Shine and the Snakes!

This story happened during this past Christmas season – the day after to be exact. I sent it to a few people and posted to my yahoo group – and the feedback I received was a big factor in starting Shine’s blog. I had not posted this story on the blog, as I felt a lot of people had seen it already. However, I’ve had a few people ask to read it again and a request to post it to the blog. So, if you’ve already seen this, you can stop reading. If not, I hope you enjoy one of my first “Shine” stories.

The Lowe’s in our area has a rule that allows you to bring a dog into the store – if it is being carried or rides in the shopping cart. Until this point in time, I didn’t have a dog that would be comfortable in that situation. But, then I didn’t have Shine before. I wasn’t sure she would actually stay in the cart – as she can bounce up and down; off and on; through or over just about anything including air. She doesn’t seem to pay a lot of attention to things like gravity. Shine has mastered staying in a chair during agility and K-9 Scentwork classes and actually exhibits a tad of “self control” so I thought it was worth a try. So, I brought a small crate pad for the bottom of the cart – drove to Lowe’s for the “day after Christmas sale,” We pulled a cart from the outside cart rack and I took her for a test drive in the parking lot. She was just fine with being in the cart, and sat right down and got used to the movement. She was curious about her surroundings – but certainly not worried or stressed. So, we were good to go!”

Now, anyone that knows Shine – knows that she is delighted with life – and delighted with anything that adds to her life – no matter how big or small. And, anyone that knows Shine also knows the girl loves squeaky toys – and usually has one in her mouth – working it for maximum noise that if done just right- one toy can make a continuous stream of squeaks with varying pitches that go from highly irritating to downright trauma – for the person listening – as well as the toy. Well, once you know this, you’ll soon see how the trip to Lowe’s after Christmas sale turned out to be a fun adventure for Shine. As we entered the store- she was so delighted at riding in the cart and looking around with wonder at everything! And then if that weren’t enough – things went from great to extremely wonderful in a short time!

Who knew that Lowe’s carried Shine’s favorite squeak toy! The toy is a snake that advertised as “Invincible.” The snake consists of 3 segmented sections -each with a large squeaker. The toy makers promote that even if punctured – the squeaker still works. There is no stuffing in this snake – which is why I think they say it is invincible. It is one of Shine and her Border collie sister’s very favorite toys, and if they each have one –they create quite an orchestra. However, they long ago proved that the toy is not completely indestructible as the name implies – but it is a bit tougher than the average toy and well worth the $12 price tag. I picked up a couple last Spring on a good sale at one of the big chain pet stores, and when I saw what a hit they were, I wished I had bought several more. These particular snakes were ALMOST the same – they were the same brand – but someone decided to sew a little red Santa hat and print a “Christmas” label for them. Now the addition of the Santa hat is moving even further away from” invincible” because that little hat is not attached to that snake’s head with more than a few threads. (Ask me how I know?) Still, under that little hat is the same green or orange snake that we have come to love. Now, what is the big deal about the little Santa hat? Well, it makes it “seasonal” and makes it eligible for the 50% Day After Christmas Sale! The snakes were already marked down 30% and 50% off that made those snakes – if not invincible – then certainly irresistible – so, I did what any good dog mother would do and loaded them all in the cart.

Well, you already know who was in that cart and who was already extremely delighted with themselves- and over the next 20 minutes or so everyone in Lowe’s or in the parking lot – or within a mile radius found out who was in that cart!!!! Shine quickly shuffled those snakes around into a nest of snakes and soon as she grabbed one – she’d notice another and had to have that one. Then she’d see another and grab it. There were 14 snakes in that cart each with 3 segments with a squeaker -and she was playing them one after another testing each squeaker and each snake sometimes two at a time. She reminded me o f a talent show where I watched a contestant play the hand bells to a fast song. It was amazing how quick they picked up, rang, and set down those bells. The difference between the hand bell player and Shine’s technique, however, was that the bells actually made pleasant noises and a real song. Shine is a very artistic as well as enthusiastic creature – but she definitely has her very own interpretation of what does – and doesn’t sound good. And, one thing Shine is consistent in is that if it is loud – it must be good.

