Go Home, Lassie, You Are Drunk
Valiant, rescuing dog stories are kind of a cliché. Even if you never actually watched Lassie getting Timmy rescued from the well, you have probably encountered all the stories about brave and noble canines out there.
Meg, my childhood dog, was very good at being a Labrador retriever. She was well trained. She could have retrieved a tennis ball from the bottom of the ocean. She was sweet and good-natured. She was so good at all of this, in fact, that it was easy to miss that maybe she wasn’t really the sharpest tool in the shed. She was noble, but I don’t know if she really…got it.
She was incredibly loyal, of course, and would surely have defended any of us to the extent that it was necessary.
Actually, that’s not really true. One time, when I was sleeping out on the deck, an unearthly scream pierced the night. It sounded like a woman, but somehow not completely human. Thankfully I had my trusty dog by my side, and she fired up, barking. Barking…off in the other direction, as she ran away and left me alone on the deck. I found out later that it was probably a rabbit screaming, and not the alien abductress of my imagination that my dog had left me to.
But overall, she at least meant to be loyal.
When I was somewhere midway through elementary school, we went on a camping trip to Lake Powell, and we brought Meg. Now that I have three children myself, it occurs to me that bringing three kids and a dog on a camping trip is no mean feat. But that’s beside the point.
One day, most of my family went out in my grandpa’s boat. I don’t know why I didn’t go, or why I was by myself in the water (third kid, I guess), but I was. I had let myself drift pretty far out, because I had this little inner tube that I was floating around in. It was not substantial–you know the kind they sell at Rite-Aid, which invariably carry warnings like “Don’t rely on this stupid piece of junk to help you float”? Yeah, it was like that.
All of a sudden, over at the campsite, Meg bolted awake. They had left her behind too, apparently. Maybe she was the supervision for me in my second-rate flotation device. She looked out at me, and started to bark.
She dashed valiantly into the water, and swam straight for me. I wondered what she was doing. I had a while to think about it, because I was way out in the middle of the lake, mind you. It looked like she was coming to rescue me. She barked and swam, barked and swam.
Finally she reached me. She bit the inner tube, which popped–and then she swam away. Leaving me stranded in the middle of the lake. I suppose she thought she was indeed rescuing me–from the little piece of plastic I had had around my middle.
All I can say is that Timmy was lucky Lassie had half a brain more than my dog, because he’d probably have died in that well otherwise.
Other stories about me as a weird kid and my weird pets: