I couldn’t remember what I was saying. I turned to the screen, but there weren’t any words.
bark, bark, bark-bark, bark
I thought I’d had bullet points on this slide. Did I bring the wrong slides?
I turned back to the group, I’d lost their attention. Some were staring at their phones. One guy actually had his head down on his desk.
“HEY,” I yelled at him.
The ones still turned to me had blank looks on their faces. No …they actually had blank faces. As in: no features at all. Just smooth surfaces where their eyes, noses and mouths used to be.
This was going to be one of my worst presentations, ever.
bark, bark BARK-bark.
Who brought the damn dog?
bark, bark, bark ….bark.
I opened my eyes. The light was grey. I could see the outline of the door and the bedpost. Almost morning. Maybe not. I looked at the clock.
bark, bark-bark, bark
Yes, someone was going to get a calling out on the neighborhood list serve. Had that dog been barking all night?
I turned off the as-yet-untripped alarm and got up. We’d left the windows in the front of the house open and the living room was cold. I turned on the coffee and sat next to my computer.
bark, bark, bark
Well, crap, that wasn’t in someone’s back yard. That was out in the street, some little dog bellowing for who knows how long to be let in. Poor thing.
I went out, sans slippers. He was standing in front of our driveway and he heard my door. He let out a steady stream of barks at me, jumping on all fours with every exclamation, then turned and ran away, down the middle of the road and into a neighbor’s yard. Continuous barks. I followed. Bare feet. Self-appointed neighborhood dog vigilante.
I spoke to him in about the nicest tone I could muster for that time of day.
“This is stupid. You can’t just go barking down the street at gawdaful-thirty in the morning. Where are your people?”
The dog came out from behind a parked car and barked again, then stopped and regarded me. I squatted and held out my hand, eliciting another string of barks.
He didn’t back away.
“Stop it. That’s rude,” I said, still holding out my hand. “Come here. Come here now.” I wasn’t going to plead with him, or use a happy, little, sing-songey voice. I don’t own a sing songey voice, and can’t even pretend to be happy until at least eight.
The dog stopped barking and took a step toward me. Then another. Some sort of terrier. Big as a shoebox with legs. Cute. But I was going to have words with someone about this. Five-in-the-morning kind of words.
The dog regarded me from about four feet away, gave a little sniff, like whatever, lady, and came forward to let me pet him with one and then both hands. He had a tag I couldn’t read in the early light, so I picked him up and took him home. He didn’t shake or squirm. His legs and belly were wet from his romp through newly watered lawns. I took him into the house and offered him a snack, which he ignored.
His tag had a phone number and the address three houses down. The house where I’d plucked him off the driveway. I called. Then walked him back down to meet a burley bald guy coming out of his house,
“Come here Kobe,” he said. Like the steak. I put Kobe down and turned to go back.
“Kobe. Kobe come here,” the guy said. I looked down. Kobe, had heeled at my left side. He looked up when I stopped. I picked him up again and this time put him in the burley guy’s arms.
“Just got him.”
“Bye Kobe,” I said.
Mike was up when I came home to tell him about the neighbor’s new dog. He hadn’t heard the barking. A train could carve a path right through our house and Mike would sleep like the dead. When we lived in a sketchier neighborhood, I’d go to bed with a golf club propped against my nightstand.
I was just finishing up my story about the dog and our burley neighbor when the barking started again.
I looked out in time to see Kobe’s cinnamon-colored tuckus scamper up our driveway and onto our front porch.
… Which is the story of how I don’t have a blog ready for you today.
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Photo by: Stephen Parker