Thursday, October 18, 2007

Operation Pupsmuggle

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 ...


smilin-buddha said...

My teenage dog died about a year and a half ago. My mother had retired and said no more dogs. Of course I knew she need soemthing to make fat and spoil. So I bought her the dog of her childhood. A boston Terrier now named OTIS. First dog in the history of my family that sleeps in bed with my parents. I never thought I would see that. Best money I ever spent.

Mark said...

That type of dog smuggling must be one of the finest illegal professions.

It seems like the word verifications are tuning into dissertations. In a language I don't know.

threecollie said...

You made me a nice way.
I like Ben/Buck a whole lot better than the rat/

Sharon said...


Laura said...

there is no statute of limitations on great dog stories. ;)

roger said...

i can see the girls using the dog to get close to the that cute guy who is so sweet he's getting a dog for his mom.

robin andrea said...

That is the sweetest pup-smuggling story I've ever read. Great pic of your mom with Ben. The joy for both of them is obvious. And, look at you in 1979, such a cutie!

Deb said...

I could not imagine any college age young woman who could resist the combination of puppy and handsome young man!

kathy a. said...

i love the mom and pup picture -- so much happiness!

Hurricane Teen said...

Awww what a great story...and a cute dog. I have a really hard time going to the animal shelter...I just want to adopt ever single one of the dogs there! They deserve better than the situation they're in.

SophieMae said...

What a cute little guy! The puppy is adorable, as well. ;} The mom and pup pic is pricelsss!

I absolutely can not go anywhere near an animal shelter. Maybe one day, if I'm ever in a position to take home every animal there...

vicki said...

The things that go on in dorms! Makes you wonder about doings in Tampa. Speaking of, how about those Bulls?

I love the picture of your mom with
Ben- what a good deed you did! As for rats- my kids had a few delightful pet rats but the last one- Abby smuggled it into her room at her dad's place- and it ate it's way into a loveseat. Stayed there for a year only coming out at night to pick up the food Abby left it. She stayed up trying to capture it but to no avail- that rat was fast!

Seafood festival, huh? I can't get to Florida soon enough.

kathy a. said...

my daughter likes to go the animal shelter, just to visit. she fostered something like 7-8 batches of kittens, her last couple years of high school. fostering works out great -- we have all this joy and fun for a few weeks! and then the babies are socialized, so they are adoptable.

our family deal has been that i can't adopt any more cats, or else my husband gets a puppy. i work at home, and am not doing a puppy! we could leave a puppy to be raised by the dogs, but junior dog is absolutely spoiled and would teach it bad manners. we're at a standoff on that front. but i might take in some foster babies again. ;)

Cathy S. said...

Have you ever read Marley and Me? Wonderful book. You would love it. This post reminds me of it. Thanks for the great story.

Floridacracker said...

Feels good don't it?
Good work!

It's easier to apologize than get permission :)

Glad you liked it. Thanks.

Thank you.
Every once in a while, things go the way I planned. Just often enough to keep it interesting :)

Clever you!
Great dogs do deserve to be remembered.

and there i was ... clueless.

Okay now, how many pup smuggling stories have you read? :)
I love, love, love that pic of Mom and Ben too.
As for my pic ... wow that hair was dark.

Well, plenty of them did!
Thanks tho!

Kathy A,
Me too. Pure joy from both of them.
Love it. I think that pet fostering is a great idea. LOL about the current dog teaching bad habits.

See what's ahead of you?

I'm always torn between wanting to see what's in the shelter and not wanting to know.
Ben was completely adorable.

We have had a few pet rats since that fiasco, but they have such short lives we finally called it quits. Too painful.
We are watching the Bulls right play Rutgers right now.

Cathy S,
I gave it to my Mom for Christmas a few years ago. Later, I took her to have the author sign it at B&N.
I still need to read it.

Sandy said...

That was such a sweet story and you had me in tears by the time I saw the picture of your mother and Ben.

Floridacracker said...

Thank you.