It's been a bleak week.
Not so much emotionally...well, okay, it's been bleak emotionally too, but I'm not talking about that right now. I'm talking about the weather. You see, if it would but drop some 20+ degrees it would be snowing lovely bayou-green snow, instead of raining. It's rained for days now, it seems, and rained for days before that. It's gotten so marshy in my back yard that I simply cannot walk anywhere without sinking into the earth a few feet, and poor Belle comes in looking like she's been dragged tail-first through a sewer pipe, but that's only because she loves to run full-speed in large orbits just inside the fence, slinging mud up like a late 70's Bronco in a swamp.
Naturally all this water and slogging and mud-flinging is keeping me firmly ensconced in the house, and quite frankly I've gotten a bit cabin fevered. Since this IS the weekend and therefore the time for me to be working hard at cleaning, I started cleaning early this am. And I started with the Exmas tree.
Exmas, as you may have noticed, is over. Mrs. Irrelephant thoughtfully (but none too gently) took off all the ornaments and dazzle and such yesterday, leaving a rather piebald Douglas Fir for me to haul to the burn pile. And before any of you long-haired pinko hippies start squalling, keep in mind that I have earned the right to burn this now dead once alive tree: I spent this summer planting fifty replacements, so shove off and go bother a coal-fired electricity production station or some Christians or something.
Penny, if you may recall, is our Papillion.
No, sorry, that's not Penny, that's my great-aunt Isopropyl. Here's Penny, photo courtesy of Vulgar Wizard.
It's a little known fact to non-francophiles that the word "papillion" means not only "butterfly" in the French language but also "extraordinarily strong for it's tiny size." I know from previous experience this past spring and summer in the garden that Penny has a strong dirt-dog streak in her. This is of course belied by her outer princess-like behaviours, and while I never got to put my idea to the test (I could never find a single-row plow that would hook to her harness) I promised myself that when the time came I'd see just what kind of a workhorse this pampered and preened lapdog could be.
That opportunity came this morning. Mrs. I. had taken Belle down the road for their morning workout in preparation for her debut at the AKC show, and I thought that this would be the prime opportunity to test my theory. I made a slip-knot at one end of a long stretch of nylon rope and hooked it to the lowest branches of the Exmas tree, and looped the other end through Penny's body-fit harness, at the little top metal rings intended for a leash. I was pleased to be putting that ring to a much more useful...er...use. A pat on her head and a quick snap of the whip and she and I were off!
I have to tell you, I'm hard to surprise. Astounding me takes a lot. I've seen things you people wouldn't believe. Attack ships on fire off the shoulder of Orion. I watched C-beams glitter in the dark near the Tannhauser gate. All those moments will be lost in time...no wait, sorry, that's Blade Runner.
Where the hell was I?
So anyway, I leapt atop the tree, found myself a precarious but comfortable spot amongst the needles, joyously cracked my whip a few times and we were off! Out of the garage, down the little gravel drive that goes to my mother's house, and then the real test of Penny's mushing ability--the rain-soaked mud-gorged field. I thought for sure this would be the point at which my four-pound fearless hound would give up, but no, she plowed right into it with all the gusto of a late 70s Bronco in a swamp. Her tiny stick-legs flailing, mud flying in huge twin rooster tails, she unflaggingly dragged that tree and me the hundred yards to the burn pile. She powered through puddles leaving a frothing wake behind her, and tore through fire-ant piles with a ferocity that left even those fearless warriors trembling behind their mud-soaked hills.
I was saddened when we got to the burn-pile, but as I unhooked the rope from the tree and tossed it onto the pile an idea came to me. Seeing the excitement in Penny's eyes (through the layers of sodden hair, stinking mud, dead grass and the occasional terrified fire ant,) secured it, and I quickly arranged the necessary attachments and modifications to her harness and the rope.
I tell you now, you haven't lived until you've barefoot mud-skied behind a four pound Papillion.