Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Another Misadventure of a Disobedient Canine

The dumb dog is not here. She is in doggy jail. She's not doing hard time with the canine versions of Mike Tyson and Manuel Noriega. In my book, she did that already when she was living at Animal Care and Control, and she emerged victorious with her spirit intact--no small feat. I suppose she's not really in canine juvie, either, although she might think she is. No, she's at what might be called doggy detention. That's right. (Cue ominous music...) The Groomer! Yes, I am so evil. (Insert maniacal laughter and villainous palm rubbing.)

This appointment was scheduled before her most recent escape, but she doesn't know that. Maybe she'll see the groomer as a consequence for her escape.

HAHAHAHA!! Yes, I know. This dog has already forgotten that she ate breakfast. She can't remember what she's barking at out the window. Clearly I am delusional (but hopeful!) that she will connect her escape with the groomer. But just in case her cluelessness is a clever ploy, I've sent her away while I am writing this post, lest she read it over my shoulder and concoct even grander plans of escape. (You know that I'm totally picturing her as Steve McQueen in the Great Escape, right? Also, I've completely dated myself in citing that movie. *sigh*)

So you've gathered that Tilly escaped again. The answer to that on my end would be an emphatic YES SHE DID! Twice. Since Friday. Let me back up.

On Friday, I was having friends over for lunch, so obviously what I needed in the hour prior to their arrival was an MIA canine, right? I took her out to potty and she found the breach in the fence and disappeared faster than you can say "Harry Houdini". I had friends arriving soon. I needed to finish sweeping the dog hair up. I had a four year old with me. I was dressed in shorts and flip-flops. These were my reasons for not tearing after her into the poison ivy infested tree line. So Mary and I stood there calling and clapping, while Tilly went to um, fertilize, the bajillionaires' lawns. We stood there and stood there. I was calling "Tilly" over and over, but Mary, ever inventive, was calling out things like, "Tilly, come home! Your bed is here! Come back puppy, we'll play with you more! Come on home Tilly, we love you! We won't be mad just come home! Tiiiillllllllllly!! I have a treat for yooouuuuuuuu!" Seriously. She was breaking my heart. I looked over at her standing in the yard all forlorn and she had tears welling up in her eyes as she said with a quivering chin, "Mama, I think we lost our dog!" Then she started crying and my head exploded and I died I comforted her and told her Tilly would be back, it would be okay.

Meanwhile, visions of me having to tell the children when they got home from school that the dog was gone floated through my head and increased my panic. I decided that if she didn't come home by the time my friends arrived for lunch, that I would recruit my girlfriends to beat the bushes with me. And they would have, without thinking twice about it, because that is how lovely these friends of mine are. But as luck would have it, those plans never came to fruition, because 40 minutes after she left, Tilly returned, somewhat contrite, to our back door where she was given a hero's welcome by both Mary and me.

Did I learn my lesson? Did I take her out on a leash for her morning constitutional? The answer to those questions would be: hell to the no, I didn't! Apparently my IQ is lower than that of my dumb dog's because yesterday morning she did it again.

I was all dressed for work (yes, I've been subbing as an assistant teacher at Mary's school, getting paid to wipe noses and bottoms, sing and play with two year olds. It's fun! Really! No sarcasm intended.) and I took Tilly out a little after 7 a.m. She stayed with me for a few minutes and then, as is her habit, started sniffing among the trees for a place to "fertilize." Again, quicker than you can say "David Copperfield," she was off. This time, however, I knew I had to go after her. I didn't have 40 minutes to wait for her to find her way home. Plus, whenever she's run off, I've had a sort of vague panic about her reaching the fairly busy road outside our subdivision. She hadn't ever gone that way before, but I was afraid that her first time would be her last--particularly at this time of day when it has a high traffic volume.

