On days when I’m on dog duty, I’ve taken a shine to walking up the hill to Laughing Planet for lunch. Kristine insists that Arwen get some lunch-time exercise as a part of her day in the office, and I’m happy not to have to sacrifice my mid-day meal in the process. At LP, there’s a great outdoor seating area where dogs are welcome, a large container for dog water, and few places to tie up a leash. Arwen’s always been great up at LP. She hangs out under the table, waits for scraps of chicken or a bite of a cookie, and drinks greedily from a large bowl of water.
She’s gotten so good that I’ve stopped keeping an eye on her. I ask her to sit and go in to order, and she stays put until I return. There’s a little wandering here and there, but never in earnest, so I generally ignore her. Today, I was sending an email on my phone when a few people walked up the steps behind us and all hell broke loose.
Someone got her spooked and she shot out from under the table. The leash, tied squarely to the single table post and attached to her collar on the other end, tripped the gallon-sized metal can of dog water, which crashed across the patio and spilled water everywhere. The noise spooked her further, and she pulled so hard on her leash that the table flew forward and left behind my glass of smoothie, which fell and shattered on the concrete below.
Then, the chase began. Unsure of what to do–but certain that loud noises bring nothing worth waiting around for–Arwen tore down the stairs of the restaurant with the table in tow, launching my wallet and my book across the patio and into the flowerbed beyond. She launched over the stairs and peeled up the sidewalk with a churning mass of metal trying to overtake her from behind. I jumped out of my seat and went after her, turning the corner in time to see her darting through traffic to the other side of the street, making way back to Reed College and safety.
I realized that if I didn’t catch up with her, she was going to haul the table down Woodstock, through gardens and front lawns, past new freshmen and their families, panting and shaking and struggling mightily to get loose of her collar. I sprinted after her, through traffic, and came upon her just as she was reversing direction, pulling backwards on the leash, trying to squeeze her head out of the collar so she could make a break for who knows where, but somewhere quiet.
Arwen had just completely flipped out, and who could blame her? Kristine said she must have felt like the apocalypse was bearing down on her; the whole scenario was a sort of brutal Chinese finger trap for a dog who just wants silence and the harder she runs, the louder it gets. I calmed her down with the help of another Reed employee who was heading up the hill for his own lunch (great, now we have the crazy dog on campus), picked up the table, and walked her back to the patio. This was the last place I wanted to go back to, but I knew I’d have to help clean up, I’d need my stuff, and I sure as hell wasn’t going to leave without at least getting a bite of lunch.
So we walked back with a large crowd assembled to receive us, with people saying things like, “that’s the weirdest thing I’ve ever seen,” to “wow that dog sure has a lot of horsepower” (from a six year-old boy), to “she seemed really scared!” (from his two younger sisters). One person was particularly interested in speaking with me: Lieutenant John Brooks of the Portland police department.
“Is this your dog?” he asked me.
“Yeah, she’s a little bit spooked,” I responded, nearly drenched in sweat and worried for my skittish pup.
“We had a little bit of an accident,” he said, gesturing to his black police cruiser which had silver streaks across the front right side. “She came running down the stairs and threw that table right into the side of my car.”
“I’m so sorry. She knocked over a canteen and then just flipped out and…” I recounted the story, glad I was wearing a tie and not a t-shirt, glasses and not a backwards baseball cap.
“Oh don’t worry too much about it. I just know I’m gonna have to explain this and so I wonder if I might get some information from you.”
Oh, that’s not so bad.
I told the Lieutenant my details and he even asked to snap a picture of Arwen, commenting that he was surprised to see a dog so small had been the cause of all the ruckus. I made sure no other cars were hit by the table (what a ridiculous question to have to ask a police officer), and tied her up to a railing–bolted into stone–to go retrieve the rest of my lunch.
The folks at Laughing Planet had already cleaned up the whole mess, and the manager even offered to make me a new smoothie since I hadn’t even had a sip of the last one before it exploded all over the outside dining area. Most people had gone back about their business, and I couple of particularly kind folks handed me my wallet and cell phone and book to be sure I didn’t misplace them.
Arwen dragged me back down the hill, pulling in between pants of nervousness. She was anxious to get to safety and just about caused me to tumble end-over-end as we went back down the hill. I wonder if we’ll ever be able to get her back up to LP for a noontime adventure.
You hear that having a cute face can get you out of any kind of trouble with the law, and this was proof to that effect. I can’t imagine anyone else throwing a table into a police officer’s squad car–right in front of his face!–and getting away with it. He even asked to take her picture! I walked back through Reed and someone exclaimed, “what a cute dog!” from the other side of campus.
You have no idea.