Sunday, May 22, 2011

There Goes the Neighborhood

One Friday evening a few weeks ago, I was getting ready to meet friends for Korean Barbecue. Tommy frolicked in the backyard. As I brushed my teeth, I realized how relaxed I was and how blissfully unusual that felt: Tommy was in the backyard!

Tommy enjoys the backyard with his girlfriend, Babe

In my old place, I’d have to take Tommy for a marathon walk before going out for an evening, and I was always rushed.

But tonight was different. It was a warm evening. I wore a dress. As I pondered what shoes to wear I heard Tommy barking. Normally Tommy is not a big barker, so I knew he was up to no good.

I went outside. I couldn’t see him but I could hear him rustling through the leaves. Predictably, he ignored my calls. I followed the rustling to the sunken part of the yard, wild and lush with overgrown trees and ivy. I called him again. I still couldn't see him, but I heard the rustling as it traveled away from me, into my neighbor’s yard - and beyond.


I said it several times as I ran into the house.

I threw on jeans under my dress, put on sneakers and jetted out the front door. I knocked on my neighbor’s door but they didn’t answer. So I went to the neighbor next to them, two houses down from me, running past the young mom getting into her car. I frantically explained my plight, and she kindly extended an open invitation to use her yard anytime I needed. I silently hoped I'd never have to again.

Because of the natural wash that runs through the yards along my side of the street, they're overrun with brush and ivy just like mine. People have given up trying to tame the wildness. It's paradise for little creatures and for the dogs that chase them, but not so great for a woman in a dress.

At least I could see Tommy now. He was in the yard behind the young mom's. I ran through hers and up a slope covered in ivy into the yard of a neighbor I'd never seen. I cursed and wondered if my neighbors could see or hear me as I ran after the loose pit bull.

Tommy must've been tired or perhaps he'd given up. He sort of stumbled into me. I put his snoot loop on and dragged him home.

As I put on mascara in the bathroom, I could hear Tommy panting in the kitchen. The chase had exhausted him. I could walk him for hours, even play a few rounds of fetch in the backyard, and never tire him out like that.