For our Fourth of July holiday, we created our own fireworks.
First, we made the most fantastic discovery that Toby can play pool volleyball.
On a day-to-day basis, he is one of the most gentle, easygoing and loving dogs, but get him around another dog, three kids, a pool and a slew of activity, he becomes a berserk alpha male, despite his small stature.
It's almost as if his entire personality changes. He becomes this overly alert, eager animal who wants nothing more than to join in every group activity while simultaneously keeping his cousin Sparky away from any affection Jerry or I might happen to bestow upon him. It drives Toby crazy. If one of us decides to pet Sparky from the edge of the pool, Toby will run furiously at full speed and head butt him out of our hands. Then he'll stand there for a few seconds as if to say, "MINE." Frankly, it's one step short of peeing on our fingers to mark his territory.
The other most noticeable difference is that our usually quiet dog, who only occasionally gets riled by the neighborhood dogs to the point that he'll bark and make himself heard, becomes much more vocal poolside. Especially when the boys play volleyball. He will run back and fourth along the concrete, following the ball's every move, barking and shaking in tense anticipation.
I never understood it until yesterday when Jerry's sister, Amy, happened to toss the ball to Toby.
He volleyed it back with his snout and wagged his nub furiously.
So she tossed it again.
This time it was a little over his head so he leaped up, arced his back and managed to hit it back with amazing accuracy.
My dog plays volleyball!
It was a game neither party tired of for quite awhile. The kids took turns tossing the ball to Toby and he happily nudged it back. Over and over and over again.
In the meantime, Sparky developed his own pool trick. I'm guessing it was borne out of frustration with Toby's aggression, but Sparky, who is a little bigger, more subdued and clumsier than our dog, decided to work around his take-it or leave-it attitude about swimming and hopped in one of the kids' inflatable pool boats. There he could float on a mini island of uninterrupted bliss without any of Toby's demanding rules.
In fact, Sparky got so comfortable floating on the raft that when I unknowingly backed the inner tube I was in close to the edge of the pool, Sparky took it as an invitation to come aboard and leaped on.
Despite the crazy dog antics and overcast weather, our Fourth of July holiday was a relaxing one. We swam most of the afternoon; took a dinner break for short ribs, ranch chicken, corn, potato salad and trimmings; set off some fireworks; then switched on the paper lantern lights, put the outdoor fire pit to use and Amy quizzed us about our nation's founding using a few fact books she brought.
Did you know there were more than 100 weekly newspapers in circulation among the original 13 colonies?
Emily, who at age 4 became frustrated that she couldn't answer many of the questions, kept screaming, "I want one!"
Because Amy had just asked a question about the Liberty Bell, I used it as inspiration and asked Emily what state the Liberty Bell is in. Then I gave her a hint that it's the state she lives in.
After giving it considerable thought, she perked up and screamed, "PENN STATE!"
I laughed until my sides hurt. Close enough.
And the last bit of holiday craziness didn't reveal itself until this morning. Jerry just got home from work with his hair soaking wet and gigantic splotches of water all over his shirt and shorts.
"So, you might wonder why I'm wet," he said, giving me a kiss with his still-wet beard tickling my chin.
"Yes, you might say that I might wonder that."
Apparently Jerry has been so disciplined in his exercise regimen that he has not only lost weight in his midsection, but also in his fingers. Including his ring finger.
With all of the dog volleyball and dog rafting and poolside U.S. trivia, Jerry didn't notice that his wedding band had slipped off in the water.
He said he noticed sometime at work this morning, drafted the help of everyone in the building and even reached armpit-deep into the men's room trash bin, to no avail. But a quick stop at his mother's house on his way home revealed a small silver object at the bottom of the pool.
Who needs professional fireworks when you can create your own?