“Sorry!” I hear the man’s voice behind me, but I ignore it. This is a mistake.

It’s October 30, 2016—the day after my mother died and the day before Halloween. (Quick side note: Losing a loved one right before Halloween is kind of surreal. It gives the holiday’s most common decorations—zombies and ghosts and skeletons—a whole new connotation.) I’m out after dinner walking my small dog and my grandfather’s much smaller dog when a third small dog runs up to us.

This little guy has clearly gotten off leash, and that’s probably what the guy behind me was yelling about. Usually, renegade dogs just want to play, but this one full-on attacks my dog, who immediately fights back. So now I’m on the ground, trying to keep these two dogs apart. I feel a slight tug on Buffy’s leash (don’t look at me; I didn’t name her) and take this as a good sign. A gentle reminder that she’s still on the end of her leash while all of this is going on.

Oh, my sweet summer child.

The owner of Mr. Biteypants comes over and scoops his dog up, apologizing profusely and explaining that he’s still a puppy and so on. I say it’s fine, and I look my dog over to make sure he’s okay (he is). Then the guy says, “Is that your dog?”

For a tiny animal, Buffy can run really fast. She is down the street and already about to turn the corner. She had slipped her collar when the scuffle began and quickly became her own personal “nope” gif. I run to the end of the block to see where she went, but she’s already gone. I ask a couple people if they saw a little dog.

“Yeah. She went that way. She was going really fast!”

I head for the house, hoping she’s sitting on the stoop (no such luck), drop Russell off, and grab a flashlight to get a better look in the dark. I don’t see her on the sidewalk or street anywhere, so I’m panicking as I look under every car on the street while I call her name. The man lost his daughter yesterday, I keep thinking. He can’t lose his fucking dog today. That is not how this is gonna go.

With every car that turns to come down the street, my heart beats a little faster, and I scan the street again to make sure she’s still not there, hasn’t magically appeared in the headlights of this oncoming small-creature-murder machine. One of these cars is a van, and the owner of the dog that started this whole business is driving. He offers to drive me around the neighborhood to look for her and I take a long moment to consider the possibilities. He says he lives in the neighborhood, and one of the other neighbors seems to know him, so I decide the chances of murder are very low. I’m about to accept his offer when I see her.

Van guy and I are at a T-intersection, right where it butts up against the T. On the other side of the street is little Buffy, running as fast as those short little legs will take her. I realize that she has not stopped running even once since the third dog appeared. She followed the sidewalk down a cul-de-sac until it turned back this way again. I call out to her, and she essentially says, Yeah you can go fuck yourself if you think I’m slowing down.

Luckily she was heading into another cul-de-sac, so I was able to corner her on someone’s front step. Van guy gave me a murder-free ride back over to grandpa’s house, and grandpa and I agreed that she wasn’t allowed to go for another walk until we got her a harness.

Then she had the nerve to look at me like she was tired. Little brat.

 

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