International Dog Day: The Conclusion

If this story was great literary fiction here’s what would happen next. Olive would attack the little boy, and probably rip his throat out killing him. At which point I would fly into a mad rage and attack the animal who has plagued me now for several months. I would kill Olive with my bare hands, relishing every precious moment of exulting victory. Then my relationship with Leah would go into complete ruin and we’d slowly drift away and I’d live out the rest of my days in regret and remorse.

Fortunately, this is a true story. Here’s what happened next. The barking was loud and aggressive. Olive pulled hard on her leash but Leah’s dad held her tight. The little boy stumbled backwards to his feet. His face was as red as Taylor Swift’s lipstick and his Harry Potter glasses had slid all the way down to the tip of his nose.

“OLIVE DOWN! Gee I’m sorry about that.” Olive finally started calming down. Apparently all better. This psychotic dog’s moods would swing as easily as her own tail which was now wagging. I walked straight to the car trying to avoid association with the animal that has just sent the whole rest stop into pandemonium.  The little boy’s mother had made her way over to son and seemed unexplainably at ease. Her son was not.

His glasses had worked their way back onto his nose when he and his mother along with Leah’s dad and Olive made their way over to where Leah and I were standing by the car. Great. Of course you can imagine that the excuses began to come defending the dog. “Well you see, she was mistreated as a puppy,” and “You know she was just scared.”

Yeah… scared of a little boy who was about as intimidating as a church mouse. The next thing I know, there’s just a delightful little conversation going on about dogs and how to treat dogs and puppies and dogs and pets and dogs. Never mind the fact that Olive just attempted to murder your son, who by the way, is still terrified. It was all forgotten, just like that. Let me tell you, the mother of this child, beats anything you’ve ever read in this whole story.

She talked in way that would make fingernails on a chalkboard sound like the orchestra. You’ve heard those people that talk to everyone like they’re in first grade. Drive you CRAZY. “So you adopted this precious dog, who was mistreated? That is absolutely the sweetest thing I have ever heard.” Get over it woman people do it all the time. Heck I’ve done it.

“Well aren’t you just a cutie? You’re just a cutie! Did we scare you? Awe poor baby.”

“Yeah, she’s really a sweet dog. She just gets afraid.”

A sweet dog? Since when? This dog has been nothing but torture to me every time I’ve been in Iowa.

“So you see son, you have to be VERY, VERY careful with dogs when they are little puppies. Because what happens to them when they are young, will affect or haunt them for the REST OF THEIR LIVES.”

Wow. So we loaded back up into the car, Olive in the front seat, myself turned into a car seat for Leah. My legs scrunched up against the middle console once again. And we drove back. It was the most uncomfortable car ride I’d ever been on. When I finally exited the automobile my legs were totally asleep. I literally could not walk.

I’ll never fully understood why that dog rode shotgun while I suffered. But I have come to understand a few things about this whole experience with my girlfriend’s parents and their crazy dog. Today I was driving down the road, listening to K-LOVE. The on-air personality said it was national dog day. Who knew? And guess what was happening? In some Iowa town, a public swimming pool opened up its facilities to everyone’s favorite fluffy pet.

dog day

So there were dogs swimming in a public swimming pool for national dog day. My initial thought was, “I guess Iowans are just weirdly fond of their dogs.” But later I think I reached a more plausible conclusion. We’ve all heard those songs where some sub-par singer drones on about why they loved a bad guy, or a wild girl. You’ve probably even said, “I have no idea why that girl loves someone like him.” Or “Why in the world would he marry her?”

Well there’s a simple answer. Because they want to. Because they do. Love is a pretty weird thing that can make you blind to someone’s faults and blemishes. But heck, that’s what makes is so wonderful. The point isn’t to love someone that’s perfect. It’s just to try and love someone perfectly. I guess it’s kind of the same with dogs.


