Now it all started a few Thanksgiving’s ago, that’s a few years ago on Thanksgiving (as Arlo Guthrie would say), when my cousin Tom invited my wife and I along with our three kids to join his family for Thanksgiving dinner. Tom lived a few hours south of us near Norfolk, VA. He and I spent many summers together at our grandparent’s place on Canandaigua Lake in up-state New York since the time we could crawl, so we knew each other well to say the least.
We jumped in the car early Thanksgiving Day morning and blasted down Route 301 towards Norfolk. In addition to our three kids, we had with us our long-time, 4-legged companion, Alee. Alee looked like a young black lab but was actually a mix of lab and beagle with perhaps a little cocker spaniel thrown in for good measure. Alee was a great dog and like all good dog lovers, we took her everywhere. She was a spirited dog who loved the woods and took great pleasure in chasing squirrels, cats and the occasional stray deer although to the best of our knowledge she never caught much of anything with the exception of an old tennis ball once and awhile.
Now one thing I have learned is that there are people in this world who are true dog lovers and there are others who are not; and the ones who are not, are really not. And I get it, dogs smell and sometimes slobber on you and jump on your clean pants and bark at strangers and poop in the yard and even pee on your floor now and then. In short, they can be a nuisance. But dogs are also truly man’s best friend. They are always happy to see you, always want to be with you, are incredibly loyal and once they are part of your life, they are hard not to love. Unfortunately, My cousin Tom and his wife were not dog lovers. They weren’t dog haters but they definitely were not dog lovers, so when we showed up with Alee in tow, I think it’s safe to say they were less than thrilled. But, be this as it may, they were happy to see us and welcomed us into their home, dog and all.
Tom took us on a tour of his property which backed up to a small creek that was not overly large but big enough to launch a row boat and go fishing if you were so inclined. It was a nice place surrounded by lots of trees and wildlife. And while Tom and his family may not have been dog lovers, their daughter Teresa was definitely an animal lover and was enjoying raising guinea pigs. She had a large pen out behind the house where she currently had upwards of a dozen guinea pigs, many of them babies.
Now, as you can probably imagine, Alee was mighty interested in the guinea pigs. So much in fact that we quickly threw a leash on her and were going to put her in the car when Tom says “Oh don’t worry about her, nothing can get in this cage, we have all sorts of animals around here; foxes, muskrats, raccoons, all kinds of things. This baby is more secure than Fort Knox.” “OK I said, if you’re sure?” “Yep, I’m sure” Tom said, “nothing to worry about.” With that said, we let her go and off we went in search of some afternoon libations.
About an hour later, I came around the corner of the house, only to find Alee smack dab in the middle of that cage having an absolute field day with those poor guinea pigs. She was jumping up and down on them and picking them up with her mouth and swinging them around; It was a total massacre in the first degree. You can just imagine how my heart jumped right up into my throat upon seeing this scene.” “Alee” I screamed, “get out of there!. Oh man, this is bad, very bad.” I muttered to myself. I managed to get ahold of Alee by the collar and quickly tossed her in the car and went off at a jog to find Tom.
Now I don’t mind saying, I was more than a little rattled when I pulled Tom aside and stammered out “Tom, we have a BIG problem!” I proceeded to tell him how Alee had gotten into the guinea pig cage and wiped out the entire family. “Seriously” he said. “all of them?” “All of them I replied, every last one of them.” The situation was more than a little awkward to say the least. He was a good sport about it however and suggested that we tell Teresa that something got into the cage but we’re not sure what. Teresa took the news surprisingly well considering her entire brood of guinea pigs had just been slaughtered by an “unknown” wild animal.
We managed to make it through Thanksgiving dinner and the rest of the day without any additional major incidences, thank heavens for small miracles. The next day we paid a visit to the local pet store where Teresa picked out two new guinea pigs, one male and one female. Later, as we were saying our goodbye’s, I said to Tom that some day we will look back on all this and laugh. After all it’s not everyday that you invite your cousins to Thanksgiving Day dinner and their dog proceeds to eat your kid’s entire family of guinea pigs. I mean what are the chances? On second thought, I guess you never know, do you you?