Sunday, January 2, 2011

Progeny Payback

Our children were almost grown when Richard came into our lives. We have few opportunities to say to our children, "You're getting back what you put us through." But there are some times that we simply have to gloat.

Scott was fifteen when Richard became my man. He was living with his daddy and doing a fine job of teenage triangling. If Dad said, "No," (which didn't happen often) he'd simply ask Mom. This may have been because his grandparents were deceased, so he couldn't ask them. When Scott rescued the third dog from the side of the road, his dad had had enough. This dog was quite the digger, and Scott's dad really loved his backyard retreat. This part-lab puppy just had to go. "But, Mom," Scott pleaded, "if you don't take him, Dad's going to take him to the shelter, and they'll kill him."

Scott's dad tried to convince people that he didn't like children or dogs. His children he called "My Girl" and "My Boy." All dogs were called "Dog." There was "Dog 1", "Dog 2", and he wasn't having "Dog 3." I had spent my life attempting to convince my children that they couldn't drag responsibilities home to me and expect that I would take care of them. Here we were on the horns of a dilemma; I was massively missing my boy. He was begging for a bond to me through this dog. What was a mother to do?

I knew that I didn't want a dog, but Richard loved all small, helpless life forms. We were most times busy babysitting this niece and that nephew, so maybe I could bring a puppy into the mix. I agreed to become foster parents to this dog until Scott could find him another home. And the games began.

We renamed the dog "Tuxedo" because of his sleek black coat with a white ruff. He was happy inside, but Richard just couldn't stop obsessing over how lonely the dog was to be locked out of our bedroom away from his "pack." He also never learned to read the silent signals that Tuxedo gave when he needed to go out. I relegated Tuxedo to the back yard. Tuxedo was definitely modeled on Dr. Suess's The Diggingest Dog. The yard soon looked like a mine field, which Richard referred to as the "Meuse-Argonne". Richard filled in the holes and built a kennel in the garage for the dog, but he still needed outside time.

Tuxedo apparently got nervous when he heard other dogs that he couldn't see through the wooden privacy fence. This led him to chew through the strapping on our lawn furniture -- twice. I ordered new strapping, and Richard taught himself the method for boiling it until it became soft enough to stretch across the metal frame. But Tuxedo had only begun his reign of destruction.

As do most air conditioner compressors, our unit made an awful racket when kicking on. Tuxedo must have thought this was some kind of dangerous invader, as he chewed through the wires until that noise was taken care of -- twice. The air conditioner repairman was quite amused when he had to come back the second time. Richard ordered a tooth-proof casing for the wiring, and announced that we had to get rid of "Scott's" dog before he put us into bankruptcy.

I knew that this wouldn't happen once Richard had a night to sleep on other options. His next free week-end, it was off to Home Depot for supplies to build a custom dog run, complete with washdown drain. Only Richard would have spent time making sure that the grains on each fence board were compatible before buying them. Tuxedo now had the nicest dog run in town.

We were foster parents until Scott got to be about nineteen and moved into one of his dad's rental homes with his wife. He and she were sitting at our supper table while Scott expounded on how he and his wife could now reclaim his dog, but he knew Richard had gotten so attached that he would want permanent custody. Richard heard him and immediately went to the garage and gathered up all Tuxedo's toys and other belongings. Within minutes, Scott's dog and all his stuff were in Scott's vehicle. Scott was stunned, but Tuxedo was his responsibility.

Now, Scott is caring for our ninety-six pound fur ball while we look for rental accommodations. When he took me out back to explain to me how Gypsy Woman had dug up his back yard, I couldn't help but secretly smile as I commiserated with him. Richard, on the other hand, upon hearing the story, can't stop roaring with laughter, and that's only when he's not smirking in mirth.