Once in a while I run across a situation that requires a little thinking outside the box. Last week, that kind of thinking served to illustrate what a horrible, horrible person I have become.
Last Thursday, I wrote a series of stories on the then-approaching heat wave for Friday’s paper.
If you read it, you’ll probably remember it was about the dangers of hot and humid weather, what you should look out for, and included a story on tips to keep your pets safe. Your run-of-the-mill hot weather advance. You might have seen it on Friday’s front page accompanied by a photo of a beautiful black dog shaking off water.
Now I’ve probably written your basic “it’s going to be hot so here’s what you should know” story literally dozens of times over the years, and each time I try to provide a photo to make it more interesting to readers.
But it can get a bit boring and redundant.
So sitting around the office after the stories were written, I had just minutes to come up with some art for the thing before I had to move on to my next assignment.
“I’m so tired of doing the same old thing. I want to do something fun this time,” I griped to no one in particular. “I’m always shooting kids playing in a pool, construction workers or the radiant heat coming off asphalt to illustrate these stories, and I want to do something different!”
Without much time to brainstorm, I first rode down to Riverside Park to see whether there was anyone sweating away at the skate park.
There were, but that was simply more of the same-old, same-old, I decided after watching for 10 seconds.
“I’m doing a pet story with the package, let’s see whether there’s anything I can do with pets,” I thought.
Which is where the story takes a turn toward the hilariously macabre and turns me into the reincarnation of Dr. Mengele.
My roommate has one of the most beautiful black Lab mixes you’ve ever seen, so I thought I’d use her.
Innocent enough, right?
Before I go any farther, I feel I should explain the relationship I have with this dog.
I love her with all my heart, and think she loves me as well. We have developed a very strong bond. It’s a love much more intense than any I’ve had with two-legged females.
Named Lucy, she’s exactly like the Marley character in Marley & Me. When she’s bad, we call her Lucy-fer, if that gives you any idea.
Headstrong, a lover of life and not the most obedient pet you’ve ever run across, Lucy can be challenging. But she’s so full of love you have to forgive her idiosyncrasies.
Arriving at the house, Lucy was peacefully asleep on the couch in the cool of the air conditioning. It was blazing hot outside at about 1 p.m., Thursday, if you remember.
I walked in, woke her up without any explanation and took her outside into the scorching hot sun.
She seemed confused, but went with it. “Hey, man. If you want me out in the heat with you, I’m there.”
I then put on her leash, stood on the end of it so she couldn’t run out of the sun, and grabbed the water hose.
I sprayed Lucy down while she tried to get away with one hand and held the camera to my eye with the other, saying helpful things like, “shake!”
Lucy just stood there with an unmistakable look in her eyes that said, “dude, really!?! You woke me up to do this!?!?”
She didn’t shake, so I sprayed her some more.
She just stood there, confused.
“I don’t know why you’re doing this, but I love you so I’ll stand here and take it,” she seemed to say in the most pitifully-loyal way possible as she glared at me with those puppy-dog eyes.
Still no shaking, so I sprayed her some more.
By now, the look on her face was one that said, “you know what? You’re a real jerk!”
Finally, she shook for less than a second and I got the shot, but I wanted another in case it didn’t turn out.
So I sprayed her down again.
By this time, Lucy was not a happy dog. “I wasn’t bothering anyone. I was ASLEEP!” She seemed to want to shout.
But she just stood there, wet and mad, refusing to shake any more.
“You want me wet? Fine. I’ll be wet.”
After about 10 minutes of this, I put down the hose, apologized and she immediately came to me and rubbed the water from her coat onto my jeans and shirt.
Serves me right.
When I told a friend about how that photo in Friday’s paper was made, he laughed but took Lucy’s side.
“Imagine if you were minding your own business, asleep, and someone came in, grabbed you by the collar, dragged you outside, stood you in the hot sun and sprayed you with water against your will,” he said. “I think that’s very similar to something we call ‘waterboarding.’”
Yeah, he’s right. I’m a horrible person.
But Lucy’s now famous.
She’s forgiven me, and after a few much-deserved dog treats, she gave me another one of those wonderful dog kisses I’ve come to cherish with a look that said “hey, I love you and all, but what d’ya say we don’t do that again?”
Sorry, Lucy. I love you, girl.
Keith Strange is a staff reporter for The Mount Airy News. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 719-1929.