A Tucker Seat

All the kids love Tucker but James really loves Tucker. Tucker must know this because I’m pretty sure no one else in this family could get away with sitting on him, for a good 15 minutes, while coloring.

“I think dogs are the most amazing creatures; they give unconditional love. For me they are the role model for being alive.” —Gilda Radner

Lost Dog, Unlocked Doors and Goodness

We lost Tucker for a couple hours yesterday. I felt terrible about it. I had let him out. He always barks when he wants back in. He never barked, though, so in the craziness of the day I didn’t think about letting him back in—I assumed I had let him back in. Late in the afternoon I thought it was strange he hadn’t been hanging out with us downstairs. And then I thought it was really strange when the boys spilled Cheerios all over the floor and he was nowhere to be seen. Still, I assumed he was sleeping on his bed, upstairs.

But when we opened the door to pick up Sophie from a play date, and he didn’t come running down to say goodbye, I knew something was wrong. I went upstairs and looked—no Tucker. Thinking he may have somehow gotten in the attic or basement, I looked both places—no Tucker. I had knots in my stomach when I looked out the bay window in the dining room only to see the gate open just enough for a large lab to squeeze through.

I called Andy. He sprinted to his car parked downtown, drove home and started driving around Fort Thomas, looking. I loaded the boys in the van, picked up Sophie and then we drove. We drove and drove and drove, windows down while it flurried outside, screaming “Tucker!” as loud as we could. We stopped to ask people if they had seen a black lab. One woman, who was walking her own dog, insisted on helping us. I had talked to her before, and at times she didn’t seem quite with it. She was older and it was cold and she struggled with walking long distances. She wanted to help us look. So I invited her—and her dog—in our van. She started yelling, too.

At the remembering place I saw a black dog tied to a tree. I thought I had found Tucker. But after getting out of our van I realized it wasn’t him. The man who owned the dog ripped off part of a cardboard box and I wrote my number on it. He then loaded up his black dog and started driving around on his own, helping us look.

Sometimes, exasperated with the notion that the world is largely an evil place, I find myself testing humanity. I leave car doors unlocked. I leave my diaper bag unattended at the museum. I leave my camera in my stroller outside of indoor exhibits at the zoo. When computer systems are down at local businesses I have no problem with someone writing my credit card information on a piece of paper to be input at a later time. If I’m not home and a plumber or electrician or anyone, really, needs access to our house I simply leave the front door unlocked.

I trust.

I realize I’m lucky in that I can trust. I live in a neighborhood that allows more trust than other neighborhoods. And I don’t do anything that would put my family in danger. As much as my heart goes out to hitchhikers on cold, winter days, I never pick them up. I don’t allow door-to-door salespeople—particularly those who want to “inspect our house in order to give us a housecleaning estimate” inside. There are some neighborhoods in which, when I park on the street, I do lock my car doors. And maybe, someday, when I’m writing about having spent hours canceling credit cards, etc., because of a stolen wallet I will rethink my current theory.

I’ve been robbed, once. In college, someone stole my computer—they walked into our house through the unlocked basement door and into my room in the middle of the night (I was, thankfully, home that weekend). They picked up my computer and walked out. From that experience I took away the necessity of saving one’s work in multiple places. But when Tucker was lost, I thought about a neighbor who might find him. So I left our front door wide open so anyone could easily return him.

We found Tucker—on our street, of all places. A neighbor heard us yelling and ran outside, with Tucker on a leash. He had spent much of the afternoon at a beautiful Arts & Crafts bungalow, one we, ironically, considered buying when it was for sale several years back. He seemed overjoyed with his afternoon adventure. I thanked the neighbor profusely while also trying to deal with an overexcited lab and three overexcited children.

I dropped the woman who had been riding with us off and took the kids home. I called Andy. He came home, relieved. I walked to Anita’s, a Mexican restaurant across the street, and bought a gift card for the neighbor. I wrote a thank you note, and delivered it. I called my parents and learned that Andy had asked them to make calls for us—animal control, the vet’s office, etc. I thanked them, too.

