Sometimes there is a story behind the picture, and other times, a picture of the event would be cruel and unusual punishment. This is one of those times. I promise, there is no photographic evidence of what you are about to read.

An impromptu family vacation to the beach on a glorious fall weekend seemed a lovely idea. Indeed, the trip there and two days following were idyllic: bike rides on an uncrowded boardwalk, rolling up our pants and wading ankle-deep in the crisp ocean water, late evenings on the breezy front porch wrapped in afghans and sipping coffee. The boys loved the stroll on the beach where we allowed our canine of dubious origin (German Shepherd? Labrador? Rabid polar bear? It’s hard to tell) to gallop in the waves and terrorize the surfers that dotted the water. We noticed she seemed to be biting at the water as she dove head-first into the two-foot swells, but we didn’t think she was actually ingesting the salt water. Oh, how wrong we were.

(Later that afternoon)
Me: “Did Sheba drink all her water again?”
Marty: “That’s the fourth bowl I’ve filled up for her since we came back from the beach.”

We let her out every fifteen minutes: each time was like the scene from Austin Powers. Each time we thought “there’s no way she’ll need to go out again.”

Thinking, after eight walks in two hours, we were safe to depart for home, we piled everyone into the car, strapped our weekend bags into the back of our Subaru wagon, and let Sheba jump in beside them. Marty then proceeded to close the back hatch, attach the bike rack and strap on the four bikes, tying each one with the religious devotion only a former rowing coach can achieve (rowing coaches always tie down their team’s shells with a fastidiousness unequaled by even Martha Stewart. It borders on obsession). After checking each individual bike for the third time, as apparently we were expecting to drive through a category four hurricane on our way home, we were ready to go.

We stopped briefly for dinner, parking near our outdoor table so we could leave the car windows down to allow Sheba plenty of air. The evening was a cool 65 degrees and the breeze was delightful. We would have lingered longer at our table, but a neighboring diner who I shall name “Too Much Information Tina” began blathering to her friends, at decibel 11, about last weekend’s date-gone-wrong. We gathered the children and scurried away before we were all mentally scarred. As we approached the car, we noticed something odd.

Danny: “Why is the back window all foggy?”
Me: “That only happens when it’s really humid inside the car, so I don’t know why-”

There was no need to finish that sentence. Our salt-water-eating dog had apparently maxed-out her bladder and instead chose to void her system by vomiting what appeared, through the foggy back window, to be thirty gallons of sea water in the back of the car. The best part? Being the discerning dog that she is (the same one who eats trash and once chowed down on a block of mouse poison) she didn’t wish to have her paws in her own vomit, so she knocked over the pile of bags (CLOTH bags. Not waterproof) into the puddle of puke and climbed on top of them. All eighty pounds of her.

Marty: “Should we get her out of there and clean this up?”
Me: “Really? You think we should untie the bikes? It will take twenty minutes to undo all those knots you tied.”
Danny: “Look, mom: the puddle is getting smaller!”
Me: “That’s because our clothes are absorbing the vomit, honey.”

In retrospect, this was not a smart comment to make. My boys are at the age where, if given the opportunity to use a word such as vomit (or any other term pertaining to any other bodily function), they will do so at maximum volume. I spent the next two minutes quieting down the chorus of “Vomit? Ewww! She VOMITED! Sheba is making our clothes all full of VOMIT!”

We decided that the aforementioned vomit had already begun to inflict maximum damage at this point, what with the bags being forced further into the puddle by the added weight of our suddenly-demure dog, so the decision was made to soldier on back to Philadelphia, a decision we immediately regretted as soon as we closed all the car doors and realized the full extent of the stench. Sea water has a lovely smell, one of the best in the world if you ask me, but not after it has marinated in the belly of a beloved canine. We drove out of the parking lot with all four of our heads hanging out the windows of the car. Incidentally, the irony of that visual was not lost on any of us.

We survived, and after arriving home and untying knots on the bike rack for twenty-two minutes, we managed to free our sick dog and survey the damage. All the boys awarded me the honor of unpacking the vomit-soaked bags of clothing.

Marty: “I’ll be happy to bathe the boys and put them to bed!”
Me: “How is that a fair trade?!”

I’ve been home for two hours and am finally sitting on my couch, having already done the wash and scrubbed out the back of the Subaru. Sheba is sleeping on my feet, as though keeping them warm is somehow penance enough for having to suffer through that last hour in the car together. Marty just informed me that the “good news” is that we’ll always remember this weekend. I’d like to think that when I’m senile and in a nursing home, I’ll remember something else other than the day the dog puked on all our clothes, but I fear he might be right. The positive? I’ll be able to shout the word “VOMIT!” and watch my sons cringe in horror as they try to make me stop saying it and embarrassing them. Ah yes, the revenge will be sweet indeed…