“Hi Mom,” my college aged son began the telephone conversation, “Is it alright if I bring the dog home for Christmas break?”
Like baseball and apple pie, kids and their dogs are the fabric of our American culture. This wasn’t just any dog my son was asking to bring home, however. This was Bo, the fraternity dog. A year-old Australian Shepherd Husky who still had a lot of puppy in him and the year-long training of several fraternity brothers! The first time I met Bo at the fraternity house, he jumped right into my lap when I opened the car door. I should have known then that he and I were meant to be joined at the hip.
“Sure!” I replied, knowing deep down I was signing up for taking care of Bo for 3 weeks, even if both our kids said they would feed the dog and “take care of his business”.
My husband and I were out when our son and Bo arrived home so it was quite a surprise opening our front door and being greeted with a burst of very loud and very serious territorial barking, as if Tim and I were intruders in our own home! Down the hall charged a very large and very active dog, sporting a mane of long blonde hair. Once Bo saw it was us, he stopped his barking, rolled over on his back and promptly peed on himself and the floor tile.
“Frank’s a little skiddish,” our son explained.
“Frank?” I inquired? “Who’s Frank?”
“Oh, Bo’s new name is Frank,” Bennett (our son) replied. “We changed his name to Frank because he wasn’t responding to Bo when we yelled at him.”
Thus began the story of Frank and his visit to our house. The first time I took him for a walk he practically dragged me down the sidewalk, pulling on his collar as he raced toward unknown adventure. Note to self: Bo, I mean Frank, needs a training collar. My husband and I were used to walking “Muffin” our 60-pound English Bulldog. If you are familiar with Bulldogs (think of the Georgia Bulldogs mascot UGA) they don’t move very fast, in fact, a brisk walk with an English Bulldog is like a slow saunter in a long line at Disney. It was even more amusing taking both Frank and Muffin for a walk at the same time! Frank ran like he was chasing rabbits and Muffin walked like she had arthritis in all 4 legs.
As the days went by, Muffin and Frank became fast friends. It was your typical story of boy meets girl. Suddenly Muffin had all sorts of energy and began chasing Frank around the dining room table. If you’ve ever seen an English Bulldog run then you know their long, slobbering tongue hanging out the side of their mouth covered in dripping drool is a sight to behold. Indeed Muffin gave Frank a run for his money. Every day I chased the two dogs onto the porch (I called it their playpen because it was long and had a slotted railing on it) and let them chase each other back and forth until they both ran out of energy. They must have each drank 2 gallons of water daily.
We bought them each a different chew toy, thinking they would take ownership of whichever one was theirs, but that wasn’t the case. If Muffin had her toy, Frank took it away. If Frank had his toy, Muffin stole it from her. Each time this happened, several serious growls exchanged between them. As crazy as it was, those two dogs entertained our entire family for three solid weeks. I don’t think Frank had ever been anywhere except the fraternity house, so to watch him react to St. Andrews Bay was quite amusing. Except when he decided to roll in the sea grass and came home smelling like a dead fish. It took three of us to get him into the bathtub to bathe him, and Frank wasn’t at all sure as to what he thought about taking a bath!
All the while, Muffin kept wondering when this ‘intruder’ in her home was leaving!! It’s as if she looked at us and said, this dog is in my chair, he’s eating out of my bowl, he’s chewing on my toys and invading my personal space. But the day Frank left, was a sad one. Despite knowing he was too big of a dog to fit into our lifestyle and he had several fraternity boys to return to, still, the house became extremely quiet without him. Even Muffin went into mourning, moping around the house for 2 days straight.
We’re going to visit Frank (and our son!) this weekend as we travel through Tallahassee on our way to visit Tim’s parents. I imagine he will jump into our vehicle as he did the first day we met him, and I imagine it will be just as hard to say good bye to both our son and our new friend Frank. Yet knowing he brought such laughter and fond memories to our household despite his crazy antics is gift enough.