Aug. 29, from Louie, Day 90

Dear Pops,

The minutes is countin’ down rapidly toward your homecomin’, ‘n’ me ‘n’ Mom is like two whirlin’ dervishes gettin’ everythin’ ready.

The quilts has all been laundered so’s the big bed don’t smell like me no more (although I’m still quite miffed that Mom thought nasty detergent chemicals smell better’n Louie).

Three of the five deer who stopped by for an evenin' snack.

Three of the five deer who stopped by for an evenin’ snack.

My little buddies is all present ‘n’ accounted for, even my birthday buddy who you haven’t met yet, but I’m plannin’ on introducin’ you guys first thing.

The kitchen floor has been mopped so all my muddy footprints ‘n’ chicken sprinkle slobbers has been removed, ‘n’ the carpets has been vacuumed so’s all my Milkbone crumbs has been sucked up ‘n’ dumped in the trash. (It took Mom many, many trips to the garbage can to get rid of all them crumbs, let me tell you.)

I’ve ex-HAUST-ed myself rollin’ in all the dirty laundry Mom’s been gatherin’ for the washin’ machine. Gosh, she’s been doin’ so much laundry, you’d think she wore nothin’ but dirty clothes all summer. (“Lou, I’m just tryin’ to make sure Pops has lotsa clean towels ‘n’ such after his many distressin’ days on the dusty roads.” “Mom, I don’t think clean towels’ll be the No. 1 thing on his mind.” “Oh? ‘N’ just what do YOU think will be topmost in his mind, Mr. Smarty-Pants?” “Why, tag with my little buddies, of course.”)

Mom yoked me up to both o’ my blings so I could drag the heaviest stuff outta your office ‘n’ back to the storage room for her. ‘N’ I was so careful, I didn’t damage the new paint job at all (‘cept for one unfortunate scratch on the woodwork that we’re not gonna show Mom, OK?) So now your office is back to the way it was before you left. (Mom’s real sorry, but she got so caught up in the paintin’, she never did clean out that stinky closet, so it still stinks, so I guess you’ll have to scrub it out yourself. Welcome home.)

We almost got all the brick work in the back yard exposed, but it’s been kinda rainy this week ‘n’ Mom’s got about six more feet to dig up. But to make up for her shortcomin’s, I spent part of this afternoon frantically diggin’ up a coupla patches of grass that dared to sprout in your absence. I did it all for you, Pops. I didn’t want the sight of real grass to give you a heart attack or nothin’.

‘N’ just before I settled down to write this letter, me ‘n’ Mom finished scourin’ out the bathtub, which somehow got littered with a thick layer of black hairs while you was gone. (“Honest to gosh, Mom, I haven’t been bathin’ in Dad’s tub. Yuck!” “Well then, you tell me how all them black hairs got in there.” “Well, geez, Mom, you’re the only one who takes showers around here.” ” ‘N’ do I look like I got any black hairs left on my head?” “No comment, Mom.”)

Louie personally supervises the welcome home cookin'.

Louie personally supervises the welcome home cookin’.

‘Course, the most important item on any welcome home list is the menu, ‘n’ I’ve been supervisin’ Mom most strenuously to make sure there’s plenty o’ meat. We got a nice casserole planned that we can whip together no matter WHEN you get home, ‘n’ I’ve checked over the recipe, ‘n’ the No. 1 ingredient is CHICKEN. ‘Nuff said. (Oh, yeah, Mom’s been beverage shoppin’, so that’s covered, too.)

Now the only thing left is for me is to patrol the perimeter tonight while Mom tries to sleep, makin’ sure to bark bark BARK at anythin’ that moves so we aren’t bothered by any orc invasions while we party tomorrow. ‘Course, that means I won’t get much rest tonight, but it’s a small sacrifice if it means your homecomin’ will be all the more pleasurable. So Mom will just have to suck it up. I am on duty until the moment you ‘n’ Ms. Corolla pull into the driveway, ‘n’ I take my ‘sponsibilities most seriously.

So drive safe tomorrow, Pops, ‘n’ come home hungry.

Me ‘n’ Mom are starved.

Your best bud,

Louie

Pops replies:

Oh, Louie: You look so … uh … so domestic in that apron. Try to leave some chicken for Pops. Meanwhile, soon, Lou. Real soon.

Pops
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Published in: on August 29, 2013 at 9:14 pm  Leave a Comment  

Aug. 28, from Louie, Day 89

Hoo-eeee, Pops,

I never seen Mom so spittin’ mad. She even scairt me.

See, I’ve been lethargic, as Mom told you. I don’t see paisley no more, but I think there’s still some downers floatin’ through my system, ‘cuz I wasn’t at all innerested in our afternoon stroll. Mom had to bribe me outside with a promise of some chicken sprinkles when we got home.

So we was moseyin’ through the park next door, ‘n’ I’d just stopped to snuffle some well-aged Pringles in the grass where the little kids play ball, when suddenly from outta NOWHERE, a big gray dog come runnin’ up to us.

Well, I’m not so lethargic that I’ve forgot my manners, so I lifted my tail in greetin’ ‘n’ prepared my snout for some mutual sniffin’ to say hello.

Only this guy immediately invaded my space before there’d been proper introductions, ‘n’ he started to snort in my face.

‘N’ me ‘n’ Mom both knew this was trouble, ‘cuz he was wearin’ a spiked choke collar.

Way off in the distance, clear on the other side of the playground, a female human started callin’, “Come! Come!” but not too urgently.

Well, I can handle one big fella, even if he is bein’ rude.

But then an even bigger black guy sportin’ an even nastier spiked choke collar come gallopin’ up to us, ‘n’ I could smell the nervousness squirtin’ outta Mom’s pores. (She couldn’t help it, Pops. Humans sweat. But it sure did put me at a disadvantage.)

