Where is the Panic Button?
Dad was in a pickle. He had no choice but to head back out into the storm. There was no doubt that he had messed up this time. Now he and Mongo would pay the price; which was strange because it had all started so innocuously.
To understand the dilemma faced by Mongo and Dad, it is important to understand that Mongo is a creature of habit. He likes his routine, and he does not do change well. Actually, that’s not completely true. He does change fairly well, as long as it does not affect his meal time routine. He does not do change well in that area in particular.
It was a Friday night and the clock on the wall read 5ish, so Dad saw it was time to take Mongo out for evening walk. The other clue was Mongo bouncing his head into Dad’s mouse-arm while he tried to work. Clearly, no further constructive activities were going to take place on Dad’s part until after Mongo’s dinner. And that doesn’t happen until after evening walk. It is a very simple system.
Dad pulled on his two-layer ski coat, grabbed a cap, picked up the leash (complete with poop bag container) off the coat rack where the ski coat had been covering it, and turned towards the door.
Mongo waited on the inside of the spectacular doggie storm door Dad had installed until Dad reached for the handle. Mongo had learned that there was no point in going out for a walk until Dad tried to exit the door. Otherwise, one could find oneself on the outside looking in, while Dad stayed inside fiddling with something useless like a flashlight or gloves.
As Dad reached for the handle, Mongo bolted through the dog door. Dad is trainable too. Shortly after installing the dog door, Dad learned not to leash up Mongo inside the house anymore. Otherwise, when Dad reached for the door handle, Mongo tried to pull him through the dog door with the leash. It brings a whole new meaning to the phrase “being dragged through the knothole”!
Dad still chuckles every time they go out. Mongo could wait for the big door to open and go out with Dad, but like a toddler, Mongo prefers to use his personal door over the big people door. Kimi had told Dad, “It’s a kid thing. You wouldn’t understand.”
Once outside, Dad leashed up Mongo. They headed down the cold rainy alleyway to the school yard. El Nino was definitely in full swing. The typical drizzly mild winters of the Great Pacific Northwest had been brushed aside by fierce rainstorms with howling winds. Mongo and Dad continued through the driving rain to the school yard.
Once there, Mongo did his business. Dad cleaned up Mongo’s business. Then they walked their typical mile-long trek, even though it was pitch dark and pouring rain. When they were done, they made their way back home.
So far, so good. Dad unbundled, while Mongo bounced around the kitchen with ears perked and eyes bright. Mongo knew dinner was coming. “Best day EVER!”
Dad knew the food bin was a little low, but he would be able to stall Mongo for a few seconds while he opened a new bag of food. And there was a box from the mail-order food supply place leaning against the wall right there in the kitchen.
Dad emptied the last couple of pieces of kibble from the food bin into Mongo’s bowl, and then placed the bowl on the counter.
He then picked up the mail-order box and froze. His mind was running a mile-a- minute. He realized he was in serious trouble. The box was way too light. He studied the top of the box closely. It read, “Grandma’s Lenox and Crystal”.
“Oh no”, he thought. The box was not a spare box of nom-nom! It had been repurposed during the move! Being a man of action, Dad quickly assessed the situation; they had finished evening walk, and there was no more dog food in the house. “DOOMED!” Dad was now in the realm of epic fail!
Dad looked Mongo in the eye. “OK, Buddy; Dad is gonna go out and get some food. I’ll be right back.”
Mongo drooled. Dad pulled on the ski coat again, threw on his red Tacoma Rainiers ball cap, stuffed a couple of candy canes in his pocket, and headed out the door. Mongo watched him go and continued to drool.
Mongo was now left to contemplate the situation. They had completed evening walk. Dad had put some food in a bowl, but he had not put the bowl on the floor. And now Dad was leaving without having fed Mongo! Mongo was forced to conclude, “Not best day ever…”
Mongo’s world was now headed for a disaster of biblical proportions. Fire and brimstone coming down from the skies! Rivers and seas boiling! Forty years of darkness! Earthquakes, volcanoes… Human sacrifice, dogs and cats living together… mass hysteria!
Meanwhile, Dad aimed the truck toward the Pet Place. It was less than a mile away. He thought to himself, “It’s a mile to the store. I have a full tank of gas. It’s dark, and I’m wearing sunglasses. Time to hit it!”
Total time of transit in West Seattle traffic to go one mile; about 15 minutes. Dad tried to remain calm in the midst of utter chaos around him. He crossed the parking lot without running over any pedestrians. He managed to park the truck without crashing through the storefront. He turned to the door and flung it open with a stiff arm; entering the store with a wild look in his eyes.
The store clerk immediately looked at the wild man who had just burst into the store and coolly said, “Can I help you?”
Dad strode to her side and looked around furtively, and whispered sotto voce, “Wilderness dog food, quick!”
