There’s a strip of desert between Los Angeles and Las Vegas that runs dark for about 300 miles. It’s an area of the Earth so void of hope that no one has ever bothered to develop; it’s no man’s land. Anything goes. Mad Max.
It’s in this stretch that Kaidance suddenly begins breathing heavily; goes straight from her average, low volume wheezing to full on post-marathon panting. Like a floodgate that has been switched, saliva begins dangling from her mouth in long tendrils. Droplets of spittle bounce off her tongue like confused raindrops and begin covering the top of our cooler. It’s day one of our Fantastic Voyage to Take Kaidance Home to Heaven and we’ve been traveling for 2 1/2 hours. In case you’re uncertain, this is definitely foreshadowing.
Your Woman by White Town begins playing and, as though on cue, Kaidance sticks her slobbery jowls between our seats like Donkey in the first Shrek movie and just begins to……. exist. And I could never be your woman. No, Kaidance, you sure couldn’t. Her putrid breath heaves onto us. You can feel her stank exhale resting on your skin like a thick Georgian humidity. She mouth-dribbles on the cooler. She mouth-dribbles on the arm rests. She mouth-dribbles on my wife’s Diet Coke and, if you know anything about my wife, you know you don’t mess with her Diet Coke.
Homey don’t play that.
She shouts something incoherent, threatening the life of the canine. The panting gets louder. My wife cracks a new, untainted DC because she’s certain some of “that damned dog’s” mouth water has poisoned the well. The panting gets louder… louder… louder… it has successfully drowned out the radio and we’re beginning to grow concerned that the noise of her breathing is going to wake up the children. Something by Nirvana comes over the speakers but I can barely make out what song it is. This says less about Kurt Cobain’s choppy vocals and more about the noise of a pervert hissing in my ear. Why is she standing so close to me? Kaidance has her mouth full open, jaw unhinged, tongue dangling 16 inches past her teeth, a waterfall of saliva in full stream running down her chest and into a bag of groceries. There goes the fruit.
My wife says, “This is disgusting. Dog, you are disgusting. This couldn’t be any worse” and I say, “Don’t tempt the universe” and my wife says, “What’s that? What is that smell?” I think perhaps she’s making a Teen Spirit joke, what with Nirvana and all but then, no. It’s a fart. No. A shart. No. A turd. No. A bunch of turds. No. Diarrhea. For every ounce of saliva that Kaidance has splish-splashed on our belongings, she has perfectly matched with The Liquid Brown.
Softer than any velvet and more pungent than the strongest cheese, it’s on the door, the floor, the blankets. It’s week old green eggs and ham. It’s Operation Dumbo Drop. It’s The Devil Inside. It’s a hot dog factory where everyone has BO and bathes in horchata. It’s……. still coming. The Spray. She’s a sprinkler with a pulse, a faucet filled with rusty water, a fire hose gone wrong, and I’m gunning it at 80mph down the freeway into Oblivion.
My wife turns to me and says / sobs, “What are we going to do?” but she already knows the answer. She already knows the horrible, inescapable answer even before I say it… she knows.
It’s 10:30 at night and there’s nothing between us and civilization but 60 miles and a trillion specks of sand. My wife gags and rolls down a window. She gags again and says, “I think I’m going to puke”. She sticks her head out the window and starts making these loud breathing noises that don’t sound dissimilar to Kaidance and her wheezing.
I turn the volume up on the radio. Something soft by The Shins juxtaposes everything that’s happening.
Like a turd, the next 45 minutes are long and smelly. Finally, we find a lone gas station that’s lit by a solitary flickering bulb. Horror movie’s have started here for sure. We clean the van out. The kids wake up. Kaidance lets the concrete know who’s boss. Clementine runs away. The kids go back to sleep. The dogs get back in the car. It’s midnight. Everything stinks, the upholstery is clean-ish but covered in a sticky residue. Pandora’s box has been closed… or at the very least plugged up. We only have 23 more hours until we reach our destination.
This is vacation. Welcome to Paradise.
This story and a million like it are what I will remember about Kaidance long after she’s gone. Some people have stories about hunting dogs and farm dogs and family dogs and wonderful little dogs that fit in purses and lick you on the lips and wear sweaters and know fun tricks. Not Kaidance: Destroyer of Hope. No. She is a breed of cruel, dastardly perversion all her own.
Below, I’ve compiled a quick list of memories I have with my dog, both the good and the bad.
Kaidance, this is your life…
1. When you were a puppy you would sleep on my pillow, curl up next to my ear and snore. That’s a cute one.
2. I remember taking you to the park in Denver on a winter day, the snow standing taller than you. Another cute memory. You were so tiny.
3. One day you ate my friend’s pet turtle. She was pretty upset. That’s a sad memory, for sure, in case you’re keeping tally.
4. We took you to The Turtle Girl’s parent’s house and you did that diarrhea thing you’re so good at all over their brand new white carpet. They said it wasn’t a big deal but I could tell… they were pretty upset.
4. Jade had spent a considerable amount of time on a three tier cake for her Cake Making 101 class. You knocked it off the counter and ate most of it moments before she left to present for a final grade. You also ate my celebratory “I beat cancer” cake that my favorite nurse gave to me.
5. I remember you pulling a bottle of vegetable oil off the counter, tearing it open, drinking the whole thing and then dropping peppermint patties all through the house. PS. Peppermint patties = more diarrhea. This happened while we were out so by the time we got back it had all dried into these dusty rocks that had stuck to the floor like anal barnacles.
6. You went through a phase where you tore open the trash every single day. Even if there was nothing in the bin but newspapers, you simply didn’t care. This was frustrating.
7. Towards “the end” when you were no longer able to control your bladder, I remember waking up in the middle of the night to let you out at 11pm, 2am and 5am like a newborn baby. This too was pretty frustrating although I do understand. Even at 30 it is rare that I don’t get up at least once a night.
8. You were never a dog that could be taken to someone’s house for a social function. When you get excited you drool… and you get excited about pretty much every thing.
9. Once, when I had cancer and was having a particularly tough day you suddenly crawled up into my rocking chair with me, completely unprovoked. You’d never done it before or since. It was very thoughtful of you and was exactly what I needed.
10. I once purchased 20 Whopper Juniors and gave them all to you on a platter. I know it wasn’t healthy but I’ve never seen you happier than on that day.
11. One day I left some carrots on the counter. You pulled them down and then pulled down Jade’s favorite turquoise ceramic bowl. She was upset. At both of us.
12. You once sat on my pillow and when I pushed you off there was a brown starfish where I put my face. Why do you do these things to me?
13. You are one of the biggest dogs I’ve ever seen and you love pushing yourself between people’s legs like a bridge. It freaks newcomers out.
14. You used to sleep on the bed with us and would full on stretch out, taking up every square foot you could. I would typically curl into a little ball and try to work around you.
15. You’d get so excited when we pulled out your leash, you’d jump onto your hind legs and bark… and then when we got to the dog park you’d just lie down next to us and observe those which you considered inferior.
You’ve been with Jade and I since 2002 and, as evidenced by this list, have taught me a considerable amount about patience and grace, which I’m thankful for. In a very backwards way, you’ve helped me to become a better father. Trust me when I say that being a parent of 2 1/2 year old twins is 90% patience and grace and 10% damage control. Whether my kids are destroying an object that I’m fond of, pooping on my couch, waking me up at 2am to pee, or hogging the bed with their strange sleeping aerobics, you did it first. You forged the way for these pioneers.
Am I surprised that you blew the stinky all over the inside of our new mini-van? Absolutely not. I know your track record. Like a moth, you’re going to go out big and I’d expect nothing less.