It started with a dream about giant turtles. I kind of blame my neighbor for that one. She’s an adorable four year old, obsessed with the Teenaged Ninja Mutant Turtles, and we’ve had lots of discussions lately about them.
“I like Michelangelo. He wears purple," I said.
It was a lucky guess, but I was completely wrong. She shook her little blond head at me. “No, he wears orange.”
“Oh, I meant Leonardo.”
She put her hands on her hips and shook her head at me in disgust. “He wears blue.”
She didn’t say it, but I could see it in her big, blue eyes. She was wondering if I’d ever seen TNMT at all. I had, of course. Many, many, many times. In cartoon form. In live action form. In Japan, when the turtles went back in time and lived in a feudal village. But the more I tried to convince her, the more it sounded like I didn’t know what I was talking about.
After several of these discussions (and getting the names, colors and weapons of choice wrong every single time), turtles must have been on my mind. In my subconscious they morphed into giant turtles, scary turtles that invaded my dreams. I don’t remember the details exactly, but it was frightening enough to startle me out of a deep sleep.
I gave up on the idea of getting more rest, mostly because Capone the Wonder Dog, with his super sonic hearing and his ability to recognize the sound of my foot hitting the floor, had already woken up, too. My husband can get up, take a shower, get dressed, and make all sorts of noise, but we never hear a peep from Capone. It’s the same with the boys. But if I so much as place a toe on the carpet, he immediately starts whining downstairs in his kennel.
After he did his good morning dance and stretch, I let him outside. Oh, the beauty of the Dogwatch Fence we just had installed last month! I no longer have to trudge through the wet grass before the sun is up, circling the yard in an effort to get Capone to poo. Now I can watch the event unfold from the comfort of my warm kitchen. Better yet, the fence protects my little Ninja Turtle loving neighbor from Capone running into her yard and knocking her over in an attempt to lick her from the top of her ponytail down to her tiny toes. He outweighs her by about fifty pounds. He could flatten her with one nudge.
Normally Capone trots around, does his business, tries to eat a bush or a tree or something, chases a robin, and comes back into the house. This time, he looked at me in a panic and did the diarrhea squat walk all over the yard.
“Oh, no.” I whispered. "It begins again."
When he came back inside, I wiped his bottom with the dog wipes I’d bought at the all-natural dog supply store (yes, they really do exist) and dried him of with his dog shammy (yes, that really does exist, too). The shammy is adorable. It’s embroidered and has pockets for my hands, which is very convenient. But as soon as I tried to clean his bottom, I realized something. It was swollen. Really swollen. Like swollen enough that I understood his anal glands might need expressed again.
My boys were up by this time and groggily getting ready for school. “What’s wrong?” asked my youngest.
“I think I might have to take Capone to the vet again today. Or the groomer. His anal glands feel swollen.”
“Does he need another butt massage?”
I nodded. “I think so.” I remembered in vivid detail the youtube video I’d seen, and how it described the process as ‘milking’ the anal glands.
“I’m not doing it.”
My son held up his hands. He’d seen the video, too. “Me neither.”
I decided to take Capone for a long walk. The vet wasn’t open until nine. I knew this fact very well. I'd spent many mornings perched on a chair, holding my phone, and waiting for nine o'clock to hit. I thought a walk would calm him down and make the whole potential anal expression much easier for both of us.
The walk went well at first. He passed a group of children waiting at a bus stop and didn’t try to lunge at them. He passed an unleashed older lab and paused, hoping for some play time, but didn’t even bark when the other dog just trotted past him. He walked next to an entire herd of small children on a narrow path and didn’t try to eat any of them.
I fed him a constant stream of treats and realized Capone is getting older and everything is so much easier. He was also getting much bigger, a fact I didn’t consider until he rammed me in the knee on our way home, bending it in ways nature did not intend knees to be bent. Then he stopped in front of me suddenly, almost sending me crashing down to the sidewalk. Then he bit my thumb (totally by accident) when I tried to retrieve a rock from his mouth.
When we got home, it still wasn’t even close to nine, so I decided to clean Capone’s deposits from the backyard and do some weeding. When I stepped into the house to get a bag for the weeds, Capone followed me in, a giant weed in his mouth - roots, dirt, and all.
This soon turned into what Capone thought was the Best Game Ever. I chased him round and round the island. He shook his head happily, dirt flying all over my clean kitchen floor. Finally I managed to straddle him and remove the weeds from his mouth, but by this time my entire floor had been sprinkled with dirt.
Capone looked completely confused when I said, “Bad dog.” After all, the whole thing had been a blast. He felt better when I took out his second favorite thing in the world (his first being food of any kind), the vacuum. He did his happy vacuum dance as I plugged it in.
“I am not doing this for your pleasure. I just want you to know this.”
The fact that I have conversations with my dog has stopped bothering me at this point. I had too much on my mind to worry about already. Tomorrow was my middle son’s junior prom. I needed to pick up flowers, iron his shirt, and do about a million other things today. Cleaning the kitchen floor for the second time and taking a puppy to get his anal glands expressed was not on my list.
The dirt wasn’t coming up very well, so I lifted the hose off my Dyson to suck it up that way. Usually the hose lifts up and clicks. This time there was no clicking. The top of the hose nearly lifted completely off. A small wire that looked like part of a slinky was the only thing that held it together.
I didn’t have time to buy a new vacuum today. I looked at the dirt on the floor and nearly cried. Capone wagged his tailed and licked the vacuum.
I managed to hold the hose together and get most of the dirt off the floor. As soon as I turned off the vacuum, I realized I had a voice mail on my phone. It was the school nurse. My middle son was in her office throwing up.
“I’ll be there in five minutes,” I said when I called her back. And on the way to the school I looked at the clock and realized it wasn’t even 8:30 yet.
There are just some days that nothing goes right. My son was well enough that I decided to tackle all my errands today, just in case I was the one who came down with the stomach flu tomorrow (usually the case in our house). I went to Costco to get roses to make a bouquet for prom, then to JoAnn Fabric to get ribbon to match. I decided the anal glands would have to wait.
I love making my own bouquets when my boys go to dances. It relaxes me, but it’s also a way to be involved. As the mother of three boys, I don’t get to do the girly stuff like dress shopping. The bouquet making gets that need out of my system.
I found ribbon and lots of sparkly things at JoAnn, and had a very helpful and clever girl at check out who found several coupons for me and was all together lovely. As she bagged my items, I realized something.
“Is that a Teenaged Mutant Ninja Turtles apron?”
She posed rather proudly, turning around so I could see the back was an actual turtle shell made of green fabric. She’d sewn it herself.
“Today is the last day for this one. I wear a different apron every month. Tomorrow I’ll wear a new Darth Vader one, as long as I get it finished tonight. It has a hat and everything.”
I wanted to take her picture to show my neighbor, but there was a long line and I knew some of the crafters waiting behind me might get annoyed. Crafters are not the most patient of people, especially when there is a huge sale on raffia and their coupons are about to expire.
Instead I told the girl how completely awesome she was and promised to come back to see the Darth Vader apron. When I told my neighbor about the apron, she listened politely, but didn’t believe me.
“Turtles don’t wear aprons.”
I did get a photo of the prom flowers. They were lovely, and Capone never needed to get his anal glands expressed after all.