Harriet has been acting up lately. I wish I knew what triggers these rough patches. She turned one year old two weeks ago and I felt that she had finally become a dog, a well-mannered dog, an adult I could trust. She had been so good for so long, I was telling everyone we had finally cleared the last hurdle and were home free. She’s a great little dog with the colors of a wooly bear and an adorable face, which is very much to her advantage. But then one night last week, she completely breeched her housetraining, hopped off the bed in the middle of the night, relieved herself and then hopped back onto the bed and went back to sleep! In the morning, I spent half an hour on my knees, scrubbing the carpet. I was less than pleased. The feelings lingered so that when I went down to the post office, I ran into a friend who asked me, completely innocently, “How’s that little Harriet?”
“We’re getting a divorce!” I said, half facetiously.
“What?” She seemed shocked.
“Well, at least, we are going into counseling,” I continued while sorting through my mail.
“What happened?” she asked, looking distressed.
“Oh,” I said, “She’s just bad. I think she was born bad!” And I left the post office, in a hurry, still not completely free of my bad mood from Harriet’s midnight transgression.
Harriet and Mayday were in the car, Mayday in her beloved backseat, Harriet riding shotgun in front. They enjoy our excursions to town, a change of scenery. They ride as if every inch of our journey needs their scrutiny, every pedestrian or leashed dog their barking alert. But we only had to get the mail that day so we headed home. Coming into the house, I could hear the phone ringing. When I picked it up, a woman from town whom I don’t know very well said, “I understand you have a dog you want to divorce. I just lost my dog and I’m interested.”
Oh dear, it’s sometimes hard for me to remember that not everyone understands my weird sense of humor. Or maybe it wasn’t even the case. I wasn’t even sure. Maybe for a split second I was ready to give her up! In addition, my mind registered the speed with which the news had passed through town. Like lightning.
“No, no,” I said, “I was just joking, I wouldn’t think of letting go of my Harriet!” I asked her what happened to her dog and she told me she is pretty sure a coyote ate it. My heart lurched. What a horror! I felt like I should give her my dog to make her feel better. I have often thought of that very possibility, as coyotes roam around here all the time, sometimes howling so loudly I think they are close enough to touch. I can’t imagine what it would be like to realize my beloved, naughty or not, was inside another animal’s stomach. I expressed my sympathies, as best I could, but told her, no, Harriet’s going to stay awhile longer, hopefully she’ll be turning over a new leaf. When I got off the phone, I went over and sat next to Harriet, who was sitting on the couch near Mayday. I put my arm around her. She looked at me as I told the story, that little dogs who misbehave do so at great risk, that there are coyotes on the loose, looking for tasty snacks and that there are also bereaved owners, anxious to take on dogs who aren’t working out in other homes and when I was finished, she rested her chin on my knee and sighed.