Ramona loves food more than anything in the world.
It does more than keep her alive. It keeps her happy. It fulfills her. Every morning, she sits outside the kitchen window and watches me mournfully as I get my breakfast & lunch ready… it’s like she is trying to telepathically send me a message: “feedmefeedmefeedme.”
And when you take food to her, she jumps, and spins, and tries to hug you to convey just how happy she is that you are bringing her food. Then she runs into her doghouse, spins in a circle, comes back out and sits by her bowl, tongue hanging out, anxiously awaiting the moment when you pour the food into her bowl so that she can commence The Eating.
Usually, feeding her is Jonathan’s job. Partly because she respects him enough to not give him full-on bear hugs when she sees the cup of food in his hand. Partly because when she does give me bear hugs, she is big enough to knock me over and at this point, I’d never be able to get up. And partly because the only thing she might love almost as much as food is Jonathan, and I’d hate to deprive her of a visit from “her” man.
The other morning, though, her man had to leave for an early meeting, and he left the duty of feeding her to me… as long as the yard wasn’t flooded. It had rained the other night, and our yard has no drainage at all. As in none. When it rains, it turns into a swamp. Ramona doesn’t care… she’ll still prance right through it, spraying mud and rainwater all over you as she tells you just how happy she is that you’re bringing her food. But once I am dressed and ready for work, the last thing I feel like encountering is a Puppy of Unusual Size dancing through her own personal fire swamp (minus the fire) to celebrate the Food.
Luckily (or unluckily), the yard wasn’t too flooded on this morning. A little damp, but nothing me, my rolled up dress pants and Jonathan’s shoes couldn’t handle. I measured out her food, opened the gate, and was met with a giant pink tongue and the happiest puppy-smile ever. I could almost hear her saying “I love you! I love you! It’s breakfast time! I love you!”
I had to dump mud and leaves out of both of her bowls, and I knew a rinsing was necessary before I poured food into either one of them. I carried one over to the water spigot to do it, when I saw it.
(insert scary monster music here)
A green (yes, green), hairy (yes, hairy), spider the size of
my head my fingernail. On the spigot. Right on top. Where my hand needed to go to turn on the water.
I turned to tell Ramona that I was sorry… mud-flavored food might be good after all, and who needs fresh water? But she was standing there with such anticipation in her eyes, being so good and not bear-hugging me… I knew I owed her mud-free food and water. So I used the only weapon I had around to slay the beast: I beat it to death with her water bowl.
The metal water bowl on the metal spigot was loud enough to give the spider a heart attack, even if I missed… which I did, the first 3 or 18 times. The little monster ran, climbed, dodged and ducked all over the water faucet as I banged the bowl down around him. Ramona spun in circles, barking her encouragement (or distress; those two barks sound so similar). Finally, it held still long enough for me to aim, pull back, and SMACK. He still didn’t fall, though; he just hung there from his little thread, dangling underneath the faucet, very still. Hoping he was defeated and not just playing dead so that I would put my hand near him, I rinsed out the dog bowl as fast as humanly possible. As Ramona planted her two front feet on either side of it and devoured her food, I rinsed and filled her other bowl (also as fast as humanly possible), and got far away from the (hopefully) dead spider.
“Ramona,” I said, “if you want to eat when Jonathan is gone, you’re going to have to learn to take care of these spiders yourself.”
She ignored me. She was eating.