Olive Rides Shotgun Home From Miss Iowa

Throughout the next several days, I saw barges on the Mississippi, a large confederate cemetery and about three nights too many of Miss America pageants. I was also called Clint several times. If you’ve ever attended a pageant, not as a parent or participant, you probably understand how utterly hair-pulling, eye-scratching, ear-plugging and frustrating that a pageant can be. You see, I’m very competitive. As a toddler I cried when I didn’t win the race at my birthday party, and some things never change.

So when the judges decided who got to win… I was pretty upset. But then again, I know nothing. I was already in a glum and very exhausted mood the next day when we loaded up the car and headed out from Davenport. But something was coming my way that would make this trip completely worse and completely better all at the same time.

On the way to Davenport, it was a fairly crowded car. Now we were going back, and you can probably foresee the problem we encountered. This time, we had Leah with us. She had been in Davenport all week. Leah, who had just competed in Miss Iowa. Let me explain to you a little bit about what all a pageant girl packs for a week at a state competition.

Miss Iowa contestant packing list: breakfast clothes, morning appearance clothes, lunch clothes, baseball game clothes, dinner clothes, celery, heels, dresses, gowns, swimsuit, more heels, makeup, hairspray, carrots, workout clothes, rehearsal clothes, heels, celery, dresses, pants, shirts, jumpsuits, pajamas, carrots, makeup and heels. And underwear… and butt glue… oh and heels. I only know that because I spent three days listening to people talk about it.

So we had to load all of this extra stuff into the car, which meant that Leah could barely squeeze into the middle seat right next to me. This would have been okay for the three hour trip but don’t forget, there was one more family member that we had to pick up… Olive Grace Bunkers. My arch-nemesis. Whenever this trip was completed in all of its absurdity and hilarity, I knew I would have to share it with you.

We were getting close to Newton, where the kennel was, and I was happy. The pageant was over and soon I’d be back on my way to Texas. “I’m just not, sure how we’re gonna do this with Olive.” I mean, Iowa isn’t bad AT ALL, but nothing is quite like the Lone Star State. “I think we should set her in the front seat.” Wait, what?!

I couldn’t help myself from busting out laughing. Leah chuckled nervously. Apparently it wasn’t a joke. Surely this was at least partially humorous? We were at the kennel. And something that I never thought, in my wildest dreams would happen, happened.

courtesy of

courtesy of

And there I was in the second row, middle seat of a Buick SUV with Leah on my lap. My legs were pushed together and crammed up against the middle console and my arm rubbing with Leah’s dad’s arm, that’s uncomfortable. And the dog was riding shotgun, and she didn’t even call it. The smell of dog pasted to my nose and worse than that, dog hair in my mouth. How did I get here? I asked myself this constantly as we drove off down Interstate 80, on my way for the greatest adventure of all.

Dog claws dug into my knee as Olive tried to climb into the back seat. “BACK OLIVE BACK!” My legs were asleep but I could still feel the claws. “Olive sit still baby,” then “Ugh Olive,” and then, “GET BACK OLIVE.” Everyone was talking to the dog. Then she was crawling into the driver’s seat. “Now Olive, I need you to sit still over in your seat. I know you’re excited to be home.” Then the dog turned, looked at me, and smirked. ON MY JOURNALISTIC HONOR THE DOG SMIRKED! She hated me.

There is a dog riding shotgun and I’m sharing half a seat with ANOTHER HUMAN. Am I the only one who sees something wrong with this picture?! There would be plenty of room for this dog to sit in the floorboard while someone held her and I could have been comfortable. All of my thoughts went unvoiced.

There was dog hair everywhere. I spit and spat to get several hairs off my tongue. Olive tried climbing back at us. Ow! That’s my knee. Hair was floating in the air like snow flurries in Santa Claus’s backyard. “Can’t you stay up there Olive? You’re getting hair everywhere!” You bet your boots she is. At this point I believe I had more of her hair than my own. “She’s just nervous, and she sheds like crazy when she’s nervous.”

 If being nervous leads to shedding, then I would have been dadgum bald by the time I got out of this car. I reached up to my head and ran my hand through my hair. I looked at my hand and it was covered in loose hair. Dog hair. Just when I thought I would surely choke in what was the doggy equivalent of the Dust Bowl, we stopped at a rest area so we could all stretch our legs. Well I think it’s because Olive needed to stretch hers.