Off in the distance, in the middle of the playground, two female humans was callin’, “Come! Come! Come!” But again, not too urgently.

Well, the gray guy ‘n’ the black guy closed in on me, nippin’ at me ‘n’ gruntin’ so as to let me know who was boss. But I curled my lips ‘n’ nipped back. No one actually got bit, but we was all nippin’ ‘n’ swirlin’ around Mom’s bare thighs ‘n’ pretty soon, there was just a frenzy of black ‘n’ gray fur, ‘n’ Mom in the middle of it.

The two female humans meandered out from under the trees, leisurely swingin’ their leashes.

Well, the black guy lunged for my eyes ‘n’ the gray guy went for my butt, ‘n’ I bared my fangs for a pre-emptive strike when suddenly Mom stomped her foot ‘n’ a “NOOOOOOOO!” the volume of which you never heard before erupted outta her mouth.

Me ‘n’ the other dogs froze, stunned that such a great big roar could come outta such a scrawny chest. (Sorry, Mom, but ‘cept for your chubby tummy ‘n’ butt, you really are scrawny.)

The two female humans suddenly realized that their dogs was misbehavin’ ‘n’ hustled over to get their growlin’ animals under control.

“Oh, gosh,” one of them blathered, “I’m so sorry. We didn’t see you way over here.”

Well, you know Mom, she usually caves when someone apologizes ‘n’ tries to pretend that everythin’ is all right,

Me 'n' Mom lookin' for Pops at Big Bend.

Me ‘n’ Mom lookin’ for Pops at Big Bend.

But this afternoon, she was hot. Maybe her nerves was on edge ‘cuz of your precarious situation car-wise. Maybe she had a fright ‘cuz I was outnumbered by dogs wearin’ spikes. Or maybe she was just tired of humans takin’ advantage. Whatever. So instead of retreatin’, she said quite angrily, “Your dogs should be on a leash!”

“Oh, they weren’t gonna cause no trouble,” one of the females said by way of an excuse.

“If they need to wear spiked collars, they need to be on a leash!” Mom insisted.

“Hey,” the other female huffed, “we was just lettin’ ’em run a little.”

“You want ’em to run?” Mom shot back. “Take ’em to the dog park. Don’t let ’em run loose in a park where kids is playin’.” ‘N’ Mom waved to the toddlers conveniently playin’ on the slidin’ board.

“Look,” the first female panted, strugglin’ to get the black dog under control, “your dog is just as much at fault. He was bein’ just as mean.”

“Louie?” Mom said in surprise. “You mean this dog here?”

‘N’ when Mom ‘n’ the females turned to look at me, I was presentin’ a perfect RCA dog moment. I never sit so pretty before in my life, ‘n’ I prob’bly never will again, but for that moment, I was the picture of obedience ‘n’ control. (Quite handsome, too, I might add.)

The females muttered unkind words under their breath ‘n’ begun draggin’ their protestin’ dogs to the sidewalk.

Me ‘n’ Mom strolled majestically around the perimeter of the park.

We met the enemy, ‘n’ Mom won.

She’s full of suprises for an old girl, isn’t she, Pops?

Louie

Pops replies:

Oh, Louie: Your Mom can still surprise us, can’t she? I’m glad you stood your ground, Lou. They was in your park and offa their leashes — you did the right thing.

Pops
p.s. Shrew! It’s a good thing I saved up all that good karma. Clear sailin’ all the way home, Lou. All the way home. Tonight I grabbed the last of 500 motel rooms in Sydney, Nebraska, and it was only because I walked in at the Comfort Inn when a no-show was cancelled. Good karma, Lou. It’s what you get when you do the right thing when there is nothing to gain by doing the right thing.
Published in: on August 28, 2013 at 9:02 pm  Leave a Comment  

Aug. 27, from Louie, Day 88

Well, Pops, it’s been a day of big highs ‘n’ lows here on Canyon Trail.

My insides nearly burst outta my tummy ‘n’ snout when I read this mornin’ that you was already on the road ‘n’ headin’ home. I tried to keep it a secret from Mom like you told me, but she caught me doin’ cartwheels in the kitchen, ‘n’ you know, I don’t do cartwheels over just any old thing. So I had to tell Mom what was up, ‘n’ then SHE was doin’ cartwheels, too, ‘n’ it woulda made quite the picture, ‘cept neither one of us thought to get the camera ‘cuz we was so busy cartwheelin’ ourselves.

‘N’ then Mom flew into a frenzy of throwin’ everythin’ back into the storage room so’s your office would be empty, ‘n’ I went into a frenzy of collectin’ all my little buddies so we’d be ready for a rousin’ game of tag as soon as you got home. ‘N’ that was so exhaustin’, I didn’t even mind it when Mom took off for some doctor’s appointment without me, ‘cuz by then, I really needed a nap.

But Mom was gone an awful long time, ‘n’ I was startin’ to fret that in her excitement, she’d wrapped Mr. Rav ’round a telephone pole, ‘n’ wouldn’t THAT have been a disgustin’ way to welcome you home?

But no, on the way home from the doctor’s (where she was told she’s in fine health for someone her age, thank you), Mom stopped at Acme, ‘n’ she loaded Mr. Rav from top to bottom with all your favorite things — you know, some nice Gala apples ‘n’ some oatnut bread (yech) ‘n’ some Lean Pockets ‘cuz they was on sale ‘n’ a nice lime for your refreshin’ evenin’ libations ‘n’ a big bag of pretzels (also on sale) ‘n’ (even though she’d threatened not to do this ever again) ANOTHER pickin’ chicken so’s she could make a wunnerful casserole that could be sittin’ in the oven while you ‘n’ her said hello on Thursday.

