We were hoofing it through the Cleveland metro parks with about two miles left on our ten mile hike, and we came up to a picnic pavilion area. Off to the left of us were several port o' lets, and one was being used in a very unusual fashion. There was some sort of cart parked next to the port o' let. I assumed it was some sort of sled training cart when there is no snow, but that was pure speculation on my part. The cart was not the unusual part. The unusual part was there were four Siberian husky/malamute-looking dogs in harnesses, all hooked to one gang line. (I think that is what it is called.) The line was probably 20 feet long, and went directly into the door of the port o' let. The dogs were not hooked to the training cart at all, so it appeared they were out on a port o' let sled riding mission. I can only assume there was no way to anchor the cart and the dogs while the operator was taking care of business, so she got the brilliant idea to just take the gang line into the port o' let and hold on to the dogs while she accomplished her goal.
You are probably thinking the same thing I was thinking when I saw this little set up: Recipe for disaster. And, of course this story wouldn't really be worth typing if it ended with the woman coming out and driving off with her dogs into the sunset. I am fishing for my digital camera so I can take a picture of the port o' let pulling team when my dogs yank their leashes, almost toppling me over. I look to see what in blazes set my dogs off, and notice that a squirrel has decided to stop in the middle of this wide open space, pick up a nut and chow it while my three dogs and four port o' let anchored sled dogs hang out in that very same field. So far the potty chain gang hasn't seen the squirrel, but it is only a matter of time as my dogs are doing the 'If I wasn't on this leash I would kick that squirrel's a##' dance. Sure enough, the potty pullers heads all snap to the direction of my dogs, then to the direction of the squirrel, and they all appear to get the same idea as my pack hikers straining at their leashes. My dogs see those dogs spot the squirrel, and some sort of dog tribal hunting non-verbal communication thing happens, as every one of the seven dogs on either end of the field realizes that it's pretty much a race to see which of the two groups can get to the squirrel faster. My dogs redouble their pulling efforts, and the four dog sled team reacted as one, and lunged full steam for the squirrel. The port o' let sort of spins about 30 degrees and rocks like the dickens. Luckily, it doesn't tip over, but kind of kicks back and forth a time or two and then rights itself. Well, that is just unacceptable to the sled team, and they give another huge yank. The port o' let spins yet again, and from inside the green tower of privacy potty protective custody, some sort of human screech occurs. The screech seemed to slow the port o' pullers down, and they settled into a nervous stand. At this point the squirrel decided my dogs weren't going to get him, and the port o' pullers couldn't get him, so he started doing some kind of "na,na,na can't get me" dance, infuriating the port o' pullers and driving my dogs crazy. If you ever wondered why dog sleds are built long and low to the ground, as opposed to small and tall, like, say, the shape of a port o let, you need not wonder if this is a design flaw anymore.
Anyhow, the pulling and barking started up again. The port o' let did its best to stay standing, rocking heavily back and forth. The dogs sensing victory forgot completely about the squirrel, and started timing their pulls with the rocking, and of course gave one last tug and yanked the port o' let over. For some reason, pulling the port o' let over gave the dogs some sort of satisfaction, and they just stopped pulling after the port o' let settled on ground. I'm not sure what happened to the squirrel at this point, although if he was anything like that insurance commercial where the two squirrels make the car wreck and high five each other, then my guess is he ran off into the woods to get his friends so he could show them what he'd accomplished.
From the port o' let came a series of cuss words unrepeatable in this story, so I figured I'd better head over that way and see if I could help out. The port o' let, unfortunately had landed face down, meaning the door was now the bottom of the port o' let. I tied my dogs to a tree, and ventured toward the port o let. I asked if the occupant of the tipped port o' let was ok. She said yes, in a lot more colorful and verbal way than just yes, but for the purposes of this story we'll just say she said yes. The port o' let hadn't faired as well. You could tell it was hurt because there was a lot of blue fluid leaking from it. I told the woman that I would have to roll the port o' let on its side, so we could try opening the door, and she should find something to hang on to(unfortunately, what else is there to hang on to in a port o' let but the toilet). Well a couple good shoves later, the port o' let rolled 90 degrees and the door was exposed. The door opened and out crawled mama Smurf. The woman had unfortunately been covered in the blue blood of the dying port o' let. Her dogs came running and decided she needed a bath, which did not make her at all happy. About this point she realized that step 10 in the bathroom process entitled "put your pants back on," had been skipped, and she disappeared back into the port o' let to finish. Well, she was in absolutely no mood to talk about her ride on the wild side, which I didn't blame her, so she got the short version of what happened outside the port o' let. I helped her hook her dogs up to the cart looking thing and off she went, glowing blue as she drove down the path and back into the metro park woods. I had no idea where her car was, but I can't imagine what all the other metro park people thought as they walked serenely through the park and were passed by a pissed off blue Smurf and her merry band of blue-tongued dogs.
Copyright 2004 by Dave Wiley
(Used with permission of the author.)