One almost 70 year old, possibly senile Grammie.
One innocent looking (while in reality anything but) Pet Bull.
The incident: Joy riding in broad daylight.
Yesterday morning I left for work thinking all was right with the world.
I walked Veronica over to the Grammie's in-law apartment, boosted her up on Grammie's bed, bade everyone a "good day" and off I went.
The Grammie "Day Care" arrangement works well for everyone. My mom has allot of anxiety and she really doesn't like to leave the house. She is quite content being home and “futzing” around. Which is not to say that she can't leave because she has the dog. I tell her constantly that Veronica is more than content in her crate. If you want to run an errand or go out for a bit...put the dog in her crate!!!!!
But Nooooo! Grammie wouldn’t dream of putting Veronica in her crate. “That cannot be“! Grammie insists! “Puppy does not like being in a crate! Puppy is not used to being in a crate”! (Except for when something comes up that Grammie needs attended to. Like when I had to go with her into the city to get her dentures fixed. Puppy’s ass went in a crate so fast her head spun.) But otherwise Grammie must tell me that she “has given her life up for the dog”! and that I “owe her big time”. Martyrdom. It’s an Italian grandmother thing. I figure who am I to deprive her? (I’m always reminded of my best friend’s Italian grandmum. When we were kids she would serve elaborate family dinners and announce loudly “Mange, mange! There’s plenty! You all eat, I’ll just pick at the bones”)
Another reason no one believes Grammy actually wants to leave the house is because…she doesn’t. Even when she “can”, she doesn‘t. My husband is a school teacher and throughout the school year we hear variations of, “I can’t wait for your husband to be home over the summer! I’m going to be out …doing my errands…socializing…I give my life up for this dog…hope you kids appreciate me…” yadda yadda. Then inevitably, over the course of the summer; I receive at least a handful of cryptic messages on my voicemail at work that go something like this “She’s still @#$%ing home! It’s 3 o’clock in the @#$%ing afternoon and she hasn’t left the house yet! She said she was @#$%ing going out and she hasn’t left the @#$%ing house all
@#$%ing summer”!!!!!!! (My husband, by nature; talks like a longshoreman. Over the course of the summer he makes up for the plethora of profanity he has to stuff during the school year)
So anywho, who thought she ever was actually going to go anywhere…let alone with the dog??? I should also add at this point that Veronica’s Grammie is not one of those hardy, robust, athletic seventy year olds. Not one of those Italian Grammies with allot of meat on their bones. Veronica’s Grammie is a petite version of Scarlett O’Hara…always one step away from the vapors. She has been known to suggest an emergency room visit for paper cuts, calls my husband over to open her mayonnaise jars and is shocked when I step up to the task myself, and recently has learned that picking up anything over 5 pounds…may cause her bladder to fall clean out. Grammie is well aware of the fact that she could not ever, under any circumstances walk Veronica. Not that Veronica is bad on a leash…she isn’t. It’s just…she’s a dog…you never know when she’ll get a wild hair up her ass…not to mention…Hello…dog reactive!!! Grammie has never, ever taken Veronica anywhere on her own…except for the fenced back yard.
Imagine my surprise…there I am at work, all cozy and content with life and at peace with the world. I decide to check my voice mail messages and THIS is what I hear from Veronica‘s Grammie: “Hi!! Puppy and I are in the Village! Call me on my cell.”. I nearly fell out of my chair while simultaneously feeling my heart and stomach fall through the floor and all the blood rushing into my extremities. Luckily, being I counselor: I am well aware of all those breathing techniques designed to ward off a full fledged panic attack; and I of course knew that I wasn’t REALLY going to pass out - it only felt like I was!! After I got my hyperventilating under control, I called Grammie’s cell and tried for a cheery, “Hey there! What’s up”?????????
“Well,” said Grammie, “It’s a GORGEOUS day and puppy was bored”.
Okay I had gotten an email earlier in the day that “puppy was bored and pulling up the rug on her deck”. However to be honest, I always considered the possibility that Grammie was in cahoots with Veronica. For starters, we have the exact same rug on a replica of the exact same deck, separated by not more than 10 feet from Grammie’s deck - and Veronica has never once chewed the rug on our deck. Then there is the matter of Grammie hating the rug on her deck, probably because she decided she hated the handyman who put it in and she has told me for the past several years that “as the landlord” I am responsible for “providing her with a new rug”. For all I know she is dousing the rug with duck sauce and teaching Veronica to take it up 1 strand at a time.
But I digress…
“It’s a GORGEOUS day and puppy was bored…so we took a ride”.
