As a whole, my pets are a handful. They are all spoiled, bratty, and obnoxious. But, Penny. Well, Penny takes the cake. She is barely 9 pounds and yet, she runs our household. Our daily schedule is largely dictated by her, as is who we may invite into our home. She will gruff at you if she is not 100% pleased and nearly any time you are seated–oh who am I kidding, even if you are standing–she demands to be in your embrace. Until she doesn’t, of course. She’s barky, high-strung, and takes doggy prozac.
And yet, if you ask anyone who spends any time around my pups who their favorite is, they always pick Penny. You have to earn Penny’s love. She doesn’t give it freely to anyone walking in the house with a hand to pet you (yeah, I’m talking about you, Layla). Instead, she sizes you up, and only when you are declared worthy will she climb up next to you and sigh and fall asleep in your arms. Only then, my friend, have you made it.
This all simply background so you can glimpse the tyranny that Penny reigns down; I now begin the meat of my story.
When my husband and I first moved to Ohio we lived in a townhome. We each had a small patio but the yard area was shared. Behind the yard was the woods, through which the train tracks ran. One afternoon we were tending to our garden and since nobody else was around (if there was we would have listened to Penny bark at them for an hour) we brought the dogs out and tied them up so they could explore a bit but still remain safely confined. Penny’s stake was behind me and when I realized I hadn’t been annoyed by her in a hot second I turned around and to my horror discovered the clasp on her leash had gotten stuck and she was free.
You see Penny has two extremes–over-bearing lap dog and wild animal. She demands nests on the couch made from only the softest of blankets, but once she tastes freedom she does everything in her power to remain in the wild with her brethren. People are always suggesting we just let her run around in their mostly closed backyards because we are all there and she is tired and it’ll be fine (they don’t realized that although they call their dog bad for politely begging for food Penny is honestly 9 pounds of pure terror). Or on a walk she is famous for jerking unexpectedly and yanking the leash from my desperately grasping hands. It always ends the same. She bolts. And despite being so tiny she is FAST and squirrelly. Even if you get close you will never be able to grab her because she has the reflexes of a bounding gazelle. Combined with her speed this is an impossible situation. Pretty much the only way you can catch her is if she stops to relieve herself and you happen to be close enough and you don’t mind being peed on as you grab her, or if she is distracted by a dog in a yard and you trespass in order to tackle her while she is otherwise occupied. Being distracted by a person is no use though because while well meaning passersby often try to help she is an expert at standing 2 feet away while relentlessly barking and constantly shifting so as to evade capture. As I’m retelling this I am honestly amazed that she is still alive. And then when you do catch her you are completely beat from chasing her for miles at a full on sprint (usually after a grueling spin class) while dragging your poor other dog around and she is just super contented to be carried back home and is supremely pleased at herself for being so smart and fast and wiley.
So back to the story, Penny is now free. As we can’t hear her barking and she would have had to cross my line of sight to enter the very people inhabited area of the rest of the complex we assume she made for the woods. Our husband/wife esp kicks in and with one look we know exactly what the other is thinking. “Ooooooohhhhhhhh fuuuuuuuuuck.” We take off for the woods. I go straight back down the incline towards the train tracks and Cory takes off deeper into the forest. Although our every impulse begs us to do it we resist shouting out to her because not coming when called is one of her most fun games ever. Plus, it just alerts her to where we are and gives her the upper hand in maneuvering so as to never be found.
I found a little kitty dug out. Those woods were FULL of stray cats, and it should come as no surprise from my last post that we ended up rescuing one. But I knew they wouldn’t still be there if Penny had come that way. She enjoys “playing” with all sorts of animals. Currently the squirrel that hangs out in the tree in our backyard is her best friend. She chases the crap out of it and if she ever manages to get close enough will jab her nose into it making it clear she means for it to play back. So if Penny had come through here either she would be mortally wounded from trying to “play” with feral forest cats or they would have all disbanded. I knew then that our only chance was Cory finding her. The trouble was that the woods were huge and we didn’t know how much of a head start she had. I was overwhelmingly distraught. I climbed the hill back to the house to see if maybe she would come home (hahahaha…..even if after a few days she did decide she wanted to come home, she took off with such a fury I highly doubt she could navigate back). Back up at the house I’m consoling myself by talking to my other dog, obviously as all perfectly sane people would do, when I hear a train whistle blow.
I was convinced Penny was a pancake somewhere and that my husband was going to come home with her guts splattered all over him and we were going to have to bury her mangled body in stupid Ohio. So the train passed and I was freaking out. I was like a 10 on the Brandi-anxious scale, which is already like 5 scales above the normal person 10 point scale. But a few minutes after the train passed I saw the most glorious sight I have ever seen. Cory came walking out of the woods carrying our tiny precious puppy (the thought of losing her made me love her again). He was a mess. He handed her to me and you could tell he was PISSED. She, on the other hand, was happy as a clam despite having a branch sticking through her ear. It was obvious something had gone down.
After Cory calmed down I finally got the story out of him. Apparently Penny had ended up on the other side of the tracks, which was basically a super steep hill. She was doing a really good job at climbing it and obviously would not come to him. Then he hears the train. He has just enough time to leap up and grab her in the moment of her distraction from the train whistle. He then bolts across the tracks to the ditch on the other side (there wasn’t enough room on the far side of the tracks) where he covers her like a grenade with his body as debris kicked up by the train assail him. Literally the best puppy papi on the face of the earth. How she got the stick through her ear we’ll never know, but I can show you the scar if you don’t mind waiting 2 hours for her to calm down after meeting you…