Eying the Mason jar filled to the brim with white entry slips, I hand the leash over to the staff behind the front desk. Tucker, our eleven-year-old Puggle, has already dashed to the back.
Tucker loves doggie daycare.
I peer at the snapshot of the “Dog of the Week.” This week it’s a Bulldog, his thick tongue out in defiance. Is that a gleam I see in those doggie eyes?
I sigh, turning to the staff. “Gee, Tucker has never been Dog of the Week and he’s been coming since he was a puppy.”
“Really?” one of them says. “We adore Tucker!”
“It’s random, you know,” another pipes in. “Customers fill out the entry slips with their dog’s name and we pull one from the jar every Monday. It’s a fresh start every week.”
“Yeah, I’ve done the slips, but Tuck only comes when we’re on the road, so my odds aren’t as good as the daily borders.”
The young blonde staffer with a purple streak looks up from her computer. “Yeah, some of the regulars fill slips out every day they come.”
“Really?” I say, reaching for a slip and a pen, my competitive mode already rearing its ugly head. “Every day, huh?”
“Some of them,” she smiles.
“Let’s see,” I say, filling out the slip. “Today’s Saturday. You pick the winner on Monday morning. My chances are good this week, right? Or, do you get a lot of check-outs on Sunday?”
A black lab bursts through the door with his owner clinging to a tight leash. “Coco!” the staff says in unison. Coco’s tail wags wildly when one of the staff comes out from behind the counter and takes his leash.
I move to block the jar from Coco’s owner’s view as she hands over neatly bagged meals to the blonde. One less entry slip…
“So,” I say to the two remaining staffers after Coco’s owner is safely out the door. “I’m such a loyal customer. Been here since Tucker was a puppy. How has he missed being “dog of the week?”’
I fold Tucker’s entry slip and place it in the jar on top of the others. “Here’s Tucker’s entry slip,” I tell them. “Right here on top. You know,” I say with a wink,” right here on top. Easy to pick.”
“It’s not rigged,” they laugh.
These women behind the desk are great. They know me by now. At the beginning of October, they’ll ask what Tucker will be for Halloween. The doggie daycare contest is looming and, for me, it’s an all-out war to have Tucker win that thing.
“Oh, of course!” I say. “I know you guys run an above-board place here,” I add. “I’m not one of them,” I gasp, with a devious smile.
I’ve followed the college admission cheating scandal, obsessed with the stories. Who does this? How do they sleep at night? Their children were admitted to college on a cheat – through the “’side-door!’”
“I was never like this with my kids,” I tell them. “You know, like one of those awful parents with the college scandal, trying to get my dog the coveted spot!”
“You are so funny,” they laugh.
“No, really! It’s true! There was no “side-door” to college for them and certainly no donated building! And, I can’t even remember what they were for Halloween. My kids say I got this way after they left. Now, it’s all about Tucker.”
Do I detect doubt in their expressions?
As I leave, I toss another reminder to them. “I sure hope Tucker wins some week….”
Two weeks later, I’m notified.
“Congratulations! Tucker is Dog of the Week!”
And, I wonder, where can I get a “My-Dog-Is-Pet-Of-The-Week” bumper sticker?