This is a story that I am ashamed is true. Paul has never forgiven me for it, or let me forget about it.

 

I was in between what could be called careers. Okay. Truly I am not one to fall into the “norm,” anyway. That was why I loved Preston so much. He wasn’t one to care about the “norm” either.

 

That is not at all why I am ashamed.

 

So I had this little job. If you have had these little jobs you know that they are usually run by little tyrants. So I was always concerned about showing up on time. Little tyrants usually jump on you predominantly for being “on time.” Not five minutes early. Not five minutes late. Nope. Gotta be “on time.”

 

I can’t remember why Paul wasn’t with me. He must have had something else to do this particular morning. Also on this particular morning, they were spraying Round-Up in Mac Forest in attempt to control noxious weeds. Kind of funny that they use a noxious chemical like Round-Up to control noxious weeds, but that’s a story for someone else to write.

 

Anyway. I ended up running at Bald Hill again. This time with both Preston and Ursus.

 

We went jogging along:  Preston and Ursus in front, me lagging far behind. 

 

At one point, I looked over into a field of tall brown grass. There was a pair of eyes looking back at me, almost completely camouflaged within the grass. It was a coyote. Fortunately, the dogs did not seem to notice by sight or smell that it was there. So, I just kept running. Eventually, the coyote came from his “hiding” place and ended up running up right to my heels. I tried to shoo it away, but it was too late. The dogs had seen the coyote and they went on the chase.

 

I yelled both Preston and Ursus’ names. They ignored me. They were hot on the trail. All three of them disappeared into the woods.

 

“Dammit!” I thought. I ran back and forth for a long time, at least a half hour. Eventually, I saw one of them emerge from the woods and into the field.

 

Yes! I thought.

 

It was Ursus. He was being chased by a small dog that I thought was a Jack Russell from where I stood. Then I saw its tail and realized that it was no Jack Russell. It was a fox. The fox ran after Ursus with big leaps over the tall grass. Ursus ran like his life depended on it (it probably didn’t). Finally, once Ursus was on the paved trail again, the fox just turned around and went back into the woods. It was as if the fox was showing Ursus: hey, over here is mine. You stay in your own territory.

 

Ursus and I waited for Preston. Finally, I decided to run back to the parking lot where I knew Preston would often show up.

 

I got to the parking lot. There was no Preston. So, I ran up the trail a bit and back down the trail, waiting for him. There was still no Preston. I waited. I waited. A city worker in a golf cart drove up and I asked him if he had seen Preston.

 

“No,” he said, “But I’ll keep an eye out for him.”

 

So I continued to wait. I finally got so angry that I didn’t even care anymore. I needed to get to work.

 

I loaded Ursus into the car and left. I was so mad that I didn’t even care what happened to Preston (at that moment in time, anyway).

 

When I got home, Paul asked me where Preston was.

 

“I don’t care.” I said, “I left him at Bald Hill.” That is the part that I am ashamed of: I left him.

 

Paul went ballistic. “How could you leave your dog that you profess to love so much!!”

 

“I got tired of waiting for him,” I said.

 

Well, Paul was angry as hell. While I took a shower, he decided to go back to Bald Hill to find Preston.

 

I went to work. About an hour later, Paul texted me that he had not found Preston. By this time, I really had forgotten my anger and was worried. But what could I do?

 

At about 9:30 am (two hours later), I received a call.

 

“I think I have your dog….”

 

It turned out that it was the Animal Control Officer. The same Animal Control Officer who had issued that ticket that sent me into the spin of trying to find Preston a new place to live.

 

She (until this point I thought that M. Tracy was a man…like Mike or Mark Tracy) explained to me that she had Preston and was waiting in front of the county animal shelter. If I could get there before the shelter opened, I could retrieve my dog for free. If I couldn’t, she would have to turn him over to the shelter and it would cost $75 to get him out.

 

“I’ll be there,” I said.

 

After hanging up, I called Paul. “They have Preston.” I said.

 

“WHO has Preston?” he demanded in his own commanding voice.

 

“Actually, Animal Control,” I said, “I am going to pick him up right now. Can you meet me back in the parking lot at work so that you can take him home from here?”

 

“Alright. Text me when you are on your way back.” Paul never appreciated Preston’s spunk. Okay. Obviously I had been completely annoyed by Preston’s spunk at this time, too.

 

I took my leave of work, promising that I would return in less than half an hour. I drove across the tiny town of Corvallis to the ominous “South Side” (where all the drug deals and murders take place—though not really). I drove into the Humane Society parking lot. It was empty except for one large truck parked with its rear toward me. Behind it was a non-descript woman in a police uniform….and Preston. He was on a leash and jumping toward me. He was actually happy to see me! He probably smelled all the turmoil that had gone on in the back of that truck and for once actually was glad to see me.

 

It turned out that the Corvallis City maintenance man had actually caught the little sh-sh-sheepdog and handed him over to the Animal Control woman because he didn’t have the time or capacity to hold him.

 

I could never tell her that the dog that she had in custody was actually a wanted dog. He was a criminal. He had chased down two mail carriers on at least four different occasions. And this very woman standing before me had left the last citation I had gotten for having a dog “running at large.”

 

So, I picked up Preston and texted Paul that we were on our way back to my place of employment. When I reached the parking lot, there was no Paul. But it was only moments before he showed up in his beat up Subaru. I transferred Preston to his car.

 

“Thank you,” I said.

 

He grumbled a few things and said, “welcome.”

 

I watched as Preston was driven off by Paul. I think Preston looked back at me for about one second. Then he turned back to “forward” and rode along to wherever Paul was taking him.

 

Fortunately, I trusted Paul enough that he would take Preston directly back home and feed him large quantities of food and love. Paul always pretended to be very, very harsh. Deep inside, he was sort of the marshmallow he always accused me of being.

 

I wouldn’t mind being called a marshmallow except for the fact that most marshmallows aren’t vegetarian.