Wednesday, October 31, 2012

The story of Crackers & her "Special Friend"

WARNING: This is a long one. Please go empty your bladder and finish eating and drinking. I am not responsible for any accidents, choking, or snorting of things out the nose.

My dad is probably one of the most sentimental people out there. He's also a big dog lover. My brother  & I are much the same way...well cut out the sentimental part for me. My mom, though, grew up the youngest of six on a farm where they had no extra money to feed and take care of pets. In her family, animals were either a food or a tool. So, she's never been crazy about us having pets.

She has softened over the years though,. Consequently, the last dog they had, Crackers, was more spoiled than any we ever had as kids. Crackers was scared of her own shadow. She was also a genius, because she figured out how to brain wash my Mom.

At first it was just, "I got these treats for Crackers, because they were on sale."

Then, even though no dog had ever been allowed to be inside the house when I was a kid, suddenly Crackers was allowed to come inside in the mornings & evenings when somebody was home. Only in the kitchen though, where it was easy to clean the floor.

The the next time I was there, Mom was showing me how she trained Crackers to beg at the dinner table for the half plate of food Mom would feed her every night.

Then, everyone realized Crackers true calling. She was born to be an emergency storm alert dog. She could smell/hear/sense a storm coming a minimum of 2 hours in advance and would start barking at the back door. It was better than the tornado sirens they have hear. When let in, Crackers would pace the kitchen floor until she saw her chance and dart into the hallway bathroom where she would hunker down until the storm passed.

My Mom thought this was so pitiful and cute, that she started letting Crackers stay inside over night whenever there was a storm coming. After all, they live in tornado country & everyone, including the dog, knows that potential high winds is a reason to run and hide in the most central room in the house.  So, Crackers was really saving their life by warning them to take cover as she was doing. As Crackers got older, Mom gave in more often & let her stay in for no reason at all.

My dad--the softy, who was an only child, so his dogs were his siblings--always referred to Crackers as "Baby Girl." Although he made sure to clarify around me that I was his first baby girl, so I wouldn't feel left out. He also referred to himself as Cracker's "Pops", and made mention that she was mine & my brother's sister. Something that we went along with because A) we're both dog lovers too, so we get the silly family relationship references & B) it's just not that big of a deal to us. However, Mom took great offense when Dad would call her Mom. or anything else motherly, in relationship to the dog. It always embarrassed her, especially if  Dad said it in public, so she discouraged it 100% (i.e. Threatened with divorce or bodily harm, if he didn't quit.)

So, this past fall poor Crackers was diagnosed with a bladder tumor. The news was not good and my Dad was heart broken. However, they vowed to seek out a second opinions & alternate treatments to see if there was anything that could be done. In the mean time, they planed to enjoy as much time with Crackers as possible. This led to an extra sentimental Christmas for them. Lots of presents for Crackers & suddenly Crackers was giving out presents to everyone else.

So, on Christmas day we're exchanging presents and there's a very special one for my Mom. Not because of what it was (I really have no clue what the gift was.), but because of the little "To" & "From" sticker on the gift.

Apparently Dad was behind all the gift giving from Crackers to "Bro", "Sis," "Pops," etc. However, he knew better than to write any form of Mother for my mom's gift. Since I was closest to the tree, I was the one handing out the gifts and reading out loud the tags while handing out gifts. I silently read this one while waiting for whoever to finish opening the previous present handed out.

I must have looked like I was convulsing, when really I was shaking from trying to hold in the biggest laugh ever. Anyway, it catches Jim's & Mom's attention who seem a little concerned.. I lean over and show the present to Jim who guffaws and then decides to read it out loud while I continue to try to hold in my laughter.

To: Lady Buddy
From: Crackers

Mom gets this horrified look on her face and screeches at Dad, "Why would you call me that???" My Dad sheepishly explains that he thought this was an appropriate name, since in his mind Mom is a lady AND she and the dog are at least friends now.

Jim, my brother, and I are dying laughing, because we have so many other scenarios running through our head of when someone would be referred to as "Lady Buddy." Mom has obviously thought of at least one too and that's why she's so horrified. My dad who is a little naive (Read as: Still doesn't realize that Kitty from Gunsmoke was a prostitute.) really didn't get the joke, but knew he was in big trouble and has never used the term since.

Jim, who doesn't have to live there, decided this was too good to let die out so easily. He immediately told another family member, who's one of the jokesters in our family. Together, with encouragement from me, they have ensured that Mom will forever be known as "Lady Buddy." I've already ordered the tombstone.

Unfortunately, we had to say goodbye to Crackers last week. My dad misses her greatly. Even though, she won't come out and say it...deep down, I know Lady Buddy does too.

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