Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Going down Memory Lane

I’m not a typical holiday person. I believe that the feelings of peace on earth and goodwill toward men (and women) have become overshadowed by the fuss of hosting dinner parties and shopping. Totally stressed, we push any charitable act to the bottom of our To-do lists. Especially when it involves a task normally avoided.

Two years ago, by chance, I had to be the person who saw the dog. The yellow Labrador retriever slunk across the street when my brother’s wife was leaving the house to visit her parents. I, on the other hand, was making my own visitations to the bathroom because of a nasty stomach virus. So I had stayed behind when I spotted the wayward animal.

I released a sigh and closed the front door. Then I walked to the bedroom, sat on the covers, and debated.

Should I take the retriever to his home?

It would not be the first time that he has escaped. Also, the dog owner did not like me. Since I could admit that she wasn’t my favorite person, I had no incentive to take my sick body outside to return the dog. Yet my nagging conscience prodded me from the bed.

Despite my personal feelings, I knew I had to do this. I couldn’t live with the guilt if something terrible happened to the Labrador. Besides, no family should search for their missing pet on a holiday.

So I put on my shoes and hurried outside. The retriever had a good lead, but his undeniable yearning to sniff at everything slowed him down. When the perusing dog noticed my approach, he slicked both ears back. Collarless, he stared at me with two wary eyes.

Fear gripped my body.

Understand that I do like dogs. Yet, when I was a kid, a large one had bit me all because an absent-minded neighbor hadn’t kept his pet secured on his property. Since that day, I get nervous when around any big dog.

Alone with the Labrador, I steadied my nerves and pointed at the alley’s entrance. Then I commanded, "Go Home!"

The retriever twirled on furry paws. Dutifully, he trotted back to his yard and darted through the open fence gate. However, I found that the gate would not latch, which meant only one thing.

I had to take the dog directly to his owner.

As my belly issued an alarming gurgle, I ushered the retriever toward the house. I knocked on the door until a figure appeared.

"Yes?" the woman asked curtly.

"Your dog got out," I informed her. "You need to fix the gate."

The woman said nothing as she continued to stare at me. Instead, from the room’s shadows, a voice that belonged to the woman’s mother spoke up to thank me. Then the hidden voice called the Labrador by one name, the dog owner shouted a different name, and the retriever ignored both as he scurried toward the open fence.

While my stomach did somersaults, I rushed away to use the bathroom.

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