Parenting Travel

Proof of Life for Luke

I have the most amazing dog, Luke. People actually say to me, “If you don’t want your dog anymore, I’ll take him.” Aside from wondering what about me looks like I might be the kind of person who doesn’t want her dog anymore, I try and recognize that it’s a compliment to Luke, rather than an insult directed at me.

I’m heading off on vacation this week and am always in the quandary of what to do with Luke. The last time I left him at Doggy Day Care, he ate his thigh and they didn’t take care of it, and when I got back we ended up in big doggy do do. My sister has three dogs, one of which she rescued from New Orleans. That dog doesn’t like people (any wonder?), but supposedly is fine with new dogs.

I asked her if she would take Luke and she was thrilled. I do have to confess that she has a dog of mine from many years ago, Emma. Emma is a Sheltie, and she needs to herd. She used to bark and bark around us until we all stood in a clump in the middle of the room. This became very irritating; the truth is we didn’t like Emma. I brought a Dog Psychologist in (Yes, I’m aware that means I have issues, not the friggin’ dog) who said that Emma’s only problem was that she thought her name was Emma No, not Emma. We got the picture.

We woke up one morning and there was a note on the kitchen counter which read, “I have gone to live with Aunt Leslie because she likes me and you don’t. Love, Emma No” We were all fine with that. While the truth hurts, looking it in the eye can save you.

So, I put Luke in the car yesterday to head to my sisters. He was all excited, looking out the window, panting. The guilt started. He’s fifteen years old, deaf and maybe it’s too much to ask him to hang with three other dogs. What if my sister gets impatient with him? What if her dogs gang up on him and she takes their side?  I swear, I was a mess. I hate this thing called guilt.

We get there and he’s already in heaven. Her yard is much larger than mine and it’s like Fort Knox. The gate has three entry locks, and there is no way he’s getting out. His tail is wagging away, and I’m feeling much better.

“Did you bring his dog food?”

“No, I figured you have three dogs. Can’t he eat what they eat?”

“They each eat their own food based on their personal needs. Are you kidding me? You didn’t bring him any food? Emma eats Eukanuba for joint health, and this one eats such and such.” I’m starting to get anxious which is very par for the course when I’m with family.

“Well, no, I didn’t. When I used to drop Sarah off at a friend’s house for a sleep over, she ate what they were eating. I figured Luke could do the same thing.”

“Well, he can’t. You need to come back with his food before you leave.”

I start to feel like the worst dog owner in the land. No wonder people ask me if I want to give up my dog. I’m driving home thinking it’s best to give Luke to her permanently. Or, maybe I should review those that have asked for him to see what’s the best fit. He looked so happy running around her large yard. I start to get defensive and look for something else to focus on.

Something she said started to gnaw (get it, gnaw?) at me. “I told my friend Barbara that if anything ever happened to Luke while he is here, I would have to leave town.” I call her on my cell.

“Would you mind sending me a proof of life picture every day while I’m gone, so I know Lukie is ok?”


“You know, take a picture of him with the front page of that day’s The New York Times – or maybe in your case the NY Post – in front of him? Just so I know he is ok.”

“You are sick, very very sick.” And, she hangs up on me.

A few hours later, her niece Saneya calls and leaves the following voice mail.

“Luke is fine and he is having a lot of fun here. He was with me by the pool, and now he is at the Vineyard and everyone is coming over and saying he is very cute and what kind of dog is he. Call us right away.”

Call right away? What does that mean. I call back and everything is supposedly fine. But, how am I really supposed to know?

I am leaving tomorrow on my vacation, which I’m very much looking forward to. I do want to relax and not worry about anything, which is certainly doable. Lukie is fine, I’ll bring presents for everyone, and I’m grateful to my sister for rescuing her dog from New Orleans and me from yet another opportunity for craziness. Do I wish she’s send the proof of life? Yep, but I’ll get over it.

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