Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Tempest's Story

Or how I caused my family to lose everything but win a hundred bucks worth of dog toys.

I heard Tempest's story about a year ago. It was a Friday afternoon in late September. I stopped at the library and then at the local farmer's market to pick up some home made cranberry bread and strawberry preserves. My favorite place in Winnebago is called Between Friends, an antique/gift shop with a sandwich counter, a coffee bar, and a great bakery selection.

As I got out of my car in front of Between Friends, the SUV next to me erupted in barking. I looked through the windows and there was a black and white border collie, very much like my Aggie. I quickly entered the shop so the collie would settle down and relax her hyper guard dog attitude.

Inside there was one woman drinking a latte and eating some yummy looking bakery confection. I asked her if that was her border collie in the SUV. Yes she said it was and introduced herself as Susan Hanson. She invited me to join her and so began our conversation.I started by telling her about my Aggie, aka Demon Dog, aka the Six Million Dollar Dog, aka other unprintable names. She just laughed at my description of Aggie's behaviors and my complaints of the extreme costs of owning a border collie. After I finished Susan said, "Let me tell you how we lost our house, everything we owned, and our old Labrador Retriever, but won a hundred dollars".

(Skipping ahead to after the ordeal, Susan entered a contest with the following essay. Her story won and that's where the hundred bucks worth of dog toys comes in.)

So, here in Tempest's own words, her letter to Santa explaining why she is not the naughtiest dog in the world:

Dear Santa,
My name is Tempest, and Mom says I'm the naughtiest dog in the world, but I can explain.
When I was younger, I used to enjoy sitting on the warm hot tub cover and watching over the yard. Mom decided to shut down the hot tub in December, and then the cover was cold. Boy did that make me mad! When she went to work the next day, I tore the cover to bits. Mom attributed it to puppyhood. She waited two years to buy another cover and start up the tub again. I had my warm perch back! That December, Mom shut down the tub, and guess what? I tore it up. You'd think she'd learn.
Let's skip the mini blinds, the patio blinds, the smoked salmon, and the time I went after the electric saw that I thought was trying to attack our neighbor. I sneaked up from behind and tried to get the saw from between his legs. I don't know what I banged my head on, but he yelped like a litter of puppies!
A few months ago, after a boring breakfast of dog food, I got up on the kitchen counter for a box of donuts. I had to reach way up high into the cupboard above the stove. I didn't want the potato chips that were there, so I shoved them out of the way and they landed on the gas stove. I must have hit the burner knob on the stove when I jumped down with my box of donuts.
Turns out potato chips are flammable. I had already done some home remodeling on the cat door that Mom had installed when she got the cat. The door was supposed to allow the cat (but not me) to get to the litter box in the basement, but I had widened it prior to the fire. It was my carpentry skills and ingenuity that saved that cat and me when that stove started a fire We both escaped into the basement. So really, Santa, I should be treated as a hero for saving the cat's life!
Two hot tub covers: $500
Four sets of blinds: $800
Structural damage to our house: $100,000
Mom panicking over my smoke inhalation: Priceless!
Love, Tempest

In her letter to Santa, Tempest doesn’t mention that the family’s beloved lab was killed in the fire. Tempest must think Santa didn’t have that information.

As I drove home that evening, I thought about all the destruction and damage my Aggie has caused. I decided I’m very lucky by comparison.

56 comments:

flydragon said...

I laughed and laughed at that story until of course I got to the paragraph about the lab. Sobered me up in a hurry. Still, a great post.

Roses and Lilacs said...

Hey Flydragon. Yes, the part about the lab was sad and I thought maybe I should leave it out. Still, this is a funny but cautionary tale about living with a border collie. They are not like other dogs.
Marnie

walk2write said...

Unexpected meetings like you had with the SUV lady can really spark your imagination for writing an excellent and exciting post. I used to want a border collie and loved their playfulness and intelligence, especially after reading a book written in the mid-80s, Nop's Trials, by Donald McCraig. After talking with people who actually owned one, though, I changed my mind, and we have always just adopted mutt strays while the kids were growing up. Right now, we are owned by cats and satisfied with the situation.

Roses and Lilacs said...

I read Nop's Trials too. Long time ago. Kind of bittersweet. I haven't read any of John Katz's books.

I've lived with a border collie for about 10 years now. The most intelligent dog I've ever met. The thing is, she is absolutely perfect when someone is there to give her direction. When you aren't there, and she is thinking for herself, anything can happen.
Marnie

RainbowMom said...

lol Okay.. same as flydragon. I laughed and laughed until it came out all high pitched and my husband thought I was choking.. until the end. Aww. Great post.

Dog_geek said...

