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For a few years now, Ron has been going on annual springtime fishing trips. He begins planning them in autumn and even hires a guide to show him the hot spots where all the fish hang out, waiting to be caught.

Twice now, he has taken one of the boys, first Jimmy in 2004 and most recently, Tommy. The two of them flew to Texas on a Saturday, leaving Jimmy, Ronnie and Glory here to keep me company over spring break.

Within a couple of hours, we had packed up the Suburban and were headed south to my parents’ farm in North Carolina.

Once we made it out of the Northern Virginia weekend gridlock of traffic, it was smooth sailing all the way to my hometown. The moment we arrived, Ronnie and Jimmy began to roam the farm, looking for new kittens, bugs and other wildlife that had appeared since their last visit over Christmas vacation.

Glory hadn’t set foot outside the car since we left Springfield, but only got out long enough to take a quick tinkle. Then she settled back in and waited for us to take her home.

Last summer, it took her about a week to finally give up her sport utility-sized security blanket and enjoy the freedom of being a farmdoggie. I decided it would be easier to let her sleep in the Suburban that first night.

My daddy suggested we leave one of the doors open in case she needed another potty break.

Despite the open door, Glory managed to throw up inside and outside of the car by the next morning.

I’m beginning to think she doesn’t like to travel.

After cleaning the car the best I could with paper towels, I told Jimmy and Ronnie we needed to go to the car wash before meeting my parents at church.

“Good, because I forgot to pack any church pants,” Jimmy said.

In a bit of good news, the car wash sits right in front of the Wal-Mart parking lot; it is the only store in my hometown that is open on Sunday mornings.

Off to Wal-Mart we headed, with Jimmy riding shotgun and Ronnie trying to sit as far away from Glory’s vomit spots as possible. All the windows were down to bring in fresh air.

The boys brought money along in case they spotted something in Wal-Mart we didn’t already have. One “Nintendogs” game and a pair of pants later, I was parked beside the giant vacuums with Glory securely tied to a nearby tree. After the many times she has attacked my vacuum cleaner, I wasn’t going to take any chances.

The pay-as-you-clean vacuum ate my quarters, including the extra one I put in just in case one of the first four was stuck. I kicked the machine, loaded up my yapping dog and restless boys, and prepared to wash the outside of the car.

“It’s a good thing you untied Glory from that tree,” Jimmy said. “She was sitting on a pile of fire ants.”

“How much longer would my good luck continue?” I silently wondered.

Luckily, the car wash worked and gave me enough change to use an operating vacuum that sucked up all the half-eaten chunks of dog food clinging to my Suburban.

We made it to church on time, with 10 minutes to spare, and our streak of bad luck came to an end by lunchtime.

Glory, however, had spent her last night sleeping in the car. My mother came up with a brilliant idea Sunday night at bedtime.

We hooked a long chain to our sleepy dog’s collar that allowed her to plop herself right by the front door and wander over to the Suburban for a quick sniff.

“What a great idea,” I said. “Now she feels like she’s guarding the house.”

My mom’s response, however, was closer to the truth. “Oh, I just figured Glory wouldn’t bark all night if she could see the Suburban and know you hadn’t left without her.”

Like we could.

A mother of three boys, Pam Zich has moved eight times in 16 years of marriage to her Marine Corps husband. They have been stationed in various locations, including Okinawa, California, Texas and their current home in Springfield, Va. E-mail her at homefront@stripes.osd.mil or find the Zichs online at www.lifeonthehomefront.com.


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