As if living with three Labs is not enough of a circus, Wife announced we were going to visit family over Thanksgiving. The Crown was not amused when I replied I hope she had a pleasent visit and I would miss her. This she explained was a family vacation.
Traveling with Labs with Labradors has many traditions and rituals. The first is The Appearance of the Suitcase.
Tina stands wagging her tail with a bemused look on her face for this ritual begins with the search for the luggage. Once it appears, Tina's ears go back, the tail stops wagging, and she goes and takes a nap. Shows' over. Its now Jack's and Baby's cue to being The Ritual. Jack supervises the selection of clothing by first sitting on the bed and as the cloths comes out of the closet, lays on them to keep them in proper order. Baby takes up position Velcroing herself to the heals of the packer. Bending over backwards takes on a whole new meaning when packing with the help of a Labrador who is positioned directly behind the feet. So does the word trip. Trip is no longer a noun but a verb, actually a one word description of what one does when packing with a Labrador. And fall is not a season of the year. It is an occasion for a Labrador to express concern over the physical wellbeing of the now prostrate human.
The next ritual is The Packing of The Lab Limo. There is a certain dread of being left behind coupled with the chance of riding in the van. It is difficult to negotiate getting from where the luggage is to the vehicle. One must negotiate The Rapids, a stretch of rapidly moving and random course changing Labradors while clutching heavy awkward shaped luggage. At the door there is a a brief stalemate caused by the Labs waiting nose at the door for the human to rearrange the luggage to reach over the dogs and open the door. At the van there is discussion about where the luggage should go and where the Labs have already gotten. Baby is sitting on the back bench nose high. To conserve energy she has turned off her ears. Jack supervises the placement of the first load of luggage and then expresses his desire to drive by sitting in the driver's seat. Always concerned by productivity, Jack will appear in the house from time to time to supervise getting the luggage to the van, sometimes with a well placed forehead to the back of the knee. The last items to go in are the Lab beds. Tina is not amused to be dumped from her bed and expresses her displeasure by sitting on the front porch like a vulture, head lowered below the shoulder, glowering.
Once the vehicle is packed the next ritual is The Preparation of the Travel Snacks. Tina and Jack supervise the preparation and packing of the snacks and follow the bag to the door. Jack happily heads for the front seats, Tina has second thoughts and returns to the porch. At the van we realize Tina is not with us and see her Vultureship on the porch. The recall she has is she does not like to travel. A mere gentle touch recalls her to she does not have a choice either she can prance happily to the van or I carry her 14 year old carcass to the van. She walks happily to the van.
Wife is happy in the front seat. Miss Daisy AKA Baby Girl is sitting on the back bench, Tina is asleep on the pile of dog beds and Jack is sitting in his chair directly behind me reminding me which pedal to push. Now. We are off on vacation.
For about an hour and a half. A flat tire outside Richmond, Virginia brings the circus to a halt. Note to self do not ever think "Gee. We are really making good time". Two hours later and being Saturday, it is impossible to get a replacement tire. We return to Hampton and Family Vacation Take 2 happens Monday morning.
At nine am and fresh from the tire shop we are on vacation. At 7:10 pm I forget my note mentioned in the previous paragraph and am rewarded with the sight of brake lights and standing traffic for as far as the eye can see. Jack decides to sing the Labrador version of the song Gary, Indiana in hopes of getting the traffic moving again. It does not work. I can now sing Gary Indiana in two languages: English and Labrador. About 8pm we learn from a trucker behind us there is a jack knifed rig in the construction zone ahead. About 8:45 we decide to nap, figuring the moment we get comfortable traffic will start up. At 10 pm, Wife says I see traffic moving. I awake to see tail lights receding in the distance. Nothing moves behind us. We arrive at our destination near Cincinnati about 11:15pm.
Tuesday we decide to run an errand into town. Jack and baby are eager for another ride. Tina is asleep on the couch. when she hears her name called she looks up, ears alert. Wife asks if Tina wants to go for a ride. Tina's ears go back she gets a dour, disgusted look on her face and drops her head onto her paws. NO Tina does not want to go for a ride. I decide to check. Hey Tina! Eye pops open. Wanna gofer? Eye closes. ears go to "Off" position.
If you enjoy food from many places, a pilgrimage to Jungle Jim's World of Food in Fairfield Ohio is a must. This place is amazing. For one thing, this place is huge. The produce department reminds me of a Farmer's Market. 2 acres of produce. Onions from Peru, Apples from New Zealand, Cabbage from the orient. An Amazing selection. If you happen to be with someone and start discussing an unfamiliar fruit or veggie, chances are one of the clerks will pick one up cutoff a slice and offer an explanation of what it is, where it is from and how to use it in a recipe. They have an extensive wine, cheese, and ethnic food sections. Aisle upon aisle organized by country. Jungle Jim's also has a sense of humor. They have automatronic characters in different sections. Robin Hood welcomes shoppers to the British section, The SS Minnow marks the entrance of the seafood section, a swinging Campbell Soup can announces the beginning of the regular grocery area. They also have award winning restrooms. True. They have video running of the various news programs that carried the story and a map showing where the reporters came from. The doors to the restrooms are port-a -potties. Real port a potty doors.
We traveled to Toledo sans Labs Wednesday. A quiet trip. Ate at the Original Sub and picked up a case of their hot sauce and sub sauce. Surprised Wife's Brother and SIL at the Dragon Phoenix and started up a new family tradition of celebrating Thanksgiving by eating Chinese food the day before Turkey day. went back to Cinci Thursday afternoon to learn that Tina wandered off Thursday morning.
Tina was wearing a properly adjusted we thought, Invisible fence collar. After a half hour of frantic searching Sister found Tina about a block and a half away sitting on a porch doing her impression of an abandoned, neglected orphan waiting to be let in. She did it again Friday afternoon. We have no idea how she got out or when. The last I saw her she was asleep on the couch. Two kids from down the street came to the door and asked if we owned an older black Labrador female. She was on their front porch would not come in but refused to leave. Since she was wearing Virginia tags, having vanity plates LAB DADZ and being parked on the street were very helpful in getting Tina back quick. After she returned I took Tina outside and watched as she wandered about the yard counting and inspecting every blade of grass and fallen leaf. Finally she entered into the zone and I heard her collar beep. She did not budge. I called her several times and finally she got out of the zone. I took her collar off walked into the zone and touched the collar points. I got zapped. No clue why she was immune.
We stopped about every two hours to walk the dogs. Jack I think would tell me when he wanted to stop. He would stand on the console between the front seats look out the windshield, lick my arm, rib his head against my shoulder and look out the windshield. I would say OK. Next rest area, and he would return to his chair. Tina and Baby just leave it up to us to take care of them.
It was two long drives, and a great time with family. We packed up Friday night and Saturday after having to corral Tina we got underway at 7:30a and got back just after 7p. And Jack did not sing Gary Indiana once.
Wonderful retelling Andy - thanks for the new story!
That was a great story! I loved how she turned off her ears to conserve energy.
As always, a great story.
Love your stories!
Jill, mom to Dakota (black lab) and Bandit (yellow lab) and Jack - GSD mix.
Foster mom for the Las Vegas Valley Humane Society.
Thanks for the laughs - I love your stories.
Brenda, Sam & Bodie