‘N’ then we took off for a drizzly hike on the Towpath, ‘n’ that was why we missed your phone call with the distressin’ news that you was stranded in Salt Lake City ‘cuz Ms. Corolla had a dreadful chest cold.

Me 'n' Mom is waitin' for Pops.

Me ‘n’ Mom is waitin’ for Pops.

Oh, gosh, Pops, when me ‘n’ Mom listened to that message, we slapped our butts down onto the kitchen floor ‘n’ had us a good cry. You was soooooooooooo close to gettin’ home, ‘n’ now you’re so far!!!!!

Well, we dried our eyes ‘n’ blew our noses on Mom’s T-shirt ‘n’ consoled ourselves with the thought that at least we had each other to cuddle with on the big bed, whereas you was stuck alone somewhere in a Mormon Chinatown.

“Just where is Salt Lake City, Mom?” I asked, still snifflin’ a little.

So Mom dug the atlas outta her closet, ‘n’ we huddled over it on the coffee table (well, Mom was actually on the couch) ‘n’ she pointed to Salt Lake City on the map.

” ‘N’ where’s Canyon Trail?” I asked.

Well, Mom’s finger had to slide clear on over to the middle of the next page before it come to a stop on Akron.

“OMIGOD,” I wailed, “that’s waaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaay far away!!!!!”

“It’s a goodly distance,” Mom sadly agreed. “But look at it this way, Lou, it’s still at least two inches closer than the Stanislaus, which is where Pops woulda been if he hadn’t’ve tried to surprise us with an early arrival.”

“But Mom,” I said, my voice quiverin’, “it’s gonna take DAYS for Pops to get over a whole page ‘n’ a half of the atlas!” ‘N’ I was so distraught, I toppled offa the coffee table ‘n’ onto the floor.

Fortunately, it’s carpeted, ‘n’ I didn’t do myself no damage. ‘N’ Mom IMMEDIATELY crawled onto the floor beside me ‘n’ administered emergency belly rubs.

‘N’ eventually I felt better.

But I’m goin’ to bed tonight sadder’n I expected. As Mom said, we’re lucky Ms. Corolla didn’t go into a coma when you was alone out in the desert, ‘n’ we’re most hopeful that the doctors in Salt Lake City will be able to pump her full of antibiotics ‘n’ get her back on the road before too many more seconds pass. ‘N’ we’re both most sorry that you’re gonna have to eat takeout moo goo gai pan for dinner.

But we sure do wish you was in Wyomin’ instead of Utah.

Hang in there, Pops.

We’ll be waitin’ for you no matter WHEN you get home.

‘N’ tell Ms. Corolla I’m thinkin’ about her.

Your most devoted,

Louie

Pops replies:

Oh, Louie: I am so sorry that you had such a distressing day. I know that my earlier news had you ecstatic, only to have you come crashin’ down to earth with my later news. But, don’t worry. I’ve been storing up good karma and I think I’ll use some of it now. Mormon Chinatown — you are such a hoot, Lou. As I sit here in the middle of the night with lots of voices outside my room, your letter brings a big smile to my face. You are, indeed, the WBD.

Pops
Published in: on August 27, 2013 at 10:03 pm  Leave a Comment  

Aug. 26, from Louie, Day 87

Well, Pops, today we’re just gonna send you some nuggets, ‘cuz nothin’ really spectacular happened. (I’d send you 87 nuggets to mark Day 87, but there aren’t that many nuggets in a whole bowl o’ Kibbles, let alone one day with Mom.)

Louie 'n' Mr. Rav lookin' handsome.

Louie ‘n’ Mr. Rav lookin’ handsome.

Nugget 1: Our mornin’ hike was a measly hop through Sand Run ‘cuz Mom wanted to take Mr. Rav to the car wash  before it got too hot. Once upon a time, that woulda made a HILARIOUS letter all by itself, but Mom’s gotten pretty good at controllin’ that hissin’ snake of a hose, ‘n’ she didn’t fall on her butt once. But she did get a flatterin’ photo of me posin’ with a shiny clean Mr. Rav.

Can you spot Mom's spider web?

Can you spot Mom’s spider web?

Nugget 2: A coupla days ago, me ‘n’ Mom found a most intricate spider web hangin’ over our new back door. Mom even tried to take a picture of it to send to you, but you know, spider webs don’t photograph too well unless the light’s special right, so she had to scratch that idea. Seein’ as how Mom is so terrified of spiders, you’d’ve thought she’d’ve wiped out that web as soon as she saw it, but as she solemnly ‘xplained to me, some spider tore all its insides out just to make that design ‘n’ catch it some dinner, so Mom decided to just leave it alone. ‘N’ that woulda been the end of the story, ‘cept this mornin’ whilst I was tryin’ to get a tan on my bare nether regions, Mom suddenly started howlin’ like she was bein’ attacked by a band of orcs, so naturally I leapt to my feet most adroitly ‘n’ galloped to her rescue. Well, Pops, I slid to a stop on the patio, ready to sink my fangs into some fat orcs, ‘n’ ended up laughin’ my head off instead. You woulda, too, if you’d’ve seen it. Mom had been sweepin’ the patio, ‘n’ in her befuddled old age had forgotten that darned spider web, ‘n’ she backed her head right into it. So there she was, hoppin’ up ‘n’ down ‘n’ battin’ frantically at her head with the broom ‘n’ wailin’ somethin’ pitiful. I got quite the belly laugh out of it, specially when she run into the house ‘n’ stuck her head under the shower, frantically tryin’ to get the spiders outta her hair. (There weren’t none, but you couldn’t tell Mom that. She was havin’ hysterics.)

