Shirley Harring

writer, farmer advocate, madwoman

What can happen in 5 minutes?

July 30, 2009

So tonight I find myself home from work earlier than my boys, which is pretty rare. And I have to zip out for a quick trip to drop some flyers of to my friend K, who lives a few minutes up the road.

And being the kind, caring mother and wife that I am ;), a quick phone call to the sparky imparts to me they are only just up the road and will be here in minutes. He is muttering something about a science experiment in the apprentice’s school bag or something.

He does not sound happy.

But  I am preoccupied with the flyers and getting that little job done, and so as the boys pull in and the sparky enters the house I am already working on getting back out the door and down the road.

And Sebastian, the black Labrador, is doing typical Labrador back-flip-sideways-slide-loop-the-loop-prancing-paw dance of ‘there you are-where have you been-you have left me here all alone allllll day with no one to talk to-and why do you have the keys and did I hear you say the word car? You are going in the car? THE CAR?  Yay the car – I love the car- let’s get in the car and here I am your poor Labrador and where have you been?’

And the sparky says ‘your son’ and then he says ‘science experiment’ and then he adds ‘feral’ and points outside. I can tell he is having trouble putting several words together. (See – told you I was a kind and caring wife and mother).

And I step outside the front door barged over by the sideways-shuffling-tap-dancing Labrador who wants to get in ‘the car because it’s the car and where have you been and stand still so I can knock you over and oh look there’s my BOY’ and I come to see a very strange sight.

I see the boys’ school back pack, tied upside down by the straps, around the trunk of a palm tree just outside the front door.

I see the tap dancing Labrador now head down rump up, shovel nosed with his head under the bushes by the deck, tail wagging furiously.

I see the apprentice with a look of horror and shock and guilt and ‘oh crappity crappity crap’ on his face, mouth ajar.

And all this happens in the space of about 60 seconds from  the sparky entering the front door.

And while my brain tries to catch up and process all I see, the tap dancing Labrador emerges from the bushes with something that really, really resembles a wholemeal chicken salad sandwich that I made for school lunch somewhere around last Thursday.

Still in it’s glad wrap.

Being a well trained dog, he drops the plastic wrapped sandwich at my feet and promptly plonks himself on his rump. He looks at me with those Labrador eyes and tail wagging and ‘see what I found I am such a good boy see what I have it followed me home and can I keep it mum, can I, can I, can I’?

And I look at the apprentice and I say softly and slowly:

Put. the. sandwich. in. the.bin.

And as geek boy gingerly skirts past me sideways and picks up the sandwich and the tap dancing Labrador pirouettes beside him as he heads to the bin, I look at the sparky and the sparky looks at me.  And with a blur of  fur the tap dancing Labrador is back and has assumed rump up head down position under the bushes once again.

And the apprentice’s expression has gone from horror and shock and guilt and ‘oh crappitty crappitycrap’ to the 12 year olds equivalent of oh fruck and with a great deal of tap dancing, tail wagging and pirouetting the Labrador presents me with something that really, really resembles a ham, mayonnaise and salad wrap that that looks suspiciously like the one I made for school lunch on Monday.

Still in it’s glad wrap.

And the dog, with a ‘see mum I found another one, I know I couldn’t eat the other one but can I have this one, canIcanIcanIcanIcanI?’  drops the wrap at my feet.

And I look at the apprentice and I say not so softly and much more slowly:


And then I say:


And the apprentice says ‘nothing…’

And I say :


and then I say:


And the apprentice mutters something about a bread roll and an orange and an apple and a pear and some yoghurt and skirts past me super sideways making sure his rump is not within reach of my arm and then both the boy and the dog assume the rump up, head down position under the bushes. And one rump is a whole lot happier than the other.

I look at the sparky and he looks at me.

And armed with things that indeed, look like science experiments, the apprentice heads to the wheelie bin and deposits the evidence. And the tap dancing dog, bereft at not being allowed to consume his kill of glad wrapped mould ridden parcels of goodness, does 3 pirouettes and darts over to Sophie the cat who is performing her toilette under the Oleander tree.

And with a hiss and a swat she bolts from her toilette, where she had been in the middle of making a small deposit. And the tap dancing Labrador sticks his muzzle right in the deposit and rubs his face in the nuggetty bits of goodness and  looks at me as if to say ‘you should have let me have those sandwiches I killed, shouldn’t you?.

And by now, just over 2 minutes have passed.

And as my brain tries to catch and process all I can smell, the sparky looks at the apprentice and says not at all softly and not at all slowly:


and then he says


N O W.

And as the apprentice drags the dog through the back gate I look at the sparky and he looks at me. And then we all get in the car to to drop some flyers of to my friend K, who lives a few minutes up the road.

It was a






  1. I have only just managed to control my laughter enough to leave a comment!!!

    Only funny because it wasn’t me, of course.
    And you, Miss Rhubarb, are a story weaving genius!!!

