When we go out-of-town, our good friends, Mike and Ginger, and their family take care of Nikki for us.
Several years ago, when we first took him there, Doug said,
“If you have to put him down, here’s the vet’s number.”
“What? Why would we have to put him down?” Ginger asked, aghast.
“Well, you never know what could happen,” Doug said, trying to make a joke out of it.
Not a very funny joke, but it shows the seriousness of good doggie day care.
You never know what the dog sitters will have to do.
We have the very best dog sitters ever.
We cannot afford to mess up this great arrangement.
So we give Nikki a good talking to before we drop him off.
“Now be good because you don’t want to go back to that kennel where that dog-loving nun made you sleep alone in a crate. You know how much you like sleeping on Haley’s bed! So don’t misbehave!”
He hasn’t always listened like the last Thanksgiving when he jumped up on the kitchen table, snatched a cube of butter, and gobbled down the entire fatty glob before they could stop him.
That must be why the vet told him he was getting a little chubby around the middle.
It can’t be from the rotisserie chicken I give him after my Costco runs.
He knows when it’s Costco chicken day.
From the minute I walk in the door carrying that juicy bird,
he sits patiently by the counter wagging his tail until I put his precious morsels in his bowl.
Then, he promptly licks it clean.
He does cute things like that sometimes.
But sometimes his cuteness and cleverness is a little more frustrating.
After our trip to Utah for Thanksgiving, I went to pick him up before Ginger and Mike went to work.
As soon as I got there, Mike opened the front door to bring out Nikki’s crate and other vacation gear, and Nikki bounded out, jumping all over me like it had been over a century since we’d seen each other, just like he does if I walk out to the mailbox or down to the basement and back.
The animal has no sense of time.
Any short break from me is like an eternity for him.
I opened the car door.
He jumped in the car, tail wagging excitedly, because of course it had been eons since we’d seen each other.
Mike followed Nikki, carrying the crate, food bowl, treats, and leash.
He carefully placed them all in the backseat of the car so that he and Ginger could rush off to work.
Then our cute, hyperactive, happy-go-lucky dog jumped up and down from one door to the next, looking out the window at us, and panting with joy to be going home.
Then his little paw hit the door lock.
He locked all the car doors.
The keys were in the ignition.
The car was running.
My cell phone was locked in the car with the dog.
If he could lock the doors, maybe he could unlock them?
It was worth a try.
Ginger and I did our best to convince him.
“Here Nikki, open the door.”
“Come on, you can do it.”
“You locked them so you could unlock them.”
“Good boy, you’re so close!”
“Come on, pop it up!”
He put his paw on the lock, panted happily, and then removed his paw.
Mike ran in the house to get the camera.
Ginger and I kept coaxing Nikki to open the doors.
“Look, if you can open the drawer where we keep the trash, and unwrap every piece of chocolate that’s ever come into our house, you can open this door!” I thought.
He just looked at me wondering when I would take him home.
“Nikki, I know you can open this door. You roll the windows down in the car when you want to stick your head out and let your ears fly back in the wind. So open the door already!”
Finally, Mike drove me home to get the extra key.
Nikki is so not getting that “Wiley tough guy toy” for Christmas that my neighbor told me about.
I searched every possible drawer for that spare key, and found nothing.
Mike waited patiently in the driveway, probably hating both Nikki and me, and resenting us for that butter Nikki ate.
I called Doug.
“Nikki locked himself in the car. Can you call the police and have them meet me at Mike and Ginger’s house?” I asked.
“What? How did Nikki lock himself in the car?”
“Just call the police please. Mike and Ginger are late for work and they’re probably not going to let Nikki vacation there anymore, and then we’re in big trouble.”
Mike drove me back to the car and I tried to convince them to leave me there, standing in the rain, waiting for the police to arrive.
So we all stood in the rain waiting for the Herndon police to arrive on the crime scene.
Surely sensing the urgency of our situation, a policeman quickly pulled up.
Armed and ready for action.
He couldn’t stop laughing.
“How did the dog lock himself in the car? Did you try to get him to unlock the doors?”
Then, another policeman showed up.
Is this really a two-police-car emergency?
The second policeman also was laughing.
They each took a window and wiggled their special door-opening tools down between the doors and the windows,
trying to lift the door lock.
Nikki looked calmly and innocently on with his tail still wagging.
“It’s your fault we’re in this mess,” I thought, “so don’t look all cute and happy.”
Finally, the door lock popped open.
Mike and Ginger left for work, about thirty minutes late.
The police drove off to pull over people going 26 in the 25 mph zone, which is what they excel at doing, as well as opening car doors locked by dogs.
And, I got in the car and waited for Nikki to stop jumping all over me, and licking me like it had been 92 years since we’d seen each other.
But this time, it actually seemed like 92 years to me.
And Doug? He went to the Honda dealership to get a new key.