The tick-tick-tick-tick-tick sound of a short-legged dog walking with purpose along the hardwood floor of the hall gave me advance notice of what was about to come.
Next came this whimpering, crying “but-I-really-have-to-go” sound as he stared at me from near my feet. He slowly backed toward the front door in hopes I would rise from my comfortable seat, stop watching Alaskan State Troopers and take him out.
It was 3 a.m. I couldn’t understand why Colby the Jack Russell, a male under 50 in human years, needed to use the bathroom so many times during the night.
I slipped into my Eddie Bauer slides (more manly than saying my plaid slippers), grabbed the retractable leash and headed toward the front door.
Colby walked tight circles around my feet as I tried to hook the leash to his collar.
“You must really have to go, boy,” I said, scratching his head as I finally clipped the leash on him.
He didn’t even look up at me. He just stared at the door, waiting for it to swing open.
I opened the entry door and looked back to make sure the cat wasn’t trying to follow us. I spotted him lurking nearby so I kept an eye on him as I opened the storm door with the hand holding the leash and pulled the main door shut with the other.
Colby shot out of the house like a cannon, made a hard right turn and leaped off the porch, avoiding the steps completely.
The leash whirred like a white marlin was on the other end and the handle shot out of my hand as it reached its end.
I yanked the door shut — almost catching the cat’s head as it tried to take advantage of the situation — and turned my attention to the escaping ball of muscle making a line straight for the woods in front of the house.
I bounded down the steps in my plaid slides, Kmart lounge pants and Dickies T-shirt, and raced across the yard. I’m sure it didn’t look it but it felt like I was flying. There were so many moving parts.
Colby was a good 10 yards in front of me already, growling as his little muscular frame tore across the yard. I prayed his leash would get caught on a fallen limb or wrap itself around a small tree in the woods. It was my best hope for avoiding another 9-hour night of searching and waiting.
Devil dog stopped suddenly at the base of the very first tree in the woods, stretched his front paws up on it and began dancing and barking around the bottom of it as he looked up. I heard something scrambling up the tree — most likely one of the outdoor cats from a nearby barn — ripping off bark like its life depended on it. And it probably did.
Now far enough from the light of the front porch, I could only make out Colby’s white fur and shapes of trees around him. I dove near his feet, hoping to land on the leash.
I missed. I began feeling all around in the leaves and sticks and briars, madly searching for the leash as I flailed around on the ground. Colby paid me no mind as he continued dancing and yelping at whatever was scrambling up the tree.
I felt the leash moving under my arm. I grabbed it and wrapped it around my hand, stood up and searched for the handle. The dog didn’t realize he’d been caught and tried dancing to the other side of the tree. He was not happy when he realized his freedom had come to a much quicker end this time.
That will teach him to take his eye off the ball and chase kitty cats. They will get you in trouble every time.
We began our short trek back to the house, stopping once to get one of my slides out of the front yard and put it back on my foot. That’s when I saw the blood running down my leg. I pulled my pants up and noticed the cut and some scratches. I guess considering a heart attack had been a possibility, I was lucky.
The dog was uninjured — except for his pride. He had just been caught by an out of shape 50-year-old wearing slides and Kmart lounge pants and was not happy about it. He continued looking over his shoulder at the tree as he was practically dragged toward the house.
As for the target of Colby’s mad break across the yard and into the woods … I’m pretty sure that somewhere up in that tree clung a kitty cat watching us go back into the house and thanking God for the nine lives it still has.