Years ago, when we commuted regularly between Nashville and Bryan with a pre-school-aged Davis, a Rottweiler, and a back up dog, Davis would sit strapped into his car seat booster, with Dolly, the Rott on the seat next to him on one side, and Sparky, the back up, on the other. Inevitably, he would tire of Dolly panting in his ear and whine, "Mommm! Dolly is putting hot air on me. Make her stop!!"
And as annoying as that was, you haven't lived until you have spent twenty-three hours in a crowded, mid-sized sedan with an anxious, hyperventilating beagle and a grown man who would prefer to stick a fork in his eye than be trapped in a car with an anxious, hyperventilating beagle. But that is the nature of parenting and grandparenting.
Davis has a very cool opportunity and honor to spend this spring at the MSRI (Math and Science Research Institute) at Berkeley where he will devote his time to "furthering the appreciation of mathematics." Which provides Walter and me with the very cool opportunity and honor to spend the spring with Lyndon, where we will devote our time to "furthering our appreciation of beagles." It also explains why we spent our Christmas vacation chauffeuring a dog through mid-America.
Little did we know that the normally charming and very affectionate Lyndon is not enamored of car travel. Of course, once he was out of the car at the end of each leg of our journey from Ohio to home, he no longer resembled a satan-beagle mix and reverted to his old self:
Teddy and Willie were chuffed to see us when we rolled in on Monday and were tolerant enough of Lyndon. We are each, in our own way, helping the young dog adapt to his new "normal." Walter, for his part, has walked Lyndon (as Peter Townsend has been singing since 1967) "miles and miles and miles and miles."
I have become the table top and counter police. Lyndon has an NFL-worthy vertical leap and can get up on the dining room table without the assistance of a step stool (or anything else). You may also recognize that a beagle's keen sense of smell allows it to recognize if so much as a crumb is left for sampling. As I do not want a dog snuffling around where I eat (much less nicking a slice of my spinach pizza when I turn my back, which happened within an hour of our arrival home on Monday), I have had to up the frequency and vigilance of my kitchen patrol.
Willie is leading by example, shining as the "good" dog in a family role that has been a long time coming. We were counting on Teddy to be the Mistress-in-Charge of Lyndon's education, but she wrenched her back in the first evening's rough housing session and has been prescribed bedrest and high quality meds for the next week. She does not seem to mind the pampering.
For those of you who wondered where I had disappeared off to at the end of the summer, I was not kidnapped nor did I check myself into the Magic Mountain. Mainly, I took a break to refresh my writing voice and perspective and tend to both my paid and unpaid work. If it makes sense to retroactively piece together some of those activities over the next few weeks or months I will.
Otherwise, thanks to my loyal readers who have continued to check in to see if I have any nonsense to report and Happy New Year to both of you!