Good Dog, Gracie!

It’s the day before you have to leave for the Mendocino Coast Writers Conference. Office is a mess of papers, books, and clothes. You’re on the phone to your host, DR, who’s giving you directions: “Turn on Little Lake Street; make sure you’re heading towards the coast; a little white house; right across the street from the Mendocino . . . ”

Gracie starts yelping and whining. You opine that the li’l crit must sense your imminent departure. But whining reaches fever pitch and it’s driving you bananas. “OOOFFFF!” you yell, the minute you get off the phone. But– hold on! You recall that the last time Gracie set up this much fuss, you followed her to the backyard and saw her proudly prancing around a mouse carcass bitten in two, minus the head.

This time, you go to the living room and — wherefrom that drift of wind, wafting invitingly across your cheeks? When living room’s windows are all shut tight, per hubby’s explicit instructions? But — NOOOO! Front door is invitingly open. And you are at first stunned and then deeply chagrined, because you know for a fact that Bella, the other beagle, has walked right through that inviting space, and is now lost to yourself and hubby, forevermore. Worse, you know that you will now have to forego packing, planning, resting etc etc in favor of calling the neighbors, walking up and down the streets yelling Bella’s name (much good that’ll do, since the li’l crit long ago became stone deaf) and driving to all the nearby pounds.

But Gracie, who sometimes drives you crazy (like this morning, when she set up whimpering at 6 a.m., when you felt as though you had just fallen asleep like, maybe, forty winks before), is leaping around like a crazy animal, and though you, standing there in stunned befuddlement, take many unforgivably long moments to be roused to your senses, you finally get the idea and fasten Gracie’s leash and, quicker than you can say “Peter Piper picked a pot of pickled pepper,” she’s pulling you out the door, pulling, pulling, pulling. She stops once or twice, distracted by a bird, a stray cat. But after a few moments she pulls forward again, and always in the same direction. Then she stops dead.

You look up the street. You look down the street. You yell at the top of your lungs (anguished yells, ala Marlon Brando in “A Streetcar Named Desire”) “Bellaaaaa!” And then, suddenly, you see Bella. In a neighbor’s front garden, behind a gate. No neighbor in sight, so who knows how Bella was able to walk in. You push the gate latch, and it swings open without resistance. And that pesky Bella is more interested in smelling the flowers than coming to you, and you have to go chasing her with the leash, and let me just tell you, dear blog reader, that it is quite a job to leash a dog who is trying like might and main to get away, while the other one is prancing about like a dervish. But finally you manage to get the leashes on and straightened out (Still no neighbor– thank God!) and you walk both dogs home.

Now, quite exhausted, you need to take a few moments to collect your thoughts. Stay tuned, dear blog readers, stay tuned.

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