One fine afternoon, with scorching temperatures yielding a menagerie of crisp-dried earthworms displayed across the pavement for all to view on their walks around the neighborhood, we heard Teri and Fluffy-foot sounding the Emergency Alert System, and saw them throwing themselves against the wire enclosure of the coop and flapping their wings as hard as they could to gain maximum altitude. The children and I stampeded our way down flights of stairs, wound around the perimeter of the house and nearly slid over the decomposed granite paths until we reached the coop to find our girls suffering near cardiac arrest over the presence of an uninvited guest, a fluffy white dog.
I promptly picked up what resembled five bags of Costco-sized cotton balls, scolded it and huffed and puffed back up to street level while trying to untangle the tags imbedded in its fleece. The heat and the hormones had gotten the better of me and I was in a rage. I had had enough of various neighbors leaving their dogs to roam off of a leash, and though this particular pooch had made it to the garden, I had suffered worse from another who had busted through my front door and made her way through the entire house while her owner giggled as if it were a behavior to be appreciated. I mused about taking my children to her house in their muddy shoes and having them rush in to jump on her sofas while I, too, laughed and talked about the weather, and though it gave me great pleasure to think of it, I never managed to bring my dream to fruition. She moved.
When I finally uncovered the tags, I realized this dog’s name was Tilly*. Well, we looked up and down the street to no avail, when suddenly, we heard a voice calling “Tilly, oh Tilly…Tilly, where are you? Tilly”, and I came face to face with a woman who exclaimed in her thick accent “Oh Tilly! Tilly!”. There was no thank you for finding the dog, there was no apology, and so I saw fit to inquire and inform her. I asked why the dog was running loose and let her know in no uncertain terms that I was ready to call the SPCA. I notified her of her irresponsibility and expressed my disapproval of owners who facilitate their dog’s breaking and entering into my yard, and of course, traumatizing my chickens! Throughout all this, the woman only repeated “Tilly… Tilly”, which fueled the embers of my growing malcontent into a roaring blaze. “Do you speak English? I do not want to see your dog here again ! Keep it on a leash or you won’t find it next time”!
My presumption is that I must have sounded and looked like an overgrown child throwing a grand mal tantrum. As I turned on my heel and went back in the front door, I was certain my anger had surpassed even the temperature outside. The children reluctantly followed. There was a stillness and a silence like no other and I cooled off immediately, only to find them staring at me dumbfounded. My son said cautiously, “Mom, you were really mad. You were really mad at that lady, and I think she knows”.
The evening welcomed a cool breeze. We sat out front, my youngest and I, and she scootered as I tended to my potted plants. I heard the jingling of dog-tags and the squealing of happy children topped off by my daughter’s exclamation of joy, “There’s my friend! Mommy! That’s my friend from school! We’re in the same class”! I removed my gardening gloves and stepped toward the curb to find two lovely children, their mother and their dog approaching. We began a conversation after a round of introductions, though one party needed none. Attached to a leash and smothered by the surrounding laughter, I could make out quite clearly that she was the one and only, Tilly.
* The dog's name has been changed in order to preserve her privacy and prevent me from being served papers by an animal defamation expert.