Jane-Anne knocked on my door on the morning of the 24th.
I open my window and looked at her, confused.
“You know the rules!” I say to her and her husband. The two of them are huddled on my front walk, taking their sweet, lovable dogs for a walk as they do every day, rain or shine. A habit I’m fairly sure they engage in just to make me feel bad.
The rules, by the way, are that no one is allowed inside my house without two weeks prior notice, submitted in writing. In triplicate. All my beloved friends and neighbors know this. Because my family doesn’t like to wear pants. And dishes are done only out of desperation. And I’ve forgotten how the mop goes. So although I love her, and it is Christmas, I do not let Jane-Anne in.
“I know,” she says, “but I found your dog! She was two houses down the street!”
I press my cheek against my window screen to see sideways. Ah. Yeah. The squat brown one with the waggy tail and perpetual cartoon-character-who’s-been-hit-with-a-brick expression. That’s my dog. The one my husband demanded we take off the hands of some people who couldn’t keep her and then immediately lost interest in. I hadn’t noticed she was missing. I think the UPS man came and she escaped while I was trying to prevent my son’s break for freedom. Perhaps they were working together, and Jack’s run for the street was just to distract me so Stitch could go be free to pee on all the neighbor’s lawns. Then someday, she will do the same for Jack.
I groaned and opened the door just wide enough for Stitch to worm in but not wide enough for them to see the breakfast bar that’s been crushed into the rug. Jane-Anne spoke quick as I prepared to close it again. “If you put a leash on her we’ll take her on a walk with us!”
I didn’t mean to glare.
“I don’t have a halter.”
“I…she needs a halter cuz she’s got no neck and I lost it. Remember when you watched her last month you had to use one of your own?”
“You haven’t bought a new one?”
And then I began to…not quite shout…but speak emphatically.
“I spent like two thousand dollars to fence in that gigantic backyard so I don’t have to take her on a walk. She POOPS, Jane-Anne. She poops a waste so foul that even when I double bag it I cannot walk anymore and carry it with me. And that time I took her down to the abandoned over-grown field so she could poop at will you said I still had to pick it up or I was a bad person. Now stop trying to make me feel bad on Christmas Eve!”
Jane-Anne and her husband are the best dog-parents around. I am among the worse. My job is to pet, feed and shelter that skittering, dim dog. I have never entered the ranks of the good people who buy wet dog good. And if I can’t damn well walk myself, why would I walk a DOG?
If you wonder why Jane-Anne is friends with a yelling, inhospitable, dog-neglecting harpy like me, it’s because she really likes to laugh and thank god, finds me more funny than horrible. She and her husband left, her laugh pealing behind her. There now see? If I was such a bad dog-mother, she wouldn’t like me at all.