On New Year's day I went to Matt's house. Every year Matt invites some people over for a traditional southern New Year's Day "breakfast." I used quotes because, despite our best efforts, this never happens before 1:00 PM.

I'm not totally sure what Matt feeds us because every time I ask him to identify the food he responds in such a strong southern accent that parts of Salt Lake City are now considered the Bayou. But I do know it involves rice, some greens, black-eyed-peas, ham hocks, and a lot screaming at Ollie to stop jumping up onto the table.

As is usually the case when anything happens at Matt's house, there were more dogs than people.

Duncan is in heaven in these situations because Duncan has so much energy in his little body that he's actually radioactive so when he plays with any other dog, that dog gets sick of him real fast. When there are a gaggle of puppies around, however, Duncan can bounce around and wrestle with each dog until, one-by-one, they tap out for a rest.

The only problem is Mr. Duncan Doodle has developed something of a frienemy situation with Renley. This is because Renley, although not even half Duncan's size, won't take no crap from nobody, and so when Duncan starts jumping on Renley's face, instead of just walking away like the other dogs do, Renley stands his ground, which freaks out Duncan, who then escalates the banter, which then freaks out Renley, who then escalates the banter, etc.

So one second everything will seem fine and then suddenly Duncan is trying to pin Renley to the ground for purposes of MURDER as both dogs are making the sounds of war.

To recap, I'm talking about this dog:

Trying to kill this dog:

You can't be mad at that face.

Renley wanders this Earth with so much positivity that he is single-handedly curing cancer.

When another dog takes a treat away from him, he bounces away with a look on his face like he's saying "looks like I get to watch my figure today!"

But that cute little thing has a breaking point, and that breaking point is when my little monster jumps on his face.

This is exactly what happened as we were sitting around Matt's table and I was forcing everyone to talk about what 2018 was going to mean for them and I was in the middle of lecturing Matt about why "I'm gonna drink more water" is not sufficient planning for his future and why are people friends with me? And THAT'S when the sounds of war suddenly broke out.

Adam and I both swung into action, scooping up our respective dogs, risking losing an arm in the process, and then doing the thing we usually do where we each profusely apologize as though our dog was the sole cause of the scuffle.

But this time was different.

Renley was screaming and seemingly could not be consoled.

Adam told me that Renley sprained his front leg recently and so this fight probably just aggravated the injury a bit.

As Adam held him and tried to comfort him my entire heart shattered into a million pieces because nothing that cute should ever look that miserable.

For his part, Duncan seemed royally freaked out, almost in the way an older brother is when he hurts his younger sibling and starts begging them not to cry so no one gets in trouble.

Because I'm parent of the year already and it's only January 3, I marched Duncan back to Matt's bedroom where there's a dog cage, put him in it, and lectured him about his behavior using complex sentences that most human children would not be able to process.

Duncan stayed in there, silent, despite the sounds of his friends playing in the next room, for the next 30 minutes or so. When we finally let him out, he very gently interacted with Renley, who was now limping a little around the room because, as Adam explained, he's apparently a bit of a "drama queen."

So with that kind of afternoon under our belt, I went home with Duncan and Skylar, who started helping me clean up after a New Year's Eve party from the night before.

Duncan was acting a little mopey, probably from getting in trouble, because my baby is the most spoiled creature alive and is not used to experiencing any level of discomfort and I regret none of this.

After some time, I noticed that he was not following either of us around like he usually does when anyone is home. So I went looking for him.

He was nowhere to be found in the house.

Y'all. My heart fell out of my body.

He wasn't in the backyard either.

Somehow he escaped.

This was weird behavior for him because typically if he is able to go out the door, he implicitly walks straight to the backyard. Duncan is not a wanderer. He has never tried to leave the property without me before.

But on this particular occasion, he was straight up gone.

I started sprinting down the street, barefoot, in January, acting not at all dramatic, screaming his name.

I took the path of his daily walk, wondering if maybe he decided to just take himself on an afternoon stroll.

After some time of doing this, I heard Skylar call for me. He had found Duncan.

I got home and discovered that Duncan had gone to The Perfects's''s's's backyard and was politely sitting at their back door, waiting for someone to just come let him in.

You guys.

Duncan wants The Perfects to adopt him now because he got in trouble for trying to kill Renley.

But how's your year going?

~It Just Gets Stranger