Some years ago, I was traveling with Oliver, my first German Shepherd. Back then, few motels allowed dogs, and those that did charged extra. So naturally, me being the rebel on a budget, on those nights when I just had to stay in a motel, I snuck him in.
Usually this worked out fine, because Oliver was a very quiet dog. But one evening, not long after having settled into my room in some third-rate motel, I stepped out my door and found the hotel manager walking up the sidewalk, almost to my room. I quickly closed the door behind me so that he might not notice my "roommate".
"How are you?" I asked.
"I'm fine, sir. Is everything all right?"
"Oh, everything's fine," I replied.
Suddenly, before he could move on, the vertical blinds inside my room moved, and a dog's face came into full view on the other side of the glass as Oliver pushed the blinds aside to look out and see who I was talking to.
"Great," he said, without missing a beat. "I also wanted to let you know that there's a $25.00 pet fee, payable back at the office when you register your dog."
So now when I call Murphy a "Damn dog", I have to remember that he's not the first. There have been plenty of "damn dogs" before him. And I'm thankful for every one of them, even when they do stupid stuff like that.
Oliver burned me another time, too. It was in Denver, Colorado. There's a mall there that's half open-air and half indoors. It's a two-level mall, and for some reason, I found myself there with Oliver on leash. So I was walking him around in the open-air part when I was accosted by two puffed-chest security guards, complete with Smokey-the-Bear hats and mirrored sunglasses.
"You can't have a dog in here," one told me, speaking as if he had absolute authority over all things.
"Sure I can," I replied, thinking fast. "He's a service dog."
"You're not blind," the other one told me, stating the obvious.
"I don't have to be," I retorted. "There are all sorts of service dogs."
"Well what kind is that?"
"I don't have to answer that," I said as smugly as a only third-year law student could. (And that's pretty smug. Third-years know everything...just ask one.)
I then bid them good day and walked off as they pondered this matter.
Ducking around a corner, I found an elevator and quickly took Oliver up to the second level, trying to put some distance between us and the toy cops. We walked around for a bit more, browsing and people-watching, and Oliver was in his glory as every kid wanted to pet him and every pretty lass wanted to fawn over him. And all was well with the world until...
I decided to talk us downstairs to go to a book store that I'd spotted. The quickest way was an escalator next to a big food court on the first floor. So I stepped onto the escalator, never once thinking about the fact that Oliver, worldly as he was, had never encountered an escalator before. And he quickly decided that he didn't care for this one.
I was already descending when he tried to avoid his destiny by digging his feet in and pulling back on the leash. Of course, me already heading down and the floor beneath him being metal, there wasn't much he could do to stop it. So like a big, tough German Shepherd does when faced with something new and scary, he began to cry.
And he didn't just whimper. No, he yelped, he wailed, he screamed, and everyone in the food court, and I suspect, much of downtown Denver, turned to look at the dog being dragged onto the escalator steps while going "Yiiiiiiiii! Yiiiiiiii! Yiiiiiiii!"
I've never heard a dog scream like that before or since.
Quickly, I ran back up the moving escalator and grabbed him, sweeping him up into my arms. But he continued to shriek, even though I held him cradled in my arms, paws in the air, like a 65lb. baby. And all the way down the escalator, that's all he did.
All the way down. As everyone in the food court watched, and as people were leaning over the upper rails to see.
And there, at the bottom of the escalator, was the two security guards, waiting for me with their arms crossed and scowls on their faces right below their mirrored sun glasses. They were both right at the foot of the escalator as I stepped off, still cradling Oliver.
"You and that so-called service dog need to hit the road," one said, pointing a finger at my chest.
"We were just leaving," I said. The jig was clearly up and now the goal was to get out of here before things got worse.
And Oliver, now that he'd determined that he was safely away from the escalator monster, reached up and began licking my face, taking away what little dignity that I had left.
I sure do miss him.