I went inside and grabbed a bag of peanut M&M’s and a bottle of A&W and headed back outside with Leah. As we rounded the corner I saw Olive standing as still as stone with a little boy walking toward her. Oh no… The plump boy was about 10-years-old with short red hair and glasses. He took another step slowly, holding out his hand. This was not good. Olive stood still. The boy was about three steps away. He squatted down in front of her, still holding out his hand. “Uh oh,” I said to Leah. “What is the ma…”

Loud, aggressive barking blurted out and I saw Olive lunge toward the boy whose face turned to sheer terror as he toppled over backward, and all chaos ensued.

My Name Ain’t Clint

Olive on the couch.

Olive on the couch.

There are a lot of things that can go wrong when you are meeting your better half’s parents. One of the worst things that can possibly happen is when your girlfriend’s parents call you the wrong name. I understand that this is a pretty common occurrence. However, there is one thing that can happen that is WAY worse. Your girlfriend’s dad could call you the name of one of your girlfriend’s exes.

That’s who Clint was; an old ex from about four years ago. And that was what Leah’s father kept calling me on this particular trip to Iowa. The first time, it was kind of funny. The next time it was a little weird. And let me tell you, by the third, fourth, fifth, sixth and ongoing times I was starting to get pretty worried about it.

To make matters worse, Leah was gone for a few days leaving me alone with her family, who I honestly didn’t know all that well yet. But I was being a trooper, because that’s what guys act like when they are head-over-heels for the perfect girl.

The first day she left, to go compete in the Miss Iowa Pageant, he called me Clint three times. The third time he said, “Say Clint do you want something to drink?” Leah’s mom gave him a cold glare that would freeze the hide off of an artic seal, and then he realized his mistake. “Ah DANGIT! I’m sorry Seth,” and then under his breath, “Leah’s gonna kill me.” At that point I realized that sometimes, people are just going to call you by someone else’s name and there isn’t any use letting it fluster you. So I decided I wouldn’t hold it against Leah’s dad, after all, he was a real nice guy.

That week in Iowa without Leah, was the tried and true test of my dedication to this beautiful girl. Remember in Chapter 1, when I said, something to the effect of, if you’re in a serious relationship there will be a point when you question whether or not you can deal with the idiosyncrasies of another family in addition to your own, in order to test the depth of your love for your girlfriend? This week was that point.

The most annoying idiosyncrasy of the Bunkers family… Olive. I learned a lot about Olive during that week. And I reached a conclusion. This dog, was a real member of the family. Not like a dog member of the family. Like a Stuart Little member of the family. “Little high, little low! Little Hey! Little Ho!”

Olive was on meds. Not because she was sick, but because she took pills every day of her life. Her condition is… ongoing shall we say. Apparently the dog suffers from sort of canine ADHD and the pills are to calm her down. First of all, there’s another term for canine ADHD: DOG ENERGY. All dogs want to run around and feel the breeze in their fur. And if those pills are supposed to make Olive more even-keel, I got some news. IT AIN’T WORKING. If anything, I would guess that these pills are what make her so… unpredictable.

Every day one of the Bunkers would grab the pill planner and give Olive her daily dose. Yes you read that right, the dog has a pill planner. Monday through Sunday, folks. Now the technique of giving these pills is a precise art. You take a pill out of the Wednesday slot, take down the jar of peanut butter. Put a dab of PB on your finger, place the Wednesday pill on that finger and let ole Olive lick away. Give me some pills to take with chocolate cake and I’m all on board!

I found some photo prints on the counter in the kitchen. Some portraits of Leah, and two portraits of Olive. I discovered that Olive wasn’t her name. Her name is Olive Grace Bunkers…. Uhm yeah. I was talking to Leah on the phone when I learned this little bit about her dog’s name. Somehow the name Grace came up and Leah piped up, “That’s Olive’s middle name.”


“Uhm, so she has a middle name… So does she have a last name too?”

