Buster’s Florida Vacation

by John Delach

This January is too long and too cold for my creative juices to keep flowing. Therefore, in an attempt to warm both your and my soul, I offer you an encore presentation of this piece that I first wrote in 2011 and revised in 2018. 

“Call me Buster.” I am a seven-year-old mixed breed part Chow / part Border Collie with brown and black hair. I have pointy ears that I can turn 180 degrees that would make me a lousy poker player as how I set my ears gives away my mood. Let me tell you about my first trip to Florida.

Before we left, I had my hair cut. This was not my idea as it was January during a cold, wet winter. When they did this to me. I thought that Mary Ann and John, the people I live with, were trying to kill me, but the next day we set out in their truck on a road trip that would take us to a special place, called Florida, where the weather is nice and warm in January.

I didn’t always live with them. A girl named Jodie, who I adored, adopted me from the North Shore Animal’s League’s shelter. She took me home to Connecticut. Later, she married their son, Michael. It was not a bad life until they had this kid. Didn’t like him, but food became more plentiful once he arrived. Then he became mobile and interested in me. A couple of bites later, it was goodbye Fairfield, and hello Port Washington, Long Island.

My life in this new home would have been much better if they didn’t already have Maggie living with them too. She arrived a year before I did, in 1999, another reject.

 She was thrown out of her home because she was a crazy ten-month-old Golden Retriever. Now five, she’s still nuts, and she’s a pain in my ass. Stupid Golden Retrievers think they are so special and this one thinks she is “The Supreme Being.” The fools I live with, especially, John, treat her that way.

You don’t believe me? She uses toys as props, rubber footballs, a rubber ring, a rope and especially tennis balls. She obsesses over her toys and God forbid, I borrow one, the bitch takes it away. Now toys are not a big deal for me, but fair is fair.

She also hogs the window in the back seat. She stands there waiting for them to open it, so she can put her stupid head out. And they do! God forbid, I go over to it. She growls and snarls. It got so bad on this trip that I said the hell with it and found a spot in the back of the truck. Mary Ann was nice enough to find a mat for me to lie on while “her majesty” had the entire soft seat to herself.

Spending eight hours in a truck every day for three days is not as bad as you think. It isn’t as though I had other things to do and we stopped often enough to stretch and relieve ourselves. Sleeping in those little boxy rooms was another matter altogether. There are too many strangers, each one a potential assassin. I was ready to stay up all night and let them know I was on alert, but John stupidly closed the curtains.

When we arrived at the house in Florida, I had to learn a few things the hard way. Glass sliding doors are not always open and what happens when I walk across the plastic cover on top of the swimming pool. My only pleasure was watching her majesty do the same thing.

Each morning we hopped in the truck for a short ride to the beach. As soon as we began to move, Maggie began to act up. Her ears flailed back making her look like a bolting horse. Her eyes blinked rapidly as her tongue moved in and out of her mouth at the same speed. She whimpered and cried. When she saw the water, the Loony Tune’s barking and crying became so high-pitched that it went right through me. It was all I could do not to bite her so she’d shut up. This cacophony ended only after John let her out of the truck. And this happened every morning!

The beach was great. Not many people, a few new dogs to meet and greet. Most of the time we ran free and I had a grand time cataloging new and different smells, rolling on dead creatures and playing in the surf. On the other hand, “nutsy Fagin” had to have something to chase and carry in her big mouth. Each morning, John found a different coconut that he would throw into the water. Maggie mindlessly chased them.

Her nuttiness gave me the idea that if I chased them too, that might drive her off the deep end. After I grabbed the coconut first a couple of times, she freaked out and started ripping it out of my mouth. After that I decided to back off and let her have it.

 John threw the coconut like a football, but its weight and the wind made some throws fall short. It was my fondest hope that sooner or later one would hit her on the head and kill her. (Imagine John having to call his kids to tell them what happened.)

Don’t get in an uproar, it didn’t happen. Actually, it was an excellent vacation with no mishaps after the first day. Neither of us went swimming in the bayou behind the house because the bottom was too muddy, and our instincts sensed danger. Good thing too because we found out alligators liked to swim there.

 We also avoided fleas and I had to smile because last year Maggie acquired fleas on the trip I missed.

So, you can put me down to recommending Florida as a good place to go to leave winter behind, but it would be much better to go there as an Only Dog.