It shouldn’t happen to a dog(sitter)

Published 8:25 am Thursday, September 17, 2015

Commentary by Dr. Don Newbury

Mass and social media topics are awash with man’s inhumanity to man. We now screech to stops without first giving pause. No longer do we “tsk/tsk/tsk” at bizarre, unprecedented violence. Instead, we are stunned, flipping and flopping, fearing what comes next.

What formerly “shouldn’t happen to dogs” now is happening to people. Is nothing sacred? We are saddened when peace officers become targets, and likewise reel when Friday night peace-keepers on football fields seem intentionally leveled by “school boys.”

When players put “hits” on the refs, it has more impact than man biting dog.

With this in mind, I confess to initiating a 40-minute saga where a “mutt” I’d barely met seemed out to “bite the hand that feeds her.” A rescue animal like our “rescues”—Sadie and Sailor—who, BTW, snarl playfully when called “animals”—she was not initially made to feel welcome by her “new cousins.”

Lady, a seven-pound Chihuahua–new best friend and selected by our eight-year-old granddaughter Addison–first visited our home en route to her new quarters. Captivity by authorities was in her rear-view mirror.

Had I known she’d make me the laughing stock of friends—two of whom I’d never met—just two days later, I wouldn’t have considered a brief “dog-sitting” assignment.

   If Lady had something to prove, she did it in spades. Never mind she’s little more than “cup-sized” who’d have room to stretch out in a water pitcher.

I’m not saying she’d compete well with greyhounds on a dog track, but she’s a world-class “skitterer,” faster than lightning, greased or unlubricated. As she darted to and fro –from one unfamiliar yard to another—I was reduced to buffoonery.

My mind raced as she darted to a busy boulevard—not once, not twice, but thrice. What could I say to Addison about the misplaced trust? How could this “easy” assignment be so bungled, yes, even mangled? Such prospect loomed, indeed.

May I set the scene? You know I’m going to. It was around 9 a.m., and I was prepping to pop a few dozen giant bags of popcorn, a treat I’ve provided for college students, visitors and unsuspecting folks in audiences I’ve been addressing for a half-century. (Halloween is big at our house, too. Last year, almost 500 trick-or-treaters came by for their annual popcorn fixes.)

Having worn suits and ties daily for almost 50 years, I prize frequent delicious hours in semi-retirement that permit casual—okay, slovenly—dress. Yes, I thumb my nose at memories of being a suited and tied “stuffed shirt.”

Sometimes popping corn with my garage-ensconced, theater-size machine, I’m still in my PJs. Usually, though, I respond to my wife’s whimpers to “put on a cap to hide the hair you’ve yet to ever sleep on properly.”

This day, however, was a mish-mash. I was “boat shoe shod” instead of barefoot, still in PJ top, with a billowy swim suit for my bottom half. I was “capless.” Remember, it was just me and the dogs.

Lady was to remain in her pet carrier, inside our bathroom, with the door closed.

Sadie and Sailor had the run of the house. It seemed unfair, so they were loosed in the backyard, so why shouldn’t Lady enjoy such freedom for an hour or so?

Or, she could bound through a door I thought to be shut for a run of the neighborhood.

I gave chase, speaking alternately in soft tones and threat-laced screams, sometimes within six feet of my prey.

Joining the chase were David, a Sunday school friend out on his morning walk, and two additional pursuers I’d never met—Todd and Whitney, new friends whether they want to be or not.

Whitney was out for a run and Todd watched the repeated scene which more than once reached his front yard. Twenty minutes down with 20 to go, we finally “herded” Lady between two houses. Whitney’s voice, dripping with honey, lured Lady. My day was saved.

It will be a while, though, before I think of her as a “lady.”

For the “umpteenth” time, thanks Whitney, Todd and David. Because of you grand people, they can’t say “there went the neighborhood.” Finally, from a purely personal standpoint, this heart patient got his exercise for September.


   Dr. Newbury is a speaker in the Dallas/Fort Worth metroplex. Inquiries/comments to: Phone: 817-447-3872. Web site: Columns archived at, newbury blog.