I Used to Have Order

by Jeff Marshall

I used to have order in my life. Everything was in its place. The floors were swept, the dishes were put away, the toilet water sparkled like Lake Titicaca in all of its vast splendor. Someone once walked into my house and compared it to walking into a museum. This was another time, another place, another galaxy far, far away…

This was before…  THE DOGS!!!

Just a few short years ago, had you asked me if I would ever be a dog owner, I would have politely chortled, given you a condescending “are you serious?!!” look, and changed the subject to something more realistic like life on Mars or zero-calorie chocolate. But here I stand – albeit propped up by a stick – with not one, but two dogs – a beagle/blue heeler mix named Woodstock and a beagle/pit bull mix named Tomahawk, affectionately known as Tommy.

My first dog, Nuvo, was unfortunately taken to a farm for the criminally insane in September 2012 after clawing through every window screen in the house and digging more holes in the yard than the Augusta National Golf Course.

I have seriously considered re-naming my current dogs Shawshank and Alcatraz. Both have developed a penchant for escaping from the backyard, finding every available sewer in the area, and being dragged home smelling like a gas station bathroom. They have left dead animals on my bed. I’m still waiting for the day I come home from work and find a horse head in my bed like The Godfather! They have eaten my neighbor’s kiddie pool and cell phone. They have interrupted every good sleep I’ve tried to have in the last 36 months. They’ve attacked the siding on my house and the base boards on my walls. Can we say out of control dogs?

And yet – AND YET – when push comes to shove, I truly love them like they were my own children. In the evening, when I finally settle down and sit on the sofa to watch some TV or do some reading, they will sit beside me, each one laying their heads on one of my legs. No barking, no clawing, no diving into the garbage bag to get a couple good licks of the Lean Cuisine Sweet and Sour Chicken container on top of the heap. They just want a little love and affection, like the best of us.

It’s in these moments that I think, “Yes, yes, this is what I was expecting. This is what I pictured in my head, sitting next to a roaring fireplace and bear skin rug, smoking a pipe, each dog fetching a slipper for their master.”

Then, as quickly as a flash of lightning and a clap of thunder, they will realize that everything is too calm, and they will jump on my groin, running to the backyard to eat another garden hose. (Buy stock in garden hoses and whicker chairs, my friends – you won’t regret it.)

So Lake Titicaca may now be filled with pollution, the floors may have prints from the mud puddle outside, and the dishes may be tongue-cleaned by these two ferocious canines, but I’ve decided a little chaos never hurt anybody…


Note from Sara: Today’s blog is written by guest author Jeff Marshall from Decatur, IL. Jeff is a musician, humorist, gardener, and uncle. Jeff is also my cousin and life-long dear friend. He is “Uncle Oscar” (my nickname for him because of his love of all things movie) to my kids. Our lives have been intertwined in the most blessed way!