My morning adventure began before I had my first cup of coffee. It was not the usual caffeine-deprived morning adventure like turning the coffee maker on without putting coffee or water in it. No, this was a rescue mission.
First it must be noted that four dogs now abide in my home. Athena is my black Lab mix. She is purported to be a Labradinger--Lab and Springer Spaniel. I just know that she is smart and sweet but in this pack of dogs she comes off as the bossy big sister.
Then there is Hazzard. He belongs to my second son. He is a black Lab/German Shepherd mix. His ears always look like that. That is part of his charm. He is a great big teddy bear with a bark that is more of a bellow. He is a dog of few words but when he chooses to bark, it reverberates through the trees.
Chewy is my daughter-in-law's miniature Dachshund. Just call him Napoleon. There is nothing that the big dogs do that he does not try to do. He is insulted if you offer him a miniature toy. Somehow, he has convinced all the Labs he is really as big as he thinks he is. He is the alpha dog. When he barks, the Labs obey.
Finally, the star of my morning adventure is Bonnie. She belongs to my oldest son and has also moved in with us since he deployed to Afghanistan. She is a one-year-old Black Lab. She still has a lot of puppy in her. "All mach and no direction" pretty much sums up Bonnie.
The thing about having a pack of dogs in the house is that they function like a pack. There is only one thought per four dogs. If one goes outside, they all go outside. If one is hungry, they all are hungry. If one wants to play with the green and white chew bone, they all want to play with that very same green and white chew bone. It does not matter that there are at least four other green and white chew bones available. Only one specific bone can meet the desires of all four dogs.
This morning the dogs decided they needed to go outside. They thundered through the door as a giant black mass with a dot of brown mixed in. They did not get far. Bonnie caught sight of a box tortoise taking a morning stroll. I know that slow and steady wins the race, but it would have been in this tortoise's best interest to have moved more like a hare. Instead, he pulled into his shell, doing his best imitation of a rock. Alas, Bonnie likes rocks. She scooped up the tortoise and began running super-sonic circles around the yard. Assuming Bonnie had a desirable toy, the other dogs took up the chase. Bonnie's circles now included evasive actions with quick cuts and changes in direction. In the process she periodically launched the tortoise into a wild airborne trajectory only to retrieve him and resume her erratic running.
With the help of my son and a handful of dog treats I was able to convince Bonnie to give up the tortoise and I corralled the dogs inside. The tortoise lay motionless outside my back door. However, after about an hour, I noticed he poked his head out of his shell. A few minutes later, he was out of sight.
Unfortunately, he did not go very far. The next time I let the dogs out, Hazzard spied Mr. Tortoise beneath the wisteria bush. Bonnie was thrilled to rediscover her "toy" and the game began anew. I was quicker about getting her to give up the tortoise this time. I scooped him up and took him to the woods, outside the range of the dogs' wireless containment system. Bonnie was not to be deterred. Her back legs trembled as she withstood the shocks to pick up this most amazing "rock". Once again I was able to rescue the tortoise. This time I deposited him much farther out into the woods. I did not stick around to make sure he once again emerged unharmed from his shell. I am sure he is traumatized. I hope he finds the tortoise equivalent of a good cup of coffee or a shot of Jack Daniels.