Just when I let myself believe that I could have an afternoon of quiet and simplicity, I am shown what a fool I am.
Wednesday afternoon was a gorgeous early spring day, not quite warm enough to go without a sweater, a nip in the air that reminds me of Fall. Steve wouldn’t be home for a couple more hours, so I decided I’d work in the front yard, removing the hay we’d put on the plants to keep them warm through the winter. I brought the dogs out front with me. I tied Wrigley up because she’s the one more likely to run off after a bunny. Annabelle’s almost 8, so she’s all grown up. She’s finally become the kind of dog who will stay by my side. Took me a very long time to get to this point with her, so I love taking opportunities like today to show her how I trust her. At one point as I’m walking to the street with arms full of hay, I tell Wrigley that someday she might be as well behaved as Annabelle and maybe then she can be outside with us not tied up.
Let me set the scene a bit more. Idyllic afternoon in a middle-class suburb. The little boys next door are riding their bikes up and down the street, the neighbors are out talking, friends come over to pet the girls, and it feels good to do physical labor outside for the first time in months.
And then she saw a bunny. Annabelle was off, running down the street, letting out that animal moan she only gets when she’s on the hunt. My calling her name did nothing except to make me even more frantic. Really, am I really doing this again? Am I really running down the street after this damn dog for what has to be the twentieth time in our lives together?
I should mention, too, that all the neighbors by this time had gone inside. I had no help.
So I ran after her down the street. We live not that far from Hershey Ave., and it was that time of day when all the State Farmers are on their way home from work. In Annabelle time, Hershey was just seconds away. Somehow in my chase, I ended up in a yard with Annabelle running running running in parking lots on the other side of a fence. I’m helpless. I’ve got to climb this fence. But it’s the chain-link kind, the kind with the really
sharp spires. I put my foot into one of the slots, put my other foot on a higher slot and try to pull my other leg over the fence. But I’m wearing wide-leg jeans and the bottoms keep getting stuck on the sharp edges of the fence. So I fall back down to the ground. I get up. My jeans are ripped. I’m standing there thinking that the one thing standing between me and my dog is this fence and if I can’t climb it, she’s gonna die. I'm wondering how on earth I'm gonna be able to live with myself.
The woman whose yard I’m in appears and asks if some steps would help. What? I’m so panicky that I don’t really know what she means until I see her small daughter lugging a set of steps over—the kind you might use for a trampoline or a pool. “This is heavy
,” she groans as she drags it across the yard ever so slowly. I can’t stay for this. I’ve got to do something to find her. So I run back toward our house, knowing that one of our neighbors has a gate I can use to get through to the other side. I grab a friend who’s just coming home from work. No explanation. Just, “J.W., I need you!” and with no questions, he helps. We get to the other side of the fence out to a grassy swamp. I look left and right, still frantic, when my eyes land on a little black doggie head straight ahead. She’s lying in a mud puddle, content as can be, cooling off after a long bunny chase. And she reeks. I’m so mad at her that J.W. has to drag her home by the collar. When we get back to the house, there’s Wrigley sitting on the front steps, obedient as can be. Such a good girl. Finally, it’s Annabelle who’s in trouble.