Vol. 12, No. 2,856W - The American Reporter - March 18, 2006

Hominy & Hash: PANIC!
by Constance Daley
American Reporter Correspondent

ST. SIMONS ISLAND, Ga. -- The sound of footsteps coming into the da= rkened room was no reason to stir from an early morning dream -- the best k= ind. It would be John stepping back in to say as usual, "S'long sunshine,= see ya later," before driving off to work in the hour before dawn.This morn= ing was different. Today he spoke words that stood my hair onend, sent chil= ls down my spine and my teeth on edge.

"The dog got away." That's a simple sentence. Only one wordhas tw= o syllables and that's only four letters. But understand: The dog got = away.. Exclamation point!

I've only heard these words or witnessed an escape five timesin the= many years we've lived here. BoPeep is an Old EnglishSheepdog, usually we= ighted with her shaggy coat but today quite svelteafter her summer haircut.= She slipped her collar. It's as simple asthat. Off like a gazelle, prob= ably chasing a cat.

John took the high road in the car, I took the low road carryinga l= eash and whistling the standard dog call softly in the morningquiet. BoPee= p couldn't hear me if I blew a lifeguard's whistle but Ihad to give the app= earance of looking for a dog -- what with the leash,and all.

Speaking of appearances, I was in slippers, T-shirt and shorts,spor= ting a hairdo that would cause Elizaberth Arden to turn over in hergrave. = And, BoPeep, having no collar with identifying tag was no doubtstill runnin= g. We looked everywhere, not as much concerned aboutBoPeep's welfare as we= were about breaking leash laws and defyingcommunity covenants against dogs= running loose.

This is our fourth Old English Sheepdog. The first was chosenbecau= se they're so good with children -- they actually mind the childrenwhen the= y play in the yard. Kids can flop all over them and the breedis known as t= he comedians of the dog world. All this is true. BoPeepis exclusively a h= ouse pet but it must go against her nature to haveneither sheep to herd nor= children to corral.

We've learned to tend to her needs but not to give her the oldfrien= dly pat on the head. Once any sign of affection is offered, shetakes her hu= ge paw and pounds your thigh -- if you're a child, yourshoulder. She's big= . She's saying "more, more." Friends or salesmencome to the door and in= variably say, "Oh, that's okay, I love dogs,"only to have had enough in 14 = seconds.

When Domino's delivers Pizza, I have to hold BoPeep's collarwith on= e hand, reach through the barely ajar door with the money, deftlytake the h= ot box between thumb and forefinger and manage to say, "You,too," when the = delivery person says "have a nice day."

As a house pet, she is walked nightly for over a mile and oftenhas = an off-hours run on the beach. It's not as if she's incarcerated oranythin= g, it's just that she must be watched or held by the collar untilshe's hook= ed to a line outdoors. But, she's like a jailbird looking fora route of es= cape, and not considering her limitations. (You know, themany cons who man= aged to dig out of Alcatraz forgetting they couldn'tswim those choppy water= s surrounding "the rock."

During one of her excursions, she ran down an incline into ahidden = creek and stood there like cow in Indiana. She was easy (?) tocatch that t= ime. Not so this morning. We went to all her likelyplaces: the apartment = complex above and beyond the woods of our yardwhere cats roam freely just t= o tantalize her. No BoPeep -- but thecyclone fence around the pool was lef= t open and ... could it be? Didshe run blindly through that window of oppo= rtunity and... . I don't wantto look.

John and I criss-crossed the neighborhood until, finally, he hadto = go to work. I continued walking and poking into wooded areas. Whenshe get= s herself head-first into something until she can go no further,she stands = there. God forbid she should know enough to back up!

The last time she got out I received a call from theVeterinarian's = office. "Mrs. Daley, is BoPeep there?" I said she wasout on her line. Th= ey asked if I'd check because an Old EnglishSheepdog was stuck in a fence o= n Brockinton Road.

Panic! Read symptoms above. I walked around the corner an= d,sure enough, she had gone speeding into an orange mesh fence placedaround= a cable-digging project. The Lewis children knew who she was andcalled th= e vet. Luckily she was trapped enough not to respondboisterously to their = petting.

At 13, we're sure her days are numbered. Twice now, we've toldthe = kennel we'd like to hear about the next litter. Each time, we'vereconsider= ed. Maybe next time they call, it will be the right time foranother dog...= . But never another breed.

As I turned the corner this morning, I was resigned to her beingoka= y, I'd stay inside and wait for a call from somebody. I'd pay anyfines sh= e incurs, pick up any garbage she rummages into and hope for thebest. = I'll just leave her alone and she'll come home, wagging her tailbehind he= r. (I couldn't resist.)

And, there she is. She's pacing and panting like a marathonrunner = at the finish line, not exactly wagging her tail, but I dobelieve I was wa= gging mine.

Copyright 2006 Joe Shea The American Reporter. All Rights Reserved.

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