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Bad dog

by Karen on March 26, 2010

Yesterday I had a very. important. phone call. An organization that I’ve wanted to work with for years is hiring for a position in Indianapolis that would be absolutely perfect for me, and they wanted to interview me.

I was on my way out of the office last night when the phone rang at 5:30 on the dot. On my drive home, I talked to the interviewer about the position and my qualifications. It seemed to be going great.

When I pulled into my parking lot, I stayed in the car to finish up the call. Things were wrapping up, and I was asking questions, when I looked up and saw my dog standing in the middle of the lawn by himself.

Howie. Wandering around off leash with Tony nowhere in sight.

I’ve always been overly paranoid about allowing dogs off leash. When I was a kid, my family had a dog named Bruno, a German shepherd mix, who we could not keep inside. The dog was constantly running away, and he was fast. My sister chased him down once in her car and clocked him at 40 miles per hour.

He would disappear for days at a time. I was a sensitive kid and a dog lover, so while my parents muttered under their breath about the damn dog and waited for the dog catcher to call — he knew Bruno by name — I tossed and turned for a lot of sleepless nights.

Because of Bruno, Howie has lived almost three years without ever wandering the world off leash. We take him to the dog park and let him run around in fenced areas, but that’s the extent of Howie’s experience with independence.

So there I am, on arguably one of the most important phone calls of my life, and my dog is wandering around the parking lot. Now I’ll admit, the sight of my dog off leash led to a slight overreaction.  After years of experience with a dog who ran, I expected Howie to turn and run, too. Running from us after escape was Bruno’s absolute favorite pastime. But Howie is about half Bruno’s size with absolutely no experience dodging cars, and our apartment is on a very busy road.

The last thing I wanted to do was interrupt my interview to start shouting at my dog like a crazy person. I fought the urge to chase him, afraid that he might decide it was a game and run from me.

When I got out of the car, Howie looked surprised to see me. He also looked like he had no idea what he’d gotten himself into. The hair on his back was standing up straight, and I assumed that as soon as he wandered outside he looked around, realized Tony and I were nowhere to be found, and didn’t really know what to do with himself.

I started snapping my fingers and pointing at the backseat like a maniac. Howie regarded me much like he does at the dog park. He sort of looked at me like, “Oh. Hey. Fancy meeting you here.” Then he took his time smelling the grass as he wandered over to me.

Typically when he does this I’m able to call him in a tone that he recognizes as very. serious. In this case, I was trying to have a very. important. conversation. So I continued to snap and attempted to communicate telepathically with my dog.

The whole time I’m thinking Tony has probably been murdered. Either that or he’s not home, and we’ve been robbed. I imagined myself walking back upstairs to find the door hanging open, everything we own scattered around our living room. How else could the dog have escaped a 900 square foot apartment on the third floor without anyone realizing it?

Howie finally wanders over to me, tail wagging, happy to see me. I reach out, grab his collar, and shove him into the backseat.

Throughout all of this, I tried to stay engaged with my interviewer. I was absolutely interested in every word of the conversation. Unfortunately, though, I’m sure I seemed distracted. How could I not? I was wrangling my dog, considering the possible murder of my husband, and picturing my apartment in shambles from a break-in.

We still have no idea how the dog escaped. Tony’s theory is that he left the door slightly ajar when he came home just minutes before I found Howie in the parking lot. He was opening windows in the apartment, and the door must have cracked open enough for Howie to wander out. What confuses me is that the door was closed when I came back upstairs. The only other explanation is that Howie has been studying magic.

The interview is over. I did my absolute best to stay engaged in the conversation despite the circumstances. All that I can do now is wait to hear back from them and hope the interviewer didn’t notice my distraction.

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