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The night Poopsie came to town

Laurie StoneNone of us know when we’ll be tested in life. Some tests are big. Some are small. A test my husband Randy will never forget came on a June night in 1995 involving several confused neighbors, two police cruisers and a Chihuahua named Poopsie.

That late afternoon I’d brought Poopsie home from the pound. Our two little boys, ages 5 and 2, were ecstatic. “We have a doggie!!” Patrick and Paul shouted, jumping up and down.

I smiled, trying to avoid my husband’s horrified stare. I have few natural talents but picking out ugly mutts is right up there. And with this dog’s bat-like face and rodent body, Poopsie was no exception. What can I say? There was something sweet in his eyes.

On the spot, we decided to rename him. There was no way we’d have a pet named Poopsie.

My Mom and Dad were there. Things were going fine till that fateful moment someone decided to let Poopsie off his leash. Surely this animal will stay close, we thought.

Quicker than you can say, “Ay! Caramba!,” Poopsie bolted up our driveway, took a left and disappeared into the mist. The adults stood in shock.  Five-year-old Patrick started crying. “My doggie hates me!”

Randy and my Dad looked at each other. “I’ll get the car,” said Randy. My father sighed, “I’ll come with you.”

On the road, a kid on a bike pointed to where he’d seen a yellow dog. Randy and my father parked the car.  To their horror they had to traipse through people’s properties calling for “Poopsie!”  Everywhere they went, someone had seen the dog go that-away.

Hours later, they came back empty-handed and disappointed. My parents left. The kids went to bed, crying.

“Let’s report this to the police,” said Randy. “You never know.”  We settled in for the night, not sure if we’d see Poopsie again. An hour later the phone rang.

“A large Chihuahua’s been spotted by the Merritt Parkway,” said a police officer.

The Merritt Parkway is five miles away. Wow, I thought. Poopsie’s fast. Once again, Randy got into his car cursing the moment he set eyes on this mutt. No dog was found.

He started heading back when a mile from our home he spotted a line of cars creeping along, trying not to hit a small yellow animal trotting down the center. Randy knew this could only be one creature.

Two police cars were parked on the side, watching this spectacle. Randy pulled up beside them. “That’s my dog,” he said. “I’ll try and herd him home.”

With their help, Randy managed to get behind Poopsie, finding himself lead car in this odd 4 m.p.h. motorcade at 10:30 p.m. on a Friday night. Following behind were the two cruisers and an ever-growing line of peeved and confused motorists.

Then came the tricky part.  With our street in view, Randy sped ahead, angling his car so Poopsie was forced left, down our road. When the dog came to our house, Randy again maneuvered his vehicle, coercing the animal sharp right down the driveway. A Montana cattle rancher would’ve whistled in wonder.

At last, Poopsie was corralled. The police officers pulled up behind Randy in our driveway, congratulating him for a job well done.

Meanwhile Poopsie stood watching all this. Randy finally went to scoop him up when the dog bolted, disappearing into the woods behind our house.

By now, even the cops looked dejected. They showed their lights into the trees but there was no sign. “You might want to consider another pooch,” one advised and they left.

Randy came into the house, by now exhausted. It was past 11:30 p.m. “Maybe we could go back to the pound tomorrow,” I suggested. My husband glared at me. All I kept hearing was Patrick’s words, “My doggie hates me.”

Half hour later Randy went to lock the back door and noticed something sleeping outside on our chaise lounge. He stepped out, not believing his eyes. Poopsie had found his way home.

This time my husband didn’t waste a moment. He picked up the animal, bringing him to Patrick’s room. “Look who’s here,” he said to his sleepy 5-year-old. Patrick sat up, bleary-eyed. “My doggie!” He crashed back to sleep.

I looked at Randy and knew my husband had passed a test that night.  He was officially in the club of men who would do anything difficult, ridiculous or heroic for their children. He could officially call himself a Really Good Dad. He had brought home Poopsie.

(Postscript: Poopsie was renamed “Ren” after the equally-attractive cartoon character and was a loyal, loving dog for 10 years. He never ran away again…that we know of).