Nugget 3: Despite my lectures, Mom hasn’t got the ‘xplorin’ bug out yet, ‘n’ this afternoon, she drug me to some place called Patterson Park a coupla blocks off Tallmadge Avenue on some place called North Hill. Well, it wasn’t QUITE as bad as that Waters Park place, but it had vibes I didn’t appreciate. At first glance, it looked like a nice little park with a coupla rollin’ hills ‘n’ a softball field or two ‘n’ some nice shady spots where a dog like me could take a leisurely poop. But we was immediately surrounded by piles ‘n’ piles of litter. (Fortunately, Mom had forgot her garbage bag, or we’d STILL be there pickin’ up beer cans ‘n’ potato chip bags ‘n’ pieces of trash that shouldn’t be touched by human hands nor canine paws.) There weren’t any men (?) sleepin’ on the benches, but there was LOTS of young gentlemen hangin’ about here ‘n’ there conversin’ in words neither me nor Mom understood. ‘N’ the ballfields was most sadly neglected, even though the grasses had been recently shorn. Well, I did my business post haste, let me tell you, ‘n’ I tried to haul Mom back to Mr. Rav, but she squared her shoulders ‘n’ said as long as we was there, we was gonna hike the perimeter. So we did. But it was a sad hike. As Mom said, it coulda been an oasis in an otherwise downtrodden neighborhood, but it was poorly maintained, ‘n’ the few folks who was usin’ it didn’t look like playin’ in the park was their main purpose, if you get my drift. So we escaped, ‘n’ Mom acknowledged that we prob’bly won’t be takin’ you there for any hikes. Thank Dog.

Nugget 4: I was takin’ a well-deserved late afternoon nap while Mom hid in the storage room, paintin’ AGAIN, when I was rousted from my dreams by yet another howl from Mom. So I dashed from the couch, through the kitchen ‘n’ into the laundry room (which is really as far as I care to go), fearin’ the worst. You know how Mom is with ladders. But instead of writhin’ in pain on the floor, she was hootin’ ‘n’ hollerin’ ‘n’ raisin’ her fist in triumph. “Done, Louie!” she jabbered. “Done, done, done, ‘n’ I’m never ever paintin’ again!!!!!”

Well, I cheered right along with her, ‘cuz, Pops, that paint is really stinky ‘n’ it fogs up my finely honed sense of smell. I’ve had to put up with this atrocity since the end o’ June, when Mom first started on the new doors, ‘n’ then worked her way around to all the back windows, ‘n’ then the fireplace, ‘n’ then the water heater door, ‘n’ then the liquor ‘n’ dog food cabinets, ‘n’ then the door to the laundry room, ‘n’ then to the many walls ‘n’ ceilin’s ‘n’ cabinets of the storage room. I didn’t think the agony would EVER stop. But Mom swore tonight she’s finished, ‘n’ tomorrow she gets to start the really fun part — puttin’ everythin’ back together again.

I don’t see where all this paintin’ has made things any nicer — in fact, everythin’ smells a whole lot worse — but Mom is now happy, so I  guess we should be, too. ‘N’ maybe by the time you get home, the house won’t reek of paint fumes.

Hopefully yours,

Louie

Pops replies:

Ms. Corolla suffers through the Stanislaus fire.

Ms. Corolla suffers through the Stanislaus fire.

Oh, Louie: Your nuggets are always so tasty. I can just picture Mom all tangled up in that most intricate spider web. But about that park … hmm … me thinks sometimes it’s a darned good thing that you are so ferocious looking. Thanks for protectin’ the homeland, even when it’s traveling.

Pops
p.s. Here’s a photo of Miss Corolla taken on Ash Wednesday.
Published in: on August 26, 2013 at 9:29 pm  Leave a Comment  

Aug. 25, from Louie, Day 86

Well, Pops,

Mom is VERY excited. She says we’re down to single digits now, ‘n’ you’ll be sailin’ in the back door in no time.

I’d like to be excited, too, but I just don’t get it. What the heck is so great about a single digit?

EVERYONE knows it’s always better to have more’n one of ANYTHING. Five little buddies is a party; one is just a whispered conversation. Ten Milkbones is a feast; one is just a snack. Forty belly rubs is heaven; one is Mom bein’ neglectful.

I’m a big fella, ‘n’ I want LOTSA numbers. What good is breakfast with one measly Kibble? What good is a hike with one measly pee? What good is summer with only one Mom ‘n’ no Pops?

See what I’m sayin’, Pops? More is MUCH better’n less.

“Lou,” Mom sighed, “you gotta put it in perspective.”

“I don’t know that word, Mom, ‘n’ if I don’t know it, it’s not important.”

“That’s very self-centered of you, Lou,” Mom lectured.

“It’s the world accordin’ to Louie, Mom,” I huffed, ‘n’ curled up on the kitchen floor with my back to her so’s she’d leave me alone.

But Mom is nothin’ if not perseverant, so she sat down on the floor with her calculator ‘n’ tape measure ‘n’ got right in my face.

“See, Lou, if you wanna put somethin’ in your past, then you wanna put as many digits as possible between you ‘n’ the thing you’re tryin’ to get away from.”

I just snorted. Math is sooooooooooooo borin’.

“Remember that awful mornin’ when Pops packed up ‘n’ went away?”

“Not too well, Mom. It was a long, LONG time ago.”

“PRECISELY!!!!!” Mom said happily. “It was 86 days ago, ‘n’ that’s a very big number. It’s waaaaaaaaay up in the double digits. ‘N’ each day the number gets even bigger. Tomorrow it’ll be 87, ‘n’ the next day, it’ll be 88, ‘n’ every day thereafter, it’ll just keep gettin’ bigger, ‘cuz we’re always movin’ away from the past.”

