Sometimes I wish the only animals we had in this house were the stuffed kind.
I love our dog. But she is the biggest pain in the ass ever. She is ass agony. She send asses screaming in all directions, tearing their hair out and pleading for God. Anyway. Mina. Three days ago we brought her down to the park with us, as is our wont. Now, this is far from a simple operation, in Mina’s case. She is dog-aggressive. Massively. She attacks anything with four legs and a wagging tail. The cuter the dog, the more savage the attack. Chihuahuas are crack to her. Yorkies, crystal meth. But she’s equal opportunity. She’ll go after pretty much anything. So wherever we go we keep her on a leash. We also use a Halti, because Mina pulls like crazy. She pulls like the Little Engine That Could. She’s like a stretching machine from the Tudor period. Thomas Cromwell would’ve eaten his heart out. If she didn’t pull it through his chest cavity first.
You’re going to say “why haven’t you trained her?” We have. This is her trained. “Then she needs more advanced training,” you’ll say. It’s true. Do you want to pay for it? “Tch tch,” you’ll chide. “Then you should leave her home.” And you’re right. I tell myself all the time. But I can’t bring myself to do it. She’s a really sweet dog. A rescue. An otherwise wonderful family pet. She loves to run, to leap, to chase tennis balls — how can you pen that up in a two-bedroom house all of the time?
So we go to the park. But I am very vigilant. My routine is: I bring Mina and MJ in, drop the latter at the sandbox, and tow Mina to a tree in a far-off corner, away from everything and everyone. I tie her there securely. The tree is a small sapling — perhaps an oak. To us it is known simply as “the Mina Tree.” There our little miscreant spends long afternoons, head on paws, tail in the leaves, while other dogs — gangly shepherd doodles, boisterous bulldogs, audacious Aussie Shepherds, cavort and race on the wide, green field across the way. MJ plays in the sandbox, hangs on the swings, climbs on the structures. All the while we hope that at some point the park will empty of dogs. If it does, we can let Mina off the leash. For a few moments she can tear about in circles, take a crap in the ivy, roll in the grass. It doesn’t always happen, but when it does she’s overjoyed. And so are we.
This particular day, though, there is no chance. The place is a regular dogpark. Two hours go by. Finally, MJ and I are ready to go. I get the stroller, put away the sand toys, find MJ’s shoes. Last of all, I go and fetch Mina off of her tree. She is hyped up, jumping about. I tell her to calm down. I say: “not this time.” I say: “relax!” I snap her leash on. We head for the gate.
As we do, a woman comes in with two large, black dogs. She lets them off of their leashes. They see Mina. They approach.
I try to wave them away. “Uh, could you get them back, please? Dog aggressive, here –”
The woman smiles blithely at me and does nothing. The dogs continue to circle.
Mina growls. One growls back.
Suddenly both dogs attack Mina. Bedlam ensues. I am yelling, MJ is screaming, dogs are snarling, people are trying to intervene. It seems to go on forever. The owner, clearly an idiot, does nothing. By the time someone finally gets her dogs off of Mina they both have bloody mouths. Mina, however, seems unharmed. It’s kind of a miracle, considering what’s just happened.
Choosing not to berate the woman for her egregious stupidity, I take my charges and head out of the park. People call after us: “are you OK?” I wave a yes behind my head. I am too thrown to turn around. Honestly, I am quite shaken up. We all are. But everyone is fine. I thank God that Mina was on her leash, and MJ safe in her stroller. Thank God, thank God.
The next day, when park time rolls around, I decide to leave Mina home. I need an afternoon”off leash.” MJ and I pack up the stroller, put on our shoes, and head out the door. I feel light, unburdened. It’s great! Mina, unaccustomed to being left behind, doesn’t seem so happy about it. In fact, she seems shocked. Dismayed. She caterwauls and barks. As we cross the street in our sunhatted caravan, I hear her at the window, whining and scratching the glass.
“Lie down!” I yell, across the tarmac. “You’re going to stay.” There is silence from the house. Finally. Jesus. I am tired.
We head down the hill.
Half an hour later we are ensconced in the sand, making a forest out of twigs, when Mina, uncollared and unleashed, arrives at the park. Her tail weaving merrily, she stands at the fence grinning, looking every bit the innocent. “Ta-da!” she seems to chortle. “You forgot me, but I made it! Aren’t you glad?”
I am not. I do not know how she’s gotten out. My only guess is that she has succeeded in opening one of the iron gates — front door or back. This has happened before. I curse myself for not remembering to close the actual doors. Mina is a regular Houdini. She escaped from a locked crate when she was a puppy. I know this. I should’ve taken greater precautions.
Profoundly annoyed, I pack our things. We cannot stay here with Mina unrestrained. Not to mention that our door is now open. Using the strap of my diaper bag as a dubious leash, I push MJ’s stroller back up the hill with one hand, dragging Mina by her extremely short tether with the other. It is awkward, hot, and extremely difficult. I curse to myself the whole way. And I pray that no one has broken in to our home.
We arrive. I regard the house from the driveway. Strange. The gates are not open. This is good, but it raises an obvious question. How the hell did Mina get out?
The answer becomes clear as we enter the living room. She has broken a front window. One of the louvred type. She has pulled out one glass pane, pushed another through to smash on the ground below, and forced the screen out. Then she has jumped. But first she has chewed an ugly hole in the wood of the window sill. That last part was just for revenge , it seems.
So, our window is broken. Screen askew. Windowsill wrecked. I cannot bring Mina to the park, I cannot leave her home. This is why a person should have cats. Except that my neighbor’s cat is busy killing all of the birds in our front yard. But that’s a story for another time. For now? I hear geckos make nice pets.