Spring 1979, just outside dorm 68, UWF
After the rat smuggling experience, I retired from smuggling. This was not to be a permanent retirement, even though I honestly (an honest smuggler?) meant it to be.
A few months after ratty's demise, Mother's Day was approaching and I had an idea for a memorable gift, but no money to make it happen.
A little history ... the wonderful dog of my teen years, Buster, was struck and killed by a car just a week before I left for college. It was very painful as all dog partings are, but it seemed almost like an exclamation point on the fact that my childhood was over. Leave home, lose dog ... all in one week ... lots of changes. When I drove off to college, our house was dogless ... something it had not been for years.
A month or so later, my Dad mailed me a picture of a curly haired, peekapoo type pup, and this one sentence note, "Meet Herman. The king is dead, long live the king."
I knew Herman would never be MY dog as I would be a stranger who came to visit from time to time. Herman actually became almost totally my Dad's dog and never warmed up to Mom, or the rest of us. Dad adored him and Herman returned the adoration. To me he was a snappy little thing and I still find small yappy dogs repugnant thanks to Herm's brattitude.
Mom had often expressed a love for Labs, but we had never owned a store bought dog. More importantly, she had never had a dog of her own. She was recently retired and had time on her hands, so the situation seemed right for a pup of her own. I wanted to make that happen.
I began searching for a lab pup as May approached, but they were all too expensive. At some point, it hit me that I should try the Escambia County Animal Shelter. You know how that went. A long corridor of chainlink cages with the most wistful, sad, furry inhabitants inside. All needy, all deserving of a good home, and me looking for just the right one, ignoring the whines and noses pressed through wire.
I moved down the cage rows and there, in a cage by himself was "Buck", a lab mix whose family had to leave and couldn't take him according to the information card tied to the cage wire. They were probably NAVY as Pensacola is a base town. He was perfect and I impulsively left with him, even though the dorm had a no pets policy and I still had over a week before I could go home for Mother's day.
Back in the dorm, operation pupsmuggle began with great cooperation from my suite mates and every girl in the dorm. Talk about a chick magnet ... puppies rule!
For the next two weeks, Buck was dashed outside under coats, in clothes baskets, and once in a stereo box. He had been "mostly" housebroken before going to the shelter, so that part was surprisingly easy to manage.
A day or two before Mother's Day weekend, Joan the R.A. came to visit me. She let me know that she knew, and I really couldn't have a dog in the dorm. She couldn't take the heat for such a gross violation. She was right.
I explained the situation (we were friends) and the fact that it was only for another day or two. We struck a deal. I wound up typing her term paper and she looked the other way for the rest of the week when Buck was out doing his business.
On Friday, I loaded Buck up into the Gremlin and headed East to St. Augustine.
After a few "walk in the grass" stops and almost 400 miles of driving, we arrived in my parent's front yard. When Mom came out to greet me, I put Buck in her arms.
You know that feeling you get when you give someone just the right gift... that thing they've always wanted?
Multiply it by a thousand.
It was love at first sight and within an hour, Buck became "Ben". He grew into one of the finest dogs I've ever known and gave my Mom years of doggy joy.
Mom and Ben a few months later.
Operation Pupsmuggle was a definite success.
It remains one of the finest things I have ever done.
I'm afraid that's all the smuggling tales I can share with you.
I'm never sure about the statute of limitations ...