Saturday afternoon, I took a stroll through my neighborhood. Sounds pleasant, huh? Well, not so much.
With gas prices at $4 a gallon, I decided to celebrate our nation’s independence with a quiet weekend at home in Winona with friends. There had only been a few occasions where I was not with my family on the holiday weekend, and it was a little peculiar without the roar of my large family.
To lighten the blow, I asked my sister, Deana, to drive down Saturday for a cook-out. She could definitely turn my quiet weekend at home into something a bit more comforting – or at least a light roar.
Deana arrived after lunch and was greeted enthusiastically by the dogs out in the yard. She didn’t even have to ring the bell before I was alerted to her presence.
Now, I will say, my dogs love my sister, mainly because she brings them presents whenever she visits, and this visit was no different. She immediately pulled out a bag of bacon snacks for the dogs and a container of kitty treats for my cat, Deadline, who lives in the storage room.
“Let’s not bring them in yet,” I told Deana.
So we settled into the den, and Deana told me about the family Fourth of July I missed the day before. Apparently, I wasn’t the only one who had missed. My middle sister, Stephanie, was required to complete some sort of combat training with the DeSoto County Sheriff’s Department where she is a captain, and spent our nation’s birthday getting beat up by would-be perpetrators.
After a few minutes, I walked into the kitchen and saw it. The gate was open, and the yard was empty. My dogs had escaped and were now loose in the city. Pure panic washed over my body. My dogs had never been off a leash, and I was afraid they would not know to get out of the way of cars.
Without thinking, I ran down the steps, across the yard, and down the street – barefoot. As I rounded the corner, I noticed something running full speed down the street. Don Juan, my Chihuahua, ran right to me and jumped into my arms.
I passed him off to Deana and continued my hunt for the fastest, severely ADD creature the Lord ever created – Skipper, aka the village idiot.
It rained that morning, and water still flowed in the gutters. The grass was wet, and the dirt was mud. The rain had also washed gravel onto the street, and my bare feet were now muddy and bleeding as I called out for Skipper.
“Skipper,” I called. “Here Doodle Bug.”
I was trying to sound playful and sweet. I did not want him to realize when I caught him, I planned to kill him.
Some children on bicycles pointed me in the right direction – gravel road, mud – and a group of children who sat on church steps directed me further. Skipper was obviously touring the town, and he was headed back towards my street.
“Did you lose one?” my neighbor asked.
“Yes, the little black and white one. Have you seen him?”
“Let me see if he is around the back?”
A few minutes later, I heard my neighbor direct me behind his house and through the back yards of the houses behind him.
Then I saw him, a black and white terrier was running towards me as I called. Then I realized, this might be Skipper’s cousin, but it is definitely not Skipper. Impossible, but there is another one!
I caught a flash of white. It was Skipper. I called – all sweet remember – and he actually ran to me. I flung that raging idiot into my arms – I seriously thought I lost him forever.
I didn’t kill him. I didn’t even punish him. I just walked home – sweaty, bleeding, and muddy – with Skipper in my arms.
As I handed Deana the dog and hosed off, we discovered the village idiot could actually open the gate with his nose. We doggie-proofed the latches. Now, remarkably, I can’t open the gate.