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Dear Dharma and Evan…

Dharma, I know you are a dog and I recognize that your brain may have a short circuit or two so let spell this out for you. Pooping in the walking path is not allowed! You are very funny and obviously have figured my gait out perfectly because your landmines are batting 1000. See if your doggie mind can read my human mind because the mental image I have right now is of a cold, outdoor kennel. Molly knows where to poop in this yard. Follow her!

Evan, I know you are four years old…four and a half to be fair…and the antique, crank out windows in this house have a particularly rewarding feeling to their almost steampunk mechanical opening action. However, when the temperatures at night are dropping to -1.6°C*, sleeping with the window open is inadvisable and does not lend to a friendly electric bill. If this behavior continues, I will have to increase your rent to offset the cost of heating this house. Oh, and you may catch a cold.

*Temperature conversion provided by Onlineconversion.com.

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Knoxville Polar Bear Club

I have now been outside, in a bathing suit, playing in cold water for the second time in January 2009. I returned home from Knoxville’s first Geek Breakfast to find the dogs outside frolicking in the mud. Dharma looked like she was doing an impersonation of a happy pig on a hot sunny day. So I stripped down and changed into only a swimsuit and my Teva Mush flipflops. Now, Molly, a 110 pound German Shepherd, is rather obedient but still doesn’t like being soaked in cold water so I get a little bit of a back exercise from her. On top of the existing pain from my trench war, I’m left unsure that I can do anything with Dharma but when I call her she approaches obediently. I’m impressed and hopeful. I hit her with the water and it turns bad quickly. Dharma howls like a werewolf in pain. She fights and twists. Holding her by the collar just won’t work. I grab her firmly by the scruff of the neck. She howls louder and tries to wrestle free. I fear that if I let go she’ll run from the yard and disappear. The blister on my thumb from the trench wars peels off leaving painful raw skin. Dharma jumps up on the lawn chairs and I worry that she’ll break a nail or hurt a leg. I wrestle her away form the chair and she knocks it over giving her access to the glass top table on the porch. She gets two paws on it and I expect to go crashing through but manage to pull her back and regain control. She sits but howls as the postman drives up to the mailbox. He waves but I know he secretly wanted to film the hilarity. "See anything interesting on your route today Bob?" "You wouldn’t believe me if I told you." Thank goodness that snow never came!

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The scream was like a banshee in pain

The house quieted. Evan declared, "Give me bop. I go bed now." And with a little reluctance, he put himself to sleep. Noah coaxed Amy to bed but she sprang back after he slipped out to read a book. In the meantime, I took the dogs outside and sat on the porch, shirtless to enjoy the cool evening air with no mosquitoes and chant. Shortly into chanting, the peaceful neighborhood with its waxing gibbous moon (96% full) being sung to by crickets erupted into a cacophony of barks and howls. I continued to chant and Dharma and Molly, my German Shepherds, sat silently alert. Then there was the shriek! Altogether to close! Thanks to our camping in the Okefenokee, I am quiet familiar with the sound of fighting raccoon and I do not want my dogs tangling with one of those. Chanting ends. I usher the dogs inside to find Amy having trouble sleeping so we go to her bed and chant together until she is calm enough to sleep.

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Of Being Dad

This morning was cool…until I got up. Cathy swapped roles with me this morning and got the children ready for school. What a relaxing way to start the day! I allowed myself 20 extra minutes of sleep then calmly got dressed and went upstairs to lend a hand by making Amy’s lunch. We were right on time to make the bus but pushing it. I had a simple plan: Amy and I run to the van and get to the bus stop. I remind the air, "Don’t let Dharma out!" It has been raining and I don’t have time to clean her feet for a van ride and still be able to get Amy to school. Then Evan runs into the kitchen with sticky buns caked to his hands. I exclaim, "Go wash your hands" but he needs help and no one is moving his direction. Cathy and I simultaneously take him to the bathroom and wash his hands. Suddenly Evan is to be a passenger. I’m watching the clock tick knowing that we are at a coin flip on making the bus or not. We rush to the front door and it magically opens and Dharma shoots out. I lunge for her and miss and she lands paws in the mud then digs in to race to the van. I lose it. I engage chase and booming voice (sorry neighbors). Dharma does something new, and hides under the van. All I picture is a dog that now needs a bath on a day that I don’t need distractions. She won’t come out so I honk the horn (sorry neighbors), yell, toss some rocks, why am I still trying to make the bus, the neighbor returns from the bus stop, the children are out trying to help so I yell at them to go back inside, Sarah gets Dharma out, I smack the dog and drag her by the scruff of the neck back inside, children are crying, dog is scared, and everyone is mad at me.

How could this have gone differently? All I had to do was close the front door. Within 15 seconds, Dharma would have been scratching to come inside. We could have said something witty and laughed instead of cried. And who cares if we missed the bus. I want to be that perfect tv dad. Can I have take 2?

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From the mouths of babes

Amy, three, with Noah, twelve, beside her: "Can the dogs go with us to school?" (she means carpool)
Dad: "Sure but don’t let them in the car until I wipe their feet."
Noah, Evan, Amy and the dogs walk out the door. Dad from the front porch hollers: "Don’t let the dogs in the car until their feet get wiped."
Noah walks to car and puts hand on door handle. Dad yells: "Don’t let the dogs in the van!"
Noah opens the door and lets Dharma in with no effort to stop her.
Dad goes on a tirade: {this part is unprintable}
Noah: "I thought you were talking to Amy."