This is a picture of one of my sons and our beloved former family dog, a sweet Sheltie, named Meko. We got Meko at a school auction. But it was not your ordinary auction transaction.
The school was collecting donations for their fundraising auction. My son, who was in the 6th grade, came home from school and announced to me that he had offered to take home and care for two dogs who were being donated for the auction which was to take place in two weeks! They needed a place to stay and someone to take care of them until the actual fundraiser took place. Being a total softie for anything in a fur coat, I said yes, as long as you take care of them yourself, and you know what is involved in that. And he did. Home he came from school the next day with an 8 week old super friskie German shepherd puppy with gigantic paws, and a beautiful little 12 week old tri-color Shetland Sheepdog. The small one was named Meko which (we were TOLD) means Little Jewel in Japanese. And he was not only pretty – he was also the sweetest, most sensitive and intelligent puppy I had ever seen. He slipped smoothly and completely unobtrusively into our household. He never chewed up anything of value, he never barked noisily, he never made a mess in the house. He seemed miraculously to already be housebroken. He was a miracle dog! He was gentle and affectionate, and prancy and delicate. And he came when called, sat on demand, walked on a leash – it was unbelievable! He was also smart! smart! smart! He herded the neighborhood children who were small and absolutely loved that! We would go outside for a little walk and Meko would instinctively keep them all inline. It was adorable! The other puppy was sweet, but clumsy and licky and bitey and jumpy and a general big wiggly nuisance.
We made it through the next two weeks, barely! Our family decision was to let the boys bid on the Sheltie, Meko, and keep him and find the other dog a suitable home. We promoted the German shepherd like mad at the school. Meko was in my son’s arms all the time, or in his lap or, when I would peek into his room at night curled up asleep on his pillow wrapped around his neck like a muffler. They were completely stuck together all the time. You could not pry them apart. I was teaching at the school myself in the afternoons, so I would bring the dog to my classroom. Everyone saw the two of them together and it was obvious they were meant to be together. No one would have questioned that.
The auction night arrived. It was held downtown in some venue they had procured for this thing. My son was supposed to bring the dogs around to the tables to show them to the potential bidders before their time came up. He walked them around on their leashes and carried them up to the tables to get their heads patted a few times throughout the evening. It seemed to drag on forever as those things tend to do! He told me later that he told every parent at every table that he had been caring for the dogs and was going to be bidding on the small one. Most people seemed genuinely charmed by this idylic boy and dog scenario. All seemed to be going well. people were drinking a lot though. But I guess the idea is to get them really sloshed so they will drop more money at these fundraisers.
The dogs finally came up. The German shepherd went first and sold for an abysmally small amount, of $48, for a beautiful pure bred dog with papers! But he went to a family with four young active boys so it was a good match. Then Meko’s turn came. My son was both holding him on stage and bidding on him. He did remarkably well juggling this scenario! It was essentially, him and two other bidders. A sensitive wife talked to her husband who was bidding and got him to back off at a reasonable point, she understood the situation and wanted to see the right boy get the dog.
The bidding had reached a hundred dollars at this point. We had agreed to go to $150. My son had $100 of his own money from his paper route. We had to keep in mind all the other expenses in owning a dog and had figured out a budget of about $1500 a year. This is a lot of money for a 6th grader. An Elderly Bouffant Blonde Grandma, who had had a lot to drink was bidding. She had swigged a lot of bourbon and she was high and climbing. In fact she was climbing higher and higher. She finally hit $300, then $350. We had to stop, We couldn’t go any higher. It was awful. The Bourbon Swigging, Grand Mother with the Bouffant-Grey-Blond-Hairdresser-Done-Do and the too-large hands weighted down with huge diamond dinner rings was ahead. She wouldn’t stop. She was going to get that dog! She would not give up! She had decided she fancied him and was going to have him, no matter what and that was that! She was unstoppable. Absolutely hard and absolutely unstoppable! She reminded me of the old women competitors on Strictly Ballroom. She was horrible! And her competitive urge was stoked to the highest level by the chance to go up against this little schoolboy hook line and sinker. She was unbeatable. And, sadly, she won!
The School had hired a professional auctioneer. An old professional state licensed guy who did this for schools and organizations all over town and had made his reputation on ruthlessly buoying up the fundraising spirits of the auction attendees with alcohol and pursuing the audience member’s bids to acquire top dollar. He was really quite slimy. Clearly, he didn’t care what happened, as long as the bids were high. He got to drink all night and was paid a $250 fee to basically have his idea of a rollicking-good-time and be the star of his own little show. The utterly delectable little dog we had thought would be our own for good had been won by a Bawdy-Drunk-On-Bourbon-Bouffant-Blond-Grandma and had netted the school $350.