Leah started laughing. “Don’t tell me your dog’s name is Olive Grace Bunkers.” She just kept laughing and finally managed to say, “Well at the vet’s office what do they call your dog?”

“Misty! What do they call yours? Hahahahahaha!”

“Olive Bunkers.”

I have no further commentary on this subject.

As the week neared its end, we prepared to travel to Davenport for the pageant. But first we had to drop Olive off at the kennel. Well of course this meant that I was in for a very interesting drive from the house to the kennel. I loaded up my two bags of luggage into the car and waited to leave. Leah’s mom left her bags in the garage and then went back in the house saying, “I have to get Olive’s stuff and we’ll be ready.”

Olive had two bags. She would have had more if she’d been allowed to take ALL of her toys. Unfortunately, she had to pick her three favorites. I’m not going to lie to you, I had a really good childhood. But in no point in time did I ever, or have I since accumulated a volume of toys anywhere close to the collection that this dog had. She had upwards of 30 if she had one.

Once we were on the road, things got pretty hectic. At first it was smooth sailing. The next thing I know, Olive is standing on the middle console and about to be in the driver’s lap. “OLIVE GET BACK! Down! Down!” “Baby can you get back for me please? Mommy has to drive baby so just get back.”

Eventually the dog was back in the back seat. But not for long. Five minutes later she was in my lap. Dog hair flying everywhere, and “OLIVE! OLIVE! BAD GIRL!” and awful dog breath in my face. Just when I was about to rear back and pop her in the nose real good, Leah’s dad dragged back.

“Bad dog Olive. BAD DOG. Stay. STAY!”

“Why are you so mad? She just wants to see what’s happening?”

I’m picking dog hairs off of my shirt.

“Well she’s gonna cause a wreck climbing up there in the front. And she was all over Clint. AH DANGIT!”

How I made it through that trip, I’ll never know. But I did, and we dropped off Olive and reached Davenport in one piece. At that point in time, I didn’t think a car drive could go any worse… But I was a naïve foolish boy, who had a lot to learn.

Screaming, Slobber and a Severe Case of Puppy Trauma

End of Chapter 3

The score was Olive 1, Seth 0. But the game had just begun, and Olive was about to find out that I wasn’t playing fetch, I was playing chess.

Chapter 4

CHECK MATE BIOTCH! It was another trip to Iowa and this one was off to a good start because my arch-enemy was wearing a bark collar.  Pleased as I was with this measure, I had the uneasy feeling that something had to go awry. And oh was I ever right.

Next thing I know, I’m standing there like a small child, hand outstretched to feed Olive a treat. If anything, the dog should’ve been giving me treats for goodness sake! Apparently we have a dog treat surplus in the American economy which probably links back to The American Dog Epidemic. One time someone commented on my blog and said they would give their dog a treat just for being cute. That’s basically like saying, “Hey Jennifer Lawrence, you’re cute. Lemme give you a million dollars,” which is of course ridiculous. I don’t think people do that… do they? Either way unless my dog does something good, like sit, stay or star in a multi-million dollar movie, they’re probably not getting any tasty handouts from me (besides the necessary dog food meals of course). Despite my sentiments, there I was, handing out treats like a soccer mom on Halloween when, “Just hold your hand out flat like that, there you go.” Oh my gosh I know how to hold a beggin’ strip.

Finally, after what seemed an eternity, I was done giving out treats. It was a horrible feeling. I can’t describe what having to give those treats felt like. I believe that it was the closest I’ll ever get to prostitution or selling my soul. It only created a deeper emotional ravine between the man and the beast. “I’m sorry she barked at you like that last night. She was just afraid you know. And she’s very protective of Leah.” I wanted to just scream “Your dog is bat-s*** crazy!” but I didn’t.

Things weren’t going to get any better either. If my first trip to Iowa and first clash with Olive was a nightmare, this second trip turned into a tormented opium nightmare. You see, the bark collar didn’t last long. Before the morning was done, the collar was gone and Olive was ready to wreak havoc.

