Saturday, March 24, 2012

Fritz Lemonhair Circa 1972

      (Well, now, today, I give you "Fritz" but pictorially, just not on this page.  However, this 'candid' of SHAMUS, our Brittany, more than serves - as you will see - for several reasons.  Fritz is here for two reasons: he's a dog, like 'Miss Lillian', and he's short - in stature as well as role-played-in-our-lives.
      While doc was 'First Lieutenant Doc' and we lived in a town house community provided for the officers by the U. S. Navy, we had our FIRST family dog  (really our son, Philip's first dog), Max.  In the start of my ninth month of pregnancy with Philip, as I could no longer see my feet, weighed a 'smart' 196 lbs. and had to relinquish my position as Head Nurse of the Intensive Care Unit at the hospital known for producing their finest surgical resident, our Doc. And I was SO relieved to do so as now I could follow orders & 'put my feet up'.
      Ever sensitive doc, concerned that I might be lonely, noticed a sign outside the "Maximum Care Unit": 'PUPPIES'.  And so it was that to relieve the nurse, whose frantic attempts at selling the 'surprise' litter her dog had presented, our boy brought this little , fuzzy bundle of un-trained canine bliss home as a present for me.  To keep me company.  Whilst I basked in the joys of elevated, edematous stumps, eating Granny Green apples.
      Max - derivative of his foundling origins - was a challenge, as presents go.  Our townhouse there was such that you had to walk down a flight of carpeted steps to exit.  'Training' proceeding at 'snail's pace', I wound up cutting the carpeting off the bottom step, which Max 'read as' "LOO", and placing it out on the commons lawn.  Woeked like a charm - if you ever find yourself in a similar dilema.
      Max-in-Norfolk was a dear, loyal playmate for the little guy.  He looked like a miniature sheepdog, his matted fur-covered nose ever on the prowl for cast-off-Philip crumbs. (Perhaps a breed-specific trait - tidiness.)  In summertime, we'd have him 'groomed' by a guy who thought rgw 'Miss Lillian-look' WAS HIM!  So he arrived home post first grooming with bows on his 'poodled' ears and tail.  But he was SOOO cool, even Lt. Doc approved - after trashing the bows.)
      Today's Max episode - and I know you're thinking, wait a minute, 'MAX is a lemon-haired-lady?' - as well you should.  Your patiencewill pay off - centers on a painstakingly-planned Winter visit to Pittsburgh.  I'd made the flight arrangements, bought a travel crate for himself, explained over & over to Philip that "The cargo area is like a doggie playground.  They run and jump and fetch balls, get treats, etc. ad nauseum, made packing lists and assigned pre- departure duties.  The ONLY thing Lt. Doc had to do was bathe, brush and, at the appropriate time, medicate Max for the trip.
      On the eve of our journey to PA, where 'cold shoulder' would be served as MY three squares to go with the frigid temps outdoors due to the ubiquitous snow, it rained heavily.  Unfortunately, after the ordeal of coaxing (the un-walked) Max upstairs and into the bathroom for his hated 'suds-'n-rinse special', once we were at 'Mission Accomplished', Max scooted out, unseen by yours truly, so focused was I on carrying four bages of trash to the pre-placed garbage barrel.
      Even worse, at least an hour had elapsed before I noticed Max had not executed his post scrub chow-down because my list read, "wash/pack Max bowls after emptied".  Where's Max?  Nothing.  Strolling with admirable control to the living room where my 'men' were reading pre-bedtime, I bellowed, "Where's MAX?!"  Blank-tape stares said it all.  NO one knew where or when or whence Max had exited into the dark, stormy night nor his current location.
      Donning those 'handy, dandy imitation life disguise faces that have been pre-'smiled', Doc and I assured Philip he was JUST outside - and, proving yet AGAIN there IS a God - we heard scratching at the front door just in time for, "See? Now up we go for prayers and tuck-in.  We've got a big day tomoorrow, big guy."  when I came back down, a very muddy Max was being restrained by a very anger-restraining Doc, waiting an appropriate amount of time before dragging the scoundrel pooch back upstairs for Bath Two.
      When freshly re-groomed, winter-do Max came down, he went, predictably, to the kitchen and his waiting bowls.  Once fat'n happy, he curled up at doc's feet and they watched the news while I returned to my list.  Perhaps an hour later, while I was upstairs blissfully checking task after task off my prep list, I was summoned.  Loudly.  Hmmmm.  So, scurrying down the steps, quickly but quietly, I inquired, "Is someth. . ."
      I was met with a vision.  Doc restraining a very muddy Max who was restrained by a very anger-restraining Doc, waiting an appropriate amount of time before dragging the scoundrel pooch back upstairs for Bath Three.  We both stared at peacefully-sleeping, scrubbed and fed ?.
I approached carefullu and did a subtle 'gender check'.  Not sharing the findings I just said, "Well, THIS is NOT Max." Doc, dragging the now-growling Max upstairs, spat back, "Why don't YOU figure out what to do with 'Fritz' because we have twelve hours and one travel crate till take-off."
      Had to think quickly.  The neighbors two doors down.  Of course.  Kindest folks you'd EVER want to meet.  They'll be happy to keep him/her for a day or two.  But ONLY a day or two as he'd received transfer orders.  They were leaving in four days.  And that will be PLENTY of time for the dear, hardly-known, Mrs. to figure out Fritz' next safe port in this evolving not-so-perfect storm. Most likely, after inquiring of well-known neighbors, she'd have learned that "Those Leavys.  Their dog is MAX. Male dog. SUCH practical jokers!"
      I felt quite certain that lemon-haired Fritz - or, perhaps by now, 'Annie', named for the famed orphan, would be in the care of a loving family or the base shelter.  I have a friend who, in that the family dog, 'Yippie' had taken to nipping the children - she had seven - was moving to a larger house.  On moving day, she simply took the dog to the vet - for his shots - and never saw him again.  Our vet would not have been available on a rainy evening.  And lemon-haired Fritz/Annie would be fine, I was certain.  Aren't you?
Later, Lorane. . . .
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