“Well, I don’t see that as any cause for celebration, Mom,” I grumped. “If the number keeps gettin’ bigger, that means we’re just gettin’ farther ‘n’ farther away from the happy days last spring.”

“That’s true, Lou,” Mom agreed. “But we’re not talkin’ about the past here. We’re talkin’ about the future — the day Pops gets home. ‘N’ the number of days between now ‘n’ then just keeps gettin’ smaller, not bigger.”

“How much smaller?” I asked suspiciously, ‘cuz Mom was soundin’ as earnest as a car salesman, ‘n’ that’s very suspicious indeed.

“The number gets smaller by one every day,” Mom ‘xplained. “Back in June, when we was progressin’ from 95 days to 94 to 93, a one-number difference didn’t mean too much. It still added up to an awful long time.”

“Got that right,” I groused.

Louie is overwhelmed by math.

Louie is overwhelmed by math.

“But you know what happened this mornin’, Lou? We dropped from 10 — that’s double digits — to nine — that’s single digits — ‘n’ my heart is so much lighter, I could do cartwheels right down the driveway. Pops will be home in just nine days!!!!!”

“Why, geez, Mom,” I said, liftin’ my head in excitement as I finally got it, “nine days is nothin’ at all! That’s — why, that’s just 27 more hikes!”

“Just 18 more packages of Chef Cesar,” Mom said.

“One more invasion by the lawn-mowin’ orcs,” I said, suddenly gettin’ into it.

“Two more garbage nights,” Mom agreed.

“Nine more nights in the big bed.”

“Nine more letters from Louie.”

“Oh, gosh, Mom,” I gulped. “That’s sad. My writin’ career was just gettin’ started.”

“Relax, big fella,” Mom said, pattin’ my head. “No one’s takin’ your blog away from you. It’s just gonna take a rest for a while.”

“It has been tough comin’ up with an innerestin’ story line every night,” I admitted.

“That’s OK, Lou. In just nine more days, you won’t be writin’ the story line, you’ll be livin’ it.”

“HOORAY!” I barked. ‘N’ me ‘n’ Mom slapped high-fives.

I still don’t get the intricacies of this math stuff, Pops, but now me ‘n’ Mom is both happy.

Just nine more days. Why, even I can count that high on my toes, ‘n’ still have many, many left over to do other stuff, like scratch ‘n’ hike.

Life is good.

Your almost satisfied,

Louie

Pops replies:

Oh, Louie: Numbers, shnumbers. Life is good. Soon.

Pops
Published in: on August 25, 2013 at 8:46 pm  Leave a Comment  

Aug. 24, from Louie, Day 85

Well, Pops, the Browns is lookin’ mighty putrid tonight.

‘N’ it’s all Mom’s fault.

You see, despite tellin’ her students the other day that she reads EVERY story with “Browns” in the headline, she had NO IDEA they was playin’ tonight (which only proves teachers always lie). In fact, as we was drivin’ home from our evenin’ hike at Hunt Farm, she was wonderin’ aloud just what we were gonna do all night since we’d already had our phone call from you.

So imagine her surprise (‘n’ my consternation) when the rock ‘n’ roll blarin’ outta Mr. Rav’s radio suddenly switched to the Browns pregame show.

“Omigosh, Lou,” she gasped, “there’s a GAME tonight ‘n’ I’m not even wearin’ my unlucky Browns shirt!!!!”

Forgettin’ to do the laundry was the least of her problems.

SHE FORGOT TO BUY MUNCHIES.

Louie strikes a noble pose.

Louie strikes a noble pose.

So here I sit, typin’ my letter with one ear tuned to Jim Donovan, ‘n’ there’s no Cheetos ‘n’ Milk Bones, no Rice Chex ‘n’ Kibbles Party Mix ‘n’ no Purina-crusted pretzels. All we got is a measly handful of grain-free biscuits, so naturally, the Browns is playin’ bad. With a fan as scatterbrained as Mom, they got no incentive to play good.

“I really don’t think you can blame me for the injury report,” Mom said petulantly as she searched the refrigerator for some bacon bits to mix with my biscuits. (It was a nice thought, but there wasn’t any bacon, so scratch that comeback.)

“Injuries is just an excuse, Mom,” I lectured her. “The offense hasn’t got no oooomph tonight, ‘n’ that’s ‘cuz the players know you forgot all about ’em.”

“Technically, I didn’t forget ’em,” Mom corrected. “You can’t forget what you didn’t know.”

” ‘N’ you think that’s gonna make them boys play harder?” ‘N’ I rolled my eyes in disgust.

“It’s not my fault they can’t stop that Luck fella,” Mom insisted.

“Maybe if you’d shown them you care by layin’ out a proper spread of munchies … ”

Mom’s eyes narrowed into two accusin’ slits. “This has nothin’ to do with fan loyalty, Lou. This is all about your bottomless tummy.”

“I’m just sayin’, Mom, you cooked up a banquet of Dawg food against the Lions ‘n’ the Browns won. Tonight you’re handin’ out stale biscuits, ‘n’ the Browns can’t even score. Who do YOU think’s at fault?”

Mom was speechless in the face of my faultless logic, ‘n’ she hung her head in shame.

“Oh, Lou,” she said, her voice quaverin’, “you’re absolutely right. I am a worm. I am LOWER than a worm, ‘cuz actually, there is some very nice worms livin’ in the back yard. The Browns are playin’ like bums tonight, ‘n’ it’s all ‘cuz I forgot to buy your Cheetos.”

Well, Mom looked so forlorn, I had to relent ‘n’ pat her on the shoulder. “It’s OK, Mom, it’s only a preseason game, ‘n’ everyone knows preseason games don’t mean nothin’.”

“If you say so, Lou.”

