Friday, April 8, 2011

Ray Discovers the Promised Land

"Hey Ken!" I yelled, "Did you find the owner of that stray dog?" There had been an incredibly clueless stray happily weaving his way down the middle of the busy street through our neighborhood. I had been walking Ray and couldn't catch it, and many motorists had stopped but couldn't catch it either. I had been close to Ken's house and had started towards it to see if he had a treat to lure the dog, when a woman in a minivan stopped me to say that she thought the dog lived at the end of the closest cul-de-sac. She drove off just as Ken came out of his house with a leash. But by this time the dog was headed on down to the next street. I told Ken what was going on then took off in pursuit. By the time I reached the next street, the dog was nowhere to be seen.
Ray and I went home.
About 15 minutes later, I got a call from Ken. "Where did you say that dog lived?" he asked, "I caught it and put it in my back yard."
I told him what the woman had told me.
So the next day when Ray and I were walking around the block and we saw Ken working in his yard, we stopped to find out what had happened. "I took him to the house you told me and it wasn't their dog but they knew where he lived so I was able to take him home," explained Ken. "Do you want to let Ray in the back to play with Miko?" he asked.
Ken has an old Husky that is going blind. Ray loves Miko but Miko tends to be more than a little indifferent to Ray.
I looked in the backyard. There was a deck, but it only had a couple of steps down to the ground, an old swing-set (Ken's kids are grown and gone so it was OLD. It looked like one that we had had in our back yard when I was a kid), and a shed. It didn't look too treacherous for a blind dog.
"Sure," I said.
Ray and I entered the yard. I kept Ray on his leash while he sniffed interestedly around the deck. When he got to the edge, I said, "Step DOWN." Ray put out a tentative paw but couldn't reach the ground so his legs started to tremble a bit. "Step DOWN, Ray," I said again. Ray decided to try a different part of the deck to see if it was safer. Miko followed us and went down the two steps to the yard. "Step DOWN," I said again to Ray. Ray put out his paw a bit farther this time and touched the next step. Then down to the ground. I let him off his leash and watched him pick around the fenceline while Ken went to fetch us some homemade lemonade.
When Ray reached the fence at the far end of the yard all hell broke lose. Rambo, a jaunty little buff-colored dog with a curly tail, started hurling insults. He was immediately joined by a teeny tiny chihuahua mix, a big greyhound mix named Comet, and an old Pomeranian named Harley (I think I'm missing someone but can't quite remember). Ray took the insults for about a minute then started yelling back.
Ken came out with the lemonade, a look of mild astonishment on his face. "Which one is making that noise?" he asked, looking at his neighbor-dogs. (His neighbor is active in a local rescue society and Rambo and Harley are foster-dogs). "Why, that's RAY!" exclaimed Ken, his look of astonishment giving way to a look of deep amusement. "I hear him barking all the time and I've been blaming Ralph (Ken's neighbor) and this whole time it's been Ray!"
I laughed. Ralph came out of his house and picked up Harley who continued to snarl and bark. I picked up Ray's front feet so that he could get closer to Harley. Ray was trying to lick the small dog who was trying to bite Ray's nose. "I don't think he likes you Ray," I told my hound as I let his feet back down. Ralph put Harley down. Harley was trying to attack Ray through the fence. Ray was trying to get over to the other yard to play with all his new friends. Rambo was still going crazy. The teeny tiny chihuahua mix was adding his two cents. Comet, a friend of Ray's, had gone back into the house.
I pulled Ray away from the fence. Ralph carried Harley away. Rambo calmed down. The teeny tiny chihuahua mix continued to bark sporadically, then wandered away too.
Ken and I chatted for awhile while Ray headed back to the fence. All his new friends were gone. He dejectedly came back to the deck. I took my dog and we went home. But now every time we get near Ken's house, Ray's tail starts wagging and he puuuullllllllls at his leash to get to the promised land. All those dogs in one yard, just a block away. Like his own private dog park. If only he could get to them....

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