As soon as we knew we were getting a house with a yard, Andy and I got a dog. Yes, even though it would be a month before escrow closed, we got the dog. We thought he was a mellow half-Great Dane, half-Labrador Retriever. Woofie would let us pick him up, he knew how to sit, and he wasn’t nearly as crazy as some of my childhood dogs.
Woofie walked nicely on his leash and was housebroken. This was important, since our townhouse had no yard. Anytime Woofie had to pee, we had to take him out for a walk:
Woof (whining at the door): “…mmmm…”
Me (packing a box of dishes): “Dude, we went out twenty minutes ago.”
Woofie (in my face): “…MMMMMM…”
I took him out. He peed and pranced. We returned. Twenty more minutes passed.
Woofie (at the door): “…mmmm…”
Me (packing a box of pots): “Really?”
Woofie (in my face): “…MMMMM…”
Me (sighing): “Fine.”
We went out again. And back in. Nineteen minutes later, the whining resumed.
Me: “AGAIN? Now you’re just messing with me.”
I continued packing silverware. Woofie whined louder. I ignored him. Woofie poked my thigh with his nose.
Me: “You weigh seventy pounds. I have no doubt your bladder is of commensurate size.”
Woofie disagreed: “…mmm…mmm”
Me: “You are just bored. Go play with the cats.”
Woofie backed up three feet. He gave a short, outraged bark.
AND THEN HE PEED ON THE CARPET. RIGHT IN FRONT OF ME. WITHOUT SHAME.
I gave an outraged bark of my own. “GAH! No! Outside!”
I spent the next twenty minutes cleaning the carpet. As soon as I finished, Woofie whined at me again.
I hustled him outside. When he’d done his thing, I patted him on the head. He wagged his tail.
Me: “Message received, buddy. I will never assume you are bored again.”
Woofie whined at me a ton that first month. I was lucky if I could get a single box packed uninterrupted. But I didn’t dare NOT take him out, since the buyers for our townhouse might back out if the entire carpet smelled of urine. And I didn’t think it was fair to leave him in his crate all day.
So out we went, with me lecturing Woofie all the way: “Wait until we have our house! With the yard! Hahahaha, then when you whine at me I can just open the door, rather than walking you around the block ten times a day and waiting while you sniff every single tree and fire hydrant!”
Woof wagged his tail.
Escrow finally closed. Andy and I zipped over to our new house with paint, paintbrushes, and Woofie. We had one day to paint two rooms before our furniture arrived. As soon Andy changed the locks and I triaged various dying plants, we went to work. Woofie and his endlessly wagging tail we left in the backyard.
We’d just gotten started on the primer when I glanced out the window to check on the dog. He’d been quiet. Too quiet. There was no sign of him in the yard.
“Oh, no!” I yelled at Andy, hastily putting my roller in the paint tray. “Woofie’s escaped!”
Andy kept painting. “He can’t have escaped. The walls are six feet high and made of cinderblocks.”
“You must not have shut the gate properly! He could be anywhere! Hit by a car!”
Andy put down his brush and looked out the window. “I did not leave a gate open – holy shit! Honey, he hasn’t gone anywhere. Look!”
I followed Andy’s pointing finger. Something was wiggling outside. It was Woofie’s tail. And only his tail.
We ran outside and found the rest of him down a brand-new, three-foot hole, exuberantly flinging dirt in all directions.
Of course Woofie’s hole wasn’t in the dog run area, or the dying vegetable garden next to the garage. Nor was it in the wilting flowerbeds lining the fence.
No, Woofie had decided that only the CENTER of the lawn would do for his excavation.
The lawn had been the only almost-green vegetation left by the previous owners.
We filled in the hole, replaced any chunks of sod we could find, watered it, and brought Woofie inside the house.
I closed the doors to the rooms we were working on, and painting resumed.
For five minutes. Then I heard the click of toenails, followed by a sigh and heavy breathing at the crack under the door.