If you haven’t read the prequel to this post, please do that now. Quick! It will take you three minutes. I promise.
Okay. Thanks. Now I can continue with my story.
Biscuit the Labradoodle, I’d been told, was excited that Jonah and I were coming to take care of her, so on Friday afternoon I quickly packed a bag, skipped our newly minted Shabbat ritual, stuffed the bag and my child in the car, and sped off to feed, walk, and keep company with the Great Puff Ball of Love.
It seemed, however, that Jonah was not quite clear on the reasons for our going. I was sure I’d explained it all to him—more than once, in fact—and yet earlier that day he said he was looking forward to his sleepover play date.
“Who will you be having a play date with?” I asked him. “Biscuit?”
No, no. He was going to have a play date with his friend.
“But he won’t be there, Jonah. Remember? That’s why we’re taking care of their dog.”
He no longer seemed all that excited about it.
We arrived at the house, managed to get inside without any trouble, and found that Biscuit was excited to see us. She jumped on us, licked my face, and peed on the floor, right next to where I’d set my bag. But I have dog-calming skills up the wazoo; I cleaned up her piddle, waited for her to settle down, and scooped the specified amount of kibble into her dog bowl.
Jonah didn’t want to go out for pizza, but that was okay because our hosts had said it was fine to eat what they had in the fridge. So I hard-boiled a couple of eggs for him and heated up some delish veggie chili for myself. (He ended up helping me eat it. I should ask for that recipe, come to think of it. That chili had veggies in it! And he ate it!) Jonah found toys to play with and wanted me to play with him but, as happens at home sometimes, I had stuff I had to take care of. (One of these things just happened to be warm and fuzzy with a wagging tail and a need to run around outside and do her bidness.)
But yes. I was aware of some potential tension between what Jonah wanted and our Higher Purpose.
The next morning at around 6:30 I went downstairs to take my fuzzy friend outside. The yard is surrounded by an electric fence, so I had to snap her special collar back on, which is more difficult than it might sound. As a puppy, she’s pretty wriggly, especially when excited about going out. And her curls and long ears have a way of getting in the way of the clip. Finally I snapped the thing on and got her out the door for her pee/poop/sniff/run.
Jonah, meanwhile, was upstairs in the youngest boy’s room, playing with Thomas trains very much like the ones he’d supposedly outgrown (and which we gave away to a neighbor). I helped him set up some tracks and then went to check on the dog, who was standing at the bottom of the stairs looking up at me. Innocently. With something hanging from her mouth. It took me a few moments to realize it was her electric collar, and another few to get downstairs and pick it up from where she’d now dropped it. It had been chomped on. The plastic clip was broken.
This was not good. Those electric-fence-collars can’t be cheap and besides, the grandparents were arriving later that day and the beauty of the electric fence was that the dog could be let out by herself.
I knew it wasn’t really my fault, and yet felt like the teenaged babysitter who let the seven-year-old kid watch an R-rated movie.
“But I didn’t realize it had sequences of computer-generated graphic violence. I’m so sorry!”
I texted the dad to tell him about the broken collar, let Jonah watch an annoying Chipmunks movie, washed the sheets and towels, made the bed for the grandparents who were coming that afternoon, put away toys, swept up, and called my hub-sand (who came over and was able to temporarily fix the collar. Such a prince!).
But no. That’s not the end of the story… Does this warrant a Part Three? You tell me….