Oh my goodness! That is quite a story! Many years ago my housemate's neurotic border collie nearly started a fire in our house. Luckily I made an unplanned stop home for lunch that day and averted disaster. We had lots of smoke and a hole burned through the living room carpet, but other than that, no real damage.

An Enchanted Cottage said...

Well, what a funny letter. Susan apparently has a wicked sense of humor!! I am so sorry for her loss - mostly her beloved lab... Thanks for sharing that story, and thank you for visiting my Bewitching Mrs. B post. Your Voodoo reminds me of Mr. & Mrs. B... Donna

BeadedTail said...

I, too, got a kick out of that story until the part about the lab. I still enjoyed your post and checking out your blog since this is my first visit!

perennialgardener said...

Gives me a whole new appreciation for my little terrier Spaz. She's a handful, but not to that extent. Funny yet sad story at the end.

Roses and Lilacs said...

Hi Enchanted Cottage. Susan took the whole ordeal much better than I would have.
Marnie

Roses and Lilacs said...

Hi Beadedtail. We have a love of animals in common. Thanks for visiting. I just stopped by your site and looked at your beautiful kitties.
Marnie

Roses and Lilacs said...

Hi Perennialgardener. You hear a lot of stories about border collies, but this one is more dramatic than most;)

I need to write about my Aggie. When it comes to her, I kind of lose my sense of humor.

Say hi to Spaz.
Marnie

BeadedTail said...

roses and lilacs, thank you for visting my blog! I certainly am a cat lover! I commented on my own blog but then figured I better answer your question on your blog so you would for sure see it. Etsy is an collection of shops that sell handmade items where you buy directly from the person who made those items. We each have our own shop and there is a wide variety of items from jewelry for animal lovers (like I make) to paintings to cat toys (check out CasbahKitten), to clothing. Actually, the variety seems to be endless.

Go to Etsy.com and you can search for items at the top of the page or click on the Treasury button or the Gift Guides button on the left hand side of the home page to see some of the items available. You'll be amazed!

tina said...

Sweet sweet story and it surely makes one appreciate their well behaved pets. Especially when you put it in comparison. Good thing all the pets did not die. Poor things. And to think thru it all the woman still had a sense of humor.

Roses and Lilacs said...

Thank you for the etsy info Beadedtail. I have noticed bloggers in the UK mentioning it.
Marnie

Roses and Lilacs said...

Tina, yes, she did keep a sense of humor, which I probably would not have.
Marnie

The Birdlady said...

Goodness, what a story! Beautiful dog, though.

TC said...

Most pure breds are very smart. I love all breeds of Collies, and I hear border Collies are a bit hyper.

Rambling Woods said...

I am so sorry about the lab...loved the rest of the story. I thought my extra-toed cat Oliver was a pesty boy..but I didn't know about border collies...

Gail said...

Marnie,

A wonderful story, I had no idea that border collies were so creative. Do they get bored easily if they haven't a job? I don't know anyone with a Border Collie, it seems that all my friends have labs! We have no dogs and one cat.

Gail

Roses and Lilacs said...

Hi TC. They are a high energy dog and that makes sense. They were bred to move sheep sometimes over long periods of time and long distances. A dog without that drive would go and lay in the shade and say I'm done chasing those stupid sheep.
Marnie

troutbirder said...

Good grief... what a story. Maybe my Baron isn't such a menace after all!

Roses and Lilacs said...

Hi Birdlady, well, she wasn't a candidate for 'World's Best Dog';)

Hi Rambling Woods. You have a six toed cat? I read recently that Ernest Hemingway's old home, which is now a museum, has about 50 six toed cats sill living there. All descendants of Snowball Hemingway's original. Kind of neat.
Marnie

Roses and Lilacs said...

Hi Gail, I heard that Labs were the most popular dog in the country.

Boredom doesn't explain the problems people have with border collies. All dogs get bored. They play with their toys, maybe chew a chair leg, take a nap. Border collies play with their toys, chew up something and then decide it's time to fix the problem. They are little problem solvers. If they are inside and want outside they jump out the window. My dog has done this numerous times. If they want a snack, they open the refrigerator and get something. They will go to any length to get what they want. But only when they are alone and left to 'solve' their own problems.

If you can be with them 24/7 they will never do one single thing wrong.
Marnie

Sweet Repose said...

Ahhh...the things we sacrifice for the love of the beast. I have had many unruly beasts through the years, just chalking it up to my inability to correct my friends with the beautiful brown eyes, pleading 'WHAT'...but being a 'dog whisperer' I have learned my lessons, being taught by the pros, the canine.

Sad about the lab though and the loss of property, but such is the tale of the border collie, born to be free.

sharon

Kim said...

