Fresno was a bit chillier than L.A., so I made sure Lomax was warm and comfy in his little bed on Christmas Eve. It had been a full day -- Lomax accompanied me and my folks to a "barn breakfast" hosted by my dad's friend Rod, who grows the most sublime Navel oranges (I eat the ones I pick for a month or two after Christmas, and can't bring myself to buy any from a grocery store the rest of the year). There were about 20 people out in the barn, feasting on Mom's blueberry pancakes, fresh squeezed orange juice, and sausage and eggs cooked outside.
Lomax was, of course, ever the goodwill ambassador for Guide Dogs of America. Everyone complimented us on his fine behavior and his rugged good looks, and we had the opportunity to explain the program to many people. I'd have let him off leash to run around the groves with me if there hadn't been such a cute little female Golden Retriever escape artist living across the street. Lomax was far more interested in the other dogs and cats living at Rod's than in the Canadian geese who use his pond as a mid-migration hangout.
He got some nifty new toys for Christmas! The pictured "Holee Roller" is loads of fun, as is the Orca, but his favorite seems to be what I refer to as the "crinkle cat" -- a purple raccoon Tim gave him, which both squeaks and crinkles, and is the perfect size and weight for tossing around in my apartment. Until it gets completely disgusting and has to be taken away for a good rinse, that is.
He did well on the four-hour Fresno drive each way, in the wee rental car I drove in lieu of my ancient (and increasingly cranky) pickup truck. The car wasn't even too covered with yellow hairs, which is more than I can say for my parents' dark blue carpet.
Other highlights of our trip? The fabulous thunderstorm that happened around five A.M. on Monday morning -- he seemed less concerned about the storm than in making sure he peed everywhere he needed to in the front yard during our "get busy" trip. Then there was church on Christmas morning, where Lomax made many friends, among them an adorable young girl with severe physical and mental disabilities...her face absolutely lit up when I asked if she wanted to pet him. But my favorite memory is snuggling up next to a warm Labrador and falling asleep on the floor in front of the Christmas tree.