Canine Fiction: Camp Dog – part 2 – Doberman Pinscher Taleby Karyn Zoldan on Mar. 16, 2011, under Dogs, Canines, Fun with Fido, Barking Encouraged
Camp Dog part 1, start here.
Keller had to stop the four letter words then and there. “Don’t use that word. Don’t even say ‘hell’ or ‘damn’ or any cuss word or you’ll be out of a job faster than you can blink. Understand?”
Reeve thought for a moment and softly said he was sorry. He’d watch his mouth.
“Monte is . . . well, Monte goes where I go and I go where Monte goes. When I eat, Monte eats and when I starve, Monte starves. We’re a team. I named him ‘Monte’ for Joe Montana, who was the best quarterback I ever did see. You like football?”
Keller told Andy that he’d played some ball, but an injury cut his career.
“Where’d you play?”
“High school in Sioux Falls and then a small college in Aberdeen, I got my bell rung my freshman year.”
The last six miles into camp took about a half hour. Keller walked Andy into his wife’s office and the candidate made a great impression, calling her ma’m and thanking her for the opportunity of being a handyman doing God’s work in a Christian camp. She bought it.
Keller took Andy to the handyman’s bunk house, showed him the staff shower, laundry and other necessities. Then he walked him over the long meadow to the Camp cabins and then the Viking cabins and made it perfectly clear that if he ever caught him around any of the girls’ cabins or the girls’ shower he’d have him taken to jail “faster than you can blink.” There had been a Peeping Tom incident with a handyman six or eight years ago and Kiki never would forget it.
“Take the day off. Go over to Viking Camp and see where they have the canoes stowed, the rifle range, and archery . . . get familiar with all the grinders . . .”
“What are grinders?”
“It’s what we call the toilets. Toilets are grinders. Every blessed one of them will get clogged with toilet paper. Kids mess themselves and then throw their underwear in the toilet. Happens all the time.”
First place Andy walked was the dining hall where he introduced himself to the cook. Mary Kendrick, the real camp cook, wouldn’t be in for another week, but her assistant Dolly Hansen was doing menus, writing food orders and cooking for whatever staff and family was in camp early. “Got any hot dogs?” asked Andy. He wanted one or two for Monte who hadn’t had the pleasure of coffee and a cinnamon bun with the Rev. Karl. Dolly cracked open a 10 pound box of frozen franks and knocked off a few for the handyman. She hit “defrost” and popped them in the microwave for a few minutes. Andy bit the end off one dog and slowly fed the rest to Monte so that he wouldn’t gobble them in one bite and get sick. Then he kissed Monte’s nose and ruffled his ears. “I think we got a good gig here. Hope I don’t mess it up.”
On his first day, Andy hung all the screen doors on the cabins. He removed the entire pool pump and filter assembly, taught himself how to back-wash the pool and poured in a little too much chlorine; then flushed, checked and re-checked every toilet in every grinder. The Rev. Karl beamed. Mrs. Keller smiled at him during the blessing at dinner.
He had bathed Monte and by golly there was a dog under that grime.
Andy not only got the riding lawn mower going, he tuned it up with new plugs and points, sharpened the blades and took her for a spin over the meadow. In a couple of days the camp never looked so good.
The campers began arriving on the first Saturday after Memorial Day. That night’s campfire was always the biggest. There were blessings to the campers and to the camp, to the Lutheran churches and to the donors who made it all possible. Keller did the honors and was in great form talking about the moral responsibility each camper had to look out for all the other campers whether it was in the pool, at the lake, on a hike, in the craft lodge and on and on he went mentioning each place where campers needed to accept the moral responsibility of watching out for each other.
At the moment each camper was accepting the goodness that the Lord had bestowed, Monte stuck his freezing wet nose into a little girl’s ear. Her scream could be heard over the meadow and across the lake to camp Tu Tu Tokem, owned by the YWCA.
There was an instant of terror at the child’s scream, but as soon as everyone realized what had happened, they began laughing hysterically and nothing anyone did could stop them. The counselors-in-training and counselors and kitchen staff, stable staff, riding instructors, lifeguards – everybody – laughed and laughed. When it mercifully subsided, The Rev. Karl Keller introduced Monte as the official Camp Dog.
Monte did well on human food, but by the third week, Dolly Hansen asked Andy if he didn’t want some dog food. She said she’d add a 40 pound sack of kibble to the supplementary food order along with a couple of cases of Miller Genuine Draft beer. Andy just stared at her. “I like a beer after a day in the kitchen; what about you?” she asked.
After campfire, maybe while Dolly was mixing up some pastry dough to rise overnight, the two of them would drink a beer. Or Andy would walk over to Dolly’s quarters and grab one for later.
Monte was up at 5:30, about an hour before First Bell. He’d walk through the meadow lifting his leg on anything he could find, and then bound into the stable area where he’d relieve himself. Some mornings he’d walk all the way to the lake looking for deer and rabbits to chase. But when the first bell announced Wake-Up, he’d be at Andy’s side, pulling him from the covers. The days grew routine. Evenings, between dinner and campfire in the wonderful upper Midwestern twilight, the kids would play a special brand of soccer in the meadow involving 100 or more campers and Monte would run non-stop for an hour, jumping over fallen children and try to grab the ball. He was in the best condition of his life.
One night, the 8-year old girls were having a pajama party and Monte wandered into their cabin. The cabin leader dressed him in a striped T-shirt and red wool cap like a French sailor and everyone took his picture.
(Story graciously submitted by Bennett J. Mintz who is owned by a 6 1/2 year old AKC registered Doberman Pinscher named Ace Barkowitz.)
(Photo is courtesy of my friends Chuck & Mary Danielian of Naples, Florida. Their Doberman Chance went to the Rainbow Bridge earlier this year.)