LEONARD 1989 – 1999
THE WORLD’S BEST WORST DOG
He was sound asleep. That's why we picked him.
You see, the Easter Bunny was going to bring the kids a puppy that year.
And our mantra had always been, "Dogs need to run and we don't live in the country."
Well, then in 1986 the house burnt down.
And then in 1987 Sven built a new house on top of the burnt embers.
And then in 1988 Marques' and Rene's legs grew too long for us to all fit in the living room and we only had one bathroom and Adrienne was always in it and the next door neighbor was a stay at home mom who believed in breast feeding her kids until they were as big as we were and she had a lot of time on her hands and I did not and she was always waiting for me when I pulled in the driveway.
And I'm kind of a bitch.
So we had to move.
I'd seen a sign one day on my way to work about twenty seven acres for sale. That seemed like enough.
Sven and I went exploring the land on a day that giant flakes of snow were falling out of the sky, the kind I remember as a kid. The great big ones. And millions of them. They were the kind that I used try to catch on my tongue and the kind that I would examine as they landed on my jacket sleeve to see if they all really were different from each other or if that was just a bunch of shit.
Anyway Sven and I were sold. We scrambled to get our finances in order, which meant that I dipped into my 401K about thirty years early.
Sven, along with help from family and friends, first built a workshop and then a big house, on those twenty seven acres.
In 1990, we as a family, were preparing to move into the almost finished place.
Sven and I knew it was just a matter of time before the kids would realize that we would be living in a place where a dog could run.
So, we did the grown up thing. We decided to surprise them with a puppy. That way we could pick out the kind of dog that we wanted and we could name the dog ourselves and skip all the drama that would surely ensue if all five of us had to agree on two enormous things like that. Picking out a Christmas tree together every year was enough trauma.
We didn't want some little fru-fru dog. If the pooch couldn't clear the coffee table with one wag of his tale, then he wasn't for us.
And furthermore, we didn't want to be standing outside and yelling things like, "Here, Fluff Ball," or "Drop it Princess," or, "Hulk Hogan, get over here!"
So the Saturday before Easter Sunday, we picked out the cutest, quietest, fuzziest, little yellow lab from a Victorian house in town, paid big money and we brought him home. And that night the two of us named him Leonard.
I personally had never known any Leonards before Leonard. But it's amazing how many there really are. The best way to find Leonards, is by yelling things out at the top of your lungs, like, "Leonard, you asshole! Get over here." I screamed that out the door one afternoon and that's how I learned that our neighbor's uncle, who had been out planting hundreds of little white pines on the adjoining property, was named Leonard. I was also introduced to Leonard and Phyllis the morning after I'd been crawling around in their shrubs at the next door cottage, loudly whispering, "Leonard, I'm going to kill you."
Sven did know a Leonard before our Leonard. That's how the name came up. Leonard was Sven's father's army buddy.
Sven's mother was shocked a week later when we told her the name of our little puppy dog.
"Oh Sven." She said. "You don't name a dog after a person."
But by then it was too late. He was a Leonard.
I have loved every dog that I've ever owned in my life.
For instance, at this moment Sven and I are the proud parents of Hunter. And I think you all know that I love that, Bob Barker of a gopher digging, pinheaded, piece of work, very much.
But before Hunter, there was the very handsome, Sweet Dakota Jones, who simply went by Sweetie Pie. Other than being a bit near sighted, not really obeying us unless he was in the mood and costing a ton of money due to the surgery to remove the golf ball that he inhaled when he was hit by a car and those other two torn ACLs, he was just about as perfect as a dog could be.
But as a family unit, when the kids were growing up, our dog was Leonard.
And Leonard was the BEST, WORST dog that ever lived.
Rene, our youngest son, nine at the time, was the first to spot the ball of fur that Easter morning.
Sven and I had just done a loop and picked up the boys from their Dad's house and our daughter from her mom's house. Yes, we were just like the Brady Bunch, but not so much.
We pulled into our driveway and the kids went in the door in front of us to begin the hunt for Easter eggs and baskets.
The new puppy was sitting quietly in his crate, behind the bedroom door that was ajar.
I watched Rene walk into that room and then I saw him stop in his tracks. In slow motion he turned and looked at me with huge eyes and a face that resembled a question mark.
I gave one nod.
And then he yelled at the top of his lungs, "You guys!"
Yep, that was the most popular that Sven and I have ever been.
We all loved that dog and that dog loved all of us.
Now, Adrienne will say, "Not me. I hated that dog." Because she always says that. And like I said, it's hard for all five of us to agree on very many things.
Leonard did have a peculiar way of showing his love and appreciation at times.
And he also really liked to run as fast as he could, and he could run fast, into small children and knock them over.
We found out that little quirk when he bull dozed my niece, Bridgette Luanne right off the deck at our almost finished home. The deck was only two feet off the ground, so it wasn't that big of a deal, but Bridgette Luanne was only two feet tall herself and she wasn't real steady on her feet yet. If Leonard would have been a bowling ball, Bridgette Luanne would have been the kind of a strike where all the pins go flying like fireworks, not like my kind of strike where the pins fall down one by one and I have enough time to walk back to the table and sip on my beer while I watch the rest slowly do the domino tumble and then there's always that last one that teeters and totters and I have to jump around and yell shit out to help it go DOWN and by the time it actually does fall there's a bowling alley standing ovation.
No, this strike would definitely have been the first kind of a strike that I mentioned.
Bridgette Luanne was airborne quite a while before she hit the sand. That was the good news. We'd built our house on top of sand and I think that sand might have been what saved Bridgette Luanne on the landing, although she did cry pretty good.
I wish I could say that it was just a fluke and that was the only time that Leonard did something like that, but it was not.
It was a premeditated strike.
Turns out he was an EXCELLENT bowler.
If you liked this story, be sure to watch for more Leonard Tails.