup used my gear shift knob as a teething device. I had to wrap the thing in duct tape to achieve any semblance of something to grab to change gears, and the guys at the place where I traded it in for my SUV laughed their heads off at the violated gearshift knob.

One time I was at Safeway at some ungodly early hour, like seven a.m. I had two cups of coffee in me. I need three to properly exist as a human being, so I wasn’t firing on all cylinders. I had Rosa in the back seat, not the hatchback but behind the front seats. I came back from the store with stuff I opened the hatchback to put in. I don’t remember whether I bought the case or cases of water then, these twenty-four or thirty-six or however many plastic bottles of water, or I put them in now. All I remember is my dog leaped over the back seat’s backrest, past me, and out the hatchback to The World, scattering water bottles about the parking lot.

The parking lot of the Montezuma/White Spar Safeway is built on a slope, so the bottles rolled everywhere. As Rosa flew toward the store, I had a split-second dilemma. Do I follow her? Or head in a million directions after the bottles, a fool chasing his hat in the wind? When, at her approach, Safeway’s doors drew compliantly open, sensing the presence of a mammal bearing a change purse, the decision was clear — I sprinted for the store.

By the time I got inside she had upended a plastic clam shell of bakery cookies. Most of the dozen cookies had spilled loose on the tile floor, well to the left of the cash registers and the giggling, generally amazed kids working there as I shot into the place. Such was the dog’s concentration on snapping up her spoils, I had no trouble grabbing her by the ruff. She had devoured half the box. To this day I don’t know whether they were peanut butter or white chocolate macadamia nut. I looped my fingers in her collar and dragged her out the door, calling apologies to the kids, one of whom said through tears of laughter, “No worries! This was the best time we ever had here.”

Outside, a young employee, no doubt the cart wrangler, was trying to round up my rolling bottles. I threw the dog into the Forester and ran around helping the boy round up as many bottles as we could. We may have missed just one or two when we put the water bottles back into the hatchback. Satisfied with the cookies, I guess, Rosa didn’t try to pull a fast one this time. I thanked the kid profusely and, red faced, got the hell out of there.

As of this writing I have not had bacon in weeks, this after a post about trying to be Jewish. But Friday bacon was a tradition with us. I’d give her some with her morning kibble, an esteemed breakfast to this dog’s palate. When Rosa was a skinny forty-pound pup I was frying bacon once, or trying to fry it. I had four or so slices in the pan and three-quarters of a pound of raw bacon sitting on the counter when she leaped up from her almost somnolent lay-down position on the nearby floor (by which she tried to fool me into thinking she posed no threat). Paws on the counter, she snatched the raw bacon. I grabbed with my fingers at the slimy plank that protruded from that alligator muzzle and began a tug of war. Alas, her alimentary and peristaltic imperatives were too much for me and, to my horror, twelve uncooked rashers of Farmer John’s Classic slipped inexorably down her gullet.

My wife and I noted later that the only noticeable clue to this gluttonous predation was a blissful aspect about the eyes as, with a soft groan, she settled onto the couch for a nap. “All that bacon grease,” Barb said.

STAY TUNED FOR PART TWO OF THIS SPECIAL THREE-PART DOG BLOG! COMING SOON!

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