Laugh, Cry, Crawl In A Hole?

Nelson And Laker

Along the bay shore, dry for the moment.


"Can I say hello to your dog?"

How many times have I heard that? And how many times have I answered, "Certainly! He's very friendly," and then added, "But I have to warn you he can be a little sloppy."

Yes, indeed. A little sloppy.

Before Abbie arrived with her tummy-full of puppies and blew the local population through the roof, there were exactly three Newfies here in Tinytown-On-The-Bay. There was our Nelson, and there was Texas, who belongs to the guy at the garden center, and there was Cheyenne, a sweet old girl belonging to a younger couple named Heather and Tim.

Sadly, the last time I saw Cheyenne was in our vet's waiting room. A teary-eyed Heather was walking out as we were heading in. She explained that the lady's time was winding down- maybe tomorrow, maybe a few more weeks, probably not much more. That was this summer, and though I had not heard any further news, I was pretty certain that Cheyenne had crossed over the bridge by now.

Well, I saw Heather yesterday in town. It was unseasonably warm, with the sort of crisp blue sky you associate with early October, and I just had to get out and enjoy the bonus day. Under other circumstances, I'd have suggested to Nelson that we go for a hike in the woods, but this week is deer season here in Northern Cheddarstan, and the woods are full of down-staters equipped with guns and a vague idea what a buck looks like.

So instead, the two of us did a nice long loop along the lake shore, then up through town. A good time had by all, especially in a few spots where I could safely turn Nelson loose and let him kick up his heels. He got himself a good workout, and by the time we passed the post office, he had an impressive set of sneaker-laces hanging from his flews.

That was when a green Subaru pulled off the road next to us, and Heather jumped out. There was no dog in the car, I noted, and there was something in the way she blurted, "I need to say hello to your dog" that told me everything.

"Of course," I replied.

She bent down, and began, "You know, we had to put Cheyenne to..."

She couldn't finish the sentence.

It wasn't emotion, though; she did not break down.

No, it was that just as Heather bent to hug Nelson, he chose that moment to shake his head, launching a long... thick... slimy... flamboyantly viscous... flooger directly into her face.

The ropy gob made a point-blank hit on the forehead, landing in a downward-facing U-shape whose left prong obscured her eye, and whose longer right prong completely covered her nose. I'd say the gooey strand was about half an inch thick at the widest part, where it began to sag and fill out, just above the tip of her nose.

Heather straightened up in surprise, jumped back, and blinked several times. With all the deft suavity of Homer Simpson, I was able to croak, "Oh, my God- Nelson! Oh, I'm sorry! Oh, I'm so sorry... I think I have a handkerchief here... it's clean, I think..."

She accepted the proffered handkerchief without even checking- I'm glad, since it turned out not to be so fresh after all- and smeared most of the slime off her face. I grabbed the hanky back quickly and stuffed it into my pocket; no sense letting that issue complicate the already awkward encounter.

"You're lucky I'm another Newfie person," Heather finally said.

Yeah, I guess so. We talked a little while longer, but the rest of the conversation seemed a little strained. As she got back in her car, I told her, "Any time you or Tim need a Newfie fix, drop on over," but I got the feeling I needn't be expecting them soon.


Next: "He Was Bite By A Dog"