There is evil in this world. Daily I see images and hear stories I wish I could erase from my brain. There is unfairness, deep unfairness, and hurt beyond anything I could ever imagine. But I also believe in the world’s goodness. I believe one of the main reasons we live in a (somewhat) civilized society is because there is more goodness than evil. I believe in unlocked doors, purses left attended, neighbors who will take care of a large lab for an afternoon and strangers who will give up what they’re doing to help look for a dog they’ve never met.

Perhaps I’m naive. Perhaps I will take much of this back, when one of my experiments involving the goodness of society goes wrong. But for now, my little humanity tests have all proved my theory that people, most people, are good. Most people will let unattended belongings be. Most people don’t take advantage. Most people will help a stranger in need. Our world can be awful—but sometimes, more times than not, I think—it can be beautiful, too.

“When I despair, I remember that all through history the way of truth and love have always won. There have been tyrants and murderers, and for a time, they can seem invincible, but in the end, they always fall. Think of it—always.” —Mahatma Gandhi

My Monday (So Far)

Picked up Sophie from preschool, dropped her off at play date.

Came home with both boys and found a half-eaten plastic sandwich bag in living room.

Realized bag had been filled halfway with raisins.

Made lunch.

Vaguely remembered something about dogs + raisins + toxicity.

Marveled how the brain pulls out bits of long-ago information when most needed.


Questioned legitimacy of search results.

Got Owen more cheese.

Visited Snopes: “Raisins and grapes can be harmful to dogs.” TRUE

Called Ft. Thomas Animal Hospital.

Talked to tech.

Called Andy.

Left half-eaten lunch on table.

Loaded both boys and Tucker into van.

Drove to Animal Hospital.

Took both boys out of van, stood them in front of a stone wall, made them touch stone wall and insisted they do not move.

Went back to van to get Tucker.

Ran behind Tucker across the (thankfully small) parking lot while both boys followed, waving their arms and screaming with glee.

Got inside Animal Hospital without dog or child running into street.

Witnessed boys go crazy over a small dog and four cats.

Watched small dog immediately seek shelter from screaming boys.

Realized Tucker just peed all over the floor and a wooden bench.

Waited for receptionist to get off phone so I could ask for paper towels while reminding boys over and over and over again the location of the pee while they ran around screaming “CAT! MEOW MEOW MEOW! CAT! MOMMY, CAT!” as if they’ve never seen a cat in their life (we own a cat).

Talked to receptionist, found roll of paper towels.

Ran into Andy while trying to keep Tucker out of the pee puddle. Thankful.

Let Andy handle Tucker while I cleaned up pee.

Reminded boys that cats have small ears and loud noises can scare them.

Wondered if boys’ ears were working.

Talked to tech, who claimed more than six raisins for a dog Tucker’s size could be toxic.

Learned that they needed to induce vomiting.

Asked for reassurance about outcome, which was given.

Filled out form.

Wondered about cost.

Vowed never to keep raisins in the diaper bag again.

Drove home sans Tucker (who is being kept for monitoring).

Put boys down for a nap.

Wrote this while listening to boys scream and jump up and down in their cribs.

Thought about 8pm.

And a glass of wine.

“A well-trained dog will make no attempt to share your lunch. He will just make you feel so guilty that you cannot enjoy it.” —Helen Thomson

The Sentences I Hear Myself Say

I recently heard myself say the following five sentences, in this order, with nothing else between, in a time span of about two minutes.

“Sophie, don’t do pirouettes on the stairs.”

“James, no, you can’t wear Sophie’s winter boots outside.”

“Slow down, Tucker! You’re going to knock the kids down!”

“Sophie, please go put pants on.”

“James, don’t take money out of my wallet.”

There are a lot of two-minute time spans in a day.

“My mom used to say it doesn’t matter how many kids you have … because one kid’ll take up 100% of your time so more kids can’t possibly take up more than 100% of your time.” —Karen Brown



“A dog teaches a boy fidelity, perseverance, and to turn around three times before lying down.” —Robert Benchley

Tucker’s New Friend

Monday Jen brought over her new puppy, Joey (short for Josephine), to play with Tucker.


Here Tucker and Joey are meeting for the first time.


They share very well.


Jen got some Sophie holding time, too.

“Happiness is a warm puppy.” —Charles M. Schulz