Advil packed and ear plugs in tow, which this particular route required, I was prepared to tackle one the marvels of the modern world; a glutton for punishment. This young family, full of small napping children and Zen like philosophies and design preferences, did not merely have a single failure in mental function but rather thrice. From this trio of separate lapses in judgment came what I affectionately called “The Three Stooges”. The Stooges were a pack of howling, whirling, bumbling beagles, which even in their twilight years had not slowed down. Each month as I pulled into the drive with my beloved grooming van, you could hear the barrage of hounds slamming into the front door and sounding the alarm. Living in a sea of close tract housing, I’m sure they were popular with the neighbors, in addition to thwarting many a motherly effort to quiet the kiddos.
However, this month I was in luck. It was summer and the annual family vacation preparations had forced a slight change in schedule. For some unknown reason the pet sitter they had booked to chaperone was less than thrilled about a pack of smelly, shedding beagles, so in order to appease they requested a good scrubbing the day prior to departure while the matriarch and patriarch squeezed in the last few hours of the work week. This meant I would have free reign to grab each pup and service them without the additional spectacle that came with the human pack home.
In typical fashion, as I sauntered up the sidewalk, the front door shook from the force of The Stooges clamoring to say hello and body slam whoever this intruder was. Like little suburban lemmings, this family too had the required coded front door lock. Mentally I chuckled, “why use a key when you can have some form of excessive gadgetry?!” Entering the magical code, and twisting this and depressing that , the door opened and the commotion went silent as the pack sat in awe for a few seconds. Of course this was fleeting and soon enough I was wrangling The Stooges into the van and through their cleansing.
After a few snowstorms and slight ringing in my ears, the beagles were ready to go back on patrol. One, two, three, I shoved them through the front door and began the electronic key pad ritual. However, at this conclusion, rather than a secure lock, I got a ding ding sound of disapproval. Wanting to curse modern technology I attempted several more times, before admitting defeat and calling the parents. As if to mock the situation, all numbers went straight to voice mail. Sensing my frustration and the slightest disturbance The Stooges began to get restless. Although, their cries were muffled at the moment I knew eventually the full alarm would raised and with it the entire neighborhoods attention.
Trying to be clever, a few alternatives were tested. The back yard and fence were examined to see if I could secure the front door from the inside and exit from the rear. Much to my chagrin the rear fencing was a 6ft privacy board on board model, so although this short redneck can scale some chain link like a pro, this route was going to be no go. My thoughts then drifted back to my childhood days of running under the garage door. Certainly not as lithe or swift as I once was, I still figured no harm would could of it. Resembling as duck making a mad dash, I went for it. I found myself thwarted again, however not by my lack of physical prowess but safety sensors that will not allow a door to go down if a laser beam is broken. Darn those children. The barrage of beagle voices seemed to belt out a song of lament in my honor. Meanwhile, I started to worry with all the commotion and the visual of myself trying to break out of the house, if I was but a mere step away from being on an episode of cops or perhaps the scorn of the neighborhood watch. Then, like a cry from heaven, my cell phone rang.
A flood of apologies and condolences flowed from the matriarch. During my escape from Alcatraz, she too had been frantically putting an SOS out to the husband. Apparently, this gadget had been his weekend project and she had yet to personally use lemming lock system. With a sense of relief in regards to my mental capacity, she bestowed the secret upon me. There was a different ritual to engage the lock. Deciphering the husband’s code, I was finally able to secure the beagle beasts into their domestic cage.
Scurrying to van, I noticed an old woman in the next yard. Trowel in hand she bore a skeptical, stone cold gaze in my direction. Whether it was madness from the beagle symphony or resentment toward technology is unknown, but without thought I gave the most stressed grin, Parkinson’s wave and a saccharin sweet “Have a nice day” as I dashed to the cabin, turned the ignition and peeled out like a getaway car. There was no way I was willing to have those beagles get me in the dog house.