  2. Thank you, thank you, THANK YOU for that hilarious end to a very long day. I have no kids, but the doggy description is just SO ACCURATE that I could see it happening just like a little mini-movie. Until the end when there was a photo of your dog, now I have to replay it with a black dog rather than a creamy one (which shouldn’t be too hard as our dog is black and would behave much the same given similar circumstances).

    Yep, dog eats poo does it for me everytime.

    Sorry that it was a tad more serious from your perspective.

  3. Sooo funny (but not for you at the time!)… and still I’m left wondering, what was in the school bag, tied upside down by the straps to the tree? I was in raptures at all the discoveries from under the house and bushes – all that food… and the reaction of your dear dog, but in the back of my mind kept thinking, ‘What was the feral science experiment?’… please enlighten me or am I up way to late here in NZ (yes) and missing something obvious? xx

    • The left over lunches were all in his school bag until he was sprung by his dad – who could smell them when he picked him up after school. He told his father it was ‘only one old orange from last week’ and had been sent to the bin to deposit said orange. The mouldy food was the ‘science experiment’ hubby referred to.

      He then tried to hide the damning evidence of what was way more than one old orange by throwing it under the house.

      As to whythe bag was tied, upside down to the tree, that’s still a mystery but if you knew my boy well… it’s not that uncommon to see odd things.

      But I have been washing his lunch box everyday, so where he has been stashing all that food is beyond me!

  4. So what has he been eating, if he has been chucking away all his good lunches? Goodness me, boys are curious creatures!
    I am empathising with your dog!

  5. I miss our Sophie all the more reading this. She shared your lab’s joy and excitement and love of people and “her BOY!” Sniffle.

    J.T. tends to forget to put his messy yogurt leavings from lunch in the trash. He puts cup with remaining yogurt BACK in his bag and by the time it makes it home, it is a sticky, runny mess that has coated the entire lunch bag. Yuck.

    You might have to retitle your blog “The Chronicles of GB and his Dog.”

  6. Hahahaha…so funny! This place had become my favorite for guaranteed good laughs! ;o)

  7. With four boys and five dogs on the premises for the last twenty years–nothing either animal does surprises me. This gave me a good giggle. I am curious though–what was he doing with his lunch period? Had he found someone who’d feed him theirs?

  8. The best part? Your recount of the dogs thought process. I have a half lab (not sure which half, the smart or the stupid), and she’s the same way when I say the word car, or bar, or far, or pretty much anything with the “ar” ending in it.

  9. First time here, really enjoyed this read. Hilarious! I absolutely agree word for word what Alison said in her comment.

  10. My dog probably would have eaten that stuff and she’s half lab. I wonder if the lad will keep his old lunches out of his bag from now on?

  11. I got such a kick out of this. Sebastian could be a clone of the two black labs we had! They are adorable dogs. Brainless, but adorable nonetheless!

    As for lunches, my youngest got so many comments about how yummy his lunches looked that he had a nice little business going for a while. He was having a growth spurt at the time, so, gullible me, I wasn’t overly suspicious when he said he’d like to have TWO sandwiches from now on as he found he was SO ravenous by lunchtime! He was charging a tidy sum—and getting it too!

    We used to let our black lab off the leash on part of our daily walk that went through the woods. If there was animal excrement, from a deer for instance, she would find it, lie down and smear it all over herself and come back, emitting such a pong and looking like the cat that got the cream….Oh, labs! You gotta love them, they mean so well and love so enthusiastically! Great post!

  12. OH Dear! Sorry Rhubarb, but I too am laughing, the vision of Sebbies excitement is hilarious.

  13. My kids did that, too. I quit making them lunch. If they wanted something to eat, they had to make it themselves. ingrates.

  14. I started laughing at the second paragraph and haven’t stopped yet! You are just too, too funny. And, you make me appreciate the ‘quiet living’ we enjoy here..haha. Okay, so it’s not THAT quiet, with four little rescues running around ‘talking’ to us!

    I hope geek boy isn’t losing too much weight, what with not eating and all.

    And, how DO you get that smell off Sebastian??

  15. OMG.
    But ewwwwwwwww.

  16. I loved this post – one of your best ever – and proof to me yet again of what a wonderful writer you are…

  17. Ewww. I don’t even want to think about where he was storing them during the week.

  18. Following reading your post and the comments, I realize how fortunate to my sense of smell is that I have neither a GB or a big lab. You must love yours thoroughly!

  19. Oh, gosh. When I read the title “What can happen in five minutes?” my first thought, my very first thought was, “She has a boy….LOTS” Children are a never ending adventure. My dog acts like yours, but he is not a black lab.

  20. ROFL! I love your dog :)

  21. OMG, I thought I was in some timewarp. Not so dramatic of traumatic, but something similar. Why do they do this!!!

    BTW I tried to leave a comment on your next post, but it will not ‘take’. Commiserations & hugsXX

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