The damage was shocking.
It must have been a freak storm that upended the house, sending it toppling off its multi-colored brick foundation into the neighboring structure.
A straight-line wind of sorts must have swept through the hallway, ignored the recycling ready for transport to its next incarnation, ruffled piles of newly laundered duds awaiting new assignments in various bureaus upstairs, and barreled through the little Levittown that had sprung up on the living room floor.
I'd just left for a moment or two – time enough to get a cup of coffee and a cruller – planning to return to the building site refreshed and re-caffeinated.
Instead, I walked in on chaos.
What had been as fine an example of LEGO architecture as an untrained playhouse builder could muster was now a pile of rubble.
The Champ was blinking in disbelief amid the devastation. His mouth was arrested soundlessly in the likely processing of a vowel. … But he didn't cry.
He choked out one word:
“Rose,” fingering the most likely suspect.
The dog was nowhere to be found.
Or at least that was what she wanted us to believe.
She was probably hiding in her “room” – lounging amid the remnants of the children's wrecked toys – waiting for her name to be linked together with a reprimand and chain of muddled expletives.
In fact, I've often find her in her “safe place” whenever I return and find bits of this or pieces of that – sometimes recognizable items that have been chewed into an unsalvageable pulp.
It's not her fault. She's just a dog, who, left to her own devices will get into mischief if not properly supervised. I know I shouldn't really blame her … though I do, whether it's her fault or not.
“Ma-uhmmmm,” said The Champ, three hours before the Super Bowl caused him to remember he was once the proud owner of a fist-sized Nerf football, and wouldn't-it-be-fun-to-play-football-in-the-house. “Hey, I can't find my football,” he said, which all mothers know is code for “Find it for meeeeeeee! Now! please?”
“You mean the one I snuck into the yard sale box while you were busy selling lemonade to the neighbors last summer?” Come on. I'd never be crazy enough to say aloud in a million years. “Oh, sorry bud. The dog chewed it up,” I said instead.
What? She's not going to say anything. And besides with all the toys I've patted her head for pre-chewing before the dustpan cycle, I feel a little guilty chastising her for laying waste to the boy's plastic village.
It's not as if she breathes fire.
She's just a little overzealous – the bull in the china shop kind, not the oversized lizard in Tokyo variety.
The Champ gets it. He realizes she can't help herself.
She's eaten so many kitchen sponges, blocks, socks, books, pencils, pens, markers, crayons, stuffed animals, paintbrushes, pillows, lunch boxes, mini guys, frilly dolls, toilet paper rolls, bathmats, rugs, magazine covers, balls of yarn … not to mention food items that have no place in her canine diet … even the boy realizes she has a compulsion.
He closes his mouth and shrugs.
He begins to pick up the pieces of his leveled LEGO landmarks: the “Leaning Tower of Pizza,” the “Gwen Ifill Tower,” “The Outer Space Needle” that we actually got to visit when we went to “see Attle.”
“Hey! These are hardly chewed at all,” he exclaims with relief.
And from her room, I could hear the thump, thump, thump of a tail.