Now, we’ve all been in a store or other public place where a bored kid was misbehaving and playing a horn or knocking something around, or making an irritating noise – and you’d like to strangle the little urchin -or perhaps the mother or father who seem immune to the noise and are allowing their child to exhibit that particular “self-expression” in public. As we rolled through the store with the wails of tormented and dying snakes – we got a few really dirty looks our way from people expecting to see some small child in that cart that they’d like to snuff out or at least take the toy away. But, with few exceptions – when they saw what was making the noise – they relaxed and smiled and watched her joy in playing with her snakes. Shine was giving “feel good” moments to all around her. We soon had a couple kid’s tailing us through the store. It was certainly easy to find us! A few people stopped to talk to Shine – not to me – but her. She greeted everyone with a cute impish grin – a quick wag of the tail – and went back to tormenting the snakes.

But, the story isn’t over…. When we got to the checkout, the shopping cart was pushed up against the counter. The clerk had to confirm that the snakes were eligible for the 50% discount on Christmas merchandise as they were not in the discount aisle. I was quick to point out that they were certainly “seasonal” as they had a Christmas label and Santa hats sewn on. Plus I mentioned that they weren’t exactly “invincible” as promised either – and to prove both points, I picked up 3 loose Santa hats from the bottom of the cart. If those snakes thought they would be safe dressed as Santa – they had another thing coming! In addition, I said to mention to the manager that had to be consulted – that I was buying all the snakes they had in stock.

The clerk had to scan a bar code to start the process, and while she needed only one of the fourteen snakes to scan, wouldn’t you know it – the snake she picked out was the exact one Shine wanted. Shine would jump up and snatch it out of her hand and duck back down in the cart with that snake. “No problem,” the clerk said – “They all have the same numbers – I can use any of them.” What the clerk didn’t understand-or maybe she did -and was just having fun – was that any snake that left the cart was the exact one Shine wanted. The clerk would pick up a snake, and as she’d lift it out of the cart – BAM! Shine stuck fast as a snake – at the snake -and had it back in the card and screaming before you could blink. Another helpful clerk came to see Shine -and tried to outsmart her. While clerk one took a snake to scan, clerk two tried to take a “decoy” snake and divert her attention! Well, they must have thought Shine rode into town on a turnip truck – and not realizing she lives in a household that includes 2 extremely greedy shelties and 3 obsessive and compulsive and cunning border collies! – Shine had both the snakes back in the cart before the clerks knew what hit them. After we all had a few minutes of laughing – I finally held her while the clerk removed one snake from the cart. Shine was appalled and glared at the clerk and the snake – and if I had loosened my grip at all, Shine and the snake would once again be back in the shopping cart! When I picked her up – I realized there were several people gathered around watching her. Now, I suspect that the lines had built up as the clerks were moving slow as they were watching Shine keeping her snake nest intact. But, most of them were smiling – so I don’t think they really minded.

I tucked Shine into her crate in the car – surrounded by her 14 snakes and we rode home……to the accompaniment of what I can only describe as tormented souls – the screaming of tortured and dying snakes. Darn – maybe they are invincible – the squeakers at least. Every one of them seems to be working just fine. I was wishing I had gone down one more aisle at Lowe’s and picked up one more thing – ear plugs!

So, Shine thinks Lowe’s is a pretty wonderful place and I don’t know exactly when we’ll go back – but it will be hard to live up to Shine’s first trip…But maybe not. Shine is now biting my toe and pulling off my sock. She seems almost as happy with my sock as with the snakes and other than an occasional wail (from me- as her teeth occasionally go a little too deep into my toe) it is certainly much quieter. In a few minutes she will fall asleep- perhaps with my toe still in her mouth. When you embrace life as hard as Shine does – you sleep well at night. How can you not love something that enjoys every moment of every day.

My New Year’s Resolution is to be more like Shine! No, not by tormenting snakes or people with loud noises – but by enjoying and appreciating more of the little moments – and finding joy in everyday things.

Nancy & Shine