When I volunteered to stay at their house for a week, I never envisioned the dog being the problem child. The 6-year-old grandson and nearly 3-year-old granddaughter have nothing on the 100-pound, 1-year-old pup.
Not only does the dog not realize he’s massive, he truly believes he’s a kid. Now I understand why my daughter kept saying, “Are you sure you want to take care of the dog too?”
When I saw the entire side of the refrigerator full of notes on who needs to be where and when, my first thought was, “It’s going to be a long week.” When the dog jumped up on me and in his excitement knocked me to the ground, my thought was, “Help, I’ve fallen and I can’t get up. A pit bull is licking me to death.”
I realize pit bulls get a bad rap, but this dog is nothing but happy to be in the same room with anyone. If we tried to leave him out of whatever we were doing he cried like he had lost his best friend. On one of the first evenings we took a walk down to the tree house, which is across the bridge and surrounded by trees.
It began as a lovely walk listening to the grandkids chatting about their day until the dog spotted a baby squirrel sitting on the bridge. Maybe because it was a baby, or because it was hurt, but the squirrel didn’t move fast enough before it was in the grip of the dog’s mouth. At this point there wasn’t anyone who wasn’t screaming – me, the kids or the squirrel.
I picked up a stick and slapped the dog on the butt, and he released his grip as he thought I wanted to play fetch. When he realized that’s not what I was after, he went back for the squirrel, who was trying to go down a hole on the side of the creek. In a matter of seconds the dog was in the creek and trying to climb up the rooted creek bed and I just knew, at any moment, he was going to fall backward, break his back, and the kids, and the parents, would never forgive me.
After wrangling through some very itchy weeds I managed to grab the dog by the neck and pull him up the creek bed. This was not an easy task, and after seeing the look on my face, he decided it might be best to run back to the house. The grandson was determined we needed to save the squirrel, which by this time I knew was dead, curled up next to the hole he was trying desperately to get into.
Even though Hank has been around dead deer his entire life, the screams of the squirrel couldn’t escape him. He needed to know the squirrel was still alive, so the next morning, before sunrise, I crept to the hole, scooped up the squirrel, and gave it a farewell flip into the creek.
The next evening we had pizza on the porch and while learning over to pick up a napkin from the floor the dog stuck his head in the box and snatched a piece of pizza.
At least it wasn’t a squirrel.
Sandy Turner lives in Independence. Email her at firstname.lastname@example.org