Sacrificing Mom for the Dog


My dad, in response to this blog post, just sent me photographic evidence:

A Rock Proving Nothing
A Rock Proving Nothing

Only it’s clearly a Photoshop job or something. If you are confused, it’s because you haven’t read the whole sordid story yet.


So it’s time to set the story straight. My dad constantly tells a version of this story that is just not true. I am pretty sure he does this to make me angry. And possibly my mom, since she sounds a little angry every time this story comes up. It is time to give the world the facts.

My childhood dog, Meg, was a Labrador retriever. They are known for…retrieving. Problem was, Meg had more finely tuned instinct than brains. The dog would retrieve (or attempt to retrieve):

  • our kitten
  • tennis balls
  • softballs (while you were trying to play softball)
  • sticks
  • 300-pound logs that reminded her of sticks
  • unripe lemons that looked like tennis balls
  • everything else that looked like a stick
  • everything else that looked like a ball
  • rocks thrown into the water
  • just about anything floating on the water

That last item proved problematic in many cases (see Go Home Lassie, You Are Drunk).

My family and I often went down to Big Sur on Saturdays to play on the beach and let the dog go swimming (her other great passion). One particular Saturday, when I was maybe nine years old, my dad and sister broke off to take a walk further up the beach while my mom, my brother, and I sat and watched the dog swimming.

Eventually we realized that Meg was trying to swim to shore with her mouth full of kelp. Of course, she wasn’t getting anywhere. Kelp happens to be firmly anchored to the ocean floor. One random swimming dog cannot dislodge it. The thing about Labradors is that they don’t want to give up on their attempts to retrieve things. Thus the problem.We called out to her, trying to make her quit and come to shore.

Whether it was because she couldn’t hear us over the noise of the rough surf or because she was unwilling to let go of the kelp, Meg did not come back to shore. She was paddling and paddling while waves periodically washed over her.

Perhaps unsurprisingly, we started to panic as the dog continued to paddle and go nowhere. “Meg!” we screamed. Someone had the idea that we should start throwing sticks away from the ocean, in the hopes that the dog would let go of the stupid seaweed and swim in to retrieve them instead.

“Meg!” [Throw sticks.] “MEG!” [Throw more sticks.] It wasn’t working. “MEEEG!! I threw another stick over my shoulder. But I didn’t look behind me, and next thing I knew, my brother cried out, “Mom!” instead of “Meg!”

My mom was lying on the ground, clutching her head. I had beaned her with the last stick I threw. We temporarily forgot about the dog, and tried to help Mom. She was OK in the long run, though not feeling very well. She sat up, and eventually Dad and my sister came back–and here’s where the story grows a little broken and/or embellished by outright lies.

They were laughing hysterically. From their position up the beach, it looked like the three of us had all just started silently jumping around and waving our arms. Then objects were flying around. My dad claims I tried to throw a rock forward but that it accidentally went backward for no reason, and then they saw Mom go down. Which they found hilarious.

These people have been allowed to stay in our family, though grudgingly. They were able to laugh during the near demise of first the dog and then Mom. I didn’t throw a rock, and I meant to throw it backward. It wasn’t funny that Mom almost died. OK, now it’s a little funny.

I guess the dog came back, because we still had her after that. She got a little forgotten in the Three-Stoogery of the stick-throwing and near divorce that followed.

Dad, I MEANT to throw that stick backward. It was for the dog.

Meg and Laura after the Near Drowning
Meg and Laura after the Near Drowning

Want to read more stories potentially proving that my family was bad at caring for pets and that our pets were weird?

Mystery Cat

Dress-Up Disaster




3 responses to “Sacrificing Mom for the Dog”

  1. This is hilarious. Somehow I never heard about this before… but now my life is complete.

  2. It’s hard to believe you missed out on any key dog stories. We must have been busy playing with our rodents. Or putting the cats in dresses.

  3. […] which was reasonably difficult to get back off of her. I don’t know why, but in our family the role of hapless victim always fell on Mom. (Heh, see what I did there? It fell on […]

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