Alternate Working Title: My Most Embarrassing Moment Ever Thanks to My Giant Butt Head of a Dog So Good Thing He's Cute
The story that I get asked to share more frequently than ANY. OTHER. STORY. EVER. is the one of "Banjo and the fountain". It's not my favourite Banjo story or moment, by far. It's been three years and I think I'm still a little mad and a whole lot embarrassed. But it's the favourite for many of Banjo's fans, and I am so long overdue to share any writing. So here we go.
Picture it. Fredericton. 2018.
If you don't get the reference, it's not because I'm not funny - it's because you have somehow been deprived of some quality 80's television and I feel sorry for you. Also maybe I'm not funny.
It was a lovely end-of-summer day in September 2018. The kind of day that made you want to put on a sundress, take a nice long walk by the river, and end it with a good book and a pint on a patio at one of Fredericton's finest microbreweries. So that's exactly what I set out to do. I was wearing a favourite sundress; mostly white with some coloured flowers. Take note of the key point here: mostly white. This fact will be useful in a few paragraphs. I threw on some comfortable walking shoes, tossed a book in my bag, grabbed my trusty sidekick and best walking buddy Banjo, and off we went adventuring.
PAUSE: If you're not familiar with Banjo, this probably won't make much sense. Very short version is that he is my giant 130lb loving, derpy, and bull headed dog. You can read more about him in Banjo: The Origin Story.
I parked downtown, close to my planned end-of-walk destination, and we set off. Banjo and I walked all through downtown before circling back along the waterfront trail. It was lovely! Sunshine, light breeze, pleasant smiles everywhere (remember the days before masks?! What a time we had just smiling at everyone!) We had taken this kind of walk countless times before, always varying the route slightly. On this particular route, we ended up coming up from the waterfront by City Hall. All was well with the world.
For those who aren't familiar with Fredericton, our City Hall is a lovely brick building that was built in the 1870's and stands near our downtown core. That's all fine, but completely irrelevant. What is important to this story is the fountain that sits out front. The massive, functioning fountain. With water. Because, fountain.
As we walked by the fountain, Banjo hopped up on the ledge. I was about to get him to come down but he looked exceptionally pleased with himself and just wanted to walk around the fountain so.....sure, bud. We walked the fountain's perimeter. Again. And again. AND AGAIN. After about eight laps I noticed that there were a number of people who had stopped to watch us; the goofball pony trotting laps on the water fountain ledge and his slightly embarrassed but mostly amused human. He finally paused for a moment and looked over at his shoulder at me. It was a look that I knew all too well, and one that filled me with an immediate sense of dread that felt like a bowling ball in the pit of my stomach. Everyone who has ever had a puppy or child knows that look, the mischievous shining glint that screams "I'm about to fu*& some sh!$ up!"...I knew what was coming. It was too late, and there was nothing I could do to stop it. Banjo leapt into the fountain with a grin as large as his adorable trouble-making butt-head face could hold.
I don't know if it's "okay" for dogs to be in this fountain. I've never seen anyone in it before so I assumed it was at the very least frowned upon. Our audience was growing. I was becoming increasingly concerned that someone was about to approach me with some unkind (and unhelpful) words about my dog defacing City Hall. My brain went in crisis mode auto-pilot and began wondering what kind of fine this would be, how much would it cost, and what would the ticket even say. All the while, Banjo is loving life splashing around trying to push fountain change with his nose. Sounds adorable, right? I KNOW! Adorable, amusing, fine. But then he made "the move". The leg lifting move. The move that forced my hand because I could not - could not - I repeat, COULD NOT! - let him pee on the fountain baby centerpiece water streaming thing. I could not be THAT PERSON with THAT DOG. Nope. I had to take serious action, now.
I tried tugging him out. I pulled as hard as I could. For those of you who haven't had the experience of trying to pull 130lbs of excited wet prancing puppy in a concrete pool.....it's not easy, guys. It's actually pretty near impossible. So I did the only thing that I could think of. I tossed my purse aside and jumped in after him. I had some futile hope that my actions would demonstrate the urgency and seriousness of my "BANJO! COME HERE!" requests but noooooo no no no no no. This was now the best game ever! After what felt like hours but in reality was about three minutes of my chasing him around the entire fountain while he played "can't catch me", I was able to snag the wet leash from the water and wrangle him out of there. You may recall my pointing out earlier that my outfit of choice on this lovely sunny day was a mostly white sundress. Mostly. White. Sundress. In the g-d water fountain. Chasing my g-d dog. I stood there trying to wring water out of my dress and pour it out of my formerly comfortable Toms walking shoes, while a kind audience member handed me my purse. And I say "audience member" legitimately, because it was at that moment that I had a chance to look up and see the crowd of people who bore witness to the fiasco. At least 30 people had gathered at some point during the show, and I saw more than a few putting phones down as if they had just taken some video. I keep telling myself that they were texting their moms to say hi or checking their Tinder messages and not taking video of one of my top five most embarrassing moments of life. Let me dream, y'all.
Part of me wanted to go straight home and hide out alone in a glass or box of wine, but more than anything I really wanted to just sit down for a few minutes and enjoy that nice relaxing sunshiney pint that I had promised myself. I did an awkward little curtsy bow thing, sheepishly grinned, apologized to the people for my dog being in the fountain and wished them a nice rest of day, and we carried on to Graystone. The planned one pint quickly turned to two because I felt strongly that Banjo owed me one. He was tuckered right out by this point though, and let me drink and read quietly until my dress was dry enough to get in the car and drive home.
I avoided the fountain on every subsequent walk with Banjo for a long time, until I tested the proverbial waters (ha!) again the following year to see if he would remember the spot. Sure enough, he hopped right up and gave me the cheekiest grin. I'd almost swear he winked at me, but that's ridiculous. In any case, I'm pretty he remembers and that his version is much fonder than mine.
I had regular calendar reminder set for myself for the first few months to look for any evidence of the shenanigans on YouTube. I'm extremely grateful to say that I haven't found any results yet. If you're reading this and happened to have been there that day, please let me know what I have to do to keep it that way. :)