My husband and I are now officially considered “empty nesters.” Our two children have moved out, and we have no grandchildren to spoil yet. Therefore, our dogs are our babies and we, like many Americans, treat our dogs like family. January marks the anniversary month when we brought our last baby home, a beautiful white German Shepherd named Jersey. Every January I reminisce and laugh at the conversation I had with my son about Jerseys.

Jason had always wanted a white German Shepherd. After his black German Shepherd passed away, we reserved a puppy from a Lyndonville, Vermont breeder, about 20 miles from our home. That winter day, Jason, my daughter Jessica, her friend Chelsea, and I all piled in the car to pick up our little “bundle of joy.” White German Shepherd puppies are adorable; they look like fluffy baby polar bears.

I was so proud watching my son cradle that precious puppy in his arms, because he loves dogs. I was thinking how mature he had become, and how he always made good decisions – until we had the following conversation.

Jason piped up and said, “You know this isn’t the first Jersey I’ve had in this car,” I asked, “What do you mean?” He replied, “Last spring the North Danville farm had a baby calf and I had to get it home to feed so I brought it in your car.”

I said, “Oh, you put her in the trunk, right?” His response: “Nope.”

“If you didn’t put her in the trunk, where did you put her?”

“In the back seat.”

Thinking I didn’t hear him correctly, I asked again, “You put her where?” He stood stoic.

“In the back seat.”

At that point, I looked in the rearview mirror to see my daughter and her friend’s reaction. Chelsea, who is from Boston, had a look of total disbelief on her face, and I am sure she was thinking, “What kind of hillbillies are these people?”

I know what my daughter was thinking because she remarked, “That was a dumb thing to do.” If you have ever raised children, you know siblings don’t hold their feelings back.

I was seething. Then, I spoke in a tone only a mother can use, “You put a calf in the back seat of my car?!” He knew I was upset, and quickly responded, “Yeah, but I put her in a grain bag.”

That didn’t console me, because if that little brown calf had the “Jersey Squirts,” no burlap bag was going to hold that mess in. He told me he stopped at school to show all his friends. Great – another 15 minutes that animal was in the back seat of my car. I asked, “Did any of your buddies ask you why you had a calf in the back seat of your mother’s car?” His answer: “Nope.”

I think he knew I was upset because he quickly added, “Mimi helped me wipe the back seat up, and she said it looked fine.” I am sure both his grandparents had a laugh at the trip.

Looking back on that ride home, I chuckle at the conversation now. Young adults don’t always make the right decisions. But when I hear about the turmoil that parents go through with drug-addicted children, I think giving a calf a joy ride isn’t that devastating at all, and I do “Thank God He’s a Country Boy.”