When a crisis occurs, one’s true character is revealed. This is true even when you are a dog. (Fortunately, it wasn’t much of a crisis.) There were 2 dogs involved, Larry and Ivan. Larry is a large, elegant, noble border collie mix who looks like a black Irish Setter. His manners are impeccable, he is regarded by many as a perfect dog. Ivan, on the other hand, is funny-looking, quirky, and rather aggressive. He’s a Jack Russell/pitbull mix, with spiky wiry hair. He is regarded by many as the Family Bad Dog, and his full name is Ivan the Terrible. I am their mom, and a faithful feeder of birds and squirrels on our second-story, tree-canopy deck. Today I paused in the making of a tuna sandwich for lunch, and went out to feed the wild critters. Not wanting the company of dogs right then, I slammed the sliding glass door quickly behind me. I slammed it a bit too hard, and the latch fell closed. I was locked outside. The deck is too high up to jump down, and there is no way to climb down either. I thought about using a rock from a planter to break open the door. I didn’t really want to do that. Expensive. Messy. Sharp. I watched and waited for a neighbor to come outside. Nobody came. It was quiet and still. And cold. The dogs looked expectantly at me from inside the house. Hey, I wonder if I could get them to jump up and claw at the latch and pull it downwards . . . I had to leave for work in an hour . . . my options were limited. “Larry!” I commanded. “Jump.” This set off a volley of barking. I tried for a while with Larry, to no avail. Larry looks good, but he is not the sharpest tool in the shed. I realized that he had gotten every dog in the neighborhood barking. Maybe someone would come outside to check on them, someone I could flag down . . . but nobody appeared. Larry was in full voice, sounding out with the regularity of a metronome, and being generally useless. 45 minutes passed. Then I noticed Ivan. He was trembling all over, staring brightly and intently at me, eager. And understanding. “Ivan” I called, “Jump!” He swiped the glass with his paw. I patted my shoulders and the door, indicating that he should jump higher. He rose on his hind legs, and began swiping at the glass. He was so eager to help. Larry bellowed on. Ivan pawed and leapt and tried, but alas he was too short to reach the latch.
A glimmer of understanding of the situation now came to Larry’s eyes. Ahh. He got it now. I was stuck outside. I could not come inside. As Ivan smacked his fuzzy paws futilely against the glass door, Larry hurried away. He went straight to the kitchen, jumped up on the counter, ate my tuna sandwich, and then hid.
At this point, a neighbor drove up, and I flagged him down and he quickly came through the house and opened the door for me. Ivan the Terrible was so happy! Larry the Noble and Perfect was in the kitchen, his head squished underneath the cabinets, eyes tightly shut, trying his best to be invisible. The guilt emanated off of him in waves, as did his tuna breath.
I made it to work on time, albeit hungry, and will always be impressed by the gallant attempts of my little scruffy Ivan to help out. And amused but not-so-impressed by the lovely Larry, who turned out to be as far from Lassie as a dog could be.