She took him around the corner and with a gracious wave of her hand calmly said, “These are all our grain-free premium dog foods. We have several brands to choose from, as well as different formulations within each brand. Did you have a preference?”
Dad stepped forward, and grabbed a forty pound bag. “Yes, the blue one!” He hoisted the bag to his shoulder and bounded over to the register. The clerk scooted through the aisles to catch up.
“Do you have a frequent buyer account? You’ll want to make sure you get all your frequent buyer points.” Clearly the clerk did not recognize the gravity of the situation.
“Yes!”, Dad answered, perhaps a little tersely.
“What name is it under?”
“Kimi!” Dad replied, the strain evident in his voice.
“OK, there it is”, said the clerk sweetly. “If you’ll just swipe your card there”, said the clerk now waving towards the credit card terminal. Dad swiped like a man possessed. The clerk gave her computer screen a quizzical look. “It didn’t take. Please try it again.”
Dad swiped with even vigor this time, but the clerk continued to gaze perplexedly at the screen. Then she looked at the card in Dad’s hand and said, “Is that one of those ‘chip’ cards? You’ll have to insert that in the slot.” Dad could hear his heart pounding in his ears.
He inserted the card. The card terminal displayed a cheery “Processing…” message. Dad shifted his weight and looked around uneasily. He looked back at the terminal. “Processing…” He drummed his fingers on the counter. The clerk gave him a pleasant smile. Dad is not good at forced smiles. He politely grimaced back at her, and looked back at the terminal. “Processing…” Dad rolled his eyes toward heaven, wondering if this torment would ever end. His mind drifted to Psalm 13, and he recalled the passage “How long, oh Lord…”
“Approved”, chirped the clerk cheerily and Dad snapped back into the present. She handed him his receipt, and as she did so, Dad handed her a candy cane.
She stopped and looked at him for a moment before he said, “Have a merry!” She smiled. Dad continued, “And the best part of that is, you can tell all our friends that an eccentric little man with a white beard and a red hat came into the shop today and gave you a candy-cane as he left. That’ll make ’em think!”
Dad gave her a little wave, and the clerk smiled wider as he rushed out the door. He tossed the food into the truck, and then plunged the truck into the dark rainy night at a break neck crawl.
Fifteen minutes later, he arrived back at the house. The back gate was closed. Dad was perplexed. He was sure he had left it open in the interest of making better time. He pushed open the truck door against the raging wind and stepped out into the rainy dark night to slide open the gate. Then, dripping wet, he climbed back into the truck drove into the yard, and then closed the gate. Drewbie’s Cherokee was gone. Dad figured Drewbie must have closed the gate on his way out. “A fine time to finally remember to close the gate!” Dad hustled into the house carrying the bag of food.
Mongo was still sitting in the kitchen. Dad looked at the counter. The food bowl was not there. It was on the floor, and the few kibble that had been in there were gone. Dad looked at the clock. He had been gone for just over half an hour. Mentally, he scrolled through the possibilities. Maybe he hadn’t put the last kibbles into the bowl, or maybe he had put the bowl on the floor. He settled on the scenario that Mongo must have given up on him and counter surfed his way to the bowl.
“Sorry for the delay, Buddy”, he said to Mongo sincerely. “Just let me open the bag, and I’ll get your dinner.” Mongo hovered excitedly. Dad picked up the bowl, scooped in some kibble, and then remembered that he had saved some meat juice in the fridge yesterday. He grabbed the cup from the fridge and poured it on the kibble.
“Here ya go, Bud. A little late, but I made it a bit more gourmet tonight.”
Mongo plunged his head into the bowl, and began to devour his delayed dinner. Dad finally had to time to think about the situation. He now realized that he had messed up on a grand scale and stared off into the distance as he contemplated the possible repercussions of the night’s events.
The next morning, Dad sat down on the couch to peruse the Saturday paper. Mongo hopped on the couch to sit next to him. Dad opened the paper on his lap, and began to scritch under Mongo’s neck. His pulled his hand back to see what was in his fingers. He looked down to see a big clump of fur. He pushed Mr. M’s head up to look at his neck. He saw another big clump of fur at the collar line, and gently pulled that out also. Two more clumps came way in his hand. Dad’s fears had been confirmed. Mongo was paying the price of Dad’s carelessness.
“I’m sorry, Buddy. I guess Dad messed up your routine last night.” Mongo was blowing coat furiously. Mongo’s routine had been interrupted and now he was power-shedding.
“C’mon, I’ll buy you a dog biscuit”, said Dad as he got up to walk to the kitchen. Mongo followed behind leaving a plume of dog fur behind him. Dad sighed and thought, “Bad Dad.” as he pictured the endless hours of vacuuming up dog fur which lay ahead of him.