Playtime is not to be neglected

This Side Up


Ollie ate the car.

Surely you’ve heard the ageless claim that “the dog ate the homework.” And who’s going to believe that?

But, really, Ollie ate the car. See it, and you will believe it. That’s my explanation, now that the passenger seat has been reduced to chunks of foam rubber, the headliner is ripped and the side panel air bags are dangling. It’s a disaster.

Carol and I can only guess what happened, but our four-legged friend has certainly brought new meaning to the word “forgiveness.”

Like other Easter mornings, this one started off with the sunrise service at Warwick Light, followed by the joint St. Rita’s Church and The First Congregational Church of Warwick service at Oakland Beach. This was a unique Easter in that it also coincided with Carol’s birthday.

Ted, Erica and the twins planned to celebrate the two occasions with an Easter/birthday breakfast at their home in Saunderstown. Carol was looking forward to it, as was I. When Ted called around 8, I was back from Oakland Beach and Carol was ready to leave.

Ollie watched intently. Usually he has a little “pullie time” in the morning when he plays with a short section of knotted rope, which after he pulls free, he shakes vigorously with a lot of bravado growling. The game lasts no more than five minutes, after which he focuses his attention on whatever is being put together for breakfast.

But he sensed the routine had changed Easter Sunday. The pullie was untouched. He knew something was up. He watched and as soon as Carol picked up the leash, he looked relieved. He wagged his tail and positioned himself in front of the door. There was no way he was going to be left at home. He wanted to be included.

Traveling with Ollie can be a test. No sooner did we pull out of the driveway did he spot another dog on a morning walk. Carol gave me a warning look.

“I forgot my earmuffs,” she said bringing her hands to her ears. We both knew what was coming, and sure enough Ollie let out a mournful howl.

Looking back on it, I should have detected this wasn’t going to be any ordinary day with Ollie. Barely a minute later we passed an Easter jogger. Ollie howled again as if to say, “I wish I was running, too.” That would have been the thing to do. Let him run. But the birthday breakfast was waiting and so were Ted and the girls.

Ted’s house backs up to the woods.

We parked in the drive, leaving a handful of kibble on the seat for Ollie and the windows cracked open two or three inches. Letting him loose was out of the question. Ollie would have picked up a scent and disappeared into the woods.

It looked like he would be fine. There wasn’t even as much as a plaintive cry when we left him. Carol checked on him 20 minutes later, taking him for a brief walk around the property.

Everything was calm.

But somehow that changed.

Maybe, as Carol suggests, one of the deer that make it difficult for Ted to grow a vegetable garden or a wild turkey walked by the car. On her next visit to check on Ollie, Carol found it in shambles. The damage is extensive. Our innocent, peaceful Ollie had been transformed. The plastic framing to the passenger seat had been torn off. Fist-sized wads of yellow foam rubber were strewn across the interior. Headrests were reduced to metal frames and the headliner, ripped and stretched, lay across the seats.

“Oh, my God,” Erica exclaimed in disbelief.

Ollie looked as happy as ever, like he was being congratulated on some masterful achievement. Carol had him on his leash. He sat smiling, his white-tipped tail swinging back and forth.

I was speechless.

Ted, who had his brother, Jack, on Skype, panned the scene. There were more “oohs” and “aahs.” Ollie kept wagging. He loved the attention.

I looked at him.

If he had the pullie at that moment, he would have picked it up, shook it and prompted me to play. If only he had been able to contain his enthusiasm until then.

Instead, he ate the car.


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