by Jim Carey
About twenty years ago, my then thirteen-year-old daughter and eight-year-old son began a winter long campaign to add a dog to our family. To make the situation even more challenging for me, they got my wife to join their side. It wasn’t that I was so much opposed to having a dog; I actually am a real dog person. It was more that I just didn’t think it was the right time to bring more responsibility into our lives.
Needless to say, they gradually wore down my resistance and by late spring Sammi, a golden retriever, had come into our lives. By nature I’m not really much of a rules person, but there was one rule that to me was a big deal. The rule was that whoever was walking the dog absolutely had to pick up whatever dog waste Sammi made. I knew that the best way to end up with angry neighbors was to let your dog poop in their yards and not pick it up. I even went so far as to organize a training session on how to properly use a plastic bag to do the clean-up.
Sammi was, of course, adorable but she also proved to be quite a handful. It sometimes seemed that our little golden liked rules even less than I did. I believe that Sammi thought her rightful place in our family was pack leader. After many sessions of obedience classes and countless gentle corrections Sammi finally calmed down and accepted her place in the family.
I remember one summer afternoon shortly after Sammi’s arrival when my son came out of his room complaining that he was bored. My wife and I held a brief conference and soon Luke was headed out, leash in hand, trying his best to keep up with the dog.
When they returned about thirty minutes later, Luke had a very sheepish look on his face. When we asked him what had happened, Luke told us that despite our reminder, he had forgotten to take a bag along and, of course, Sammi had done her business in a neighbor’s yard. Imagining a confrontation with an angry neighbor, I was ready to go out and clean it up myself when my son proudly pulled his hand from behind his back. His fist was around the top of his white sock which was obviously full. Luke said he hadn’t known what to do at first, but he knew better than to leave the poop behind. Apparently he remembered all my preaching about “the rule” and felt his only recourse was to remove his shoe and use his sock to clean up after the dog.
To say my wife and I were surprised would be a definite understatement. I suspected that she wanted to laugh as much as I did, but we both knew we had to be parents first. We assured Luke that he had done the right thing, although we did suggest a few alternatives should this type of situation ever happen again.
Luke then said that he didn’t think he’d want to wear that sock again and we all agreed it was a good idea to just throw it away. After Luke returned to his room, we both burst out laughing. Even after twenty years this is still one of our favorite Sammi stories!
Jim Carey lives with his wife Janet and their two beloved golden retrievers, Nemo and Molly, in Sheboygan,Wisconsin. A social worker, then a chiropractor by training, writing has been a passion for Jim for the past twenty years. Echoes from Home is the author’s first entry into the world of publishing, and perhaps someday more of the many notebooks hidden away in his basement may make their way to the printed word as well. Jim’s next project will be a collection of short stories based on the Civil War.