“Could you walk P’Nut while I’m out this afternoon?” my friend, Tara, asked recently. It was the least I could do after she endured a week of caring for my dog while I was on summer vacation. In fact, it might take a lot more favors to pay Tara back.
You see, Tara’s dog, P’Nut, is a 7-pound pomeranian-chiuaua mix who eats a quarter cup of kibble a day and thinks Goldfish crackers are doggie treats. P’Nut enjoys a short walk around the block, but is perfectly content to do her business on a potty pad in the laundry room if needed. P’Nut lounges in her skillet-sized doggie bed until nighttime, when she snoozes in a portable crib in the master bedroom, covered with a tiny pink blankie.
By contrast, my dog, Dinghy, is a 110-pound sloppy labradoodle, with a perpetually dripping beard. He scarfs five cups of food a day, along with whatever he finds while rooting through the bathroom trash. He gulps water from a bucket, and leaves a slobbery trail wherever he goes. His four walks per day are measured in miles, not blocks, and Dinghy is infamous for dragging his walker when he spots a cat, lizard, sand crab, bird or butterfly. His favorite place to sleep is curled around the cool base of the toilet.
And as Tara learned the week she took care of him, Dinghy is also prone to digestive upset. Apparently, Dinghy’s “business” was the consistency of Grey Poupon for several days while I was gone. While on walks with Dinghy, Tara dutifully cleaned up his mess as best she could with doggie-doo bags. But on one unfortunate occasion, her finger broke through the thin plastic barrier, sending her into simultaneous gagging, crying and laughing.
By the time I returned from vacation, the entire neighborhood was talking about Tara’s ordeal. Embarrassed and appalled, I resolved to find opportunities to pay my friend back. So when she asked me to walk P’Nut one afternoon last week, I jumped at the chance. I mean, it’s just a little dog — how hard could it be?
Following Tara’s specific instructions, I opened her garage door at exactly 5:30 pm and heard P’Nut’s surprisingly sharp barks. Entering the house, I carefully scooped exactly one-quarter cup of kibble into P’Nut’s tiny food dish, then grabbed the leash.
As instructed, I informed P’Nut that it was “time to go outside” and led her into the open garage. While making soothing noises, I approached P’Nut with the leash.
Just as I was thinking what a piece of cake this favor was turning out to be, P’Nut’s miniscule black lips peeled back from her needle-like teeth and she lunged for my fingers. I sprung backwards and let out an embarrassing shriek.
Chalking the incident up to a fluke, I cooed, “Does widdle P’Nut wanna go on a wiky-walk? Oh, yes you do, you sweet little th…. AHHHHH!”
Relieved to find my fingers intact, I decided to ask the neighbors for assistance. I told them how sweet little P’Nut was attempting to sever my limbs with her razor-sharp teeth. The neighbor, a Navy helicopter pilot, stepped confidently toward P’Nut, declaring, “Oh, I’ll pick her up – she won’t hurt me.”
What happened next can only be described as utter chaos. P’Nut flashed her fangs and dashed around the garage, squealing like a pig while we gave chase. When the dust settled, the helicopter pilot was already on his porch, yelling, “I don’t think she likes me!”
Considering P’Nut’s extreme obstinacy, we gave up the on the walk, and just tried to get the little diva back in the house. For 20 minutes or more, we appeared to be performing a Keystone Cops reenactment. I feared that Tara would return to find her petite princess gone for good.
And then, I remembered the bag of Goldfish. I desperately grabbed a handful of the cheesy morsels from the laundry room shelf and, like a court jester who’s been sentenced to the gallows, I bowed before her Excellency to offer the bribe.
Thankfully, she accepted.
Despite that I utterly failed to complete my dog-walking duties for my friend Tara, I more than made up for my debt of service when you consider the life-threatening nature of my experience with P’Nut. In fact, I may just ask her to watch Dinghy for us over Thanksgiving while we’re away just to even the score.
After all, isn’t that what friends are for?