First there were the small children. I was sitting on the porch reading when I heard small voices. The voices were getting closer and Olive raised her head.  A young mother appeared on the street below with her two children on bikes. The girl looked to be about 6 and the boy maybe 3 or 4. Olive stood up. Please no. The mother and her children were walking toward the garage of the house directly next door. Surely this isn’t going to happen. But I knew it would. If only they had left on the bark col…

An unbelievable barrage of barks ensued just as the neighbors got to their door. The mother and daughter both jumped and the little boy toppled over, his bicycle with him. Then there was barking and crying and screaming and slobber and tears and probably a severe case of puppy trauma.

Then as if terrorizing small children wasn’t enough, she focused on a new target, which was an old nemesis. And that old nemesis, was me. We were sitting at dinner. It was pretty typical so far. Sally, the cat, jumped on the table several times and was scolded severely. Olive stuck her nose in everyone’s lap looking for a bite and was gently pushed away. You can understand, Sally is a very bitter cat.

Dinner was almost over when Leah mentioned that her computer wasn’t charging, so I grabbed the charger and walked to the nearest outlet which just happened to be by Olive’s overflowing food and water bowls. I reached down to plug it in, when another outbreak of challenging barks and growls made everyone bounce in their seats and myself nearly jump out of my boots. What was it this time? The bitch looked like she was about to rip my heart out and sacrifice it to her demon dog ancestors.

“OLIVE!” “What’s the matter sweetheart?” “DOWN OLIVE DOWN!” “Oh… she thought you were taking her food. Just move away from her food.” “Olive… naughty girl. Bad girl.” “She’s being protective of her food.”

HEAVEN HELP ME! PEOPLE YOUR DOG IS AN EVIL HELLHOUND BITCH! She makes the Doberman pinscher in UP look like My Dog Skip. She makes rabid ole yeller look like the K9 Advantix puppy. She makes the pit bull in White Fang look like Bolt in that awful Miley Cyrus movie. She makes the Hound of the Baskerville look like Lassie.

“That’s it Olive. You’re in timeout.”

“Gee I’m sorry about that Clint…”

Wait… what?! Who the heck is Clint?

What Exactly Does this Dog Look Like?

Sorry I have been gone for several days. I am currently in Iowa for a family reunion with my girlfriend. Unfortunately, I was only able to see Olive for one day before she went on vacation to the kennel… wait, that’s probably a good thing right? Anyway, I was able to find a lovely photo of the not-so-lovely dog. 

This is Olive in a photo I found on the counter at my girlfriend's house.

This is Olive in a photo I found on the counter at my girlfriend’s house.

Alright, I know you’re probably saying, “Aw that puppy is soooooooooo CUTE!” Well listen here, I’ll posting the next chapter later today or tonight and you’ll be reminded… she ain’t so cute. See you then!


A Wild West Standoff

It was a standoff. The dog stood on the couch, crouched and ready to attack. I stood balanced and braced for anything. Time stood still and I looked from Olive to Leah, back to Olive and then to Mr. and Mrs. Bunkers. No one moved and my fingers twitched while I cracked my knuckles. The theme song to The Good, the Bad and the Ugly was playing in my mind because I knew at any moment this could break into an all-out Wild West showdown.

After the spring semester I had decided it was time to make that monumental leap. I had to take one uncomfortable, awkward and far away from Texas step to visit my girlfriend’s home in Iowa. If you’ve ever been in a serious relationship then you know that the first prolonged visit to your girlfriend or boyfriend’s home is a BIG DEAL. Of course I was worried about impressing the parents and seeming somewhat normal. But what did Leah say to me as we were driving through Oklahoma on the Indian Turnpike? “Now be careful around Olive. She’s a really sweet dog but it takes a while for her to get used to people. You just have to let her get used to you.”

Uhm, what? Impressing parents is what I was worried about. Dogs? I’ve been around dogs my whole life, and I’ll even go so far as to say that I am probably better with dogs than your average Joe. As far back as my memory goes, the Stephens family has had a dog. Princess, Rex, Slam Dunkin’ Doctor Jay (Doc), Gracie, Sue, Queenie, Shotgun, Willie, Smoke, Lucy, Spur, Stonewall, Kate, some girl dog I can’t recall; Callie and Misty are the ones that I remember.