I ran inside, telling Maggie that Tilly had run into Bajillionaire's Row and that I was changing my pants and shoes so I could go after her. She set off the alert to James before she had to leave for the school bus. I tore into my closet and donned a pair of ratty sweats and my old tennis shoes, but left the blouse (and jewelry) that I was wearing to work in place. Then I put on Pat's old barn jacket, which, as you might imagine, is rather big on me. Once again, that dumb dog had me looking like Crazy Bag Lady.

I clambered up through the trees and brush and up the berm. On the other side? Pristinely manicured lawns, but no dog. I skulked close to the tree line, in case any of the bajillionaires happened to be out and about and tried to look innocent and sane while calling for the dog. After walking down the berm for a bit, I passed into a different back yard. There were dogs out by the pool, but I didn't see anyone else.

"Can I help you?" a lady's voice called.

I jumped, startled, because of course I hadn't seen her. Figures. "I've lost my dog," I called across the vast expanse between the treeline and her sparkling, blue pool. "Sorry to bother you! She got away into your neighborhood and I'm trying to find her."

"Did she look a little like a yellow lab?" she asked.

"Yes! That's her!" I hollered.

"Oh dear," said the lady (who, by the way, was clad in a thigh-high, white terry bathrobe.) "I saw her running out the gates of the neighborhood! I hope you find her and she's okay!"

"Thank you so much!" I cried. "Sorry again to disturb you!" Then, with panic-infused adrenaline pulsing through my veins, I turned and sprinted back down the berm, stumbled through the trees, and ran for the house.

"She got out the gate! Into Brooks' School Road!" I panted.

Maggie, who was leaving toward the bus stop, looked frightened and said "Hurry Mommy!"

I dashed into the house, yelled at James that I was driving to find the dog and that I had my phone. I told him to call me if she came home on her own and added that he should get his brother and sister up around 7:30 if I wasn't back yet.

"Okay mom," he said calmly. "Please find her!"

I ran for the van, snatching the leash on the way, whispering fervent prayers that God would help me find Tilly, quickly and unharmed.

As I left the neighborhood with the van windows down and calling the dog, my thoughts alternated between "This is all my fault!" and "Stupid dog! No wonder she wound up at the pound!"

Tilly has always been an attention hound. I have been known on occasion to affectionately call her "Tilly the Attention 'Ho" because she will readily give you all of her love and affection for a few kind words and scratches behind the ear. With this in mind, I figured that she would be heading for the neighborhood across from the gated Bajillionaire Row--Millionaire Lane. As I turned into this neighborhood (not gated, so Riffraff like me don't have to skulk through trees to get in...) I was hoping and praying with all my might to find her here, safe and well. Possibly so that I might kill her... As it happened, she was sniffing the gutter (do you call them gutters in Millionaire Lane?) and I pulled up about 40 feet away, flipping the hazard lights on as I got out.

"Tilly!" I called in what a I hoped was a sweet voice. I knelt down and extended my hands. "Come on, puppy! It's time to go!"

After calling her a few more times, she walked over, wiggling her body and looking chastened. Yes, she gave me "puppy dog eyes" and I caved.

"Come on, time to get in the van and go home," I said.

A little crowd of exercisers, commuters leaving the neighborhood and one old man in his bathrobe surveying his grass and getting his paper had stopped to watch the crazy lady try to sweet talk her runaway mutt into coming home. I know they all were hoping I'd be successful, because I'm fairly certain that after what they saw of her, none of them was going to offer to take her off my hands.

The short ride home was uneventful. Tilly laid down on the seat and shut her eyes. I told her I was glad I found her and then whispered a prayer of thanks. When I got her home, she was greeted like the Prodigal Son Dog and fed treats and breakfast.

The children regaled my husband of the whole sordid tale when he got home and I took complete blame in my failure to take the dog out on a leash. Then I told him that I'd met a bajillionaire and a couple of millionaires and that at least two of them had bedhead. (Who's the Riffraff now??) I promised that she would no longer do her fertilizing off the leash.

I'm no fortune teller, but I see a tall fence and obedience school in Tilly's future. Dumb dog.

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