And now, will the third place winner, please step forward?" Something went wrong out there in the universe when all those particles that were less than tiny were spinning and twirling and swirling around. Because at the end of it all, my dog came out of his mother's womb, a cross between a German Shepard, an Italian opera singer, a storm chaser, a yellow lab, Mark Spitz, Rin Tin Tin, an ostrich and a chow. So, it is not his fault that he is annoying. He can't help it. As his human mother, I am very proud to say that he does not waste any of his God given talent. He is a prodigy. I, as his nurturer, understand why he spends so much time pacing around the house practicing his earth shattering, booming notes. If he could only get on a stage where he belongs, he would absolutely bring the house down with all his bellering. He'd be famous. A world renown opera singer. A super star. Move over Pavarotti. But he has never even had a call back. I know. And that cute, innate sense of adventure that he has is why he stares at the ceiling and yells at the thunder. It is why he flies out the door, leaps off the deck and attacks rain drops. It is merely the storm chaser from within who surfaces during unstable weather patterns. No ear piercing clap of thunder will ever outdo my little puppy-dog. I couldn't be more proud. And it's not his fault that he loves to swim. Yours truly is a Pisces. So I get it. I am always the first in a crowd to dangle my feet off the end of a pier. And he can't help it that there is a pond with all kinds of scientific synthesis going on in his back yard. One does not win all those Olympic Gold medals without a lot of training. You can't wait for a certain time of the day or a certain time of the year that it isn't going to piss off your parents because they are all dressed up and just about to head out the door to a wedding and now they have to hose you off because there is no God Damn way they can let you back in the house like that. Maybe they should consider investing in a chlorinated pool. Maybe they should buy somebody a red, white and blue Speedo. Hunter cannot help it that he is as smart as a German Shepard, as disobedient as a Labrador, as smooth and fast as a near sighted Rin Tin Tin without any glasses and as bullheaded as a chow. Do not blame my furry baby for all those little holes all over the property. Wipe your feet on the welcome mat and sign the waiver. And be sure to watch your step. Because when a guy needs to bury his face in the ground, a guy needs to bury his face in the ground. It's that simple. And never forget that one person's problem is another person's treasure. So, there is really no excuse for my sweet Sven to say the things that he says about Hunter. Just the other day he had the balls to call our little puppy, his third favorite dog. "Sven!" I said. "Shhhhh!" "What?" he says all innocent like. "That's not very nice," I snapped. "What is wrong with third place?" "We've only had three dogs," I whispered and nudged his shin under the table. "Ouch," he says. "I barely even touched you," I glared. "Third place is pretty darn good," he says and points. "For that guy." "Hunter," I said, in the way that makes his tail wag. "Your dad doesn't mean what he just said." "Yes I do," says Sven. "And if you don't shut up right now Hunter, you are going to slip into forth." "It's because you pissed him off!" I yelled. Folks, let me tell you a little story. The reason that Hunter is not very happy about being named number three by his father, is because he knows, just the same as you know, and I know. Third place sucks. You see, every July Sven and I participate in the world's largest washer box tournament. It is the event held at Cedar Cove Cabins, which is a resort snuggled in The Turtle Flambeau Flowage, in the middle of northern Wisconsin. It's the biggest washer box tournament of the world. Possibly the universe. Competitors arrive in swimming suits and flip flops, carrying Mimosas, juice boxes and Bloody Marys. They toss washers into cans inside of boxes, whenever they can. The official drawing of the names that are written on little pieces of paper, in cabin number three, is comparable to the NFL draft and or possibly your family Christmas drawing, if it is anything like ours. From that point on the number one question that everyone asks everyone, over and over, from cabin to cabin, and from day to day, phone call to phone call and text to text, is simple. "Who'd you get?" This is because nobody can ever remember what anybody ever answers to the same question that they cannot stop asking. And that is because deep down nobody really cares about who anybody else has for a partner. And at Christmas, no more than who has their name. It is inevitable that Oceanne and Elimee will end up on the same team. They have since the very beginning. Which is mathematically impossible. But apparently there is an electrical force field from an unknown world that descends upon the cabin at the time of the drawing behind closed doors. Because each and every time, it is the same result. Their names end up together. They just shrug their shoulders. But they are the officials. They run the score boards. They hold the tape measures. They have the power. So. And then all of a sudden one day just after lunch, you are heading to the dock with your book, your cooler of necessities and your bag over your shoulder with sunscreen and bug spray and all of a sudden you remember that it is Game Day. Because the people in front of Cabin Three, home of The Washer Box Tournament, are yelling, "Get over here! It's Washer Box Day!" After the National Anthem is over, things start to get real serious. "Uptown Bazooka Bitches," I heard Oceanne yell. "You are playing against, The Scooby Doos, on board number one." "That's us!" I said to Allie." "And, The Deaf Duo. You guys are against The Muskie Killers, on board number two," she yells. "I repeat, THE DEAF DUO!! You are on board two! Ughh! Will somebody please tell the grandpas that they are up?" And then she stomps off to her officiating chair and shakes her nineteen year old head of golden hair. A few hours later, after a couple of upsetting ledger shots, one hundred clangs of washers in the cans and some freaking unbelievable upsets, it's all over. The tournament ends. And it is time for the award ceremony. This is what first place looks like. Notice the smiles. See the gleam in their eyes. They are wearing capes. Have you been admiring the glistening paint can that is a little battered? What you cannot see in this picture are all of the solid gold washers, with the names and dates of all of the first place champeens written in permanent ink, all piled on top of each other. Between tournaments this expensive trophy is locked securely in the storage room of cabin number five. Oops. That was top secret information. This would be what second place looks like. An honorable position, that only a few people have killed themselves over. It's not a gold paint can. It is a tuna can. Losers, is what is burnt into the wood box holding it. The tiny washers are initialed, dated and stored in the storage room of cabin number five, next to the first place trophy. Shit. I did it again. And here is third place. This trophy was made by the kids who trash picked cabin number one and taped it all together. They named it the constellation prize because they didn't even know the difference between the big dipper, orion and third place. Yes, that is the center of a roll of toilet paper. This is why Hunter and I do not appreciate Sven at the moment. And even though it would be sort of funny if Sven gave Hunter that bronze medal for Christmas, that Marques brought up. If he does? I will spray that pendant with gold and I will write number one on it before I ever hang it around his fat neck. Because Hunter is tops with me. Even though he is super annoying.