Printer-friendly version
Emily Grossman

It's a Wonderful Lab

December 10, 2011 at 4:26 PM

Every time we plan our departure for our annual holiday travels, I become an absolute wreck. Conjure up any possible worst-case travel scenario, and I am absolutely certain every single one of them will become reality. And this is not without good reason: you name it, I’ve done it. Lost tickets? Missed a flight? Lost wallet? How about volcanic eruptions, tsunamis, and random civil wars? (No, Cambodia, I haven’t forgotten you.) All these and more have happened when I travel.

Thursday afternoon, just hours prior to departure, I should have been packing like a maniac. Still, three times, I found myself pulling my violin back out of its case, petting the strings with my bow, seeking comfort as it sweetly reassured me we would be just fine. Eventually, I did get around to finishing the packing, even though I didn’t really think I would make it to the airport alive; I would inevitably be buried in an avalanche on the way there.

Ben, on the other hand, was a nervous wreck only up until we dug the kennel out and began rounding up his belongings. “I’m going too! Merry Christmas!!!” he shouted with a full-body wag. Yes, Ben, you are going, too. As soon as he confirmed that he wasn’t being left behind, he relaxed into his usual holiday cheer.

I’m glad to have my dog along. He loves to travel, and his well-mannered enthusiasm infects anyone who happens to see him. With that big ol’ snuggly-snout grin and wiggly-wag greeting, he parades politely across the tile floor by the baggage check: click-clack, click-clack. Every person he sees is his new best friend, and in his mind, he is convinced that this is the day that all of his dreams will come true. “You will give me a treat! And you there, you will give me that cool bottle you have! And you sir, you will let me fetch this pen! And then we will run outside and eat snow, and new doggie friends will hang with me down in first class!” His positive thinking works all kinds of wonders. People find themselves submitting helplessly to his chocolate-melting charm.

We settled ourselves in the back corner of the Ted Stevens International Airport, our big happy family: George, Ben, my violin and I. No avalanche to put an end to us this time! Christmas tunes--the old fashioned kind with choirs and orchestras—cheered over the PA. “If you haven’t got a turkey leg, a turkey wing will do. If you haven’t got a turkey wing, then God bless you!”

With a chuckle at the curious lyrics, I stood up. We still had an hour to kill before check-in. Leaving George to tend my fiddle, Ben and I took off out the door, back into the night air. Jogging past taxi cabs, passengers, police officers, and public transportation, we made our way to the end of the building. A light snow had been falling, and our tracks on the clean sheet left a crumb trail we could follow back to our starting point. Before we knew it, we were exploring the random back streets of Anchorage, enjoying the quiet calm together.

“If you haven’t got a chocolate lab, a half a dog will do; if you haven’t got a half a dog, then God bless you!” Playfully, Ben scooped the snow like a pelican as we went. The only other soul we saw was a man on a bicycle--whom I’m sure Ben believed would be his new best friend, if he would just stop for a greeting. He’s no guard dog, but even so, I feel safe. Ben could make friends out of serial killers, I believe. Nonthreateningly, the biker kept on his way.

“If you haven’t got a handkerchief, a hand grenade will do; if you haven’t got a hand grenade, then God bless you!” Nonsense words now. Time to follow our tracks back to the terminal. One of the public transportation drivers honked and waved as he passed. Normally, I’d cringe at the attention and nod politely, but this evening, I spontaneously waved both hands, enthusiastically.

“Hey Ben, look, I’m Jimmy Stewart! Merry Christmas! Merrrry Christmas!” I waved at the police man and the taxi cab driver, at anyone and no one at all. “MERRY CHRISTMAS EVERYBODY!”

Hey, some people learn their lessons about happiness from drowning angels. I just so happen to learn mine from my chocolate lab.

From John Dukes
Posted on December 11, 2011 at 11:17 PM
Quote: Ben could make friends out of serial killers, I believe.

It sounds like you have a great dog. I have a soft spot for chocolate labs.

The boxer / something my brother got last Christmas, (Even though the dog is my brother’s, she loves me more :) would probably not be amicable even to St. Francis.

BTW, thanks for all the great blogs.


From Emily Grossman
Posted on December 12, 2011 at 1:02 AM
Thanks for all the great comments! ;)
From Julian Stokes
Posted on December 12, 2011 at 6:44 AM
I believe we can learn a lot from dogs. Especially their enthusiastic optimism and the way they manage to live in the moment. I'm not so sure about some of their ideas about what constitutes a nice perfume to roll in though!
From julie Littleton
Posted on December 12, 2011 at 10:34 AM
You write so well I could almost see you two running in the snow. So you must be visiting your family in ok. I drove threw Tulsa last night. It seemed more peaceful last night than normally. I miss my old dog. Still have 2 others but not the same as my old best friend.
From Ellie Withnall
Posted on December 12, 2011 at 11:39 AM
Just one day of my life I'd like to be as happy with the universe as the average labrador :-)
Thanks for a great post.
From Tom Holzman
Posted on December 12, 2011 at 2:19 PM
There is a reason why dogs traditionally have been referred to as "man's (woman's?) best friend."
From Emily Grossman
Posted on December 13, 2011 at 5:19 AM
Aw, Tom, you don't have to be PC in my blog. Besides, a woman's best friend is chocolate.
From Tom Holzman
Posted on December 13, 2011 at 5:09 PM
As between a dog and chocolate, I agree. Point well taken.
From Emily Grossman
Posted on December 13, 2011 at 7:02 PM
Hmm, no wonder the bestest of all bestests is a chocolate dog. You just can't top that.

This entry has been archived and is no longer accepting comments.

Facebook Twitter YouTube Instagram Email is made possible by...

Shar Music
Shar Music: Check out our selection of Celtic music

Pirastro Strings
Pirastro Strings

JR Judd Violins
JR Judd Violins

Dimitri Musafia, Master Maker of Violin and Viola Cases
Dimitri Musafia, Master Maker of Violin and Viola Cases

Thomastik-Infeld's Dynamo Strings
Thomastik-Infeld's Dynamo Strings

National Symphony Orchestra
National Symphony Orchestra

Violins of Hope
Violins of Hope Summer Music Programs Directory
Find a Summer Music Program Shopping Guide Shopping Guide

Colburn School

Metzler Violin Shop

Southwest Strings

Bobelock Cases

Johnson String Instrument/Carriage House Violins

Jargar Strings

Bay Fine Strings Violin Shop


Los Angeles Violin Shop


String Masters

Nazareth Gevorkian Violins

Laurie's Books

Discover the best of in these collections of editor Laurie Niles' exclusive interviews. Interviews Volume 1 Interviews Volume 1, with introduction by Hilary Hahn Interviews Volume 2 Interviews Volume 2, with introduction by Rachel Barton Pine