I took a deep breath and said as calmly as I could, “Are you out of your mind? You know you can’t control her. Please tell me you’re not walking her…”
To Grammie’s credit she responded, “Don’t be an idiot, of course I can’t walk her”.
“Well…” I sputtered “what exactly are you doing with her then and how did you get her in the car”??????
Grammie then explained that she went out alone opened the car door, scanned the area for small objects of prey, got Veronica, jogged her quickly to the car and boosted her in.
“The poor thing was so happy to be getting out that she stood perfectly still while I futzed about for 15 minutes trying to get her harness on“ Grammie said. Having never taken Veronica off the premises before, Grammie has never put her harness on. “She was an angel”, said Grammie, “an absolute ANGEL”.
So apparently Grammie took Veronica to the UPS store, parked in front so she could see Veronica through the window, locked the doors and “ran in for no more than 2 minutes”. “You could see her”??? I asked in a panic. “Yes”, said Grammie. “The entire time”? I pushed. “YES”, said Grammie, “I wouldn’t take any chances with her”. (We both labor under the delusion that everyone who sees Veronica will be so overcome by the wonder of her sheer wonderfulness that they will try to steal her. I of course realize that after 1 day with her, they will try to give her back…but it’s too late then, isn’t it????)
“Well where are you now”? I asked; to which Grammie responded, “we’re parked in the village just sitting in the car watching the people”. “The village” is our walking spot - a quaint little New England fishing port and tourist trap 5 minutes from our house. After reassuring myself that they had absolutely no intentions of getting out of the car, I then learned that they had already been through the Dunkin’ Donuts drive through for coffee and munchkins. “It’s the first time she’s been out with me”, Grammie argued. “I had to make it special”. To the best of my knowledge, Veronica did NOT have any coffee, but she did enjoy the better part of a honeydew glazed and a powdered jelly munchkin.
Grammie then assured me that they would be taking a short ride which would involve no one getting out of the car and then going home. I was of course completely freaked out about the process of Grammie getting Veronica from the car into the house. Again, not that Veronica is ill behaved…it’s just YOU NEVER KNOW. So I reminded Grammie about opening the house door before she gets Veronica out, body blocking her in the car, grabbing the leash firmly and running into the house. Actually Veronica waits for permission to get out of the car…but YOU NEVER KNOW…this could be the day that a big fat cat runs by and Veronica loses her mind.
Grammie assures me she will follow protocol and I remind Grammie that she is to hold onto Veronica’s leash even if it means losing a finger or breaking a hip. This is a subject where we are at least simpatico. Grammie and I have always had a love/hate mother/daughter relationship…but the one thing we can whole-heartedly agree on…is that we love Veronica. Grammie has told me on more than one occasion when I have been off with Veronica doing something Grammie didn’t entirely approve of, "If anything ever happens to that dog; you’re dead”. So I felt no qualms about reminding her that chaperoning Veronica safely into the house was of a much higher priority than the state of her bladder.
Grammie assured me she would call and leave a message THE MOMENT THEY WERE SAFELY IN THE HOUSE. So I attempted to pull myself together and took my next client in. No one expects their counselor to be perfect (well if they do, they’re in for another disappointment); however I think we can all agree that it is bad for business and generally bad form for one’s counselor to greet them in the throes of a full fledged panic attack. Call me crazy, but I don’t think it instills that sense of confidence that is needed to move the therapeutic process along. Luckily for me my next client had an issue that allowed me to empathize while simultaneously venting my own anxiety, “Oh you must be so worried for their safety”!!!!! I said to my client; (practically with tears in my eyes) - who shook his head emphatically, pleased that I was showing such understanding. Again, luckily as well I might add, I was able to pull out all my skills to “be in the moment” and “attend to the present” and do my job. But I would be lying if I said I didn’t feel a large surge of relief when my phone rang and went to voicemail and I anticipated that was Grammie leaving me a message telling me they were safely ensconced back home.
And that is the story of my day yesterday. Nothing like a little unanticipated excitement to get the blood pumping and make one feel alive. Grammie assures me that she and Veronica will not be going joy riding very often. I have done my best to instill in her and scare the crap out of her with every possible thing that can possibly go wrong. The thing is Veronica is very good; except for when she chooses to not be good. Veronica generally chooses to not be good exactly when you let your guard down and least expect it. I guess I will have to do some work with Grammie under safely controlled conditions and have her do some handling of Veronica to be reminded of exactly what she is dealing with. If hips get broken, dentures lost or bladders wind up on the ground…you are all my witnesses that I am innocent and free of malicious intent. (Besides which Grammie has no life insurance, so I got nothing to gain; it’s all good).