I’m not a dog person. I know, I know. It’s a terribly controversial thing to say — but before you (a) stop reading this and/or (b) decide you should never read of my books because, seriously who could NOT love dogs– I implore you to at least finish this post, which is somewhat ironically, about a dog that I liked quite a bit.
I was walking home from work on possibly one of the hottest Virginia summer days we’ve had so far. (If you aren’t familiar with southern, humid heat, imagine walking through a bowl of thick broth.) Anyway, it is a familiar route, that I walk nearly everyday. The same houses and businesses and vampire murals. But that evening, something was out-of-place. There was a dog pacing the sidewalk in front of a house. As in on the wrong side of the fence. On the street, not in the yard.
I stopped and watched for a minute, trying to ascertain what was going on. I determined the following things: she belonged inside that yard, she was scared, she had a collar, and I wasn’t going to leave until I helped her.
I began the process of earning her trust, so I could read her collar. I kneeled down and held out my hand. She whimpered. I told her it was okay. I told myself the same thing. She sniffed my hand and I scratched behind her ears before easing her collar around to read the tags. Her name was Rory. Her address was not the one we were standing in front of. So there went my plan to confirm she lived there, let her back into the shady yard, perhaps bring back some water. Now, what?
So we stood there, Rory and I. Looking at each other. I hadn’t seen a phone number on her tag. Could I take her to my house and take pictures for Facebook? Don’t people find pets that way? Except she wasn’t lost, was she? Plus, would she even follow me? I pulled out my phone and snapped an ineffective picture. We’d have to try again, but this didn’t seem promising.
I decided to take one more look at her tag. Turned out I had just missed the phone number the first time. Immensely relieved, I dialed the number and talked to her owner. I confirmed this was indeed where Rory lived and also that once inside the yard she would be able to get back into the cool house. I let her in the yard, she ran around the side towards her door and was gone.
Sometimes I worry that I get too caught up in it all, you know? I’m too consumed by work and deadlines. I forget things. I worry about what I might be missing as I write stories and make “to do” lists in my head. But, then– I didn’t miss this. I’m not a dog person, not particularly attuned to their mannerisms, and yet I didn’t miss Rory’s fear. I didn’t leave until I helped her. And in that, I’m reassured that I’m not so out of touch, after all. Or at least I wasn’t that afternoon, and you have to start somewhere.