The dog looked me dead in the eye and I knew exactly what it was thinking: “Mister, I am going to ruin your Saturday.”
Without any say in the matter, I had somehow become part of a team assigned to dog sit a rambunctious young Akita* while its official caretakers, my daughter and her boyfriend, were on a camping trip. The dog had already proven to be an accomplished escape artist, having twice bolted from their apartment months earlier, ending up first at a shelter and then at nearby dog park.
The critter is a fancy store-bought dog, something I have never had the pleasure or displeasure of owning. All my dogs, including my current, graying Min Pin, have either wandered up to the house and refused to leave or were rescued from a date with the great beyond. They’ve been for the most part a grateful and loyal bunch, disinclined to ruin many of my Saturdays, except for a beagle that chased rabbits through barbed wire fences and stumbled over copperheads on my days off.
This fancy store-bought dog, though, seemed like trouble, a bundle of energy and mischief I was in no mood for. And, sure enough, even before the camping trip began, as the car was being loaded with sleeping bags and coolers, someone – and that someone was not me – left the kitchen door ajar and the fancy store-bought dog slipped out and tore up the street like its curly tail was on fire.
Words cannot describe the high-pitched anguished wail that burst forth from the college kid, but I realized instantly that noise was not among the things I missed since she moved out.
“Well, there goes my Saturday,” I mumbled.
She gave chase – let’s just say she would not have challenged Jackie Joyner-Kersee in her prime – and I hopped in my truck to circle the block and hopefully head the dog off at the pass.
I saw it cross the street a couple of hundred feet in front of me and zip through the parking lot of Our Lady of Angels Catholic Church. I entered through the exit – father forgive me – slammed the truck in park, leapt out and started running up the hill where I encountered a startled tree-trimming crew.
“Dog,” I said, trying to catch my breath. “Stupid dog ran away.”
They conversed in Spanish. From my limited knowledge of the language acquired in a high school class where I should have paid more attention, I believe one them said, “We might as well help this disheveled, sweaty gringo so we can get back to work.”
Two of the tree trimmers joined in my pursuit down the street and into the nicer neighborhood where I imagine the fancy store-bought dogs are better behaved or at least the homes have more secure kitchen doors.
To the dog, of course, it was all a grand game, cutting through yards, zipping in and out of driveways, stopping and looking back at us with a mocking canine grin. But the Three Amigos – that’s what I decided we would call ourselves at that point – would not be outsmarted by a fancy store-bought dog.
One tree trimmer ran a circuitous route past the pup and with some clever maneuvering and the help of a hedge we eventually pinned her in and snatched her up. I thanked my new friends profusely. If in the future I need a tree trimmed or a dog chased through town, I know exactly who to call.
We returned home, the youngsters finished packing their car and hit the road, leaving the dog and the now winded dog-sitting team behind.
The pup drank deeply from its water bowl, then turned, looked me dead in the eye and once again, I knew exactly what it was thinking:
“Mister, Saturday isn’t over yet.”
I double-checked the latch on the kitchen door.
*Correction: After publication of this column, my daughter informed me the dog is not an Akita but a Shiba Inu. I suspect she may be using alternative facts or spreading fake news, but at this point, I stand corrected.
Scott Hollifield is editor/GM of The McDowell News in Marion, N.C. and a humor columnist. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.