A while ago, I got a dog. Well, actually, “I” didn’t get the dog; the entire ordeal had been orchestrated by three unscrupulous grandchildren. To keep our identities secret, names have been omitted and/or changed. After all, who wants to advertise that one of their own committed a feisty little felony and may be wanted by the law?
“Grandma,” Bobby’s familiar raspy tone greeted when I answered my phone, “remember when I broke my leg? Remember when you were bawling with boogers and said I could have anything I wanted?”
“I think so…” The memory dredged up a terrible time. Seeing my grandson hurt like that had my easy-going, sensible self at the verge of despair.
“Well, I finally decided what I want.”
“Is that so.” I couldn’t remember using those exact words but suspected it could have been possible.
“Yeah, Grandma,” his voice edged with expectancy, and then he chimed the dreaded phrase children worldwide use to torment caregivers. “I want a puppy!”
That is how the ordeal began. Part of me was unsure if I had actually uttered “anything” because I believe my inclination was “any action figure” or “any model car.” Nope, instead, the little miser and his crew (his sister and baby brother) all insisted I said “anything” – meaning he could pick out a dog.
That shelter was the last place I wanted to be. So many stenches assaulted my senses while the cacophony of canines confined shriveled my heart into a washrag. Unfortunately, in the last row, the kids found a puppy with spry ears, a steeple nose, and eyes reminiscent of honey. This sweet little pup danced, sprang, and sang upon their arrival, and two things became immediately apparent. One: more than anything in the world, the puppy LOVED kids. Two: from that moment on, Wolfy became family.
Of course, as these things go, the kids’ mother was not so enthusiastic about a shepherd-mix mutt staying at their house full time, so the kids and I worked out a visitation schedule. Wolfy LOVES the visitation schedule. While over here, I regularly take her to the river, on daily treks to the dog park, and let her receive treats from the cutie-pie toddler who lives across the street. Wolfy loves Lilliana. She especially enjoys licking the goo from between her fingers, rejoicing in Lilliana’s squeals of delight. While over at my grandkids’ home, Wolfy roams a neighborhood full of children whom she whole-heartedly adores with all her might.
When Wolfy reached eight months of age, she seemed significantly sturdier than a shepherd, more like a werewolf/mountain lion combined – with the temperament that ranged from a kindergartener on candy to baby duckling. As you may surmise, there is nothing very wolf-like about Wolfy.
The night it happened, everything started when Wolfy frantically scratched on the front door, using both paws – such unusual behavior. Perhaps, I should have thought before I reached for the knob because the instant the door creaked open Wolfy’s cotton candy disposition switched. She made an unheard-of guttural growl as she barreled across the yard and then leaped over the fence (a feat she’d never attempted).
What Wolfy did next, I couldn’t believe: she flew across the street into Lilliana’s yard. It was dark outside and very late, but I saw Lillianna’s mother’s car in its regular spot while her father’s truck was missing; he was presumably called again to his work site. That meant little Lilliana and her studious mother were home alone.
The entire neighborhood was asleep. Nothing was happening. No one was out there. I didn’t want to wake Lilliana or her beautiful young mother, so I signaled for Wolfy to return home. Wolfy remained oblivious as her enormous form galloped into Lilliana’s side yard. My vantage point was obscured, so I darted towards my fence line. When I reached the clearing that overlooked the side of their property, it took a half second for it to register.
Towards the back of Lillianna’s house, perched on a wooden surface (a box or crate that may have been taken from the nearby alley), a sinister shadow person hoisted himself to the ledge of a freshly opened window. Too bad for him, that’s when Wolfy snagged ahold of his pant leg and flung him to the ground like a big, brand-new chew toy. As the wanna-be home invader floundered in the dirt, Wolfy growled her scariest, most demonic warning, revealing an array of large, garish, very white teeth. The annoyed stranger swung a metal bar at her; Wolfy responded with a couple of good chomps to his arm and legs.
Wanting to summon assistance, I dashed back to my room to fetch my phone. When I returned mere seconds later, I observed the terror-faced suspect run into the street, gripping a bag that clanked much like tools. As he hobbled down the street, his gang tattoos and gloved hands screamed danger. Ignoring all that danger, taking indiscriminate bites from his backside as she chased him down the street, Wolfy informed him that she was the “real criminal” and ruler of her neighborhood.
Once he disappeared, I called to her in my sternest tone. Wolfy triumphantly bounded to the feet of her master, where she sat at attention, expectantly waiting for her two favorite words. And even though I knew we could be in a heap of trouble. Even though I knew animal control could come and take her away, breaking the hearts of my grandchildren and their friends. Even though I could be sued or – worse – possibly charged with an offense, I looked into her loving, caring, honey-pot eyes and said everything she needed to hear. “Good girl!”
I’m usually an honest person. I’m a good citizen with no criminal record whatsoever, and I’m a grandmother. Still, when I spoke to safety dispatch, I omitted the pesky little part where my dog savagely attacked and injured the intruder. I guess in my old age, I tend to suffer from onsets of dementia.
It’s been a year and a half, and Wolfy’s shown no aggression towards my grandchildren, their friends, or any of my neighbors. One time, I strolled into the kitchen to discover my four-year-old grandson straddled across Wolfy’s chest with his fist in her mouth. “Grandma,” he exclaimed excitedly, “I got Wolfy’s tongue.” One time, Bobby retrieved a bone from Wolfy’s mouth so that they could play fetch. And there are the dozens of times kids accidentally stepped on her paws or tail, to which she responded with a whimper and quick getaway. Wolfy is an amazing part of our family. She is cherished, adored, and very much loved.
Strange thing, though, every couple of weeks, a brand-new bone or chew toy appears in our yard. I’ve never discussed what happened that night with anyone – I’m still afraid I’ll get a visit by the city or sued – but I suspect it’s Lillianna’s parents. They have a security system and are probably well-aware of how much their furry guardian loves their little girl and precisely what Wolfy would do to protect her.