Sunday, November 25, 2007

Wet Fur, Nettles, and Ice Hockey

Sailor here.

When summer comes, the air warms up and Mom spends lots of time in the garden. I love to help her weed, dig, and wash the outdoor tables and chairs. Washing tables means that she will be eating her supper outside with guests. Guests drop bits of rice and salad and bread on the ground for me. Sometimes they drop bits of barbequed chicken and steak. I love eating outside.

I woke up from my nap on the bricks by the back door as Mom walked outside into the sunshine carrying a towel and a bottle of soap. Instead of tackling the tables, though, she put the towel and soap on the ground and disappeared around the corner. Soon she returned carrying my car crate into the backyard. My crate needs cleaning every so often because I drool when the Mom and I are late for dog school.

“Here’s the hose, Mom,” I said through the side of my mouth. The front of my mouth was full of hose. I love to carry the hose to Mom.

“Thanks, Sailor,” Mom smiled, “Now all I have to do is teach you how to turn on the water.”

“I think that would be a mistake,” said Hiss-Spit from the deck railing eight feet away. She licked her paw and slowly washed her left ear. “Imagine if Zoe talked you into turning on the water. We’d have another mud hole in the back garden. I hate mud.”

“I think a mud hole would be fun,” I said. Watching Zoe get into trouble is vastly amusing and good for an afternoon’s entertainment.

“Hmmph,” Hiss-Spit disagreed and turned around to wash her other ear.

I sat down and watched Mom spray my crate and wipe soap all over it with her towel. The soap formed mounds of white suds inside my crate. Rainbows shone in the bubbles. Mom finished the wash cycle and was starting to rinse.

"So far, so good," I said, chasing wayward bubbles that escaped the crate and floated across the patio.

“So far, so good, “ agreed Hiss-Spit. She lifted her hind paw and washed between her toes and chewed on her thorns.

Mom dropped the hose and dumped the rinse water out of my crate. Her hose has a nifty nozzle with a yellow handle that turns the water on and off. The nozzle has a dial-a splash, and Mom had turned it to Full Force. When she dropped the hose, the nozzle landed spit side up, handle side down on the brick patio. As Mom tipped the crate, she accidentally stepped on the nozzle.

“Big mistake, “ I mumbled to myself, ducking my head and hoping for the best.

SPRAY went the water right in Mom's face. Actually, only part of the spray hit Mom in the face. The other part of the spray ricocheted off Mom's eyebrow and made a beautiful arc over the patio and onto the deck rail.

With a yowl and a screech worthy of nineteen hyenas, Hiss-Spit took off, shaking her sodden fur and leaving wet footprints across the deck and up the oak tree trunk.

“Oh, poor kitty,” Mom laughed. “I’m so sorry. Come down and I’ll dry you off.”

“Phhhht, not on your life,” Hiss-Spit sneezed the water out of her nose. She shook her head and ears. “There’s no telling what that dog will do to me next.”

“I didn’t do it!” I was offended and ran to Mom for comfort. “She thinks it’s my fault,” I whined, insulted.

Mom scritched my head and I began to feel better.

“I’m the good dog,” I reminded myself. “Maybe I can persuade Hiss-Spit that it’s all Zoe’s fault.”

I jumped up and trotted toward the dog run where Zoe was napping in the shade. Mom had put her there to keep Hiss-Spit safe while she washed my crate. As I trotted toward Zoe, I looked behind me and snapped my jaws to tell Mom to follow.

Mom trailed me to the dog run. “Zoe, do you want to get out of jail?” she asked.

Zoe leaped against the side of the fence. She jumped so high that she came within four chain diamonds of the very top. Mom grabbed Zoe’s collar and brought her into the back yard, locking the gate behind her.

“Cat, cat!” Zoe panted. “Let’s chase the cat!”

“Not on your life,” Hiss-Spit growled from the tree. “I don’t associate with dogs.”

“Let’s play chase the lemmings!” I play-bowed to Zoe. I shoved my butt into the air and wagged my tail as hard as I could.

Zoe leaped off the deck without touching the stairs and galloped onto the lawn. “Come on, Sailor,” Zoe called. “We can take turns and play your game, too!”

I forgot Hiss-Spit and her wet fur. I forgot how she had insulted me. I had better things to do.

I cantered up behind Zoe and took my place by her right side. Zoe shouldered me across the lawn. She raced across the rose garden. She pretended we were harnessed to a dog sled and she was the leader. Siberians are like that.

“My turn,” I barked.

I got behind Zoe and shoved her around in circles. I bit her on the butt and wouldn’t let her run off the lawn. I pretended that she was a sheep and I was herding her. Collies are like THAT.

Halfway around the yard, Zoe got a little rough. She turned around and bit my ruff and held on. A small tuft of fur pulled out.

“Ouch, Zoe,” I yipped, “That hurt!”

“Bite her,” encouraged Hiss-Spit from above.

Being a pacifist, I decided to try my outdoor calming signals on her instead. I reached down and grabbed a mouthful of grass. Zoe calmed down stopped biting my neck. I was able to pivot behind her and drive her off the lawn. I herded her in circles behind the lilac bushes.

Zoe wanted to run in a straight line, so she tried her calming signals on me. She reached down to snatch some grass but snatched something else instead. She ran back across the lawn pawing at her lips and drooling a little.

“OWWWWWW!” she said, “What’s wrong with my mouth? It is trying to burn a hole through the top of my nose!”

Well, what she really said was, “Yeeooowarrrr, grphhh, rurgle,” but I know what she meant.

Hiss-Spit grinned slyly. “Serves her right, Sailor,” she said. “What goes around often comes around and gets you right in the chops.”

Zoe galloped up to Mom. If anything goes wrong, Mom can fix it.

Mom inspected Zoe’s lips and nose. “Oh, Zoe, did you chomp on a nettle?” she asked. “Sailor, bring me the hose,” Mom then called to me.

I ran as fast as I could toward the patio and picked up the hose. I love playing Sailor to the rescue!

“Good dog, Sailor,” Mom said taking the hose from my mouth. “What a good doggy.”

I wiggled in delight.

Mom turned on the hose and squirted cold water into Zoe’s mouth. Zoe sat down and stopped pawing her lips.

Then Mom grabbed her gardening gloves and a small shovel from the drawer in the cupboard on the back porch. She marched down the gravel path to the lilacs and dug up the nettle. I wanted to sniff it, but she wouldn’t let me. She threw it into the garbage can and made sure the lid of the can was latched.

Mom then went back inside and brought out a large bowl of ice cubes. She put the bowl down on the ground under the oak tree. Hiss-Spit watched us from above, twitching her tail.

“Oboy,” Zoe said, “I love ice cubes.”

She started crunching, tossing them to me with her front teeth.

“I love to play nose hockey,” I said, pushing the ice cube across the patio.

So while Zoe ate ice cubes, I scored goal after goal until my puck melted.

Hiss-Spit sat in the oak tree, drying herself with her tongue.

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