All of these, with the exception of three, are beagle dogs. Beagles are great hounds and so to us they were hunting dogs. I could tell crazy stories you wouldn’t believe about hunting with these great hounds in the piney woods of East Texas but those will have to wait for another time. The important thing is that my brother Eli and I trained many of these dogs ourselves from the time I was about 7. Not only did we teach them to come when called, we taught them to track rabbits and foxes. And we hardly used treats! So yes, you can train dogs without beggin’ strips.

But apparently Olive wasn’t anything like these dogs. It seemed sort of like I was about to be staying in a house with a wild beast. When we arrived in Iowa, one of the first things Leah’s mom told me was to not look Olive in the eyes and she added, “You may not want to hug Leah or anything while Olive is around either.” Uhm ok, is she a grizzly bear? Is she some sort of siren who will lure me to my demise with her eyes? Of course with all of my dog experience I figured I’d be great friends with this supposedly dangerous animal. When I first met her I let her sniff my hand. She reached out tentatively, sniffed and backed away. No problem there. She just seemed shy.

However (yup there it is) the more I was around Olive, the more I began to see that this dog was definitely a little bit weird. Her eyes had a wild kind of crazy look. But nothing happened until that one night. We were all sitting on the couch watching TV, I don’t remember what was on but I got up and went to take a leak. I returned to the living room to see Olive had moved to my seat on the couch. I guess she didn’t hear me call seat check, dumb bitch.

There were no other spots to sit other than all the way in the kitchen. But guess what? No one made an effort to scoot ole Olive out of my spot, not even Leah MY GIRLFRIEND. I’m a guest in the house and the dog steals my seat! I thought about asking if there was a dog house I could sit in but thought better of it. Well if they weren’t going to offer to give my seat back, I’d just sit my derriere on the floor.

I walked toward Leah and went to sit at her feet, like a slave, when out of nowhere the terrible and ferocious demon they call a dog was on her feet, hackles raised and barking her lungs out at me. Startled by the sudden outburst of oh-so-threatening barks I took a step back and prepared for an attack. “Oh Olive hush! Don’t be rude,” and “OLIVE!” and “Olive be nice,” and a whole lot more rebukes followed. But NO ONE LIFTED A FINGER TO MOVE THE DOG. Instead guess what the dog got? She got petted… to “calm her down.”

At that point I knew that a war had begun. I knew then that the dog was territorial. They said she was afraid of me and that was true, but she wasn’t afraid because she thought I might hurt her or her family. She was afraid because she thought I was moving in on her property. She was spoiled into thinking that this house was her kingdom. I had been content to keep my distance and develop no close fellowship with this animal but she had just made things personal and I wasn’t about to let that slide. If Leah and her parents wouldn’t control their crazy bitch dog, I would. The score was Olive 1, Seth 0. But the game had just begun, and Olive was about to find out that I wasn’t playing fetch, I was playing chess.

Guess what? In addition to another chapter of My Girlfriend’s Parents and their Crazy Dog later this week, I’ll also be letting you meet the dog who inspired this all. That’s right, I’ll be posting a video of Olive so you can all see what I’m talking about. Thanks for reading!

Chapter 2: The American Dog Epidemic

Plain and simple

Look, I love dogs as much as the next person, but I have never been crazy about indoor dogs, mostly because they leave constant reminders of their presence. Oh look! Dog hair all over the couch! And hey, this food would smell really good if you weren’t breathing in my face Fido. Yes go ahead and bark your brains out at the small child next door, he terrifies me as well. The list goes on. I already knew all this when I crammed into the back seat of that Buick, but as I sat there amidst a flurry of shedding dog hair I knew that the condition of dog and human relations was at an all-time low point.

But before I get to that story, let me explain how I missed the clear and obvious warning of STAY AWAY FROM OLIVE. I first met Leah’s parents when we drove up…

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