Last week I was at Mom’s house, where I’ve been going once a week now since Dad died. Of course I take Little Dog with me.
I mean, what person in their right mind would/could leave this little guy behind?
He loves to visit her. He loves her backyard. I’ve not worried one bit about him while there. And then? Last week something happened and I’m still not over it. It shook me up to the point I just wish I could erase the memory because all I can seem to do is replay over and over what could have happened.
Avent Ferry Road is where my father, his father, and his father’s father lived, all of their lives. My dad told me when he was growing up, it was a dirt road, and at some point, it was paved and became two lanes. When I was about twelve, the City of Raleigh came through with a widening project, and under that rule of “eminent domain,” they took over half of the front yard. The road went from two lanes to five. During the project they piled up truck load after truck load of dirt, to the point that by the end, the driveway was at a ridiculous angle, and had become this short steep hill alongside the house. If you aren’t familiar with pulling in, you’d just as soon pass it by rather than drop in for a visit.
Back to last week. Mom and I were in the front yard. Little Dog, who’s been there many times, was with us. He’s been taught not to go up the three small steps which lead to the steep driveway and to the five lanes of cars whizzing by on their way to NC State Centennial Campus, or whereever it is they go. I was trying to dig a hole to plant a small bush.
The dirt was like cement due to lack of rain and Mom said, “Let me go get you the pick axe.”
I kept chipping away at the soil, realizing it was pretty useless with the shovel, and thinking I doubt I’m getting this bush planted. Mom came back and I started swinging the pick axe (determined you could say) and finally, after a few minutes of useless chopping at red CLAY, I gave up.
Then, I spotted some poison ivy growing on that ridiculously slanted embankment, and Mom said, “Let me get a plastic bag to put it in and some gloves you can wear before you pull it up.”
She came back, snapped the bag open and I pulled on the gloves and began cramming the poison ivy into the bag. I realize now when I think back on the work, I’d not thought of Mister. I realize I didn’t keep an eye on him. I know now, that something spooked him in the time she went to get the bag and came back.
I was bent over pulling at weeds, and she said, “Uh oh. Donna. Mister’s in the driveway.”
I looked up and sure enough. He was standing halfway up it, staring at me. Do you know how hard it is to control emotions, to keep panic out of your voice, to think clearly when the potential for disaster is so, so close. TOO close.
I did the wrong thing in that split second.
Alarmed, I raised my voice, “Mister! No!”
I went up the three steps in split seconds, but Mister, sensing some other “thing” in my voice, bolted. Up the rest of the drive. Right to the edge of the highway. My focus became warped as I saw the backdrop of speeding cars, his hair blowing from their passing, and all I felt was absolute gut wrenching panic.
Frantic, my voice high pitched, I yelled at him again – another mistake, “Mister! Mister! No! Come here!”
Cars didn’t bother slowing down. He’s less than 4 lbs. Who would see him? He cut left and ran down the sidewalk. Parallel to the road. I waved my arms at traffic, hoping I could get them to stop, hoping they’d see the fear on my face, hoping they’d see this little dog running for dear life.
I couldn’t seem to control myself, “No! MISTER! MISTER! OH GOD!”
I needed them to STOP. Instead. I did the hardest thing there is to do. I stopped myself from running after him. I realized it was his only chance. If I kept running after him, he’d possibly dart right into an oncoming car.
I crouched down on the sidewalk. He was still running away from his human, the one who’d lost her mind, the one who was no longer the person he knew and trusted.
I pleaded with him, “Ohhh, that’s a good boy. Yes, he’s a good boy. Good boy.”
I see this moment as clearly as if it were happening now. He immediately turned, and ran towards me, towards my outstretched arms, my fingers splayed like I have them when I want to pick him up.
And I got him. And I cried – all the way down that stupid sidewalk, and down that ridiculously steep driveway, and into the rock hard dirt filled yard where Mom stood frozen.
I had him. He was okay. Still frightened, but it was like he knew I was too, because all he did was lick my tears.
I love this little dog. And I can’t stop thinking about it.