In the crush of political upheaval throughout the world there are many questions that remain to be answered: will Egypt develop a true democracy? Will Libya succeed in overthrowing their repressive regime? Will the royal family of Bahrain acquiesce to the throngs? Will the interests of the US be affected negatively? How will this affect the supply and cost of crude oil?
While I dare not endeavor to diminish the import of these questions or those like them, in the Marciniak household the burning question of the week was far greater and immediate:
How many Marciniaks does it take to walk a dog?
Allow a few moments that I might recount the harrowing tale.
Our dear neighbors two doors down are both teachers; she a talented and lovely music instructor, he a dedicated and steadfast instructor of troubled youth. As it was "winter break" the two were home twiddling their educated thumbs pondering, "what to do…what to do…", when the thought for a two day jaunt to a local indoor water park struck them both as a fine idea (indoor water parks are all the rage up here in the tundra). They packed their children and clothing (separately, of course) in the car and prepared to motor the short distance. There was one final bit of business: arrange care for the dog.
Mr. and Mrs. Teacher and their lovely girls are beloved by the Marciniaks. Mrs. Teacher is an upbeat, friendly sort and has become a favorite. Mr. Teacher is a man of great generosity; he has cleared my driveway of snow with his high-powered Toro machine several times for payment far less than deserved (occasional fresh bagels on a Sunday morning). We felt more than obliged to accept care for their little fluffy dog, "Sparkles". Indeed.
Instructions were simple enough: take the dog out of its crate and walk it outside. Feed it. Let it play for a short time each day. Piece of cake.
It was no contest.
It was my turn to enlist. I entered the home and found a standoff: the dog, after biting each of my soldiers several times, had managed to escape and was holed up under Mr. and Mrs. Teacher's bed, an enormous affair with massive head and foot boards, and my eldest was trying to coax Sparkles out with a broom. "Give me that", I exclaimed, and vowed to show them "how to handle a dog". I swept the broom in the general direction of the dog, who growled menacingly, with no effect; little did I know that the small dear had already relieved himself of processed kibbles and my broom was doing nothing but spreading the extract on the hardwood floors like peanut butter on toast. Within moments the only capable soldier arrived: Mrs. Marciniak. She did what never occurred to the rest of us: moved the bed and chased the dog back to its cage. We shuffled out feeling a bit sheepish while she cleaned the kibble extract assiduously.
Final analysis of day one: Six Marciniaks: Zero. Sparkles: One.
Day two was similar, with some subtle nuances. Each who approached the cage was nipped; they tried in vain to attach the leash but the lint ball would have nothing of it. Finally, Tyler, resourceful and intelligent (as of late) honorable son number one, discovered a puzzling truth: Sparkles would not nip at feet. Thus began a slow and purposeful ruse: he calmed the dog by petting it through the cage with his sock-covered foot for about fifteen minutes…and when Sparkles was lulled to inattention he changed up and used his hand…no nips. For another fifteen minutes he sat quietly, and when the dog was truly oblivious he quietly snapped on the leash. Success!
Tyler, never one to display patience, rose above himself and saved us all from further defeat and humiliation. He allowed the dog to play, leave extract in appropriate places, and suffered nary a nip.
In the final analysis, there were two casualties: The broom (there was no possible way to clean it) and a pair of NY Mets slippers owned by Mr. Teacher that were the recipient of a canine colon cleansing. Both were left outside against the house as a testimony of the harrowing battle, a sign-post, if you will, as if to say, "Lest We Forget…"
Mr. and Mrs. Teacher have returned, the neighborhood has returned to normal, and the dust has settled. As time passes we will remind one another perennially as we gaze on our two demure and submissive cats to never, never, NEVER underestimate the power of a ten pound lint ball. And if any of them ask for a dog they will be grounded indefinitely.