“Just let this be a lesson, Mom. When the real season starts, you gotta be prepared for every game. You can’t forget the Cheetos, ‘n’ maybe you oughta add some Dog Chow ‘n’ Frito salsa, just to be on the safe side.”

“I promise, Lou,” Mom said solemnly. “I will never EVER forget your Dawg food smorgasbord again.”

“Super Bowl, here we come!” I cheered.

So even though the Dawgs looked like dogs tonight, I’ve whipped Mom into shape, ‘n’ we’re guaranteed a WUNNERFUL season.

All we need is you sittin’ beside us on the couch.

Come home soon, Pops.

Your favorite,

Louie

P.S. I didn’t like that photo Mom sent you last night ‘cuz it made me look like a MANIAC, so here’s a picture of me lookin’ much more noble.

Pops replies:

Oh, Louie: Oops, I mean Oh, Noble Dog. You do look very regal in this photo, especially surrounded by the lush lawn in our back yard. Still, I do love yesterday’s photo. It’s sooooooo you, Lou. Now about football. I think you would be best advised to make yourself scarce every Saturday afternoon and every Sunday afternoon. Humans get very strange around this time of year.

Pops
Published in: on August 24, 2013 at 9:15 pm  Leave a Comment  

Aug. 23, from Louie, Day 84

Gosh darn it, Pops!

You ‘n’ Mom gotta get offa my case!

I am not FAT!!!!!

Sheesh.

OK, OK, OK, I’m not the skinny raggedy dude you brought home five years ago, but that don’t mean I’m a chubby butt.

I am a mature dog, ‘n’ I have a manly profile most becomin’ of my years. My chest is broad ‘n’ deep, my thighs is churnin’ pistons ‘n’ my belly is full, ‘n’ I AM NOT FAT!!!!

Oh, I heard Mom gasp when I tipped the evil vet’s scale at 79 pounds. Well, Mom, I got news for you. Grain-free biscuits don’t mean CALORIE-free. So there.

‘Sides, a 60-pound weaklin’ don’t take on Rockies ‘n’ win.

Chicken, chicken, chicken!!!!!!

Chicken, chicken, chicken!!!!!!

A tough guy like me needs solid poundage to fight off orcs ‘n’ other aliens threatenin’ the home front (‘n’ Mom’s well-bein’ in YOUR absence, I might add). A tough guy like me can’t stare down smoke-belchin’ FirstEnergy machinery without some girth. So just knock off this talk about diets.

‘N’ as for this exercise regimen Mom’s suddenly cooked up for me — well, you guys reap what you sow. ‘Cuz if I’m hikin’ my fool head off every day, then that only INCREASES my appetite, ‘n’ I’m not gonna leave EITHER of you alone until I get more meat!!!!

OK, OK, OK, when my nether regions was chafin’ so bad, I got kinda lazy. I admit that. But walkin’ hurt.

Only now that things is gettin’ better, I think Mom is goin’ a tad overboard. This mornin’ she took me to Schumacher, ‘n’ made me hike the whole mountainous loop. ‘N’ this afternoon, when we usually do just a double, she made it a quadruple!!!! ‘N’ tonight, our leisurely evenin’ stroll turned into two miles on the Towpath.

That is just way wrong, Pops. Waaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaay wrong. (“Oh, quit your gripin’, Louie. I’m walkin’ every single one o’ them miles with you.” ” ‘Cept you’re the one with the chubby butt.” “Am not!” “Are, too!” “Am not!” “Are, too!” )

Mom’s threatenin’ to take me to the Gorge in the mornin’ to climb them killer rocks, ‘n’ I just might haveta stage a rebellion. ‘cuz if I let her get away with that, then the next thing you know, we’ll be doin’ the Buckeye Trail ‘n’ we both know when Mom does the Buckeye Trail, she gets so wore out, I gotta strap her to my back ‘n’ carry her back to Mr. Rav. ‘N’ that’s just more’n any dog oughta haveta bear.

Fortunately, Mom hasn’t gotten too serious about the diet threats yet, ‘n’ tonight we had PICKIN’ CHICKEN!!!!

But she says it’s the last one we’re gonna have until you get home.

‘N’ that’s not right, Pops, just not right.

‘CUZ I’M NOT FAT!!!!!!

Your skinny at heart,

Louie

Pops replies:

Oh, Louie: There is only one word to describe it. Stupendous! Really, outstanding just doesn’t do it justice. Wonderful — even wunnerful — is woefully inadequate. Tremendous would simply be a cliche. Memorable or magnificent get close, but not quite. Superb might due. But, finally, I have to settle on STUPENDOUS! Lou, I’ve seen that look in your eyes so many times. A piece of pickin’ chicken is about the only thing that produces that look in your eyes, Lou. It’s a look of pure bliss — and I look forward to seeing it soon, in person. What a stupendous photo!!!

Pops
p.s. Lou, you are not fat. You are pleasantly plump, as a mature dog such as yourself deserves to be, after all those years of guardin’ the homefront while I’ve been away. Soon, though, we’re going to ratchet up the exercise level — more for my benefit than yours.
Published in: on August 23, 2013 at 9:15 pm  Leave a Comment  

Aug. 22, from Louie, Day 83

Dear Pops,

Mom is such a doofus.

She’s always takin’ dorky pictures of me (like the one she’s sendin’ tonight), but she’s never got her camera ready when somethin’ really excitin’ happens. (“That’s not fair, Lou. When somethin’ really excitin’ happens, I usually got my hands full with you.” “Excuses, excuses, Mom.”)

The day started out kinda slow. To tell you the truth, I’m not real sure when the night ended ‘n’ the day started. I’ve been feelin’ kinda peculiar lately, ‘n’ time just seems to be slippin’ through my toenails. ‘N’ colors have been most bizarre.