My son was crestfallen, heartbroken, let down, all those kinds of words at once strung together. He looked terrible – like he was going to die. We had attempted to prepare for this awful possibility but no one had really grasped that it could actually happen. And then it did! It was as if the sun had sunk into the sea and would never rise again…
I told my son to tell the auctioneer’s staff that his parents said he could have the dog and we would still allow him to take it if anything happened and the winning woman changed her mind. He did so. And then he had to have his last cuddle and say his last goodbye to his best-friend-ever and turn him over to the auction people who put the most beautiful puppy in the world into a severely scratched blue plastic dog kennel and carried him away forever…We sadly watched him limply carry the little dog up to the front of the stage, rub his face up against the dogs soft twitchy little ear and kiss it and hug him to his chest, and then he had to hand him over. Tears were streaming down his face. It was one of the saddest things ever. It was absolutely traumatic. I felt completely drained. This was one of those times as a parent that no one has prepared you for. What was I going to do now? I had to be both realistic and truthful and somehow supportive, encouraging and optimistic, too. All at once. And I was devastated myself. I had fallen in love with this little Sheltie too! What were we going to do? My now ex-husband was not a lot of help. He had only attended because he was expected to and he had also had too much to drink and was just ready to go home, get out of his suit and plop down. It was a cold night and raining hard out.
It was a horrible night. We hadn’t had fun. We don’t like attending events like that. I don’t think anyone ever does. People only do it because they think they have to to help raise money for special programs at the school. I had worked hard on this auction. I had procured thousands of dollars worth of donations from my artist friends – all kinds of services and artwork, classes, experiences, you name it. As I recall I was told I was the highest procurer of donations for the auction that year. I had topped off the previous year’s procurer and hit the $6,000 mark for the actual sold value of the donations I had raised for the school. I didn’t care. I felt totally deflated and awful. And now I had two very sad little boys to contend with. I had the older one who is the main character here and his brother who is two years younger. They were both very upset.
Somehow we all made it into the car, and I asked my son what happened when he was talking to the people up at the front. Through tears on the drive home he told us, ” I told him to be bad. I told him to be really really bad and that maybe we would be able to be back together if he did that.”
We got home. It was one of those wet out nights where everything in the house when you get home still feels somewhat damp and unpleasant. I remember tearing off my high heels as soon as I set my feet inside the front door, delighted to get them off! I finally got everybody, exhausted and totally unhappy into their beds and ready to go to sleep. That was a Saturday night.
The next day was Sunday. Very early in the morning, probably about 5:30AM I was up, making coffee. I couldn’t sleep. My son came muffling into the kitchen, in his pajamas, rubbing his eyes, shuffling his slippers across the hardwood floor. I poured myself a mug of coffee and we went into the living room and sat down on the couch where we could watch the sun come up. I wrapped him up in an afghan. I wrapped myself up in another one. I sipped my coffee.
And then he asked me, “UHM…,” long pause…., “Did she call yet?”
I was not quite expecting this! But I had to reply. so I said, “Not yet! I think you will have to wait. If we hear from her at all it probably won’t be for a few days.” He was quiet and thoughtful. I had another sip of coffee.
He said,”I told him to be really really bad.” I said, “Good. That is all you can do.”
He started to relax, and, after a little while he dozed off.
I didn’t – I was both exhausted and worried.
After a while I snuck back into the kitchen and shut the door to leave him alone on the couch sleeping peacefully. He needed it! I made oatmeal. I drank more coffee.
About 9AM he peeked through the kitchen door and asked, hopefully, “Did she call yet?” I had to answer. I said. “No, I’m sorry!
He was trying so hard to wait, so hard to be patient. It was obvious that this was terribly difficult for him.I knew it was going to be a very long day! I felt exhausted. What a let down!
The morning eventually got underway. People were moving around. There wasn’t a lot of activity, but the people were at least sort of there. My mother stopped by on her way to church. The neighbor’s kids were playing outside. Our yards sort of blended together.
All of a sudden the phone rang, shrilly. Everybody stopped moving. And looked at me! I picked it up. There was a gravelly husky female voice on the other end.
She asked, “Do you still want IT?”I said “Yes!” I was so excited I was practically bursting.
“Shall I come over and pick him up? ” I asked.
She said, “NO! I’m nearby. I’ll bring him right over.”
Within five minutes, a huge shiny new Lemon Yellow Cadillac had pulled into our driveway. She was driving. She had gotten out of the car and was unloading the scratched blue plastic kennel from the back seat well before I made it out to the driveway.
Her little 6 yr old grand daughter was sitting in the back seat of the car, without a seatbelt on. She was screaming. “No! NO! NO!… and had obviously been crying. I looked in there concerned. The woman said, “Don’t worry about it. She’ll get over it! ” She was in a big hurry and just wanted to get this over with!
I asked her what had happened? Why was she changing her mind? How did she want to handle this? She first said, all in one sentence, and very fast, that she was in a terrible hurry because she had to get up to the Sand Point Golf and Country Club for her bridge party and she had all the flowers in the car and all the stuff she has to deliver and she was running late.
