Dog Days of Summer

My dad took this at the Birmingham Botanical Gardens.

Miles run today: 8

Meals my mom has cooked for us this week: 3

Meals my mom has cooked for the dogs this week: 3

We never had a dog when I was growing up.

My dad was not fond of pets, so we snuck in cats and rabbits and hoped he wouldn’t notice too much.

Then, when my sister was post-college, she got a dog. And my dad decided that maybe dogs weren’t so bad. My parents also apparently missed the stress and agony of taking care of grumpy dependents after my sister and I moved away.

So my parents got three dogs.

Not all at the same time, of course, but the pack grew. Each dog brought his or her own neuroses to the pack, and my parents nurtured them and addressed them with anti-anxiety medications when necessary.

Today, my parents also cook chicken for the doggies, feed them in three courses (humans in our family get by with one), get up from the dinner table to let their dog babies go outside when and if the whim strikes them, apply eye drops eight times daily, worry over their seasonal allergies and even wander around with them in the middle of the night as if they are newborns.

I call my parents’ pack (now down to two dogs) The Grand-dogs.

My kiddos and I are visiting my folks this week, and the kids are treated very much like The Grand-dogs.

While my parents expand my kids’ brains by taking them to every museum within a 60-mile radius, The Grand-dogs are having the artistic sides of their brains expanded by listening to classical music streaming through the TV. Dickens prefers Debussy and Spanish guitar pieces. Vida is hard of hearing and gravitates to something with cymbals and grand percussion.

Although my sister and I were allowed roughly one soft drink every six months while growing up, my kids will come home after an outing with my dad carrying a 62-ounce Dr. Pepper each. The Grand-dogs are allegedly on a strict diet, but they cluster around the dinner table as we eat. Why? Because they are partial to homemade bread, and pieces of it “drop onto the floor” on a regular basis near my dad’s chair.

Last year, while we were at the beach, my son had gone on an early-morning beach walk with my dad and The Grand-dogs. My dad had allowed The Grand-dogs to “be free,” resulting in one of them rushing the (empty) street at the end of the walk. They were fine, but my son was horrified. I told him that at least The Grand-dogs didn’t suffer from being pent-up. We wouldn’t want to add claustrophobia and its cure to the psychotropic list.

Three years ago at the beach, my dad took the kids to a pirate-themed mini-golf course. The rest of us lolled about the beach house in naive certainty that the group was playing an orderly game of mini-golf.

I get a call from my dad about an hour later.

“We’re going to play another round,” he says.

“Okay. How’s it going?”

“Oh, we’re fine, but your son plunged into the pirate pond a little while ago.” Chuckle, chuckle.

“Hahaha, Dad. Well, you kids just keep having fun out there.” Click.

An hour later, my kids and Dad walk in. My son is soaked from head to toe.

“What happened to you?!?!” I shriek.

“I told you he fell in the pirate pond,” my dad says, with a ‘duh’ tone to his voice.

“Yeah, but I didn’t think you were serious!”

“Well, I told him to stop standing on the rocks, and he didn’t. So….”

I call this grandparenting at its finest.

All I can say is that if you’re gearing up for reincarnation, you could do worse than to put in a request that you come back as one of the future Grand-dogs.

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28 thoughts on “Dog Days of Summer

  1. jmmcdowell says:

    Ah, family fun in the summer. šŸ™‚ Being the surprise last child, my grandparents were rather elderly when I was born. So visiting with them was mainly sitting around the house. I hope your kids are enjoying the chance to play and have fun with your parents!

    • annewoodman says:

      Yes, it’s funny how birth order affects your life… I’m the oldest in a family where, for a while at least, the women had kids starting at 21 or 23… the generations were short, and everyone was young when I got to hang out with them as a kid. I was fortunate enough to get to know my great-grandparents… and when I think back on it, they weren’t really that old at the time!

  2. Carrie Rubin says:

    This made me laugh out loud because I can completely identify. My mom and step-dad treat their cat like she’s the queen. And so right about the soda and goodies. But I figure that’s what grandparents are for. They’ve done their time. šŸ™‚

    • annewoodman says:

      OMG. I know they’re laughing because my grandmother did even more outrageous stuff with us, like letting us jump on the beds and have seven desserts before bedtime. It’s payback! My kids are definitely in trouble when they grow up. ; )

      Glad to hear I’m not the only displaced kid out there.

