It was like any other weekend when we visit our best couple friends Sean and Hannah in Knoxville. Time at their house always means we reunite our perfect Boston Terrier doggies, who spend the time affectionately (usually) biting each other’s throats.
We learned pretty quickly that Fitzi, our boy, is fascinated by their neighbor’s yard and needs to be kept on a tight leash whenever he goes outside to potty. Otherwise, he will run up the neighbor’s back porch and proceed to bark at their back door as if incensed he hasn’t already been invited inside.
I knew this and yet didn’t know it enough while I was helping to sweep Hannah’s kitchen. The floor quickly gets dirty with the dogs coming in and out of their back yard, which is fenced in. I had a pile of dried mud and dog hair swept up and was in the process of knocking out the dust pan out the front door. I had gone back to retrieve the last of it and, seeing his opportunity, Fitz slipped out the door I’d left open.
Luckily, I quickly realized what had happened and started running after him.
Run after our dogs, however, and watch them run away from you all the more, thinking it’s the funnest game ever.
I expected Fitz to go directly to the neighbor’s porch, but, alas, Fitzi Baker had discovered he was free for the first time and wasn’t about to settle on the stupid neighbor’s door. Instead, he decided he was going a-travelin’.
By that point, Sean had recognized what was happening and had slipped on some runners.
“I’ve got him,” he said.
I ran back to the house to get some shoes of my own on, recognizing that my heart had somehow ripped out of my chest and was now beating rather quickly in my throat.
Sean followed Fitz across the neighbor’s yard and then Fitz hurled forward toward the road. The quite busy road, if we’re honest.
With my cropped jeans and Boston Terrier-printed socks now paired with a pair of pointy yellow flats, I started sprinting toward the road to try to stop traffic. I made it just in time, stepping in front of an approaching car and waving my hands like a maniacal crossing guard with a bad haircut. Luckily, the driver politely stopped and Fitzi ran primly across the street and up the intersecting one.
Up, up, up, it turns out, as Sean and Hannah’s beautiful neighborhood, anchored by a river, is backed by hilly (mountainous?) lots filled with curvy roads.
Luckily, Sean Delair happens to be a former sprinter. And by sprinter, I mean he can tell you all about this stuff called “fast twitch” and “slow twitch” and that he has the kind that makes him able to run a 5K in 16 minutes.
Of course, Sean is now a urologist, which has somewhat limited the time he has available to go sprinting (even for just 16 minutes). Luckily, his “muscle memory” (another phrase I picked up from Delair) obviously kicked in because he was able to keep Fitz within his sight despite his speedy, random route.
By this point, William had joined us. William, bless him, parked himself at the side of the busy road with the firm intention of stopping anyone if Fitz decided to cross it again.
Then Hannah blasted out of the driveway in their car.
“Get in!” she yelled. Blonde-haired, six months pregnant, and sweet as can be, Hannah Vogel was now on a mission, with her hands planted firmly at 10 and 2 and her posture looking like she was ready to spring into action like a pellet out of a Nerf gun.
Thinking my dog, my beloved, perfect Fitz, was never going to be caught and was definitely going to be killed as he clearly had ZERO survival skills, I was near the point of hyperventilation.
But, as Hannah rounded the next corner, we saw that Fitz, attracted by a home with a golden retriever, was now cornered by Sean. Just as Fitz tried to dart away, Sean read his move and scooped him up in a flash.
Then Sean proceeded to walk back down the hill (mountain?) up which Fitzi had run.
I’ll never forget that walk back. My heart, which had been nearly pumping out of my mouth, started to retreat back into its chest. William put his hands on his hips and bent over with relief. And little Fitzi Baker allowed himself to be carried all the way back down, his back against Sean’s chest, legs splayed and bobbing a bit with every step. I’d heard the expression “pleased as punch” before, but, let me tell you, I’d never experienced it in all its glory. But I sure have now.