Friday, April 20, 2012

*Fast Dogs* Part III

"Are you praying for them to come home, Daddy?" Middle Child asked my husband at dinner that night. He glared at her. She twisted in her chair to face me.
            "Are you praying for the dogs to come back, Mommy?"
            I didn't look up from my pork chop. "Sort of."
            All three kids gawked at me. "Sort of?”  
            “What kind of answer is 'sort of''?" Middle Child said.
            I took my time answering. "You know how God knows everything?"
            The kids nodded.
            "Well, I reckon he knows part of me is worn out. Worn down. Doesn't necessarily wanna keep doing this forever. If I pray for them to come back, it's kinda like a lie, so why bother?"
            Middle Child's eyes were shiny, her voice all quivery. "You really don't want 'em to come back?"
            A tear dropped off one of her tarantula leg eyelashes.
            "How can you say that? What if they get hit by a car? What if they get picked up by some weirdo, freaky animal testing lab that wants to try out hair dye on 'em?"
            I huffed. "Oh, the drama of it all! I'm just being honest here! You know what I'd like? I'd love for them to be found by someone with a big ole farm where they could run all day, every day. That's what I'm thinking . . . Hoping."
            Middle Child Drama Girl slapped the table with both hands. We all jumped.
            "I've got it!" she said. She stabbed her chest with her pointer finger. "I'm going to fast!"
            My mouth fell open. My husband's too. Drama Girl nodded, her eyes wide.         

            "Fasting is what people did in the Bible when they really wanted to get God's attention, so that's what I'm gonna do."
            My husband's fork clanked as it hit the glass table top. He picked it up and pointed at her with it. 
             "You, little missy, are too young and small to fast. Who knows how long they'll be gone? What if they never come back? You could starve."
            Drama Girl crossed her arms and blew air out her nose. "I'm not going to fast eating, Daddy," she said. "I'm going to fast TV. I'm not going to watch another show until the dogs come back. So there."
            That night she stayed in her room reading while the rest of us watched High School Musical on the Disney channel.
            I lay in bed that night, squinting at the ceiling. "God, you know my heart. You know I'm so tired of those long-legged, Beagle howling, slut puppies and their gosh darn running away. You are fully aware I'd only be a little sad if I never saw them again."
            I sighed before I went on. "But the kids, God . . . The kids want them to come home. For their sake, could you please bring the doggies back? Please? Amen."

After school the next day, the kids and all their neighborhood buddies combed the nearby streets and yards. They returned after an hour.
            "Any luck?" I said, as I arranged a bowl of pretzels and cups of lemonade on the kitchen table.
            They all shook their heads and looked at their laps.
            A little while later, the kids were donning their jackets to leave when one of the oldest kids peeked out the kitchen door window.
            "Hey! Hey, you guys! Little Paint's home! She's on your back porch.”
            I cracked the back door and there she was, what was left of her anyway. The once stout and strong brown dog seemed to have lost at least fifteen pounds. Her fur looked like someone had blown their nose in it. She was panting, her tongue hanging out like a strip of raw bacon. Her tail wagging made her body sway side to side.
            When I opened the screen door, she stumbled in.  As soon as she plopped down on her blanket, she was covered with almost a dozen kids—a dog pile, for real.
            "Careful," I said, wrinkling my nose. "She may have rolled in cow poo."
            They didn't care. They petted and kissed and stroked every inch of her.
            I phoned my husband at work. "You're never gonna guess what just happened."
.           "They didn't."
            "Little Paint did."
            "No way."
            "Way," I said. "Guess Drama Girl's fasting got God's attention after all."
            "Guess so," my husband said. "Wonder what happened to Daisy May?"

The next morning, I discovered Daisy on the back porch. Curled in a tight ball, nose under her tail. I drummed my fingers on the window. She looked up and blinked a couple times. Her tail started thumping. Slow at first, then faster.
            When I opened the door, she stepped in gingerly. "Did the pavement shred your paw pads?" I asked, only a little bit mean.
            I leaned over the baby gate that kept the dogs in the kitchen at night.
            "Kids!" I said, loud enough to reach the third floor. "The other prodigal pup has returned."
            The kids thundered down two flights of stairs, making the artwork on the walls tremble. They flopped on Daisy as they had sprawled on Little Paint the day before. Daisy didn't look quite as bad. I figured she was only five pounds lighter.
            Little Paint glared at the welcome home party from across the kitchen. Seemed she kind of liked being an only dog. A few minutes later though, she made her way to the blanket. She growled at Daisy for a bit before I gave her the evil eye and told her to hush.
            I poured a splash of my good olive oil into a small bowl and handed it to the kids. 

            "Rub this on their paw pads,” I said. I didn't miss the snide look little Miss Drama Girl gave me beneath her substantial lashes.
            Both dogs rolled onto their backs, their legs stiff in the air, as if to offer their paws for pampering.
            My son laid his head on Little Paint's ribcage like it was a pillow.
            "You were right, Mommy."
            "'Bout what, sweetie?"
             "They came back. Just like you said they would."
             "Yep," I said. "They always do. They're like cats, these two. They seem to have nine lives. I'm just worried one of these days their lives are gonna run out."



Tony said...

Those two crazy dogs!!!!
There's a life time of memories for you for sure!!!

Anonymous said...

Glad they returned! We used to have 2 gordon setters growing up and lots of fields around our house. They would be gone for hours, sometimes 24 hours, and come back covered in burs and matted hair. Sometimes we could get calls from people miles away saying they had our dog, could we come pick it up. As a kid, I worried a lot but I think my mom would also have been a bit relieved if they didn't show up again.


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