  3. 4amWriter says:

    My parents-in-law are like this with my kids, too. My mom-in-law even says with pride that as a grandmother she gets to give treats to the kids that a parent would never consider.

    Growing up my sister and I were very close to my dad’s mother, who only lived about 2 hours away. She was British and very proper–until we were around, then she let loose. She was tons of fun, although her sense of fun was not always appreciated by my parents. šŸ˜‰

    I love Grand-dogs. That’s too funny.

    • annewoodman says:

      I think grandparents should have a very long leash. ; ) I’m glad to hear that you had fun with your grandmother, Kate… they’re memories you’ll have forever.

  4. Bernie Brown says:

    This is a really a fun, funny blog, Anne. Sounds like you are having a great visit with your parents. Your kids will always remember the day your son fell in the water at mini-golf. My grannie used to let me drink all the chocolate milk I wanted. I am impressed that you ran 8 miles yesterday and hugely impressed that you did it in this heat! I’m also impressed that you used the word pschotropic. That’s a really good word. Fun to say out loud. šŸ™‚ I read this post right before I went to sleep last night, and then I dreamt about you. It was a repeat of Writers Night Out at your house, only with some surreal details.

  5. stephanie says:

    Did your dad push him in? Ha! Love the dog stories. When my dog was a puppy, we’d always run into an elderly lady while walking. She’d drop down to her knees and say “You remind me of my grand-puppy!” and let him lick her face. It was so sweet, and they were both so happy to see each other every morning. But I couldn’t help thinking “lady, you have no idea where that tongue has been…”

    • annewoodman says:

      Hahaha! Oh well… the fact that you saw the lady day after day means that she survived doggie tongue germs. ; )

      BTW, I would not put it past my dad to push him in.

  6. Okay, I just shared this story on my facebook page, because I’m thinking there are a whole lot of us wishing we could be Grand-dogs. And if I gather some like-minded people – like a lot of us – and show up at your parent’s place, they might not be able to turn us away…

    • annewoodman says:

      Thank you for sharing it on FB! Yes, the life of a pet in many households would trump being a person, for sure. No bills, food provided on a regular schedule, classical music on demand… my mom even takes the doggies on a road trip to Wendy’s sometimes.

  7. I know you’re a David Sedaris fan. This story reminded me of his wonderful story, “The Youth In Asia.” Ever hear of it?

    • annewoodman says:

      If that’s the story about his dad and the big dog, I remember it well! I read parts of it out loud to my dad years ago, when they were in the middle of acquiring The Grand-dogs. My dad thought it was hilarious, but he saw no practical application to his own life. ; )

  8. My grand mother and aunt raised Newfoundlands. We had labs and beagles. (notice the plurals) Dinner at Grandma’s house was interesting with more dogs under the table than humans at the table. šŸ˜®

  9. Daryl says:

    I can just see David now as Ben falls in, “Ben I warned you. Come on, out you get, and don’t get water on the green”. However, when the dog jumps in, I can see David stripping down to his boxers plunging in, “Man overbord” šŸ˜‰ (I say this purely tongue and cheek of course)

  10. Ravena Guron says:

    Ha! This made laugh! I want a dog, but I don’t think I could look after it very well. Even my plants die šŸ™‚

    • annewoodman says:

      Mine, too! I have a few hearty plants clustered around my kitchen sink. The only reason they’re alive is that I stare at them every day and can see when they’re really unhappy. Other plants have not fared so well. Our deck is called the Plant Graveyard. ; )

  11. robincoyle says:

    When my mom comes for a visit, she greets and cuddles the dog before she hugs me or the kids. Harrumph.

  12. David Gentry says:

    I did not, I repeat did not, push Ben into the water at the mini-golf course. That’s my story and I sticking to it. But it sure was fun seeing the surprise on his face when he hit the water.

    Love, Papa

  13. Melissa says:

    Isn’t it amazing what our parents let our kids and their pets get away with that would have gotten us in “so much trouble?”

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