Last Wednesday was National Dog Day. David and I spent the last two weeks house and pet sitting with Spike, a Great Pyrenees mix who weighs in at close to a hundred pounds. He’s a sweet dog and fairly obedient when he wants to be, and I should have done something in honor of his special day. I didn’t, though, and maybe that’s why he gave me such a hard time Thursday morning.
Since I retired, I rarely set an alarm. I usually wake up between 6:30 and 7:00, and that gives me ample time to carry out my morning routine and get out of the house without hurrying. Even with our added pet duties, I could be ready to leave no later than 9:30, giving me plenty of time to arrive for my part-time job at the church. Unfortunately, we didn’t wake up until 8:00 am Thursday morning.
Under my flex-time schedule, the late hour wouldn’t have been a problem, but I had a 10:00 am haircut appointment, so I began mentally streamlining my routine. I hurried to the barn to let Spike out for his morning run. I knew there was a risk he wouldn’t come back in time to be tethered for the day. Still, he had been better about coming on command the last few days, so I was confident that, when we were ready to go, I could entice Spike into range. I should have remembered what the Bible says about pride and falls and such.
After releasing Spike, I promised to do my Bible reading later and skipped the blow dryer since I was going to the salon. We had a quick breakfast and loaded our computers into the car, and then I began to call Spike. I could hear him off in the distance, and sometimes I caught a glimpse of him. Occasionally, he’d even get close, and then in doggy body language, he’d say, Ha, Ha! Just kidding, and off he’d go.
I followed him through the tall grass, hoping he’d come close enough for me to grab his collar. After Wednesday’s rain and a heavy dew, my shoes and the bottom several inches of my jeans were soon saturated. David backed the car out and rolled a few feet down the driveway hoping to lure Spike in, but that only seemed to drive him further into the woods.
Finally, we decided we’d have to let him spend the day in the wild. Before we were halfway to the gate, David looked in the rearview mirror and saw the happy wanderer behind us. We spent several futile minutes trying to catch him before he disappeared again. Then, as we approached the gate, Spike ambushed us from the side, but David stopped before the gate opened, and man and dog engaged in a stare down. Spike blinked first and dashed off to the pond for a cool drink. We hurried out the gate and congratulated ourselves on having outsmarted our canine charge.
We passed the gap in the fence where Spike had previously escaped and felt like we were safely away. We noticed a Gator by the fence where the resident cows hung out. The driver was a lady we had not seen before, and her companion was a white dog, a little smaller than Spike. We stopped so we could introduce ourselves and exchange pleasantries. Her name was Debbie, a neighbor from down the road, and her dog and Spike were frequent playmates.
“Speaking of playmates,” said David, “here he comes.” Sure enough, there was Spike running down the road to say hello to his friends.
“Do you want me to try and get him in the back and take him back to the house?” offered Debbie.
“That would be great,” I said. “If you can grab him, I’ll come help.”
With Debbie holding his collar, Spike obediently hopped in. “I don’t think he’ll jump out,” she said.
“Maybe not, but I don’t want to take any chances. I’ll get in and hold his collar. If you can drive us all the way to the house, I’d appreciate it.”
I knelt backward on the rear seat and reached over the raised front of the truck bed. As I took hold of Spike’s collar, I realized he was soaking wet, both from his romp in the dewy grass and from his dip in the pond. He jerked his head a couple of times, but when he met resistance, he settled down to enjoy the ride. We followed David back down the road and through the gate as the wind blew through my still wet hair.
We made it to the house without incident, and Debbie attached the tether before I released my hold. We thanked her profusely, waved good-bye to Spike, and headed into town. I arrived for my haircut with dog hair all over my hands, smelling like a wet dog, and looking like I had stuck my head in a blender, but I was early. I guess the moral of the story is this: 1) when you have an appointment, set your alarm, just in case and 2) always leave some extra time, just in case someone lets the dog out.
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