The Runaway Dog



Valerie Byron

© Copyright 2022 by Valerie Byron    

Photo courtesy of the author.

Photo courtesy of the author.

Today started out pretty well for me. It's Sunday, December 23rd and for once I don't have to worry about preparing for Christmas. My daughter has offered to cook the meal in her new house, and my son, Nick, and his partner, Lee, will be joining us, as well as my husband, Bill. I didn't even bother putting up a tree this year. Didn't really seem worth the bother, especially since I had thrown away my artificial tree from last year in the trash by mistake. Of course, that's par for the course.

My daughter is the proud owner of two rescue dogs, and also a new house with three bedrooms, the perfect place for Nick, Lee and their three dogs to stay when they visit. My cats wouldn't stand for three frisky Shetland Sheepdogs in my house, so Vanessa has the perfect pad.

Anyway, there I was in my kitchen this morning, chopping vegetables and searing the meat and onions for the succulent stew I was planning to serve my kids later tonight, when the phone rang.

"Hi, Val, it’s Lee. Do you want me to come over?"

"Sure," I said. "What happening?"

"Nick's working today. He'll fly in this evening, and Vanessa doesn't feel well. I told her to sleep in, and I'll leave the dogs there and come over to see you."

"Great. Come on over."

I finished putting the stew together and put it in the oven to simmer. Before too long, Lee arrived at my door, and sat down to chat while I prepared some breakfast for the both of us.

Let me explain about Lee. My son, Nick, is gay, but you'd never know it. He's about five feet eight inches tall, with dark hair and eyes, and lashes any girl would die for. He just turned thirty-five last month, and has a great job with the airlines. He and Lee have been together for eight years, and they are as different as chalk from cheese.

Lee is twenty-eight, about six feet two inches tall, skinny, with short blond hair, blue-green eyes and a slightly hysterical manner. He sports several diamonds in his ears and while not flamboyant by any means, can cause strangers to stare in either admiration at his good looks, or disbelief at his attire of shorts and sleeveless tank top in the mid of winter.

Did I tell you they live in Las Vegas? I won't go into the state-hopping details the two of them have subjected the family to over the past year; needless to say, though they would prefer to live in Los Angeles, it is financially impossible right now, so they live in the desert, where Nick's airline is based.

The boys have three dogs and three cats, a veritable zoo. When they visit us in California, they often bring the dogs who are usually very well behaved, so I had no problem with entertaining the whole crew.

Anyway, back to the story. . .

After a quick breakfast, we chatted for awhile. Lee had driven down from Las Vegas two days before, bringing all three shelties with him in the car, leaving their three Siamese cats at home. The dogs are adorable – two males and one female, Pru – who is the love of Lee's life.

"I just love Pru," he said, finishing up his vodka and pineapple juice. "There's something about that dog – I can't tell you what it is – but we are so close. I would die without her."

I nodded. I know how animals can steal one's heart and I could tell that his only female dog was his favorite. He called her his “princess” and I knew that this dog was his baby, loved so very much.

Before we left to do some shopping, Vanessa called.

"Hi Lee. I've decided to take the dogs to the dog park," she announced.

"Don’t take Pru," Lee told her. "She's in heat right now, and I've had to put a diaper on her to stop Kip from getting busy with her."

Kip and Vinny are their two male dogs and poor Pru has given birth twice in the two years of her short life. Plans have been made to neuter Kip next week, but in the meantime, he has been very interested in Pru.

"Okay," said Vanessa, "I'll take the other four dogs and leave Pru in the house."

Lee and I visited a few stores and then came back to my house to pick up some Christmas decorations for Vanessa's tree. We decided to take separate cars back to her house.

I took the lead, and arrived within ten minutes at her house, not realizing that Lee had stopped on the way for a bite to eat. Yes, I know, we had just had breakfast! I opened my car and dragged out the box of Christmas baubles and staggered with it to the front porch. Setting the box and my handbag on the step, I proceeded to open my daughter’s front door with my key.

No sooner had the door opened, but Pru flew out of the house, down the driveway, and around the corner. I screamed for her to stop, to come back, but she ran down the street as if she had wings. If you have ever seen Shelties run, they are faster than lightning.

