An event filled bonding experience
“I need your help.”
My wife Cyn rarely asks that. She knows the consequences. They are never good.
“Sure.” I jumped up from the lounge where I'd been watching her tape Halloween decorations on a window.
She was ready for that, snaring the pitcher of apple cider I knocked over in my excitement before it broke on the patio. “You Goomus.”
We both laughed as only newlyweds can do. “It’s Shamus.”
“You mean your, I mean our dog?” I floundered, wondering what was up. I’d put her, I mean our dog out of mind when Cyn put Shamus off our bed and out of our sleeping quarters when I moved in.
“Shamus is out of sorts, Mike. It is as simple as that.” She looked meaningfully at me waiting for me to pick up on cue.
I tried taking her in my arms to smother her with ardent attention but it looked like the honeymoon was temporarily on hold instead. “Later, gater, but not much.”
She patted my cheek and handed over the reigns of the leash Cyn used when taking Shamus on his daily walk. “I love you.” She laughed at my confusion. “You are too cute. Now go bond, James. Take Shamus. It’s a beautiful Autumn day and I’ll have a surprise waiting.”
“Five minutes?” I asked hopefully as Shamus struggled to escape us both. His nose was pointed at a rising pile of scuttling dry fall leaves he wanted to chase before the wind carried them away.
“One hour. I'll bewitch you when you get back but you know how women like to primp.” She made kissy noises and pointed to the door.
Both Shamus and I retreated with our tails behind our legs. Cyn waved us on. “Down by the river. There’s a spooky Halloween walkway. It'll get you in the mysterious mood. You’ll enjoy it.” She winked and disappeared like a ghost as she closed the door on us.
Being first out the door, Shamus began a loping run after the tail of a black cat that crossed our path. I tripped over the front steps trying to catch up but was only dragged a few feet through Cyn’s flower bed before coming to my senses.
I rolled up to my feet to the applause of our neighbors out putting up their own festive decorations. I spit out a flower from between my teeth while nodding a greeting. Still propelled by being connected to Shamus by his leash I managed to learn how to tap dance while continuing on. It was surprising what a man could learn from a pet dog without even half trying.
What looked like a real neighborhood witch was using her broom to make magic with colorful fall leaves disappearing into a big black plastic bag on her front lawn.
“What a cute puppy.” She twitched a long pointed nose in our direction.
Now Shamus is a one-hundred and twenty-five-pound mutt of no particular breed. I don’t know which enhanced superpower of genetics came on display first. He instantly stopped on a dime and his nose stuck up this grandmother’s butt. “Sorry.” I blushed.
This goodly matriarch did a little quaint dancing of her own but Shamus was not to be denied getting acquainted in ways only dogs can appreciate. “My goodness. Can’t you control this beast?” The old witch's broom appeared to be anxiously trying to fly out of her hands. The spell she wanted to put on Cyn's pet did not look good.
I was about to reply no when we were off again to the races. Shamus had seen another black cat that looked like it had just seen its own ghost. Or it would shortly become such when Shamus got hold of it with his jaws.
The little puffball grew five times it's furry size, hissed like a snake, and with only its tail waving in view spent eight of its nine lives darting this way and that until magically disappearing up a tree. “Thank heavens.” I sent a prayer up with the critter wondering if the cat would stop climbing before reaching a floating cloud up above.
“Are you alright?” Our paperboy, inured to the ways of violent dogs by throwing rolled up newspapers at any chance of attack spoke from his bike. “That looks like it hurts.” He was dressed up in a pirate's outfit scouting for treasure. He lifted the patch over one eye to scan the neighborhood for the best Halloween decorated houses. Those would be the ones with the best candy come 'Trick Or Treat' time.
His gaze and mine returned to my new costume. My left arm connected to the leash was now only twice as long as my right. Maybe if I changed the leash to my other hand. Cyn already liked to call me her ape-man. At this rate, I would look like one in no time at all.
The paperboy looked disappointed. He had to hand me our news instead of getting to throw it at Shamus. I knew how he felt. “Thanks,” I said while dragging a few knuckles along the ground.
Shamus had seen one of his girlfriends. I was suddenly flapping my wings trying to learn how to fly. Only a low hanging river birch branch stopped me. My landing wedged in place stopped Shamus too. He let out a bit of low pitched thunder Cyn said was a friendly bark.
“This sort of business has to stop, Shamus,” I replied with more than injured pride. While I counted bruises, Shamus allowed himself to be licked all over by a poodle wearing a pink ribbon.
“Honey? Oh. There you are. Hi Shamus. Where’s Cyn?” I stared upside down at my wife’s best friend Heather. She was always dressed up in whatever the female look of the day was. Today that appeared to be stretch pants, jogging shoes and a tight pink pullover that read 'I'm out jogging sexy memories'.
“Hey there.” I managed to croak out while spitting out the leaves I'd captured in my mouth.
“Why, it's the pet husband.” Heather barked with laughter. “Let me help you.”
I waved the help aside, checking out my appendages to see which ones were missing. “Hmm, right arm is just as long as the left one now.”
Heather looked me up and down. “Shamus is taking you for a walk, is he? How nice.” She gave Cyn’s monster a pat on the head and took her poodle off in the opposite direction. I dug in my heels, latched onto the leash with both newly refurbished arms and held on for dear life.
Shamus was making his own path along the river's edge. He wanted a drink and made quite the splash diving right in. I only wear a size eight shoe so was unable to learn how to water-ski while he frolicked and cooled himself off in a whirlpool of waves. A wave of laughter washed over me along with the tide. “Look mommy at the funny man. “
A child dressed up as a fairy and her mother as Cinderella waved a magic wand to point out my spectacle and soon a whole festive Halloween picnic party joined in yelling out "What a treat. Do another trick."
I stood, bowed, and with the help of Shamus clambered up the bank with a friendly fish wiggling out of a back pocket. Surely it was time to head back home but how was I to get there?
Shamus loves chasing mailman trucks. One gave us a passing glance as it rolled down the parkway road. The crowd cheered as I passed joggers, tumbling them like bowling pins. Their feet were still trodding air as they gave upsidedown shouts of encouragement while we raced past. Shamus and I were home in no time. I didn't have to wait to catch my breath. It had arrived in the whirlwind we made coming to our door.
“Here’s your mail. Nice costume. You are a cyclone survivor, right?”
I wheezed, bent over, and gasped for breath. The tatters of my clothing waved in the fading vortex of wind Shamus made coming to a stop. It took but a moment for the long reach of my arms to stretch out and catch hold of our mail.
“What a dog. Perfect monster look for Halloween. Enjoy, dude.”
Cyn was waiting on the front porch. “Did you have a nice time bonding?”
“Let’s get a cat, not a black one. They are too much darn bad luck, say a mountain lion.”
"Ooh. Tarzan home from the jungle. Jane Happy now." She sized up my new look while Shamus bestowed wet kisses on her face.
My bride had honeymoon in her eyes and tomorrow looked a long time away. I left Shamus digging holes in the backyard maybe I could use as a miniature golf course someday in the far future. I knew I'd have better luck being Tarzan to my Jane than taming her wild beast of a pet.
"Come on, my pet. Thank you for making nice with Shamus." She led me towards a closet full of costumes she must have saved since she was five years old.
"I'm not sure I like this new look you are wearing for our Halloween party tonight. Let see what superhero I can make of you."
One look back at Shamus and I knew Shamus would always be the superhero in the family. He had taught me a lesson in humility I would never forget. My bride would just have to accept me for the kind of pet I was. There was no way, that I could ever win this event.