That’s My Dog

So… Lucy took off out the front door last night.

Somehow she managed to slip a martingale collar AND the cone of shame at the same time and run out the front door and take off down the street. I was not a witness to this, I just heard my daughter shout, “HELP!”

I dropped the present I was tying up with a pretty bow and took off out the door. Lucy is an escape artist. She is the queen of prestidigitation. She is the master of magic. I knew darned well why I was running out that door. I immediately got angry. Usually when Lucy takes off, it’s because my daughter has explicitly ignored my instructions. Leash goes on the ring without tags. The E collar comes off when she’s taken outside because it makes it easier for her to escape. Take her out in the back yard where there’s a freaking fence. The only reason we’re taking her out on lead right now at all is because she’s got stitches in her leg and she likes to run through one of the prickly bushes out back, which I just know is going to cause a disaster the minute she gets in there.

So… I’m cursing and grouching as I run out the door. I am never quiet about this when I do it. I KNOW that my dear husband and son heard me grousing. But… they did not move, they assumed, and are usually right to do so, that I had things under control.

When I got outside, there was Lucy in my bushes, doing her thing. She looked at me and wagged when she finished peeing. I smiled and squatted down on the ground to make myself look less intimidating and I said, “Come here pretty girl! Come gimme a kiss!”. In my defense, this usually works. Lucy is always so happy to see me that, if I call her like this in the back yard, she comes running no matter what she’s found to fill her nose with. But… Lucy is not a dumb dog, not by a long shot.

She knew what I knew.

There was no fence here.

We stared at each other and I knew that she was going to bolt before she ever made a move. I knew there was nothing that I could do about it, except try to chase her down and I knew that I was woefully out of shape and that I was the LAST person in my house that should be chasing down a Labrador Retriever, even an old one. But I also knew no one else was going to be able to catch her. I had a brief moment of panic because I realized she had no collar, no tags. Just her chip, and I knew no one would bother to check her chip before she landed in a shelter and that’s the LAST place you want a dog to go that’s gone through chemotherapy. I pushed the panic aside in my mind and took a few deep breaths. This was going to suck and I knew it, but I believed that I could catch her and I kept trying to call her to me.

Lucy made the first move. It started with a wiggle of the tip of her tail. I saw her crouch just a touch so she could spring into step and I moved to run as I saw her start to bolt. Then she took off down the sidewalk so darned fast that I was pretty sure someone had attached a rocket to her butt.

That tramadol must be working really, really good.

I have known for a while that Lucy could move. I’ve seen glimpses of her speed. She’s gotten away from me a couple of times, but that was before she’d been through radiation and chemo. Since we’ve been through all of that, I was pretty darned sure that her days of taking off and running around to heck and gone were over.

Oh how wrong I was.

Lucy ran down the sidewalk into the cul-de-sac. I followed her as fast as my feet would carry me, grateful I was wearing my sneakers. She stopped briefly in my neighbor’s yard to do her business on their grass. I felt bad for about half a second, then realized that it was the neighbors that have the son that has been harrassing my daughter since third grade and I promptly stopped feeling bad. Then Lucy ran through their yard, into the yard of the next house and behind a trailer attached to an F350 parked in the driveway and then she went to the edge of the cul-de-sac. She was running so fast, I got scared because at the end of the cul-de-sac is a good 30 foot drop off into a ravine. If Lucy wasn’t paying attention, she was going to get seriously hurt. As she bolted toward it, I shouted “LUCY! NO!”.

She turned and followed the cul-de-sac’s curb. She was going to be safe. That was good. I followed her for two more houses before she started cutting through someone’s back yard up a hill that I knew I was not going to be able to climb. See, there’s one more thing about my physical condition in play here.

I have asthma.

I have not had an asthma attack since I had pneumonia in 1998. I had started wheezing when we got into the cul-de-sac.

I was struggling to breathe when I finally stopped and watched Lucy run up the hill. My daughter caught up to me and handed me Lucy’s collar. This is when I did a stupid thing.

I told my daughter to run home, tell her dad to get my cell phone, call Jodi and see if she or her BF were home to help us out and have him get in the car, then I ran back up to the sidewalk to see if Lucy was going to come through the bushes on the otherside. I should not have run back to that sidewalk. My heart felt like it was going to explode. I could not catch enough air. I was feeling really, really bad.

That’s when Lucy broke through the bushes. She stopped on the sidewalk and looked at me. I coughed a couple times, then I said, “Hi Lucy! Come get mommy!”

I was so relieved when she came running to me that I felt like falling on the sidewalk and snuggling with her until reinforcements arrived.

I got home just as my husband was putting up the garage door to back his car out. He looked at me and said, “You got her!”

I looked at him and glared and wheezed and coughed and Lucy and I went inside.

When I came in, I was so sick that my husband asked me where my inhaler was. I wanted to laugh and say, “Inhaler? The one that expired in 2001 that I never bothered to have refilled because I thought it wasn’t a problem?” Instead, I coughed a lot and I hurt a lot and I went to the bathroom while feeling like I was going to get violently ill at the same time. I had my first asthma attack in over a decade. Thankfully it wasn’t bad, I knew it would pass. It also means I need to get my butt back in shape and get a new inhaler.

When I recovered enough, hubby said, “I’m calling the doctor in the morning.”

I said, “Okay. Where’s Lucy?” He pointed and I looked.

When I said her name, Lucy tucked her tail and pinned her ears back. She thought I was going to yell at her or beat her. I still hate that this is her reaction. I called her to me and she came, tail still tucked between her legs.

I know I surprised her when I pulled her against my chest and hugged her and kissed the top of her head like a million times. I’ve never heard her wag her tail so hard. I thought she was going to be lost forever, or get sent to the shelter and get sick. Instead… my baby girl came home.

She just had to show me that even though she’s a “senior” and a “cancer patient”, those things are nothing but labels.

She’s got a cooler label. A way more awesome label.

She’s my dog.