July 30, 2014 10:37:39 AM
Sunday afternoon found us outside trying to coax our waterlogged flowers back to life while trying to figure out a way to get rid of the slugs and snails that seem to have taken a recent liking to our front porch.
While Tess was tenaciously attacking the porch with a gallon of bleach and a stiff broom, I was idling out on the lawn, hoping she wouldn't notice. Then I noticed two neighbors walking up 11th Street North in our direction, and I called out to the two ladies, which I know I am not supposed to do.
The smaller of the two seemed mildly startled and hesitated for a moment, but followed along when her companion crossed the street and came up to our lawn.
Tess stopped her assault on the snails and smiled. I squatted as the two visitors warily approached, then extended their heads to be petted. The two female dogs wore collars, but no tags that could be used to identify them. The more dominant of the two, I judged to be a Welsh Corgi. The other was a Jack Russell Terrier.
After a couple of belly rubs, I turned my attention to the flower bed when I felt a nudge on my calf. I turned to see the Corgi looking up at me with her big brown eyes, a piece of tree limb in her mouth. She dropped the limb and looked at me as if to say, "Well?" So I picked it the limb, threw it across the lawn and watched as the two dogs made a mad dash to retrieve it. The terrier got to it first, but abandoned the prize when the Corgi began to snarl and bark. The Corgi grabbed the limb, trotted proudly back to me and dropped it dutifully at my feet as she panted furiously, her long pink tongue happily hanging out. So I threw it again. Same result.
The Corgi didn't quit snarling even after she gained possession of the limb. In fact, somehow she had perfected the art of barking even with the limb in her mouth. I'd never seen anything like it. The less-competitive terrier seemed happy just to run around and didn't seem to mind giving up the stick, even though she had won it far and square.
In the backyard, Patti, our boxer/bird dog mix and Dooley, a dachshund (half a dog high and a dog-and-a-half long, as Mencken once described the breed) were having a jealous fit as they peered from between the high wooden slats of our privacy fence.
Our two visitors paid no attention. They were focused on fetch.
They stayed more than an hour, leaving only after we had returned inside. When we came out later that afternoon, however, the dogs soon returned and the game of fetch resumed. Monday morning, as I left for work, I noticed the tree limb had been left at the stoop, as if to say, "You keep this until our next visit, OK?"
I enjoyed their visits, even though I knew I was not supposed to encourage strange dogs to visit and make themselves comfortable. When you see dogs running free, you are supposed to call Animal Control, who will collect the animals and transport them to the Columbus-Lowndes Humane Society if the officer cannot figure out where they belong.
It's hard to put up much of an argument against this policy, but I do miss the old days, when dogs ran free and nobody had a fence. They ate only table scraps and lived long, happy lives.
Today, dogs do not enjoy that sort of freedom. When they are permitted to leave their houses, they must be confined on leashes. I grudgingly agree that it must be this way.
If I were a dog, I am sure I would much prefer the long-ago land of my youth, where there were squirrels and rabbits and cars to chase and a plentiful supply of kids to perform belly-rubs and play fetch with.
The logical part of me hopes that my two visitors have returned their home and their fences have been made secure.
The kid in me hopes they wriggle through another hole in the fence soon.
I'll keep the tree limb handy, just in case.
Slim Smith is a columnist and feature writer for The Dispatch. His email address is firstname.lastname@example.org.