Julia got sick tonight. The carpet needs cleaning this week anyway. Right? Right. But it's another sign that Julia is old. And that got me thinking about what we'd ever do without her hanging around to keep us in line.
Who's Julia? She's the best dog ever.
You see, every homeschooling family needs a good dog. They’re useful for all sorts of things, eating unwanted green beans, cleaning up spilled home ec. experiments, and scaring off doorbell ringing solicitors. Now, when I say a good dog, I mean a good, smart big dog. Shouldn't lick a lot. Can't smell too bad. Shouldn't jump up and knock Grandma over. Just a good, sweet-hearted, child-loving dog who is willing, on a rainy day, to be used as a pillow for a nine year old reading the Chronicles of Narnia.
Every family needs a dog like our Julia. She's about sixteen now and she's pretty gray and starting to show her age in other ways. Julia was always an outside dog. Unless it was thundering, Julia was never in. Julia hates thunder. And firecrackers. In fact, Julia just hates loud noises, which makes you wonder how she can stand the children.
About three or four years ago Julia decided to retire. How, one might ask, does a dog retire? By moving in and not budging. There are times when we have to beg the dog to go out and take care of business. Her new motto is, "A.C. in the summer, heat in the winter and a dog biscuit every night." Sure, she’s slowing down but in her prime there was no dog like her.
Julia’s favorite game in her younger years was "Chase the Cat." Not catch the cat. She never caught them. She just liked to chase them. Unfortunately, sooner or later, the resident cats wised up and refused to play along. The ensuing conversation went something like this:
Cat: Get a life, dog.
Julia: Come on. Come on. When I say roof, you’re supposed to run.
Cat: Right. Well, I got better things to do with my time than run from you, possum breath.
Cat: Later, dog.
New cats were a joy to Julia. They were usually worth two or three good runs until one of the older cats took pity and filled them in on the true state of affairs.
Don’t let this give you the impression that Julia was a coward. Far from it. Once, Julia helped the police capture a fugitive. We lived in the city for about a year and a half. Rather than force Julia to inhabit a postage stamp sized yard, we left her with our neighbor and friend, B.
B. lived next to a curve on a dark country road. People inevitably missed the curve and ended up in B.’s front yard. One early morning the person who missed the curve had a few outstanding warrants. He wasn't too pleased to learn that B. had called 911. He took off and couldn't be found by the police until Julia tracked him down behind the barn. (The one with the cat buried behind it.)
Sure, Julia is brave. She’s smart, too. I've always maintained that the dog listened to me better than the children but the events of one rainy day proved me right. You may remember that we had chickens. Well, with the kids sick and The C.F.O. out of town "She who would not have to take care of the chickens," had to trudge out into the cold and rain to collect eggs. After finding only one egg in the coop I set out to find the rest.
After looking in the usual places I turned to Julia and asked, "Where do you think those stupid chickens hid their eggs?"
That dog scooted off under the shed and came back with an egg in her mouth. She laid the egg, unbroken, at my feet. "Well," I said, slightly astonished, "are there any more?"
Again, Julia crawled under the shed and came back with an unbroken egg. "Th-thanks," I stuttered, "any others?" This time she came back with an egg slightly cracked by one of her teeth.
"Listen," I told her, "I'm cold and wet out here so if there are any more under there, consider them yours."
"Mighty nice of you," she barked and returned to the warmth of the land under the shed for a feast. I went in, lay down, called my mother.
One sad day, not too far off, Julia will no longer be with us. Somewhere there is a big dish of pancakes and bacon (her favorite) and pizza bones (that’s crusts for those of you not in the know) waiting for her. It's a land where cats are always willing to run up a fence just to entertain a dog and a girl doesn't get fussed at for slipping out to bring supper home from the Road Kill Café.
I can only hope that she's as happy there as she's made us here.
Photo coming soon. Julia's a little camera shy. In fact, she runs when she sees the durn thing. But I'll get her. Sooner or later I'll get her.)
I GOT HER!