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Thursday, July 13, 2006



My parents Shetland sheepdog, Ernie, wrecked my birthday.

How in the world, you may ask, can a dog wreck a persons birthday?

For starters, the dog can be pre-disposed to all forms of doggie wierdness. Somehwere in Ernie's walnut-sized brain is a list like this:

Things that are good:
His own balls
Other dogs and their butt-smells
Herding all categories of things. Animals, people... If it moves, RUN AROUND IT IN CIRCLES!
sniffing your own poop

Things that are bad:
Getting humped by other dogs
Loud noises made by FIREWORKS!
Being locked in a log cabin with STRANGERS!
Being touched by STRANGERS!
Being looked at by STRANGERS!

Things that are bad, but not even considered by Ernie's tiny walnut -sized brain:
WOLVES. The kind that roam around the U.P. and around our cabin.
The kind of WOLVES that killed a neighbors shelte. WOLVES who didn't just kill it, but tore it apart in tiny little pieces, leaving only the poor little guys HEAD which was collected and buried in a small ziplock bag by it's bereft owners.
TWO-LANE HIGHWAYS on which many local dogs have met their maker by way of automobiles hitting and crushing them.

This last part is what led to the disaster that was my birthday. We left the remote log cabin in the woods of the U.P. to dine at a restaruant called "The Root Cellar". Everyone except for my cousin Kerry and her son Zeke, my sister's dog and THAT DAMN DOG Ernie, went to dinner.

Dinner was good (Prime Rib) Service was "meh". Maggie was exhausted, and required constant entertainment in the form of seventeen trips outside to play in the large rambling estate on which "The Root Cellar" is located. Because it was my birthday, my sisters and cousins all did their best to appease the tyrannical toddler so that I could eat.

When we returned to the cabin for birthday cake, and presumably, some celebratory wine, we were alerted to a small problem. Ernie had left the premises. In his doggie panic that transpired shortly after we left because he was unfamiliar with the STRANGER! we left him with, he darted out the screen door the first chance he had. Our poor cousin Kerry called to him and called to him, trying to coax him back in. Ernie, in all his neuroses, refused to re-enter the cabin.

Cue in the FIREWORKS!

The dog, already in a panicky, agitated state, was further agitated by the ass-clowns blowing off fireworks in 2 minute intervals at the county park across the lake.

By the time we got home, the dog was nowhere to be found.

Search parties commenced. There was much worry and concern. Tears were shed. There was coaxing and luring, and shouted fruitless bribes of treats and walks. But there was no Ernie. It grew dark. The searching continued, and our cousin Shanna's fiance Bill sat up for hours in a small pup tent, hoping to catch a glimpse of him.

No Ernie.

All night, I startled awake, thinking I was hearing a small shetland sheepdog being torn apart by wolves. I trotted out to the outhouse at 3:00 a.m. and took my time, carefully peeking the shadows I normally race by, afraid of the dark and the critters hiding in it.

We awoke the next morning, and still no Ernie.

The searching continued. My sister inquired at the county park if anyone had seen our dog, and she could barely get the words out through her tears.

Neighbors were alerted to our situation.

I was certain that we had seen the last of Ernie. Ernie was a goner, and was somewhere herding sheep in doggie heaven, his earthly body torn to pieces on the forest floor of the U.P.

Regressing to my self-centered Id, I moped internally. My birthday would forever be ruined. People would weep every year as I blew out the candles on my birthday cake. And I would shake my fist in the air and shout "THAT DAMN DOG RUINED MY BIRTHDAY!", and then I would cower in shame at my own self-centeredness. And my friends and family would think to themselves "all she cares about is her birthday. She didn't love that DAMN DOG. We are writing her out of the will because she is selfish and small." and I would get no birthday presents at all. Ever.

One thing was for certain: I was NEVER GOING TO THE CABIN ON MY BIRTHDAY EVER, EVER AGAIN. My birthday, forever marred by the anniversary of the violent untimely death of Ernie the dog, at the hands of wild wolves.

