I remember when he arrived. My yard was full of children – mine, some that I babysat and a few that just wandered in. It was in the midst of a rousing game of “Mother May I” or “Red Rover” or some such large group game.
A van pulled partially into my driveway and a rather suspicious looking older man leaned out the window. I said hello to him and asked if I could help him. He replied “You know what you need with all these kids in your yard?” I said “A lobotomy?” And that’s when it happened.
He pulled something up from the space between the front seats, cradled it in his hands and stuck his arms out the window while he proclaimed triumphantly “A PUPPY.” (And he said it JUST loud enough for all the children to hear, of course!)
The critter in his hands looked like a baby bear, all black and stub nosed with little short legs. All of the children gathered around making Ooooohing and Ahhhhing noises and exclaiming *in the same triumphant tone as the man* A PUPPY!
I tried not to look at him. I knew there was no way for me to win. The children were all jumping up and down begging to hold him. The man reached a little further out the window and innocently said “Go on, hold him. He won’t bite.” “What kind of dog is he?” I asked. “Half Chow and Half German shephard.” Hmm, this is going to be a pretty big dog.
Now, I’m not against dogs, or children having pets. But this was NOT a good time to get a puppy. Funds were tight and I was barely feeding myself and the boys….. and they had already been gifted a kitten from one of the neighbors not long before.
Of course, I gave in and he stayed. And he was dubbed “Hercules the Legendary puppy” by my sons. As he grew older, he had many adventures and he ran off many times. There are rumors that he’s a hero and saved one of the neighborhood boys from some strange man in a car. Nobody could explain how he got out of the yard that day and the legend says that he knew the child was in trouble and went right over the 4 foot fence. He’s survived heartworm treatment and hitting a car. Yes, I said hitting a car. The car didn’t hit him, he ran into the side of it. And more than a few fights with strays.
Today, I have a great appreciation for his spirit. He’s old now, Mike reminds me often as he brings Hercules into the garage on cold evenings.
Today, he ran away again. In his youth, he would escape from the yard or the leash or the cable and run hard and fast through the neighborhood, with the children and me running hard and fast behind him.
I caught him once, hiding behind a tree – peeking out to see if we were going to come after him. It became a game that we played over and over. I would return, dragging him by the collar and he’d slip back into the yard with the attitude of a prisoner of war.
Today it was different. He escaped undetected when Mike left the gate open for “just a moment”. An hour later, I heard barking and looked out the front door. And there he was, jogging down the street chasing neighborhood dogs. He wasn’t moving really fast, his hind legs don’t support that anymore. I ran after him, also jogging as I gave up sprinting a few years ago myself!
When we both reached the yard at the end of the street, we stopped. I looked at him and said “Come on, old man, we’re way too old for this.” We both turned an headed back to our home. He doesn’t argue with me anymore. I don’t have to grab his collar. And I noticed he took the route with the fewer hills on our return.
I opened the gate and he sheepishly trotted back into the yard. I huffed and puffed my way back to the front door, noticing the green things popping up through the leaves in my garden. Spring must be here!