Tuesday, March 15, 2016

Escape from the Backyard

I’m protective of my wife. I’m extremely protective of our 10-year-old son. But I’m most protective of our pet beagle.

It’s not that the dog is more important than my wife and our child. It’s just that the dog is a wanderer and more at risk. So I worry.

“You’re gonna worry yourself to death,” my mom always says.

The other day while at work I received a voicemail from a guy who apparently lives a few blocks from me, saying he had my dog.

“I think the dog is gone,” I told my wife who was at home. “Can you check?”

My wife told me my mom was right about me.

“You’re gonna worry yourself to death,” she said while humoring me and checking for the dog. “You’re not gonna believe this! The dog is gone!”

I rushed home from work, checked for myself. My wife wasn’t lying -- I discovered a break in the gate that previously kept the dog from escaping the backyard.

I went back into my voicemail and retrieved the message I’d heard earlier. The guy who found my dog tried giving me directions to his house so I could come by and collect what was rightfully mine.

“I’m right off of . . . Good boy. Here ya go . . . You know where the hospital is? . . . You’re such a cute boy, aren’t you? Have a biscuit . . . If you pass the hospital, you’ve gone too . . . Good boy, sit . . .”

“Is that my dog you’re talking to?” I asked.

“I’ll put him on the phone,” he said.

I raced over to the house to save my pet from any further damage.

Kids’ toys and bikes covered the lawn and the walkway to the front door. Two automobile projects, old shelving and several sheets of plywood looked like they’d been in the driveway since Bush was president (Bush Sr.).

Even with signs of children around, the place felt creepy, dangerous. Maybe it was the silence, the stillness that was unsettling, like the kids had all been turned into lampshades.

There I go worrying about nothing again, I thought.

I knocked on the door. The guy who answered seemed very nice. Too nice?

Dog toys littered the entryway. I spotted a dog bed and dog bowls just past the front room.

“You have a dog, too?” I asked.

“No, we bought those for your dog while he’s with us.”

“Where is he?” I asked, wondering if the guy planned to keep my pet for the night.

“He’s at the park with my wife and kids. You want something to drink?”

No, I want my dog is what I wanted to say. “Sure, whaddaya got?” is what I actually said. I eventually got around to asking where I could find this park so I could get my dog and go home.

“I’ll call up the wife,” the guy said, “have her bring the pup home.”

Perfect! Except the guy’s wife wasn’t picking up her cell. I was two seconds from slamming the guy into the wall and demanding he get me my dog before I ripped the spectacles off his face and jammed them down his throat.

Instead I said, “Well, I’ll just head home. Can you give me a call when they all get in?”

What the heck was I doing?

I explained to my wife that there was nothing to worry about, that the dog would be home shortly, but I was worrying myself to death. Where was our pup, what was happening to him, was he even still alive? Maybe the guy didn’t even have a wife and kids. I needed my wife to calm me down.

“It’s been hours, I’m worried, where is he?” she said in a panic.

My son was a wreck, too. I couldn’t have that. So I went back over to that guy’s house, this time prepared to get my dog no matter what. I was ready for a showdown if that’s what was facing me.

On the road, the guy called to say he was coming over with the dog. His whole family came in tow. They were very loving people and so happy to see the pooch back in his own home.

My mom was right about me -- I’m going to worry myself to death. I had to make a change for my own sanity.

I changed the gate from one gate to two. And I double locked them both. At least I’m not worried about another escape.

-February 2014

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