Today was a rare beautiful March day here in the Twin Cities. Sunny, warm, snow on its way to being melted for good. Penny’s packed on a few pounds this winter so I thought some time at the off-leash dog park would do her some good.
So while Barry took David and Cameron to the batting cages for some pre-season practice, Justin, Alex and I loaded up Penny, and headed out. First order of business was to drop off a bag full of library books. Not a daunting task. For one person, anyway. The same errand with two kids and a dog somewhat raises the difficulty level.
I pulled up and stopped in the circular drive in front of the building. Justin assured me he could handle returning the books while we waited in the car with the dog. He couldn’t even lift the bag, though. So I grabbed the bag, shut the doors, and walked up with Justin. I could hear Alex start to cry that he wanted to come too. Justin decided he couldn’t return the books on his own, so I walked back to the car to retrieve Alex. I planned on just leaving Penny in the car to wait, but she hopped out. Fine, whatever. All four of us fed the books into the wall. Penny was happy as a lark, people watching, and sniffing, as I tugged at her leash every time she went near a mud puddle.
We finally finished, and as I tried to lead Penny back into the side of the van, she somehow slipped out of her collar. We both froze for a minute. I was hoping she hadn’t noticed. She was hoping I had noticed. We locked eyes. And she took off full sprint. I tried to “bribe” her with a pretend treat. She’s no dummy, she wasn’t falling for that two-bit trick. I tried to coax her to come to me, but every time I got near, she darted off further away. Meanwhile Justin and Alex are blatantly ignoring my demands for them to get back in the car, and standing in the middle of the drive, and I’m wondering who is going to be run over first. In all likelihood, me, because I’m too busy paying attention to the three-ring circus of my own making than watching for cars.
Penny quickly moved beyond the confines of the library grounds and went up the hill to where the parking lot of the sheriff’s department was located. A nice young man who was in the car stopped behind me with his mom, and saw the whole thing go down, tried to help. Next thing I knew Penny darted out from behind a tree, right across the busy street. As she made it across, I had to stop myself from running across before a black pick-up sped by. As I reached the other side of the street, I saw Justin and Alex on the grass above the sidewalk on the other side of the street. I yelled at them to STAY on the sidewalk and not to cross.
Penny was taunting me, doing a serpentine each time I got close to her. I don’t like to chase her because the closer I get to her, the further away she wants to go, but my usual tactic of just walking back and hoping she’d follow me, wasn’t an option because of the traffic. She ran into the parking lot of a grocery store, coming close to a passing car. She ran behind a bunch of parked cars, and somehow the light bulb went off, and she decided, you know what, this is a really stupid idea, and came running up to me. I put her collar and leash back on, and back we went. When I met up with Justin and Alex I lectured them on the concept of “listening,” which doesn’t seem to be part of their vocabulary.
Of course the irony in all of this is that we were headed to the off-leash park where the little goofball could run to her heart’s content. Once we got there she does very well with the other dogs, and found a nice group of pals to sniff. But soon the yorkipoo, cockapoo, maltipoo, shitzpoo crowd wasn’t doing it for her, and she started running with a more badass group that included a great dane, two golden doodles, a pit bull, and some other big, curly mutt. No one was getting rough or anything, but the great dane kept barking, which Penny didn’t do at all until she heard him. Then she went wild with the barking every time she chased one of them around.
But just like kids, if a dog wants to hang with the neighborhood toughs, there’s not a lot you can do to lure them away. Finally, after running her ass off for a half hour, I could tell she was tired. Her friends were too, and the golden doodle who she was trying so desperately to be friends with, plopped down on the ground. Penny did too, until I called her over, leashed her back up, and got the heck out of there before any of the “cool” dogs had a chance to offer her some weed or something.
© Jennifer Alys Windholz, 2012