I have one really vivid Fourth of July memory. I was about ten years old…so that was 48 years ago! It was also the year that I fell out of love with sparklers! Since then Independence Day celebrations have been pain-free and carefree.
During the late seventies and early eighties, my husband (then just a boyfriend) and I enjoyed spending time at Shaver Lake at his family’s cabin. We spent the Fourth floating on the barge just like any other summer day. Fireworks were not legal, but they weren’t missed. The evening was spent on the deck of the cabin perched among the trees drinking and eating.
After we married and had our daughter, firework shows were de-rigueur. But, perhaps because of that early experience with a burn, I’ve never really needed the light show to make the holiday special.
On any other Monday morning, I’d be killing it on the Cybex arc burning in excess of 600 calories in 50 minutes. But, Zone Fitness was closed for Memorial Day, so I took to the streets in my slippers and p.j.’s, blanket wrapped round my shoulders for modesty’s sake.
To be sure, this was an unplanned session of cardio. It lasted only 30 minutes, but it was more brutal and intense than anything I’ve ever done in the gym. It began just after I’d poured my second cup of coffee.
“Where’s Winnie?” was the rallying cry! When you live with three dachshunds always under foot, you develop a sixth sense that warns you when one of them is in trouble (of their own making)! We called for her and searched the yard, but it quickly became clear that she was gone!
My husband and I ran to the driveway to begin our rescue mission while our daughter, home from school for the weekend, changed from p.j.’s to street clothing. Tom headed left. I went right and flagged down a car just as he rounded our corner. I didn’t know him, but he knew enough about me that I didn’t have to tell him the breed of my dogs!
“Oh, I’ve seen your doxies,” or did he say “heard your doxies”? It’s all a blur. “I have a dog; I understand,” he continued.
He offered to drive, slowly, around the loop that is our street and search for my girl. My belief in the kindness of strangers is so often validated.
I continued down the street, alternately yelling “Winnie” and explaining to any passers-by that my dog was loose, and very tiny. About 20 frantic minutes after the realization that she was gone, I felt the first tear slip down my cheek. I began knocking on doors. People can be very sweet when presented with a lightly clad, very sad neighbor at their door. No one had seen her, but everyone would watch out for her. A few even joined me in the street.
It would be about another 10 minutes before my husband found our pup and sent my daughter out in the car to look for me. I heard he gave her simple instructions.
“Don’t come back without your mother!”
Back in our family room where our day had quietly begun, my husband described what he’d learned about Winnie’s great escape and adventure. I must describe the geography of our home for you to fully appreciate her great feat. Our house is below street level, so our garden is terraced. Stone walls divide each level. Our little one had jumped four 18 inch walls (we knew she could do that) and a 2 foot metal fence (we didn’t know she could do that) and then tunneled under the bottom of the fence to arrive in our neighbor’s back yard. She didn’t stop there, though. She tunneled further to pop up in the next neighbors yard and had just left and crossed the street when the man who offered to help me spotted her from his car and called out to my husband.
My husband called out to Winnie, who obviously knew she’d been a bad girl. She turned and ran away from him, but thankfully back the way she’d come. She arrived in our yard to my husband’s great pleasure (or displeasure)?!
Dachshunds were bred to burrow and they are known to be trouble-makers. Our Winnie is an overachiever in both areas! Thankfully, this is a story with a happy ending, but I also think it’s a cautionary tale to anyone thinking about acquiring a dog:
There are dogs and then there are dachshunds…beware!
P.S. On a positive note, I did get in some cardio…and my husband will be getting his workout after he returns from Home Depot with cement and lumber to build a bigger, better fence!