The following day, my birthday cake sat, uneaten, on the counter.

Later that morning, a neighbor (perhpaps, now, my all-time favorite Upper Penisulan) pulled into the driveway. Ernie had been spotted by a STRANGER! He had made it through the night! The STRANGERS! called out his name, but because they were STRANGERS! Ernie ran away, just like he did every time a well-intentioned STRANGER! tried to help collect him. In my estimation, this scenario played itself out about four hundred times throughout the day. STRANGERS! shouting "Here Ernie! HERE BOY!" and Ernie pausing, cocking his head to the side, and running, terrified, right back into the woods from which he came.

The searching continued, but the atmosphere changed. Knowing the dog was alive, we started to criticize his stupidity for staying out all night. What kind of a wierd dog doesn't let people touch him after spending a long, lonely night in the scary wolf-infested woods with no food? Why was Ernie so stupid? Was it because he had been isolated in a garage with his also-neurotic shelte brother for the first 12 weeks of his neurotic life? Was it because he lacked human interaction as a puppy? Why was Ernie so dumb? Dumb, DUMB Dog.

My favorite neighbor returned throughout the day to tell us of the most recent Ernie sighting. The DAMN DOG continued to run away from well-intentioned STRANGERS! Well into the afternoon.

Eventually, we recovered the dog. I was out searching neighboring properties spanning about 4 miles when he was found. In the end I returned home while, with no small degree of irony, a search party had been dispatched to locate ME. Because THAT DAMN DOG! had been found, yet I was still, out searching for him. DAMN DOG.

Upon my return to the cabin, I walked over to the dog and kicked him as hard as I could in the ribs for ruining my birthday.

Allright. I didn't really do that. I looked at his scraggly furry face, gave him a scratch behind the ear and said "Ernie, I am glad you are back, and that you didn't get eaten by wolves. Oh. AND YOU RUINED MY BIRTHDAY YOU WORTHLESS FREAKING MONGREL!"

I did wish that we had ERNIE CAM footage so we could review all his adventures, but alas, we have only our imaginations.

I gave the DAMN DOG the cold shoulder the rest of the week. But secretly, I was glad that he had returned to us unharmed.

We had birthday cake that night, the day AFTER my birthday. Maggie helped me blow out the candles (which was really the only reason I was so insistent on having birthday cake. The child thinks birthday cake is mind-blowingly exciting).

I do love that DAMN DOG. In all my selfishness, I did secretly pray for his safe return with all my might, and seeing that DAMN DOG! again (alive, with his head attached to his body), was possibly the best birthday present of all. DAMN DOG.


Anonymous TB said...

Your description of Ernie is hilarious. I can totally picture him running merrily through the fields of the upper peninsula as you wait to eat your birthday cake.

12:12 PM  
Blogger Jenny said...

Oh, we had an Ernie the Damn Dog growing up... sigh.

3:50 PM  
Blogger Donna said...

I'm glad Ernie is back. (But I thought your dog was Harriet?)

6:13 PM  
Anonymous mothergoosemouse said...

Happy birthday Meghan!

The best part is how he KNEW there were people calling for him, ready to bring him back to meat and cheese and sandwiches, and yet his fear of STRANGERS! trumped the desire for yummies.

11:57 AM  
Blogger Dawn said...

Oh M, I love you more for hating the dog...then hating yourself for hating the dog. I swear some days we share a brain.

And Frankly, Ernie had made a deal with the wolves and was off partying with them to annoy you and bring doom to your most special of days....

7:11 AM  
Blogger Jozet said...

Well Happy Birthday!

And LOL at Damn Dog.

I will promise you that a Damn Dobg will never interrupt my birthday wishes for you. Ever.

Pass the cake.

6:57 PM  
Blogger Muriel said...

Damn Ernie Dog! That is hilarous. We've been through similar - but never during a birthday celebration! Glad you guys still had cake, even if it was a day late! :)

10:28 AM  

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