Jambi — our CCI puppy-in-training — is supposed to be going on regular outings with us in order to introduce her to as many people, places, and situations as possible. Because of our recent traveling, she hasn’t been out and about and “working” quite as much as usual, so I decided to rectify that today and bring her with me to the grocery store.
She and Langston had been playing outside for a good twenty minutes prior to our departure; the moment I let them in, I put on Jambi-Zombie’s cape and Gentle Leader and ushered her right into the car. She looks so spiffy when she’s working, does she not?
Thankfully, she never requests gum or candy at the checkout, unlike certain other beings I know…
Although the grocery store is less than ten minutes from our house, and although she’d just been outside, I decided to allow her the opportunity to do her business anyway, after an unfortunate incident a couple of months ago at Target where we neglected to give her the chance to pee and I wound up stealthily cleaning up urine in aisle 7 while Ella and Annie raced Jambi back outside to empty her bladder. Lesson learned.
I brought her to the little grassy median right outside of the store and told her to “hurry” (CCI code for “do your thang”), but she only gave me a funny little glance (see photo, above). I then walked her around a tiny bit, continuing to tell her to “hurry,” but when she sat right down I got the message: all systems empty. But thanks for the stroll.
We jauntily walked into the breezeway where I grabbed a cart, then proceeded to head to the automatic doors – which, naturally, parted graciously for us – and maybe it was the extreme change in temperature lately, or maybe we just hit the store during temperature regulation time or something, but the moment the doors opened, this big ol’ blast of air (conditioning?) burst toward us. I’ll admit, it was a bit unexpected, but having been to the store approximately 3847 times (in the last year, alone), and at least a half dozen times with the Jam-Beast, I thought nothing of it.
She, on the other hand, was thrown for an enormous loop by the sudden blast of air, and clearly thought that something terrible awaited her by the salad bar just beyond the doors, so while my right arm and the cart continued inside, my left hand and the leash were yanked backward, resulting in a lovely suspension ballet right there in the breezeway. Jambi began to reverse so furiously, paws frantically scraping against the tile floor (which provided her no traction, so the gears just kept on spinning) to get away from the Very Scary Door, that I was forced to leave the cart right where it was (exactly in the very middle of the entrance – or, in other words, pretty much the most inconvenient place imaginable) and back up with her.
Sure, I could have just dragged her along like a spooked horse — claws (which are actually quite short, but which she’d extended as far as humanly [doggily?] possible in order to protest the Very Scary Door) digging into the tile grouting — but, given that she’s supposed to learn to navigate things like this, and also that everyone in the breezeway was now staring me with the Special Dog, I decided to help her work through her fears. It took several treats, trading in my voice for that of some angelic fairy/elf, and a little physical encouragement, but after five minutes, we made it safely inside.
This would also be a good time to mention that, naturally, I was in a hurry. We were out of fruit at home, running precariously low on toilet paper, and I’d neglected to purchase anything for dinner when I’d visited the store a mere three days ago, so this trip was essential, but I had to cram it in between unloading and re-loading the dishwasher, working out, mowing the lawn, editing photos, answering emails, showering, and attending a committee meeting, all before the kids got out of school. According to my calculations, I had exactly one hour for this grocery run – but that shouldn’t have been a problem, because aside from the fruit and Charmin (actually, we buy Wegmans generic, but whatever) and some salmon, my list was quite small, and I assumed the store would be relatively empty on a Friday morning.
WRONG. The store was teeming with people, each of them inexplicably stopping right in front of whatever item I needed to place in my cart (is everyone in Rochester out of TP and eating salmon tonight??), making it very difficult to weave through the throngs under normal circumstances, but especially difficult with Jambi. She stayed right by my side, however, obeying my commands, and so we pressed on, weighing bananas and thumping melons, smiling politely at the other shoppers who passed us with an, “Oh, isn’t she beautiful!” or a, “Look, that doggy’s working!”
All seemed quite well, until Jambi began panting. At first, I assumed that she was still nervous after her run-in with the Very Scary Door, so I just ignored her. As the panting became more labored, I gave some consideration to the idea that maybe she needed to poop (because this whole panting thing is what she’d done before dropping a deuce right outside of the security line at the airport; lesson learned), but dismissed that idea because a) she’d just freakin’ had the chance to relieve herself only a few minutes before, b) taking her outside would require going back through the Very Scary Door not once but twice, and c) even if she did have to do something, we truly were only going to be in the store for another ten minutes or so, and surely she could hold it.
I can probably just stop this story now because you know where this is going.
I was debating the merits of Gala versus Macintosh apples when I felt the tug on the leash… turned around… and caught Jambi mid-squat, with pieces of poo falling from her butt. (Coincidentally, the poop was full of apple chunks, because she’d recently eaten a few that had fallen from the trees in our backyard; how very discerning of her.) I hissed at her – “Jambi, don’t!” – which shocked her, causing a few more apple-poop bits to plop onto the floor.
In an attempt to hide the evidence, I threw myself onto the ground, dropping my purse as close to the poo as possible (guess I should probably wash that now), while maniacally – but calmly, so as not to draw attention to the incident (’cause there is nothing more awesomely embarrassing than a Special Dog taking a dump in the produce aisle) – rummaging through my CCI fanny pack for a plastic bag and some paper towels. So that she couldn’t do more damage, I attempted to get her to put her butt down on the floor by whisper-screaming, “Jambi, sit!” “Jambi, sit!” “Jambi, sit!” over and over (a training no-no, I understand, but there was apple poop at my feet, people), but she just gave me the same funny little glance as before (again, see above), so I gave up and just finished cleaning the mess.
Once the floor was good, I speed-walked her outside — and, naturally, she had absolutely no problem with the door either time we went through it. Yet again, when she reached the grassy knoll and was told to “hurry,” she sat right down and gave me that funny little glance (see above).
Not so funny anymore, Beast.
The rest of our shopping excursion went off without a hitch (save for me practically slipping a disc in my neck from craning it in her direction every 6 seconds to make sure she wasn’t dropping apple poop anywhere else), and we then found ourselves in the shortest – but, of course, the slowest – checkout lane. Jambi’s demeanor is typically fantastic when we’re out and about (crapping aside); she’s extremely laid-back and easy-going, and so – especially given the wait time – I wasn’t surprised that she curled up at my feet and dozed right off.
As I finished loading the last of our items onto the conveyor belt, a lady approached me from behind, asking about what program we were a part of. I told her about CCI and our involvement with them and, as is often the case, the woman told me what a “great thing” we were doing. (I’m not sure the produce employees agree, but whatever…)
She then leaned toward Jambi and said, “Oh, look at her. She’s so sweet! I bet she’s just an absolute dream everywhere you take her.”
I smiled very sweetly back and said the only thing I could think of: “Aw, you have no idea.”