For the past several months my dog, Eddie, has been hunkered down under our dining room table, afraid to venture out into the maws of the Huron Village Big Dig. I have to bribe him to leave the house, and half the time he drags me back inside once we get to the end of the driveway, and he hears, smells, and sees all the construction activity. You’ve heard the expression, “That dog won’t hunt.”? Well, mine won’t walk. On top of his construction phobia, Eddie has been suffering from severe dermatological problems since last fall, so he wears a Thundershirt 24/7 to control his nervous scratching. Sadly, my hypoallergenic cockapoo is, himself, plagued with allergies.
So, I was stunned to get a call from the Cambridge Police last week, informing me that my itchy homebody of a dog was loose on a city street about three miles from my house.
“That’s impossible,” I insisted.
“Ma’am, your phone number is on the dog’s collar,” the police officer said. True, he had called me, after all.
“Are you sure it’s my dog? Is he wearing a shirt?” I asked. Maybe my phone number was on some other dog’s collar. It all had to be a big mix-up.
“Yes, ma’am, he’s wearing a shirt.” At this point, the officer must have been thinking “only in Cambridge” — and probably not for the first time that day, either.
As it happened, I was on the way from my office to an appointment, and had just driven past the street where Eddie had been found. I still could not fathom how my timid dog had turned up all the way across town, but I made a U-turn and assured the officer I’d be right there.
As I rushed to retrieve my wayward dog, I phoned Eddie’s dog walker. Three days a week Eddie goes out with several other dogs on field trips to the countryside. They visit dog-friendly beaches, bucolic meadows, and wooded areas where they can happily romp off leash. In the evenings, after working to afford daycamp for my dog, I watch videos — shot by the dog walker on his iPhone — of Eddie and his pals bounding through fields, swimming in ponds, and trekking along forest trails. My dog is far better acquainted with the wealth of scenic destinations outside Boston than I am, not to mention in far better shape. Only in Cambridge, right?
Walker (not his real name) was hyperventilating when he got my call. When I told him I was on my way to fetch Eddie, he heaved a colossal sigh of relief, his emotion palpable over the cellular network. “Oh, thank god! Thank god, he’s alright.”
All those afternoons off leash in the deep woods, and Eddie had never gone missing. In fact, in the videos, Eddie was always the one bringing up the rear, the smallest dog in the pack, sticking close to Walker’s side for security. My Eddie is no trailblazer.
Upon hearing the name of the street where Eddie had been found, Walker realized what must have happened. It turns out that another of his client-dogs, Riley, lives in a neighboring unit of the multi-family house where Eddie was found. About 15 minutes earlier Walker had stopped to pick up Riley. As Walker was helping Riley (who has joint pain) into the car, Eddie squeezed through the narrow opening between the barrier separating the backseat from the hatchback, and jumped out while Walker’s back was briefly turned.
Not realizing Eddie had escaped, Walker drove off, making a pit stop at his own home about a mile away. Letting the dogs out to do their business in his yard, Walker noticed Eddie was missing and began a frantic search of the premises. A few agonizing minutes later, when he saw my number come up on his caller ID, he realized that someone must have phoned me about Eddie. (I am very glad I put my cell phone number on Eddie’s name tag; no one was at home to answer the land line. I am also glad Eddie has a 2013 dog license on his collar as a secondary means of identification and proof that his rabies vaccination is up to date.)
As I pulled up, I saw Eddie sitting on the front steps of the house surrounded by Cambridge Police Officer Chris Ponte, Animal Control Officer Alison Price, and the resident who had spotted Eddie loose in his driveway. Officer Price was holding a bag of beef jerky dog treats, which, she reported, Eddie had been consuming with gusto. No wonder. Since his allergies developed, Eddie has been on a meatless, grain-free, organic diet; he hasn’t tasted beef, chicken, or lamb in months, only salmon. Maybe he ran away in protest for the right to eat red meat and the freedom to go shirtless in the summer? Perhaps he’s just fed up with his “only in Cambridge” lifestyle?
Of course, being Eddie, he didn’t actually go anywhere before he was nabbed. A few minutes unattended in a stranger’s driveway earned him a belly full of savory treats and a cascade of relieved hugs from me and Walker, who returned minutes later to meet us. Eddie’s adventure alone on the mean streets of Cambridge was brief and uneventful. He is one lucky dog.
Many thanks to Officers Ponte and Price for their quick response to the neighbor’s call and their kindness to Eddie.