I'm also sorry for the poor lab, but otherwise a very funny story :)

Kim x

Cordwood Cabin said...

Oh, the poor lab!! Other than his part, it's such a funny letter, especially the reference to the neighbor's saw (and the "remodeled" cat's door). I can see it happening in my head as I read it!

Mr. McGregor's Daughter said...

OMG - that is a great story! I guess the moral of that story is never keep food in cabinets above a stove. The part about the Lab is really sad, but boy does that make my late, beloved Borzoi sound like an angel. I never realized it before, but having a very tall dog who can easily reach the counters & into the sink sure beats having a medium sized dog who can really jump. Although the Borzoi has been gone for 8 years now, my husband still hasn't forgiven her for stealing his freshly roasted pumpkin seeds from the pan on the stove where they were cooling.

Roses and Lilacs said...

Hi Sharon. I know, just have animals in the house brings so much additional work. But it's worth it.

Troutbirder, most of us are thinking our dogs are angels by comparison.
Marnie

Roses and Lilacs said...

MMD, Snatching food has to be easy for a borzoi, their heads are naturally at a level about table/counter height;) With me its always a cat. Had one eat the meringue off my pie while my guests sat in the dining room finishing dinner.

Roses and Lilacs said...

Hi Cordwood Cabin. It is funny. My Aggie has remodeled several doors. Lucky for me she is afraid of power tools.

Hi Kim, I agree. Insurance covered the costs but the poor Lab...
Marnie

DP Nguyen said...

Hahaha, what a funny and entertaining post.

Roses and Lilacs said...

Hi DP, glad you enjoyed.
Marnie

Darla said...

That's was great!

Lisa at Greenbow said...

OMG Almost unbeliveable except that I have a friend who had a dog that would climb onto cabinets etc to get food so... What a beautiful picture of the dog.

pat said...

I love this...My betty was a cocker spaniel, who could climb 5 ft fences and could l;nad on a kitchen counter from a standstill.. Many a dinner was ruined because she got to our plates before we did. I lost shoes, a few pieces of minor furniture, some plants..but when she turned about 3 she settled into a loving companion. She died a few years ago and I miss her to this day.

Beth said...

Marnie - thank you stopping by my blog. As a dog lover, I was amused and saddened at the same time after reading your post. Our schnauzer can be a little naughty and adventurous too but I wouldn't trade her for anything.
I was really disheartned to read about Iams. We've fed ALL of our dogs Iams for many years. I am shocked and saddened by this. I've never heard of this before until I read your blog ... very sad.

Morning Glories in Round Rock said...

What an amazing story. Makes me appreciate my Bocephus all the more. I will go give him an extra hug tonight and tell him to never climb on the counters looking for donuts!

beckie said...

Marnie, will leave message at both places-somehow missed your last comment earlier in the day. Of course you can use the caladium picture. I surely don't have a problem with it. I'll be interested to see how well the progarm works.

Roses and Lilacs said...

Hi Lisa, I know, it is hard to believe. After owning a border collie, I now believe anything. Just a freaky thing she hit that burner knob.
Marnie

Roses and Lilacs said...

Hi Darla, thanks, I'm glad you liked it. A little tale to make us appreciate our k-9 companions a lot more.

Hi Morning Glories in Round Rock, I like your dog's name Bocephus. You must be a country music fan;) Me too.

Roses and Lilacs said...

Hi Pat, I know over the years I've lost too many beloved dogs because their lifespan is so short. We don't really ever forget.
Marnie

Roses and Lilacs said...

Hi Beth, thanks for taking the time to read that article about Iams. I know how you feel. I fed Iams exclusively for years. Now I feel Iams has betrayed every animal lover. Cruelty is wrong--no excuses. I wish everyone would stand up to these companies and demand they do better. A few more bucks in some shareholder and executive's pockets is all they care about.
Marnie

Rose said...

Oh my, this was funny until the very end...We had a border collie mix when I was young, but I don't remember her being destructive. Of course, she was a farm dog and lived outside.

Roses and Lilacs said...

Hi Beckie, thank you again for letting me borrow your caladium photo. I will post the photo next Mon or Tue.
Marnie

Carla said...

Oh my goodness, that is some story! The part about the Lab is sad.

My next door neighbors have a beautiful Border Collie. They got Socks from a Border Collie Rescue group. Socks got in trouble with her first owner for chasing the cows instead of herding them.

Kathleen said...

I want to call the dog whisperer so many times because of behaviors my dog (a Lhasa Apso) exhibits. Wouldn't it be interesting (as in the story) to know the reason behind the destruction, etc.? I'm sure in their minds, everything they do is logical. Just not always so great to us.

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