Without closing Vanessa's door, and leaving my handbag there on the step, I took off after the wayward dog. I followed her down the sidewalk, my heart in my mouth as she ran into the street, without looking for oncoming traffic. She turned another corner and ran past the high school. Wearing only thin sandals, I could not run fast, and I watched as she ran ahead of me, her purple diapered behind fast disappearing out of view.

I didn't know what to do. Should I go back and get my car? Should I keep running? Tears burned my eyes as I decided to keep walking. As I came to the end of the block, a family of four approached me.

"Have you seen a black and white dog," I asked and they nodded, yes. "Just saw her. She's headed for the stop sign."

My heart sank. The stop sign was located at one of the busiest traffic streets in our area. Cars were racing up and down the thoroughfare and there was no doubt in my mind that she would be hit. She had no sense of traffic or obedience, and was obviously panicked, looking for Lee and the other dogs.

I could barely breathe when I reached the main highway, and looked frantically in both directions. Cars were racing both ways, but she was nowhere in sight. She could be anywhere. I decided to proceed back to the house and walked with a heavy heart. I knew that Lee would be beside himself if anything happened to his precious dog, and I would be the one to blame.

As I dragged myself back to the house, I pictured what Christmas would be like this year. Wailing, tears, recriminations – and it would all be my fault. As usual. I had ruined Christmas for everyone, and Lee's dog would probably be as flat as a pancake on Western Avenue.

As I approached the house, I could see Lee running towards me.

"Where's Pru," he shrieked, as he got near.

I could barely speak after the two mile run, and gave him the facts as best I could. We jumped into his car and took off down the road.

"Which way?" he cried, tears rolling down his cheeks.

"Turn left," I directed, "but be careful."

Ignoring me, he ran a red light and pulled out into the busy highway. We took a first right and he started calling her name through the open window of his car. There were so many streets, that it was impossible to know which one she had taken.

We drove erratically down another side street, Lee becoming hysterical. I feared for our lives as he weaved in and out of the lanes, calling for his dog.

He picked up his cell phone and started to call Nick. I tried to calm him, but the more I spoke, the more hysterical he became.

"Lee, this is not going to help," I said. "You need to calm down. We'll find her. Someone will see her and they'll call you."

"No, they won't," he sobbed. "This is California. No one cares. They'll see that she is a purebred dog, and will keep her. I'll never see my Pru again."

"Trust me, Lee. People are basically good. If anyone gets hold of her, they will call you."

Before he could burst into another round of hysteria, his cell phone rang. He stopped the car in the middle of the street to answer it.

"Hello? Yes. You have?"

He turned to me. "Someone has Pru!"

"Oh my God, I breathed. Thank you."

We followed the rescuer's directions and drove about a mile down the street to an enclosed park area. We jumped out of the car and raced across a muddy baseball diamond to a small grassy area, behind which was a fence. And there was Pru!

The young man who found her told us he had seen her racing down the street and into traffic, and he and another driver had basically followed her with their cars, trapping her when she arrived at the park. He'd got out of his car and chased her until she came to a fence, and there was nowhere for her to go. The minute we arrived, she padded over to Lee, happy to see his familiar face.

We both hugged the young man, Sean, and gave him a cash reward. He wanted to refuse, but I said, "Trust me, this is nothing compared to what I would have offered for a reward. Thank you so much."

Shrugging and blushing, the young man said, "That's ok. It was the right thing to do."

We drove home, washed Pru's sore feet, and gave her a good telling off, after which she fell soundly asleep, exhausted from all the excitement.

Vanessa and the four dogs arrived home from the dog park shortly afterwards – and she fell into bed, exhausted.

I decided to drive home to pick up the beef stew and French bread for supper, and then returned to her house to prepare the meal. Later, the three of us enjoyed a hearty dinner – and the five dogs, including naughty Pru, had bowls filled with kibble, gravy and chunks of steak.


As I drove home later, I looked up at the dark sky and whispered, "Thank you, God, for watching out for that dog and making sure there are good people in this world. And thank you for not making this the worst Christmas ever!"

Photo courtesy of the auathor.

Photo courtesy of the author.

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