— Laurie Stone

Laurie Stone writes from the woods of Easton, Connecticu. Her blog, “Musings, Rants &Scribbles,” shares thoughts on growing up, older and (hopefully) wiser. She draws inspiration from her poor, unsuspecting husband of several decades, two grown sons, family and friends (including the furry ones). You can also find her on Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest.

How I barely survived IKEA

Laurie StoneThe other day my son Paul suggested something so disturbing, so cringe inducing, so horrific, I had to hold onto my kitchen counter for support. “I need a new bureau. Let’s go back to IKEA.”

All I could do was shake my head, repeating the word, “No.” I cannot. I will not go back to IKEA for these nine reasons…

#1First, they lure you in with Swedish meatballs and Lingonberry parfaits. Don’t fall for it. Their cafeteria, located in front of the store, is light-filled, cheerful and Scandinavian. Colorful bins brim over with red, yellow, blue and green potholders, pencils, teapots and plate mats. You think what a fun, wonderful place. But then you enter the rest of the store…

#2 – It’s designed in this confusing labyrinth. Explorer Ernest Shackleton would get lost. You need to scatter breadcrumbs to find your way out. Not to mention all their furniture has Swedish names with 17 syllables and no vowels. Half the time I couldn’t remember where I was or what I liked, let alone how to pronounce it.

#3 — There are no salespeople. Usually salespeople at furniture stores are like wolves circling baby goats. You can’t move two feet without hearing, “Can I help you?” Not at IKEA. It’s like invasion of the body snatchers. You walk for miles and slowly realize there are only tired, confused-looking customers. No employees are anywhere.

#4 – Wait, there’s one! Finally, after an hour we stumbled upon a hollowed-eyed woman wearing an IKEA tag who looked like she’d never seen a human before. When I asked how I went about buying furniture, she pointed to an odd plastic pouch hanging from a sofa. “All information’s there,” she said and wafted away.

#5 – Those odd plastic pouches. All IKEA items have a baggy with a bunch of order forms and one stubby pencil.  This is their system.  It dawned on me why they charge so little. You do everything yourself.  And I mean…everything. An uneasy feeling started to grow.

#6 – The “I can’t assemble things” shaming. After filling out the sales ticket, we stood in a long line to pay. When I voiced concern to the cashier that I didn’t know an Allen wrench from pickled herring, she looked at me like I’d just shot a puppy. Sighing, she handed over a paper with the name of a local assembler. Phew, I thought walking away. We’re almost out of IKEA’s clutches. Little did I know, the worst was yet to come…

#7 – The warehouse. Remember those galley ship movies as kids?  Dozens of sweaty men chained to benches, rowing? That’s what IKEA’s warehouse reminded me of, except you’re expected to sit down and pick up an oar.  After realizing we were completely on our own, Paul and I secured a trolley and I asked one of the few, tired-looking workers where we could find the Koppanghemnes bureau.  “Row 270-B,” he said, jerking his thumb toward an area the size of 10 airport hangars.

#8 – The massive body strength required. Half hour later, Paul and I found the Koppanghemnes bureau, unassembled in three flat boxes, just high enough to qualify as an Olympic event. We struggled to get them onto the trolley, went through another long line to check out, and finally exited, blinking in the bright sunlight. Three hours had gone by. I wanted to stand there, arms in the air, like the triumphant prison break scene in “Shawshank Redemption.”

#9 – You have to store everything before (head lowered) having it assembled. We finally got home and once again, lugged those damn boxes to our garage where they sat until I called the wonderful man who magically turned this stuff into an actual bureau…for another fee.

Needless to say, I won’t be returning to IKEA in the near future, although they do have Lingonberry parfaits.  (And yes, I know I’m treading on thin ice here. Many people love IKEA.)

— Laurie Stone

Laurie Stone writes from the woods of Easton, Connecticut. Her blog, “Musings, Rants & Scribbles,” shares thoughts on growing up, growing older and growing (hopefully) wiser. She draws inspiration from her poor, unsuspecting husband of several decades, two grown sons, family and friends (including the furry ones). You can also find her on FacebookTwitter and Pinterest. She has written for the Huffington PostMedium, Pick the BrainMidlife Boulevard and In the Know Traveller, among many others.

Reflections of Erma