My dog stole my cellphone. I was trying to watch the Braves game when she stole it from my armrest and left for another zip code.
Thelma Lou, the bloodhound, is sixty-five pounds of droopy eyes and ten-miles of legs. And she is sprinting toward parts unknown. Muscles flexed, ears flying. We’re talking full-on demonic possession. And I’m chasing her.
Of course, any dog owner will tell you that it’s a bad idea to chase a dog. You must never chase a dog. Dogs are programmed to run away from you when you chase them.
Instead, experts stress that the best way to recall a dog is to pat your thighs and unleash a string of profanity that causes small trees and most domestic varieties of hydrangeas to die.
Not me. I’m chasing and hollering:
Thel is already a mile away, galloping a dirt road into a neighborhood of mobile homes. The trailer-park neighborhood is quiet tonight. Folks are sitting in front yards, seated in lawn chairs.
One man is shirtless, with many tattoos, his name is Miller. Miller’s mother—I’d guess late-seventies, maybe—is seated beside him. She is smoking a cigarette and wearing a patriotic bathing suit which provides less coverage than number 08 dental floss.
Granny is spraying Miller’s kids with the water hose. They are laughing and giggling.
“What kinda dog is that?” Granny asks me.
I’m not making eye contact with Granny in case of any possible swimsuit malfunctions.
“A bloodhound,” I say.
She stabs her cigarette and adjusts her bikini top. “Nice-looking dog, Sweetie Pie. What’s your name?”
She winks at me.
So Miller decides to help me. He chases Thelma. And he runs faster than I can. He darts away so quick that his baggy jean shorts almost rip and he nearly spills his beer.
But Miller is committed to my cause. And even though Miller is not a small man, he runs at a breakneck speed. His flip flops fall from his feet. His wallet is dangling behind him on a chain clipped to his belt loop.
Thelma kicks into full throttle. She spins in circles. Miller tries to grab her. His fingers barely graze her fur. Then she turns. She crouches. She wags her tail.
She barks as if to say: “Come get me, Miller!”
But Miller is out of breath. He sits on the curb, puffs his vapor cigarette, and uses words which I won’t repeat—my mother will read this.
“Think I sprained my ankle,” says Miller. “You better go on without me. I can’t walk.”
Thus, I am one man down. I am following a bloodhound who carries my new-model Apple device in her mouth. She is heading for Canada.
And that’s when I have an idea that can only be described as divine inspiration. My idea is—bear with me here—to cluck like a chicken.
So that’s what I do. I cluck.
Thelma stops running.
OF COURSE! Why didn’t I try this before? Chickens are an ancient pastime among dogs. A holy sacrament. The sound of clucking triggers something deep within the canine brain—warm emotions that remind dogs of the longstanding bond they share with undercooked poultry.
I cluck again.
Thel is so overcome with warm emotion she squats and makes a warm contribution to the earth.
I take advantage of this window of opportunity. I trot toward her while she is still in the pancake-making position. I call her using my happy, Mister Rogers voice. I’m trying to reach her before her moment of spiritual reflection is finished.
Miller is limping behind me with a side cramp, and possibly a broken fibula.
I’m edging toward Thelma with the same caution experts use when approaching active nuclear reactors.
“Thelma Lou, that’s my angel!” I say. “Bawk! Bawk! Bacawk!”
And something changes inside my dog. She drops my phone. She runs toward me. She jumps on me. She licks me. Miller rejoices by sucking his vapor cigarette completely dry.
So my phone is recovered and all is well with the world. I have a dog on a leash, and we’re making our journey homeward where I’ll resume watching baseball.
Thank you, Miller. You’ll never know how much your help meant to me. I’m sorry about your ankle.
Give my best to Granny.