Monday, January 4, 2010

B-b-b-benny and the Trax

Who hasn't heard the story of the household canine who gets out of the yard and, like Forrest Gump on all fours, starts running for the closest state line? Been there, read that, right?

Well, in honor of the Climate Summit in Copenhagen, the Smurthwaite household increased it's carbon paw print this past month when Benny, our six year old pup, (a mixture of breeds that defies multiple natural laws and probably even Geneva conventions) used Trax, SLC's lightrail, to get away.*

Now I know what you're thinking. You're probably picturing five little Smurthwaites lined up nicely on a train platform, decked out in matching Burberry winter garb. Snowflakes float down from above like sprinkles of powder sugar while a leashed Benny simultaneously sits and stays close by.

"Choo-choo..." A train approaches and hisses to a stop.

Train doors open. Benny, without provocation, breaks free and hops all aboard. Doors close "thump." Burberry-clad Smurthwaites then run along next to the train, pounding on the side of train like slightly modernized gorillas, pleading with the conductor to open, but to no avail. The train slowly pulls out of the station... "Ding-ding," with Benny's head sticking out a nearby open window, tongue out and ears flapping in the frigid morning air.

That would be a fun mental image, but that's not what happened. Think less "It's a Wonderful Life" and more "The Great Escape." In hindsight, I'm positive that Benny had actually memorized the morning Trax schedule weeks prior. Biding his time like Steve McQueen, he feigns interest in a half-eaten tennis ball until the window of opportunity arrives. Window of opportunity arrives. Benny begins to yodel-lay-hee-howl in his "I really have to go" voice. Marisa (pictured in an SS uniform solely for the purpose of furthering the mental image) reluctantly allows the furry POW out in the backyard, where he breaks for the escape hole he's been digging through the frozen tundra of our backyard.

Hitting no man's land, Benny flies like a furry dart across the neighbors yard, over our busy street, and up to the Trax station. Now an escaped con, he decides not to purchase a ticket via the teller just to stay in character. However, he does simultaneously sit and stay.

"Choo-choo..." A train approaches and hisses to a stop.

Train doors open. Benny trots aboard. Doors close and classic escape music begins playing. At this point, the furry version of Mr. McQueen has got it all. He's heading for who knows where and no one can stop him. He's only forgotten one thing: to ditch his dog tags in the nearest deep puddle. Which is precisely why, 15 minutes later, Marisa (no longer dressed in SS uniform) gets a phone call she never expected. You know, that one where somebody tells you your dog has just taken the train.

Editor's note: It is controversial as to whether Benny actually increased the Smurthwaite household's carbon footprint since public transportation was the escape method used. However, duly noted is the writer's opinion that a canine, having never before used any form of transportation, augments the overall ecological footprint of it's master the moment it decides to take a train, plane, or automobile to further it's own agenda. Had Benny learned to ride a bicycle to escape, greenhouse gas emissions would not have been mentioned in the article.