Cathy Hamilton: Escape from the crate
June 10, 2010
"Do you think she's OK?" I asked, nervously.
"She's OK," my husband replied for the 10th time. "You've got to learn to let go."
"What do you think she's doing?"
"I don't know," he answered. "Have another piece of sushi. We'll be late for the movie."
"I don't have much of an appetite," I sighed, stuffing a samurai roll into my mouth. "She just looked so sad when we left."
He eyeballed the waitress and pointed to the tiny carafe on the table.
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"More sake, please?" he said.
"It's just that she's never been alone like this," I continued. "What if she freaks out?"
"She WON'T. Sashimi?"
"I couldn't eat a thing," I insisted, swallowing a piece of hamachi whole. "Maybe we should call."
He took a beat, then a slow swig of sake and said, "And who's going to pick up? She's a dog, not a kid. I taught her to fetch, not answer the phone."
"Geez, I keep forgetting," I cried. "This feels like the time we left the kids with that sketchy babysitter from the pool. Remember, the Rasta girl that swayed back and forth all the time?"
"You thought she was creative and would be fun for the kids."
"I was ignorant," I snapped. "I didn't know Rastafarians consider smoking pot an act of spirituality. The nuns didn't mention ganja in catechism class!"
"This is nothing like that," he said. "It's just Lucy's first night out of the crate. Don't worry. She's a chill dog."
"Not as chill as the Rasta girl," I snipped. "What if she eats the couch again?"
"She won't eat the couch," he assured me. "If she does, we'll be home before she chews through the first pillow. It's not like you don't have any 25 more. Try some super white …"
"I'm not hungry," came my retort. "Soy sauce, please."
I dotted my yellowtail with wasabi and flashed back to the day when we left Bubba — the husky-German shepherd mutt we had no business adopting when the kids were little — on the screened porch while we went to work.
He'll be fine, I thought, as I propped open the screen door for easy access to the backyard.
Ducking out early that day, I rushed home, only to find the legs of my seven-piece wicker furniture set from Pier One gnawed to smithereens and a 2-inch layer of cotton cushion stuffing all over the floor.
Apparently, Bubba was passive-aggressive with an acute case of separation anxiety.
Or, serious problems with Pier One.
"Need I remind you of the Bubba debacle?" I asked my spouse, who was frantically waving the tiny carafe in the air.
"Bubba was a head case," he said. "We had him a month before he bit someone on the head and we gave him away. Pass the ginger."
I flung the ginger at him and remembered our last pooch, Spike, who took it upon himself to mark his territory (inside the house, mind you, as if he had competition from any of us) every time we left home.
To this day, I believe it was intentional.
"What about Spike?" I shot back. "He ruined a sofa and two expensive rugs, all because we never crate-trained him."
"'That's the operative word, TRAINED," my weary spouse answered. "Lucy passed two obedience classes with flying colors and hasn't made a boo-boo in the house in months. Now, relax and drop it, before you ruin my dinner."
"OK, but did you just say 'made a boo-boo'?" I asked him, incredulous.
"It's the sake talking."
We continued eating our raw fish in silence. I thought about that reggae song: "Every little thing gonna be alright."
"It's true," I said to myself. "Whatever little thing Lucy does, it'll be alright. Bob Marley had no problem letting go."
A strange Jamaican-style calm washed over me.
My husband, on the other hand, suddenly looked worried.
"How'd that night with the Rasta girl end, do you remember?" he asked.
"We came home early and found her putting the kids' hair in dreadlocks," I replied.
He grimaced, no doubt remembering his daughter's beautiful blond locks being backcombed within an inch of their life.
"Maybe we should skip the movie and check on her," he said.
"Check, please!" I said, happily.
The moral: With kids and with dogs, letting go can be slow going. I'm sure Bob Marley would agree.