I have a beautiful, neurotic dog. He’s “Big Bubba Sweetie Pie” when he’s charming. On his quirky days he’s called something else. His real name is Sig, and he’s a purebred Llewellin setter.
Sig is half of a duo that includes his equally-handsome-though-more-relaxed brother, Trek. They’ve been part of the Schlueter clan for a decade, and my running partners through many thousands of miles.
They run leashed to a strap around my waist, zipping about like the tentacles of a B-movie alien. They’re greyhound-fast, which makes me pick up the pace to prevent being sawed in two or yanked into the gutter.
They are my “pace” setters, nyuck nyuck. Sorry.
Sig and Trek are gun dogs, acquired to pheasant hunt with Hunka Burnin’ Hubby. All was fine until Sig proved to be gun shy in a knee knocking, run-for-your-life kind of way.
Sig is my best pal and the dog of my heart. He snuggles, tolerates hugs, and cons me out of treats with his brown-eyed gaze.
He’s also half a bubble out of plumb when it comes to loud noises. Fireworks turn him to goo and ambulances make him quiver. Thunderstorms render him dog-atonic, nyuck nyuck. Sorry.
Sig is a basement dweller during the spring storm season, holing up like a troll in the safest place in the house. Surrounded by concrete and cradled by a fluffy pillow, he’s clam-happy for a couple months each year.
We tempted fate by taking Sig out of his comfort zone, but a recent weeklong trip to Oklahoma City was non-negotiable.
We were there to assist our Oklahoma-dwelling son and daughter-in-law, Rocket and Trooper, with a construction project. Bringing the dogs was an unavoidable part of the deal.
Oklahoma is fascinating. Filled with wonderfully hospitable Sooner fans, Oklahoma tests you in numerous ways. There are armadillos and scorpions. There is face-melting heat. There are earthquakes and wildfires.
This time of year brings a whole new level of challenge. Oklahoma is the third highest state in the nation for tornados. It averages 65 of the buggers per year, usually during a storm season that stretches from March to June.
Rocket and Trooper live a few short miles from Moore, Oklahoma, which was devastated by an EF5 tornado in May 2013. That monster packed wind speeds of 210 mph, killed 24 people, injured 212, and caused $2 billion worth of damage along a 14-mile path of destruction.
It is also curious to note that Oklahoma’s rock-hard soil and high water table are not hospitable to the basements Nebraskans take for granted. In Oklahoma City few residents have them, including Rocket and Trooper. Small, in-ground storm shelters burrowed into backyards or garage floors are how Oklahomans roll. You better be tough to live in Oklahoma.
It was a belly-of-the-beast trip for Sig.
Tornadoes weren’t an issue while we were there, thank goodness, but a couple lively midnight thunderstorms did roll through.
“KaPOW!” taunted the storm.
“YELP!” wailed Sig as he tap danced across our sleeping faces.
If Sig were human, I’m sure he’d have said, “Do you see that LIGHTNING? Do you hear that THUNDER? WHAT ARE WE DOING HERE?! I’M A HUSKER NOT A SOONER! WHERE’S THE BASEMENT?! WE’RE ALL GONNA DIE!!”
He was more than a half bubble out of plumb. Sig was a bona-fide mess.
Rocket and Trooper also live in the flight path of Tinker Air Force Base, one of the largest Air Force bases in the country. Massive war planes fly — loud and proud — over their house at all hours of the day and night.
Sig’s plumb bubble burst like a July Fourth fireworks display.
Sig did a happy dance when we left, snoring through most of the six-and-a-half hour drive back to Hastings. I swear he smiled as he levitated to his basement hideout, proving there is indeed no place like home, nyuck nyuck. Sorry.