Gracie, Gracie, Gracie.

This dog is adding significant amounts of gray to my hair these days.  I might not mind so much if she’d only show a smidge of remorse – just a tiny bit of contrition when I return home to find a path of destruction through the house.

But no.  She greets me at the door, tail high and wagging, indifferent to the havoc she’s wreaked while we were away.

Don't let the sweet act fool you. Behind the fluffy angelic face is evil planning at work.
Don’t let the sweet act fool you. Behind the fluffy angelic face an evil genius is at work.

Gracie’s been in a bit of a tailspin since we picked her up from the kennel on Sunday afternoon.  That isn’t really much of a surprise.  The dogs had been boarded for two weeks straight, a nightmare situation that we try to avoid if at all possible.  This year there was just no way around it.

Even with daily exercise and a kennel sporting an outdoor run, that’s still a lot of cra-cra time to make up for. Phoebe turns into SuperGlue, following us like a shadow for days and days.  Gracie generally likes to jump right in and make up for lost time by turning into a raving nut job.

Years of experience have taught me Gracie’s pattern, so I know she needs to be on a short leash for a few days after coming home.  I try to give her more attention than usual, make sure she gets outside more often, and if we have to leave her in the house then she needs to be crated while we’re gone.  Without fail.

Sunday afternoon and Monday were pretty crazy.  The giant fur ball was busy oscillating between making enormous puppy eyes while rolling over for belly scratches and being a gigantic pain in the ass.  Stealing socks, eating napkins, snatching shoes, putting her massive paws on my kitchen counter regardless of how many times we chastised her…she was in rare form.  The kids tried something new, though.

They wanted to take the dogs for a walk, which sounded like a fabulous idea to me.  Let’s burn some energy.  I found out afterward that they’d come up with a new plan: “walking” the dogs while on their scooters.  This didn’t involve walking so much as flying along on their scooters as Gracie and Phoebe ran their hearts out.  This was actually great exercise for the dogs – our “walking” is nowhere near as fast as they really want to go – so it was a good thing.  Let’s just say the visions I had of Gracie yanking a kid off their scooter and dragging them down the street freaked me out a little.

At any rate, they came back into the house panting like they’d run a marathon.  Then Bear took them each separately for a normal walk, so they had plenty of exercise that afternoon.  On Monday night they each passed out in the family room, looking like they could sleep for ages.  This is why I thought Gracie would be ready for me to let the leash out a bit more the next day.

We had things to do on Tuesday morning, but with a chance of rain looming we needed to leave the dogs inside.  They stay in my bedroom while we’re gone (because what sane person would give Gracie free reign of the house?)and I have two choices: either they’re both free to move around in there, or Gracie’s in her kennel while I leave Phoebe on her bed.  It was day three of being home and she’d had a lot of exercise on Monday, so I thought it would be a good time to give Gracie a chance to act right.

Yeah.  That didn’t work out so great.

After my doctor’s appointment that morning I picked up the kids and made an enormous deposit in the Awesome Mom category: I dug down deep and took the kids shopping with their birthday gift cards. Doesn’t sound so hard, right?

Sixty minutes in Dick’s with T-man is akin to Chinese water torture.  That damn Nike Elite sock display, Nike Roshe sneakers, UnderArmour and Nike clothes…all areas had to be explored, prices compared, items mixed and matched.  We’re talking about a seriously intense decision-making process.  Then we logged thirty minutes in Justice, a glittery hell on earth.  Even T-man’s iPod couldn’t protect him from the extraordinary dose of X chromosome overload.  We spent our last thirty minutes in Icing by Claires, which was an enormously eye-opening experience for me.

“Claires” = ear piercing, jewelry, fun, silliness.  “Icing by Claires” = a store that straddles several worlds.  It targets Claires kids, hormonal tweens, and college party girls simultaneously, which makes for a remarkably diverse inventory.  Bedazzled flasks.  Glittery beer bottle openers.  Smart ass sayings on anything that sits still.  This is one of the items she finally chose:


After a long and exhausting day (oh my god I am so old) we finally made it home right after lunch.  I opened the door only to be greeted by two giddy dogs, tails wagging happily as they waited for loving.  This wasn’t right – they should have still been in the bedroom, which means the door had opened while we were out. But it wasn’t until I began moving through the house that I saw what was waiting for me.

You know those scenes in Law and Order or CSI, where someone opens the door and starts walking toward the kitchen, and you know they’re about to stumble into something bad but they just keep walking?  Yeah, it was kind of like that.  Except there was none of that foreboding feeling.

I walked down the hallway and into the kitchen where there was the first hint that something was amiss.  I caught sight of trash under the kitchen table.  If I hadn’t seen that then T-man’s cry from the family room of “Oh Bear!  You’re not gonna like this!!” would have tipped me off.  I looked closer at the floor and saw part of a chewed up white plastic bag, which didn’t make much sense until I went to the family room to find Bear holding up her new toothbrush from the dentist that had been chewed out of its packaging.  That was when I remembered seeing she’d left her dentist “goodie” bag on the kitchen counter yesterday; clearly it had seemed appealing to (ahem) someone furry.

From that point on it was like walking through a crime scene.  The brand new toothbrush under the coffee table.  A half eaten gallon Ziplock bag next to the couch, which didn’t give us much of a hint until we found the empty bag of Cheez-Its in the dining room.  A circuit back through the kitchen revealed a delicately chewed sample toothpaste, a container of floss still in one piece, and (thankfully) an untouched bracelet Bear had chosen as her prize from the dentist.

I felt like I should be laying down those little numbers and shooting photographs of the evidence.

There are many ways in which this dog tries my patience to the depths of my very soul.  I just keep repeating that mantra: unconditional love, unconditional love.  Gracie may push me to the limit but she will always give me unconditional love.