“Ma’am…your dog’s out again.”
It was the same neighbor, same annoyed demeanor, same judgement, same clench in my gut reflecting my own frustration with Rosie.
“Fucking dog…” I muttered under my breath as I quickly located a leash and some kibble treats to bribe her back to our yard.
A perfectly pleasant backyard where our milder tempered canine can hang out all day, content as…well, a retriever in mud.
Why can’t Rosie be content?
Today I was further miffed because we had all been making more of an effort to take her out for walks and rather than appreciate it, she thanked us by breaking out AGAIN.
I quickly recognized that my human logic was not Rosie’s, and even though expecting gratitude from her was about as ridiculous as expecting an elegantly wrapped birthday gift from my lemon tree, I couldn’t help entertaining the idea that she actually grasped the fact that we were attempting to accommodate her wanderlust.
My mind went to all the hard places.
Our neighbors hate us.
We’re gonna get thrown out of the ‘hood.
She’s gonna get spooked, kill a cat, knock over someone too feeble to recover and boom, we get hauled in for manslaughter and our kids won’t have parents.
I hate my inlaws. They should be dealing with this instead of us. We have enough shit in our salad.
I hate Gil. He’s allowed his mom to think we love dealing with Rosie and her antics.
I hate life.
In case you haven’t noticed, I can spiral with the best of them.
I spent the next forty-five minutes trekking through the drizzly rain and humidity, akin to a hot jog in a ziplock bag, until I exhausted all reasonable places she might be exploring.
I took a seat on the front stoop, defeated, all because of this damn dog who causes more grief than we have room for these days.
I was also worried and only wanted to feel her wet nose on my arm and hear her musical bark letting me know her food was dwindling and that she could see the bottom of her dish.
My love/hate relationship with Rosie is going on six years now. As her temporary keepers, we were helping out with her care after my father-in-law died unexpectedly…and then, all of a sudden, without much discussion, she was our dog.
My father-in-law was drawn to Rosie because she was different, a bit wild with unconventional wolfish looks. He lived his life as a voice for the underdog. He adored her and defended her relentlessly when she tested everyone’s patience with her refusal to be tamed.
Rosie has never met a fence she can’t escape.
I relate to Rosie in more ways than I care to admit.
I hate feeling caged and need my freedom.
Like Rosie, I struggle a bit with neighborhood life.
I find myself rolling my eyes at the Homeowner Association rules, and if circumstances were different, Rosie and I would both be living with a broad radius from others.
Prior to our move a year ago, we didn’t have to keep Rosie fenced in. It was an option, but she quickly showed us that if we’d let her roam free, she’d come back happily.
She simply wanted to explore, without constraints.
I get that.
I also have no doubt that if Rosie were allowed to roam the neighborhood, she’d be its most upstanding canine citizen.
But just as I have to live amongst others, Rosie can’t gallivant as she pleases.
We dogs and humans have to compromise.
We have to make the best of less-than-ideal circumstances, and Rosie’s and mine could certainly be worse.
As I turned to go inside and passively wait for Rosie’s return, a black streak darted in my peripheral right.
I instinctively knew who it was.
I also know that standard tactics don’t work with Rosie.
She spotted me from the neighbor’s yard and stared me down. I used my best actor skills and glanced over nonchalantly, as if I hadn’t spent my entire morning searching for her.
“What’s up, Ro?”
I went inside and waited.
Less than ten minutes later I opened the front door to find her lounging on the porch. I casually invited her in — her choice, naturally.
Like so many, Rosie wants just enough freedom to feel that she can do as she pleases. As long as she’s granted that…she’s more than willing to abide by the rules.