Going home for Christmas!
For the last 30 something years, that expression has brought it's share of joy, excitement, anticipation and stress! Don't get me wrong... I love Christmas, and I love going home... but when the two events are happening simultaneously, the stress meter definitely gets a bit of a work out. Making sure you have everything you need for the trip, as well as not forgetting anybody's Christmas... well, you get my drift.
And speaking of drifts, the news of our heartland being under heavy snow and blizzard conditions, makes me drift back in time to another "going home for Christmas" trip... a trip that left scars and will live in our minds forever!
It was the Christmas of 1981. Harley and I had just bought our first new car as a married couple and we thought we were the shit. A silver 1980 Datsun 200 SX. We might have been married, but we still wanted to hold on to some cool factor, and that quick little 5 speed fed our need for play. The only trouble with our awesome SX is, it was a bit small when it came to loading up the family... with all our luggage.
Our "family" during that time, consisted of us and two English Shepherds, Molly and Keiva. They were male and female litter mates and each weighed in at about 75 and 90 lbs. respectively. Not the largest shepherds we've ever had, but when you're putting them in the back seat of a small compact car, they seemed much larger. Complicate that arrangement with a 16 hour drive, that turned into a 24 hour nightmare during blizzard conditions... well, hold on a minute... it gets worse.
The very morning we were to leave, I noticed a small blood spot on Molly's leg and wondered what she had done to hurt herself. After looking her over, I was baffled, until I noticed that she kept licking herself. Looking under her belly, I discovered her "love spot" was swollen and... YEP! You guessed it... she just went into "heat". Yay us!! Now what? We've heard of doggie diapers so we decided to stop by the pet store on our way out of town to see if this would help our situation. Our biggest thought at that moment was how we were going to keep her from making a mess out of our new car! I mean come on... really??
After procuring some diapers, we headed north to Iowa. We thought the problem was solved, but unfortunately, Keiva had other plans. Dogs don't care if you're their sister. I could see it in his eyes. He was thinking it was his duty... if you're ready to f*#k, than by golly Miss Molly, I'm ready to oblige ya!!
So went the circling... and the panting... and the hunching... and the scolding... all while in the confines of the small compact back seat of the Datsun. I kept thinking that we need to hurry up and get there so we can let these poor creatures out of this tiny little cage. Molly kept giving Keiva those sideways glances as she kept her "love spot" planted firmly to the seat, all while he was trying to persuade her to do otherwise. He hunched and hunched, to the point that I was afraid the poor dog was going to throw his back out before we could get him out of this car!
In addition to enduring the backseat ballet, the further north we got, the more volatile the weather became. We've been warned that there may be a storm during our drive up, but we figured as long we stayed on the interstate, we should be pretty good. About the time we turned west onto I-75 in Indianapolis, the snow and ice storm made driving extremely difficult and dangerous. We trekked on, but the speedometer never went over 30 mph, taking us over 5 hours to travel 150 miles. We noticed that most vehicles we encountered were either creeping along like us, or hanging off the edge of the road, having slipped into the loose stuff enough to remain trapped there. In spite of all that... we continued on.
Stopping to stretch legs and pee became something of an event also. The first time the dogs hopped out of the car and there was snow on the ground, you would have thought their paws were on fire. Picking up their feet and prancing around trying to figure how to move about without stepping in this very strange new stuff, was a comical site indeed. Every time Molly squatted to pee, (yes... the snow was deep!) she stood back up and kept searching for a clear spot. (I guess if I sat my "love spot" in the snow, it would give me a start also). Eventually, she figured out that if you dribble just a little bit out, you can melt a hole in the snow, which then allowed her to squat all the way down and finish her business. Smart girl!
We got to mom and dad's house much later than expected, but we made it safe and sound. After preparing a nice comfy place in the basement for the pups, (separated!) we officially commenced our Christmas holiday. The dogs got used to, and actually enjoyed playing in the snow and Molly's "condition" eventually waned. Everything seemed to settle down, but as all good vacations go, it was over too quick. Before you knew it, we were headed back south Our very large family... in our little compact car.
We made it back to our southern home without issue. The weather stayed good and thank God, we didn't deliver any puppies in February. Time passed and it wasn't until Spring came along before our Christmas trip to Iowa came back up as a hot topic of conversation. My dad was pissed! It seems, during our stay, Keiva (and Molly) left him many large presents in his yard. I guess when a big dog drops a turd bomb (or pees a lake the size of Erie) onto frozen ground, it freezes and stays there until Spring. When April came around and thawed out dad's yard, it was laden with very large brown dead spots, a sure result of lots and lots of Keiva bombs! Oh my!
About three seasons later, his bare spots filled in and his yard finally started to look nice again. He eventually saw the humor in Keiva's fertilization efforts, but the "NO VACANCY" sign went up for puppies, and never came back down. I'm sure if he were here today, he'd have something funny to say about it, and he really did love his Granddogs... as long as they stayed home!
So many Christmases have come and gone now, and there have been many trips back home share them. Today our family consists of two small dogs, referred to as "the boys", and a trio of felines. My moms thinks they're pretty good little guys, so she's decided it was time to take down the "NO VACANCY" sign and welcome them home for Christmas. Yay us!
Bandit and Joker are as excited as two little kids in a candy store. They're going home for Christmas and can't wait to go see Grandma! We have since learned many valuable lessons in regards to traveling with animals, and we tried to make life easier with our downsized "family". Little dogs equals little turds and trust me when I say... we'll have plenty of potty pads.
Merry Christmas everybody! Have a great holiday!