“Did Noah l-e-a-v-e before w-a-l-k-i-n-g [the Big Red Dog]?” I said.
“P-r-o-b-a-b-l-y,” she replied. Haha!
Remember when we used to spell stuff out so our kids wouldn’t pick up on it? These days I do it with the Big Red Dog in mind. I’m pretty sure Jake knows how to spell “walk,” though, as he promptly stood at attention, panting in anticipation.
But we were heading out, too — so to save time we decided we’d take a quick drive to the park, let him off his leash, and let him run around and explore for a bit before letting him nap at home while we ran our errands. Except the park wasn’t empty. It was full. Of Little Leaguers and their parents. Oh, happy day.
He may be an older dog at nearly 10, but Jake’s not exactly well-trained. (I seem to recall confessing this in an old column.) Still, at least he’s gotten over jumping on people. These days he merely sidles up and licks (kisses) them before sniffing out something more interesting. But we wouldn’t be anywhere near the game in progress. We’d let him off-leash by the walking path several yards away and do our own thing, right? I’ll try anything once. He’s a good dog. How bad could it be?
Holly wasn’t game. I promised her two ice cream cones if I was wrong. Oh, I was wrong, all right.
“Mom,” she said, as I reached for Jake’s leash. Panting with excitement, he jumped down from the back seat.
“Two,” I said. “No worries.” I led him to the grass and let him off the leash. Holly groaned. Jake walked further away from the game in progress, sniffed a post, left his mark and shifted his gaze back to the ball field. He trotted toward it. Gah.
“Two cones!” she reminded me as she hung back, wanting no part in my shenanigans.
“Treat!” I called, as I headed after him. Liar, I thought. My pockets were empty. “Treat!” I called again. No dice. No dummy, that dog.
Me, though, sometimes I wonder.
For one thing, some people aren’t keen on dogs. I get it. Little good my “getting it” did, though, because it didn’t stop Jake from greeting them all. He spotted an opening in the fence, made his move and took off like a shot across the infield, his yellow handkerchief dangling around his neck as he ran. Several people laughed and a few even clapped as some guy yelled, “Whose dog?”
I shook with nervous laughter and approached the field. It was surreal. I nearly laugh-cried as I did my walk of shame toward the baseline. Clutching my chest I waved a weak, “I’m sorry!” and sort of jogged after my goofy dog (good thing I figured out how to “tie” my new sneakers) as he sidled up to a couple of boys before zig-zagging back toward first base. He overshot it.
Finally, he was intercepted by a slightly older boy who gripped him by the collar until I could catch up. What an awesome kid! And what a stupid dog-mom. I’m lucky no one got hurt. Fortunately, these Little Leaguers were on the little side, so no fast balls or wild swings were in the mix. Holly couldn’t help but laugh in spite of herself, but hoped Jake didn’t interrupt someone’s big play. Yeah, we were the “Bad News Bears.”
“What’s he doing?” I said a few minutes later, after she put him back in the house and we headed out on our errands.
“He’s taking an ice bath,” she said. “That’s what athletes do after a game.” Huh. OK. Ice bath for him, ice cream for us. All’s well that ends well.
Jennifer DuBose lives in Batavia with her family. Her column runs regularly in the Kane Weekend section of the Kane County Chronicle. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org.