But let’s just pretend the day started, ‘cuz I’m pretty sure it’s not last night anymore, ‘cuz I’m pretty sure I had a heapin’ bowl of crunchy Kibbles for breakfast.

I think Mom mighta disappeared for a while this afternoon, ‘cuz I DO remember takin’ a pretty long nap on the couch, ‘n’ Mom didn’t nag me once to stop snorin’. So she musta been gone.

But ‘long about the time you called, I wasn’t seein’ plaid ‘n’ paisley no more, ‘n’ though I do enjoy hearin’ from you on the phone, I was feelin’ the need for some exercise. So I was quite joyful when Mom finally stopped talkin’ to you ‘n’ said, “Saddle up, Lou, we’re goin’ to Hardesty Park!”

Well, that wasn’t nearly as rigorous as I had in mind, but it WAS gettin’ dusky out, ‘n’ I know Mom feels much more comfortable in city parks rather than the woods when the sun is goin’ down. So once I was sure there wasn’t no dreadful band playin’ at Hardesty tonight, I happily jumped into Mr. Rav, ‘n’ we was off!!!!

We had a very nice hike around the park, where I had my fourth poop of the day (I gotta take Mom’s word for that, ‘cuz I don’t really remember Poops 1, 2 ‘n’ 3) ‘n’ then we headed home for dinner.

Louie don't WANNA play with his Little Buddy.

Louie don’t WANNA play with his Little Buddy.

As we was turnin’ into the driveway, I was jabberin’ to Mom about the kinda sprinkles I wanted on my dinner (turkey hotdogs is becomin’ BOR-in’, you know?), so Mom was the one to see ’em first, ‘n’ she jumped on the brakes so hard, I nearly flew into Mr. Rav’s windshield.

“Mom,” I sputtered angrily, “what the heck are you tryin’ to do? Kill me?”

“Oh, hush up, Lou, ‘n’ look out the window!”

Well, I didn’t care much for Mom’s tone, ‘n’ I was gonna tell her so in no uncertain terms when suddenly I got a flash of white tail outta the corner of my eye, ‘n’ Pops! There was a doe ‘n’ two polka-dotted fawns munchin’ peacefully under our magnolia tree.

Them fawns was so darned cute, we just sat there in Mr. Rav for many, many, seconds, enjoyin’ the view. Even I was content to simply watch, ‘cuz you know, with my chafed nether regions, runnin’ like the wind with the deer is outta the question. ‘N’ besides, I didn’t wanna scare the little fellas.

But then they wandered too close to the driveway, ‘n’ since Mom didn’t wanna accidentally hit ’em, she punched the remote control on the garage door, ‘n’ the sound spooked the three of ’em into our little woods.

But they weren’t scared silly, ‘cuz as soon as we was parked ‘n’ Mom was guidin’ me outta Mr. Rav with a very firm hand on my bling, they had already wandered back into our yard ‘n’ was peacefully munchin’ again.

That reminded me that my own dinner was overdue, so I made some agitated noises to Mom, ‘n’ I think she mistook ’em as threats to take after the deer, so she unceremoniously hauled me into the house ‘n’ slammed the door, ‘n’ that was enough noise to scare the deer all the way down to the Zaidans’ house.

It was a most enchantin’ encounter, Pops, but in Mom’s mistaken belief that my head ‘n’ legs is in condition to run relays with Maria ‘n’ the kids, she kept both hands on my leash ‘n’ forgot to take pictures.

‘N’ that’s why she’s a doofus.

‘N’ that’s why you’re gettin’ only this dumb picture of me ‘n’ my Little Buddy snake. You coulda had a much nicer picture of the wildlife grazin’ in our very own yard, but Mom can’t seem to do more’n one thing at once.

Thank goodness she still knows how to give righteous belly rubs.

Your disgusted-at-the-missed-opportunity,

Louie

Pops replies:

Look at Pops in his funny hat!

Look at Pops in his funny hat!

Oh, Louie: I don’t think a camera can capture enchantin’ moments like that. Sometimes you just have to store those memories in your head and bring them out when you need them. You can do that, right Lou?

Pops
p.s. Coupla photos for you, Lou. The first one is Pops giving people 10 seconds to take their photos while he wears a silly hat that his assistant John mistakenly thought was a good idea. That’s Pops’ big boss, Teresa looking at him.

Pops' California friends throw him a party to say goodbye.

Pops’ California friends throw him a party to say goodbye.

The second photo includes all 11 people at the dinner – left to right: Sara, John, John’s wife, Marie, Patti’s husband, Patti, Diane, Teresa, Pops, Dave’s wife, Dave (Pops’ current boss).

Published in: on August 22, 2013 at 8:57 pm  Leave a Comment  

Aug. 21, from Louie, Day 82

Dear Pops,

I think I’m supposed to be outraged at Mom. Some little voice in my head keeps sayin’ she did somethin’ really awful to me today. Or maybe it was yesterday. Or maybe it was last week.

Scratch, scratch, scratch, scratch, SCRATCH!!!!

Scratch, scratch, scratch, scratch, SCRATCH!!!!

I — um — I just don’t really remember too well ‘cuz — um — well — I’m kinda floatin’ right now ‘n’ — oh, wow, did you know there’s a FULL MOON tonight? Omigosh, Pops, it’s ORANGE.

‘N’ GREEN.

‘N’ YELLOW.

‘N’ wow, I think it might be PLAID!!!!!

Far out, Pops.

I sorta remember we took a hike this mornin’ on the Towpath down by Bruegger’s. Or maybe that was some other mornin’. WHATEVER.

