Father’s Day Fiasco

One of my favorite bucket list items is to fall in love with my husband over and over. Often these moments come at the strangest of times, usually not the romantic settings you might imagine. After nearly 24 years of marriage I cherish each and every time I find myself falling in love again. This particular time happened years ago but it is fresh in my memory every year as Father’s Day in June starts to get near.

The day started ordinarily enough, the kids and I were rushing around packing up to go camping for the weekend, and my husband was busy cleaning the grill and adding kerosene to the lanterns. We were all excited to start our summer off with a camping weekend and this was going to be an extra special trip because we were taking our new Golden Retriever puppy, Clancy, camping with us for the first time.

Clancy, feeding off the energy of the kids, was furiously chasing his tail in the backyard, at one moment just happy to be part of this obviously fun family activity called “loading the van,” and fearful the next, that he might be somehow left behind in the end.

By noon we were ready to go and kids and dog raced to claim a seat in the van. We were off like a herd of turtles. The next hour went by quickly between the trip to the lake and setting the tent up. The sun was high in the sky and the warm breeze kept pulling the kids away from camp down to the beach. We finished setting up camp, walked, fed and watered the puppy, finally tying him to the tree near his food, water and bed; unfortunately, dogs were not allowed on the beach. Clancy gave us a sad forlorn look as we marched off to the beach, lawn chairs, cooler, beach towels and sunscreen in tow.

The beach was only 200 yards from our camp, just beyond the trees surrounding our site. Clancy could hear the kids squealing with delight and splashing in the water. He was not happy to be left back at home and he didn’t understand why he couldn’t come too. In his puppy mind he was just one of the kids!

A few hours later we returned tired, sandy and sunburned to camp. As we neared our site I heard my husband exclaim “Oh my Lord!”

Dropping my armful of gear I turned to see what he was looking at. “Oh my! Look what he did!” I squealed with horror.

Before us our campsite lay in total disarray. The lawn chairs were tipped over, the lantern was on its side, even the dog kennel was toppled over! The grass looked like it had been mowed down, weeds were scattered everywhere and small saplings had been gnawed down to the roots. In the middle of this tornado of destruction sat our 6-month-old puppy with one ear cocked up and one cocked down. His lips had a strange green tint to them and his top gum was stuck to his teeth, a small piece of grass was peeking out of his mouth.

We all stopped and stared. Our son started giggling, soon his sister was doubled over beside him. My husband and I just stood there staring in disbelief. “How could one puppy have done this much damage to a campsite!” we asked each other.

Clancy seemed a bit sheepish as we all pitched in and tried to clean up our campsite. Apparently, he sensed he might have done something wrong here. He was a brilliant dog.

After showers, bug spray and hot dogs we all settled in by the campfire for s’mores. I couldn’t tell who was happier, the exhausted puppy or my kids as the sun set on our big day.

As we prepared for the evening my husband and I decided the dog would sleep outside in his kennel and the tent would be just big enough for the four of us. By 9:00 pm we had kids tucked in and the dog kenneled for the night.

Finally, a few quiet minutes alone for the mom and dad by the glowing fire!

Ya right! The kids were restless and kept asking for more water or another bathroom break. They giggled and squirmed and no attempt by us seemed to get them settled in and quiet for the night. The dog whined and sighed, whined and sighed, even talking back in his doggy way when he was scolded for the umpteenth time.

Throwing in the proverbial towel, my husband gave in and put the dog, kennel and all, in the middle of the tent. Using his best “I mean it now” Dad voice he ordered kids and dog to be silent. The dog, overexcited to finally be in the tent with the kids, promptly started chasing his tail in the kennel, the kids roared with laughter; the dog eventually got so wound up he managed to tip his kennel over, the kids were soon laughing so hard they were in tears. I looked inside in time to see the dog upside down inside his kennel, paws pointing at the top of the tent, the children with tears streaming down their checks from laughter.

At this point, even we had a hard time keeping a straight face, and soon, we too gave up and joined the three-ring circus in the tent. Deciding the only way to settle everyone down was to go to bed too. Eventually, we managed to get control of the situation and the exhausted little family of five fell asleep.

That is until the night sky was dark and the stars and moon were high in the sky; that’s when we woke to Clancy crying a rather urgent cry we’d not heard before. Dan took him outside for a potty break and it quickly became apparent where all the grass, leaves, bugs and saplings had gone—Clancy had a nasty case of the runs. All I could hear from inside the tent was a mysterious squirting sound followed by Dan’s deep chuckle and sigh of complete exasperation. Minutes passed and the two of them crawled back into the tent and we were all tucked back into our sleeping bags and dog kennel. Ahh, sleep!

An hour passed and a sudden, sad and desperate wail pierced the night air. Not again! And so it went on long into the night, every hour on the hour our youngest cried out wailing for relief and my dutiful and loving husband and father of my two children patiently took him for a short walk outside. It was a Father’s Day to remember, but I fell in love with my husband once again.

So my friend, I ask you “what’s next on your list?”

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  1. Wonderful story! Smiling and giggling myself as I read it!