If Lexus was a challenge to walk, she was nearly an impossibility to get into a vehicle.
My Great Dane and I had recently been involved in a car accident, in which we were rear ended by a large industrial truck. Although neither Lexus nor I sustained any real physical injuries, she did seem to suffer some post-traumatic syndrome from the incident, and refused from that day forward to be loaded into the family car without a fight.
She was protesting loudly the day that I decided to take all three kids and our two dogs to the lake. As soon as I opened the station wagon hatch to put her in, she bolted, dragging me helplessly down the alley until I managed to hook a passing stop sign with my arm and leverage her to a halt. My son, Chaz, rolled his eyes and moaned in exasperation.
“For crying out loud, Mom – give me the dog. There is nothing wrong with her; you just don’t know how to make her listen. Give her here and let me deal with her because I can handle her. It’s not that hard, you just have to let her know who the boss is.”
Chaz was fifteen years old at the time, and he already stood about six inches taller than me. During his adolescent years alone, he also had considerable more strength than I would ever lay claim to in my entire life. So I gladly relinquished the leash, and with minimal effort on his part, he managed to get Lexus into the car. We cruised along down the road; windows down, radio up, kids chatting, and Lexus panting hard in the background.
When we arrived at our favorite lake, the day was splendid. The weather was a gorgeous eighty degrees and the sun was shining. The bonus of low humidity was a rare occurrence for our state of Pennsylvania. The girls hopped out of the vehicle with our Corgi, Bert, in tow. Lexus anxiously shook in the back. She wanted out of the car, but was hesitant to experience anything new. I told Chaz that he might have problems with her and he scoffed at my warning.
“Listen Mom, I told you. I can handle her. This is how you control a Dane. Watch this.”
And with those last words of wisdom, Chaz took her six-foot leather leash and wrapped it tightly around his right arm. He circled it at least ten times, and now had a firm and unwavering hold on her. The leash clung to his flesh, and his skin pulsated quietly under its grip.
“See Mom, this is how you do it. This dog isn’t going anywhere unless I go too. Come on Lexus, let’s go!”
I had to admit that he certainly seemed to have her under his tightfisted control. I watched admiringly as they walked unsteadily away from the car, man and his beast operating as one.
We began to circle the lake, watching the local fishermen, commenting on the flocks of ducks, and enjoying the view and fresh air.
The little village that surrounds the lake is called Boiling Springs. The town takes its name from the underwater pockets of springs that continually bubble up fresh water to the surface of that picturesque lake. We stopped at a little clearing where the bubbles form and where a small waterway allows the neighboring streams to contribute to the clarity of the lake. We were standing on a concrete ledge that rose approximately four feet above the cascading water, discussing the history of the lake and the town, when I noticed out of the corner of my eye that Lexus had become fixated on something in the ripples below us.
Now for those of you who are used to working with animals, you realize that it doesn’t take long for a dog to react to things. Their reflexes are incredibly fast, almost lightning speed. So it took all of about three seconds for Lexus to rear back on her hind legs, push off with her back feet, and in one amazingly graceful arc, go spiraling off the ledge and into the inviting stream below. Chaz, who was still wrapped restrictively to her leash, also arced, albeit not quite as gracefully, and with a loud, sharp cry spiraled spasmodically into the water behind her. They landed with an explosive splash similar to that of a detonated grenade.
It was at that precise moment where things took a turn for the worse. Lexus apparently did not realize what she was getting into, because once her massive paws hit that icy cold mountain water, she panicked. It was evident that she desperately wanted to be back on dry land. With the two of them still acting as one, she began to charge back and forth in the water like a wide-eyed, crazed gazelle who is frantically trying to escape the claws of a ferocious predator. Chaz, who was still attached like Velcro to her lead, was dragged along behind her, looking like a trout that’s been unmercifully snagged on a fisherman’s lure, and is desperately fighting for its freedom.
It was a site to behold. Up and down the water way they floundered, man and his beast, or more precisely beast and her man, until Lexus finally located an exit.
There was a small section of the wall that bent down at an odd angle, and she attacked it like it was her savior. Up over the edge they came, Lexus still hysterical and Chaz likewise dismayed. As she dragged him violently up across the concrete wall, he let out a series of words most kids his age generally are discouraged from using. Once grounded, she rushed to me and hid behind my legs, wet and trembling. Chaz and I worked feverishly to untie the two of them, as he scrambled to his feet and gave Lexus a bellowing berating. My son was soaking wet, both his shins and arms were dripping with blood and water, and he was swearing like a sailor from the Island of Profanity. He vowed that he would never, no never, try to work with that monster again.
While the girls and I took the dogs to complete our walk around the lake, Chaz stomped off toward the car to dry himself and try to regain his dignity.
To her credit, Lexus had once again provided us with an unforgettable family outing.