There was a hike, ‘n’ I wasn’t too much in the mood ‘cuz — did Mom tell ya? — I got this gi-GUN-dus hot spot on my nether regions, ‘n’ it CHAFES when I trot, so I don’t wanna trot too much. I don’t even wanna crawl. I just wanna curl up on the kitchen floor ‘n’ just groove to Radio Paradise, ya know what I’m sayin’, Pops?

ANYWAY, there was a hike, ‘n’ then instead of endin’ in breakfast, it ended in a nightmare.

I dreamt I was at the evil vet’s. ‘N’ even though it was the evil MAN vet, who has some unnerstandin’ of dogly complaints, it was still the VET’S, ‘n’ I dreamt I was shakin’ most uncontrollably, ‘n’ Mom was huggin’ me ‘n’ pettin’ my head, but she wouldn’t take me home, even though I begged her. Most piteously.

‘N’ then I dreamt I was attacked with a needle as long as my back leg, ‘n’ that terrible but unnerstandin’ man shot me full of vile liquids, ‘n’ my shoulder is very sore now, so it must not of been a dream. But I just don’t remember it too clearly.

It's been a rough day for Louie. OW!!!!!

It’s been a rough day for Louie. OW!!!!!

I know I had breakfast ‘n’ dinner, ‘n’ both was on the crunchy side, ‘n’ I know Mom has stopped assaultin’ me with her stinky Gold Bond powder, ‘n’ that’s a relief.

But I really don’t know much more’n that, Pops. I’m just kinda chillin’ here on the kitchen floor, displayin’ my redness for anyone who wants to see. I don’t care. Go ahead ‘n’ look if you want. Gross, huh?

ANYWAY, I know I gotta get up ‘n’ pee for about the 82nd time today, but I might just lie here a while longer ‘n’ see if some chicken sprinkles don’t float down from the ceilin’.

Pops, did you know the ceilin’ is a kaleidoscope ‘n’ its colors ‘n’ shapes is always changin’?

WAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAY far out, man.

Your purple ‘n’ pink ‘n’ chartreuse,

Louie

I think.

Pops replies:

Oh, Louie: I can see and almost feel your pain. Enjoy the many colors and chicken sprinkles floating down from the ceiling. You deserve the escape from that huge patch of flaming red. Oh my, you poor, poor boy.

Pops
p.s. Uh, Lou, uh, we need to get you out on some long, long hikes, if you get my drift.
Published in: on August 21, 2013 at 8:25 pm  Leave a Comment  

Aug. 20, from Louie, Day 81

Oh, Pops,

I am in despair.

First Delilah.

‘N’ now REGGIE!!!!!!

I been worried for weeks ‘cuz I’d dash out the back door every mornin’ to pee, ‘n’ Reggie wouldn’t be waitin’ for me.

‘N’ when me ‘n’ Mom was workin’ in the yard, he wouldn’t come shufflin’ over to the fence for his Milkbones.

‘N’ when the neighborhood dogs started barkin’ in harmony, his baritone would be missin’.

In memoriam.

In memoriam.

So I was frettin’, but I didn’t say nothin’ to Mom, ‘cuz I didn’t want her to fret, too. (You know, she made friends with Reggie long before she made friends with me, ‘n’ back in the early days, when I still wasn’t sure Canyon Trail would become my permanent home, I was afraid she liked Reggie best. But I know better now. He was like a boyfriend outta her past, while I’m the real deal.)

Anyway, Mom didn’t say nothin’ to me last night after Ms. Sandra called, ‘cuz she didn’t want me to be up all night cryin’. But this mornin’, after breakfast, Mom sat me down on the couch ‘n’ give me the bad news.

Reggie’s dead.

‘N’ I NEVER GOT TO SAY GOODBYE!!!!!

Just like Delilah, he was whisked away from me without a final butt sniff, ‘n’ I’m just shattered.

He was an old dog — too old to be my best bud. There was quite the generation gap between us. But you know, Pops, Reggie was wise, ‘n’ early on he took me aside ‘n’ told me what was what in the neighborhood. He told me who the good neighbors was ‘n’ who was bad; which dogs I could play with ‘n’ which dogs would try to rip out my heart. (Even though Reggie got along OK with the Evil White Dog, he knew immediately that me ‘n’ Cody was two alphas destined to hate each other, ‘n’ he sagely counseled me to take the high road. ‘Course, I didn’t, but that’s not the point.)

The point is he was almost like the canine dad I never had, ‘n’ it just tears me up that we’ll never again meet at the fence ‘n’ swap stories about our humans. (Don’t worry, Pops, I never told him any really embarrassin’ stuff, like how funny you look without any fur to cover your butt, just the cute stuff, like how you always fall asleep with your library book on your chest ‘n’ Mom hasta tuck you in — you know, that kinda thing.)

I know the old boy was in a lotta pain. You just had to watch him walk ‘n’ you could see every step was an agony. But his eyes was still bright ‘n’ he could still growl most ferociously at orcs ‘n’ other invaders. So I thought — I hoped — he’d hang around a little longer, at least until the first frost set in ‘n’ the sun could still warm his bones.

But I guess it wasn’t meant to be.

Poor old Reg — Pops, you gotta forgive me. I’m just too broke up to write anymore.

Maybe tomorrow.

But now I gotta go cry.

Your most forlorn,

Louie

Pops replies:

Oh, Louie: I know you are sad about your bud. But, you know, Reggie had a really good life. He had Miss Sandra to talk to all day long — and, Lou, you gotta know that Reggie got alotta conversation. (Remember when he told you how sometimes he has to cover his ears?) Well, I feel sad for you. But mostly I feel sad for Miss Sandra. It’s gonna be lonely for her. She’s gonna want someone to talk to. Perhaps you could hang around her fence for a while, you know, just in case she really, really misses a canine companion.

Pops
Published in: on August 20, 2013 at 9:41 pm  Leave a Comment