“She’s gone!” I sobbed, as I stared at the open gate in my backyard. Mentally reviewing my steps that morning, I tried to think back to the gate. Had I looked to see if it was shut properly? I was in a rush that morning as I let Sophie, my auburn-haired puggle, into the backyard for some exercise. Now looking around at Far Hills Avenue, the only busy street in my neighborhood, which happened to sit adjacent to my house, I could only fear the worst.
Dayton, Ohio is not a busy town, and the quiet neighborhood of Oakwood where I lived is home to some of the friendliest people I know. Strangers greet each other on the street and neighbors help each other out without being asked. If a puppy were to run away, the chances of it being returned by a kindly neighbor were high in this town. However, I had already experienced canine loss on the quiet streets on Oakwood, and looking at a picture of my brown-eyed puggle, I wasn’t prepared to go through that again.
Three years ago, my parents bought Olive, a beautiful beagle puppy. She was energetic, feisty and always kept things interesting. However, as she grew older, her naughty puppy antics grew less and less entertaining. She would jump on the dinner table and take a bite of the turkey my mother had just pulled from the oven, or we would catch her licking the dishes as we unloaded them from the dishwasher. She also had an ongoing battle with our backyard gate. We would constantly catch Olive taking running leaps toward the fence, trying to leap to freedom. We assumed it was her beagle instincts kicking in, but since we also assumed she wasn’t big enough to clear the fence, we never took it too seriously. Until one day, we found the backyard empty and ran out into the street to see Olive lying limp on the ground. An oncoming car had hit her as she dashed into the street. The driver ran out of the car and tried to help, but it was too late. Olive was gone.
I raced down the street, determined to find my furry best friend. My stomach was churning as I thought about my carelessness in leaving the gate open. How could I have done this? If she gets hurt because of me, I will never forgive myself, I thought as I raced past the local school, making a giant circle around my neighborhood. After twenty minutes of calling out Sophie’s name, asking strangers on the street if they had seen her, and shaking a giant box of treats in my hand, I decided to head home. Tears welled up in my eyes as I opened my front door and looked around at the quiet house.
Suddenly the phone rang. “Hello”? “Is this the Novick residence?” A friendly voice asked from the other end. “I have your puppy Sophie here. She wandered down my street and I called the number on her collar.” With tears of relief in my eyes, I thanked the woman profusely, took down her address and jumped into my car.
Looking at the address hastily scribbled on a spare piece of paper, I was shocked. Sophie had managed to run over 2 miles from my house. I arrived at the address, a small, brick ranch house on a quiet and peaceful looking street and ran inside to collect Sophie. “Thank you so much,” was all I could stammer out to the woman. “Of course!” she answered. “We all have to help each other out around here.” She led me outside to her backyard and there, lying in a patch of sun, all worn out from her afternoon run, lay Sophie.
My heart in my throat, I ran towards her and scooped up her warm little body in my arms. I breathed in her scent and stood there for a minute, emotion coursing through me. As I walked back to my car with my puppy clasped firmly in my arms, I sent up a grateful prayer for the small kindnesses of strangers.
*Note to readers: This piece may seem a bit out of place on a travel blog, and I just wanted to explain why I posted it. This is a submission for one of my assignments for my writing course with Matador U, based on a story from our hometown and I just wanted to share with all of you. Besides, how cute is that puppy?!? I hope you enjoy!
- Backyards and Boundaries (meakinsspeak.wordpress.com)