LEONARD 1989 – 1999
THE WORLD’S BEST WORST DOG SERIES - TAIL FIVE
A day at the cottage
I met an ancient, yellow lab, named Blue. His face was white and he had no teeth. He spent the entire afternoon fetching rocks, out of a lake.
"Doesn't he ever get tired?" I said to his mother.
"This is tired," she answered.
Leonard loved going to the cottage every year.
Leonard's visits were always short.
For him, it was not about the length of a visit. It was about time well spent.
And he was a spender.
Memorial Weekend is when you mow your grass. It's when you plant your flowers. And, it's when you open your cottage to let the fresh air in.
The following ten minutes in the life of Leonard, includes both the ride to and from the cottage and the time in between. It takes place in the spring of his terrible twos. Not to be mistaken with the summer of his terrible threes or the fall of his terrible fours.
Our sweet, little, Leonard, was on a leash, when we pulled our yellow station wagon into the tranquil, back yard, of the cottage.
And then, just like that, Leonard was not on his leash.
This was nothing new.
His official papers were proof that Hudini was an uncle on his mother's side.
But Leonard didn't wear a straight jacket and wiggle his way out of chains, while he was under water.
He had other means to entertain and he used different methods of escape than his great uncle had.
He could bark his way out of most ropes and fences. If barking didn't set him free, he would resort to using his acadamy award winning act.
It was all in his eyes.
They were big. They were brown. And they were sad.
If he worked them right, he could make a grown man cry.
"Please," they would beg. "Come on. You can trust me."
Like I said, it was all in his eyes.
Anyway, he was set free as we unloaded the car and he dashed around the corner of the cottage, toward the lake. Almost immediately we heard screams.
When we reached the end of our side deck, with grocery bags still under our arms, the scene next door looked like a Norman Rockwell painting, except for perhaps, the bright, blue, plastic, baby swing, with the neon, yellow rope, hanging from a tall, tree branch and the dog from hell. The one who was brain farting innocent people, with his uncontainable zest for life and liberty.
[one_half_last]The entire family was there. And as usual, they already had their pier in the water and it was straight and it was level. One guy was digging out the fire pit. A woman was on her knees, alternating impatiens in the flower bed that surrounded the tree right next to the shore. One pink, one white, one red. She was almost finished. Another guy was grilling burgers and hotdogs next to the boat house. Grandma was sitting up on the porch, wearing a sweater. Grandpa was inside watching T.V. Children were splashing in the frigid water. Teenagers were soaking up the warm sun, out on the dock. And an aunt was pushing a baby in that baby swing.[/one_half_last]
"No Leonard!" I yelled and dropped the groceries, as he jumped up at those plump little feet swinging by.
The aunt screamed bloody murder and Leonard veered toward the lake on a sprint, where he leapt off the bank, making a big splash.
Screams were heard above the waves as he dog paddled his way to the children.
"Leonard, come back here!" I yelled from shore.
He turned around.
"Oh, what a good boy. He is coming back," I said, being an eternal, optimistic, idiot.
Up the bank he ran, right past me. From there he hopped into the flower bed surrounding the tree and he used the new black dirt and flowers as a spring board, trying to catch those baby feet that were swinging by.
"No!" we yelled. "Leonard, come back here."
He zipped toward the griller at one hundred miles an hour, who held out a spatula to protect his lower unit.
Leonard made a sharp left and ran back to the shoreline where he belly flopped his way back into the water and dog paddled his way back out to the screaming children, who were frantically climbing on top of their floats.
"Leonard!" we yelled.
Leonard took a U-turn and was headed back to shore.
Up the bank he ran, right past me, again. From there he hopped into the flower bed surrounding the tree and he used the new black dirt and flowers as a spring board, again, trying to catch those baby feet that were swinging by.
"No!" we yelled, again. "Leonard, come back here."
He zipped toward the griller at one hundred miles an hour, who held out a spatula to protect his lower unit, again.
Leonard made a sharp left and ran back to the shoreline where he cannon balled his way back into the water, again and dog paddled his way back out to the screaming children, who were frantically climbing on top of their floats, again.
"Leonard!" we yelled, again.
Leonard took another U-turn and was headed back to shore.
He repeated this frenzied skit of his two more times. Every person in every position repeated every move and every scream.
This was an historical day. It was the day the wave was born.
You know what I mean. You've seen it at sporting events. It starts on one end of the stadium, when somebody jumps up, screams, waves their arms and then sits down as the person next to him does the same. And then the next, the same. And then the next, the same. And it goes around and around and around the crowd, until it eventually fades away.
Well, do you know how the original wave ends?
It ends when the dog bolts toward the restaurant, which is three doors down.
He must have caught a scent of a flame-broiled, steak.
Leonard loved flame-broiled steak.
We, as a family, were hot on his little, asshole trail, running through yards and bushes to get to the parking lot, in time to see an almost fatal accident.
"Shut the door!" we screamed, at a woman who was just about to exit the building.
Her eyes popped out of her head at the sight of a soaking wet, yellow lab, with black paws and pink flower petals, running straight at her.
That door slammed shut in the nick of time. She was on the other side of it.
Leonard took a right at the slam of the door and then he took another right.
He was headed down the road that lead back to our cottage, with a possy of wild people, yelling horrible, profanities right behind him.
A middle aged couple was out in their driveway. They had a hose, a vacuum and a pile of towels with them. They were spit shining their beloved, turquoise, Cadillac, that came with a white, leather, interior.
How do I know what the interior looked like?
Both back doors were wide open.
WIDE, FUCKING, OPEN.
Leonard was aimed straight for one of them.
Leonard loved car rides.
"Shut that door," we screamed. "Shut that door!"
Again, by a millisecond, the stunned victim, saved his collectors item, with a slam of a door.
"Hey, Leonard. Want to go for a ride?" we heard from across the street.
There was Sven, the original dog whisperer, the almighty dog trainer, the man with a plan.
He was standing next to our yellow station wagon, with the back tail gate open.
The asshole never blinked an eye. He never broke his pace. He continued on his run and he jumped right in.
Sven slammed the door shut.
And Leonard went home.