On countless occasions, I have been asked to share tales from Camp—my usual policy is what happens at camp, stays at camp, but in the spirit of the Thanksgiving season, I will share the story of our very first Camp Run-A-Pup Thanksgiving.
In the old days, when I was building my business, I used to travel to the same locations every week and pin up “yellow Camp-Run-A-Pup cards.” The cards advertised my business. It was the only form of advertising I could afford, and it worked reasonably well for me.
As Thanksgiving holiday approached, my phone rang frequently with requests for camp reservations. I kept each camp reservation on an index card and never really noticed how the stack was growing with reservations, which not only included pups but also 1 cat, 3 guinea pigs, and a bird–a canary not a partridge.
The Wednesday before Thanksgiving, my campers started to check in at about 6 a.m., and continued to arrive at a steady pace throughout the day. Between campers checking in and in and in, I was also polishing silver, washing crystal, and setting the Thanksgiving table for the 35 family members and friends who would join us for Thanksgiving dinner.
Just moments before Joe arrived home from work with the turkey and bags of groceries, I had settled the cat in the upstairs bathroom and the guinea pigs in Cole’s room; the bird was chirping merrily in our bedroom. Our canine campers filled our house from top to bottom. While making the cornbread stuffing, Joe observed me carrying trays of dog food bowls, and wondered how many campers we had for the holiday. I just smiled and said we had a full house, which was truer than true.
Thanksgiving Day arrived. Our house looked beautiful and smelled heavenly when our human guests arrived. The dinner went as planned for the most part, and our guests were blissfully unaware they were enjoying Thanksgiving dinner on Noah’s Ark.
Thanksgiving Day was over, but for the rest of the weekend, Joe, Cole, and I continued an endless round of letting pups in and out, feeding them, and playing with them. Naturally, it snowed, so we also spent a lot of time mopping floors, wiping muddy paws, and drying and fluffing fur.
On Sunday, as our campers began to check out, we began to unwind. Joe took a section of the Sunday paper and headed to the upstairs bathroom, still unaware of our cat camper, Slicker. The litter box was tucked behind the linen closet door, which was slightly ajar. Slicker liked to perch on the shelves in the linen closet and nest in the towels. About the time Cole came running into the living room to ask if I remembered if there were 3 or 4 guinea pigs camping with us, I heard thunderous yelling and banging upstairs. I raced up the stairs, reaching the bathroom door just as Joe came barreling out with his sweatpants around his knees and a look of terror on his face. Slicker, it seemed, had decided to introduce himself to Joe by playfully pouncing on him while he was reading his newspaper. Joe, of course, came up off the toilet in horror—Slicker hung on to Joe with his claws as Joe tried to make his escape from the bathroom. If Joe were telling this story, he would be certain to add that the first words out of my mouth expressed concern for the cat. I remember offering Joe, Neosporin for his scratches, and checking on Slicker before dashing off to count guinea pigs. After all three guinea pigs were accounted for, I looked for Joe to check on his injuries, but was informed by Cole that he had gone for a drive.
Monday night, after most of our campers had departed, including the cat, bird, and guinea pigs, Joe wrapped his scratched arms around me and said, “Katybeth, I don’t think you need to hang up any more of those yellow cards.” I rested my weary head on his shoulder and wondered if I should tell him about Christmas, or just surprise him.
The holidays have become calmer over the years, but when you spoil other people’s pets for a living you always have a tale or two or three to tell. How will you be spending your Thanksgiving this year?
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