I was looking at her hair. It was sprayed very stiff, It looked like a plastic helmut. Although she was gyrating and gesticulating all over the place and had been through a hard night to hear her tell it, not a hair on her entire head had moved since the night before at the auction event. It was perfectly plastered down with hairspray so it that it would stay in place retaining its intended style. It was utterly amazing! She was still talking a mile a minute and she said she had gotten her granddaughter the dog thinking it would be very cute, but she took it home last night and it was a disaster. Of course it was! Because, as it turns out, she lives on a houseboat!
She excitedly and speedily relayed how she had barely gotten the dog down her wet slippery dock – with him in his kennel and herself in her high heels and tight Escada skirt. And IT (Meko) had noticed the ducks that live in the water down there. And he had realized what they were and he began to bark and go crazy. Meko undoubtedly saw the ducks through the little slats in the blue plastic kennel cage and he undoubtedly smelled them and this in turn undoubtedly set off his herding instincts on automatic pilot! So he was barking loudly and nervously and was very stimulated by the ducks and they were quacking loudly and nervously and their wings and feathers were fluttering and flying like mad. She slipped but she got through the front door. (Those damned high heels! they are the wrong shoes for times like this!) Then it went from bad to worse. Meko was running up and down the length of the houseboat. The grand daughter was getting very excited. She was chasing him and throwing a ball at him and various stuffed animals because she was trying to distract him from the ducks. It must have been utterly chaotic. I was delighted with this dog! I was laughing inside myself thinking, “What a good good dog!” And, “She doesn’t know the breed so she was misinterpreting his Good Sheltie Working Dog Behavior as frenzied madness.” This was turning out perfectly! For us!
We got IT, still in the kennel, out of the car. Then we got IT out of the kennel. Meko was totally quiet. He just stood there sweetly on the grass waiting for the drama to blow over, not wiggling and not making a sound.
Both of my sons were also being very quiet and waiting in the background. They were both behaving perfectly. Again it was like these three were wired at the hip.
Blonde Grandma explained that IT, as she emphatically called him, had been a monster all night and she simply could not deal with it. IT had chewed up a Calvin Klein sweater, and a pair of Charles Jourdan shoes were now ruined because IT had bitten through the leather that coats the plastic heels several times. IT had gotten hold of a pair of her wool Armani Express designer pants in ITS teeth and her grand daughter started to pull on them to play tug-a-war with him and IT had torn an entire bite out of the cuff of one side! They are now unwearable! She put a bowl of water on the kitchen floor and IT flipped it over and got water streaked all over the kitchen floor. IT jumped on things – like the couch, the armchairs, the bed. IT grabbed the girl’s stuffed animals and ran off with them, shaking them up in a frenzy. IT growled and IT snorted and IT puffed and IT fumed and IT shook ITS head. You couldn’t get anything away from IT once IT got ITS horrid little teeth into it!
I could see my son was smiling inside himself on the sidelines but he was not going to say anything. I could hear exactly what he was thinking! “I told him to be bad, very very bad!”
I asked what she wanted us to do about the money part. She said, to my surprise, “Just take him. I have to get going, We can settle it up at the school later on.”
I met with her up at the school at the end of the week. She had calmed down enough to admit she had buyer’s remorse. She ended up just giving us the dog because we were kind enough to “take IT off her hands.” And I ended up telling her little grand daughter (to whom she had given the dog when she got home from the auction ) that we would share him with her up at the school. This little girl was dropped off at the school every day at 6:30 AM in the morning and had her breakfast there. She attended the school daycare for the hours that School was not actually in session. She was in the first grade and her day at the school facility began at 6:30AM and finished at 6: PM It was along long day for her it seemed to me. She had been dropped off to live with her grandma on the houseboat two years ago and had not seen her real mother since. The real mother was supposed to be in LA doing something career oriented. Blond Grandma was long divorced (if she had ever been married). Nobody could ever remember anything about that. The six year old grand daughter said she didn’t think she had a father. And that they really never discussed it! She told me that.
What they did have was a houseboat on Portage Bay filled with designer this and that and surrounded by ducks. And a Lemon Yellow Cadillac to drive to the Catholic school where my kids had scholarships. And a membership at the Sand Point Golf & Country Club.
What they didn’t have was any peace. Peace does not mean inactivity. In fact, we had a large yard and household full of active kids from all over the neighborhood. Each yard led into the next to create a wide territory for the neighborhood pets. This was the perfect environment for a herding dog to be calm and happy in. A few days after we got Meko back, a neighborhood Japanese boy, who was about four years old at the time and very small, decided Meko’s real name was Bonsai Collie, and the nick name stuck.
That is how we ended up with Meko, our family Sheltie, the best dog in the Whole World !