I open my bedroom door to find two dogs prancing. They run to the front door as I retrieve Shakes’ halter. He waits patiently as I snap it on. Sedge’s halter jingles as he nervously circles. I snap halters on a leash with dual leads and open the door. They leap forward but come to a halt with noses pressed against the porch screen door. I say, “No,” when Sedge pushes a sharp-clawed paw against the mesh. I retrieve a plastic bag and poop scoop from the far end of the porch, tighten my grip, and release the hounds.
Sedge drags us into the yard. They visit plants and bushes to mark territory. Sedge, the taller of the two, pees on Shakes’ head when the two simultaneously water the same spot.
A tug of war commences on the way down the driveway. Shakes weighs more and throws his weight to the left. We eventually go left after Sedge is begrudgingly allowed a quick whizz on the mailbox post.
Yards needing a pick up and a mow dot Chilean Drive. I let the two sniff longer on untamed stretches than on manicured lots. Some particular home owners take offence when dogs squat and drop, even when I pick up the mess.
Turn them toward home after Shakes makes a deposit. I let Sedge linger at an unrented rental house on the way back. A woman steps into the street behind us and says, “Aren’t you gonna let me meet your cute little doggies?”
“Sure,” I say. As we head toward her, Sedge begins to lunge, bare his teeth, growl. He’s afraid of strangers. Shakes wags his tail happily and jumps up for a head scratch after we arrive. Sedge tries to back away, but the woman persists. Even skittish dogs need her love.
Sedge strains so hard on his halter that he manages to escape. He looks surprised to find himself naked and unattached. I step away from the woman (Jamie) and say, “Sedge. Come here.” He slinks up to us. I grab him while pressing my foot down on the leash to keep hold of Shakes.
Jamie insists on putting the halter back on Sedge. I can tell that she’s had a few after she tangles front legs in the straps. I unsnap him and say, “Let me do it. It has to be done in a specific way.” Jamie says, “I want to help. I’m good at this.” She fumbles further while Sedge squirms. He nearly gets away. I grab him and say, “Please, lady. Let me do it.” She surrenders the halter. Sedge keeps shifting as I try to wrap the straps around his midsection. I finally reattach dog to leash. I let out a long sigh.
Jamie apologizes. “I was only trying to help. I thought that he needed some loving.”
“That’s okay,” I say.
It’s been a long day. I long to return home to finish my work. But Jamie needs to talk. And talk. I have to see x-rays of her neck. She’s worried about an upcoming surgery. She’ll go get her cell phone from her carport. My tone delivers the message when I tell her, “It has to be quick. I’ve got to go home.” She solemnly says, “It was meant for us to meet,” gives me a hug, and releases us.
The next morning, I take them up another street. We’re accosted by a yip yap, an improbable cross between a chihuahua and a bulldog. His master calls him off as my two snap and nearly pull my arm out its socket. A man with a Boston terrier disturbs us as we head into a drainage area. Shakes and Sedge lunge toward them, but I drag my charges away.
My nerves jangle after we return. Close encounters with belligerent dogs bother me. But I take comfort in the fact that we didn’t run into Jamie.