m wood pen

illustrator of books, cocktails, travel + more

scottiesmy good deed of the week has been to tend to a good friend’s little terriers while she makes pie in newtown and meets with a cool editor in nyc.  yes, i’m a good friend!

the situation has been tricky, as my son’s uber adorable young cat lives here as well, since his apartment mate is decidedly allergic to felines.  (certainly not females…oh to be young and in the city!).

so, young cat despises the two dogs.  one, german-born, who i have deduced is definitely part long-haired dachsund (i’d know that schnoz anywhere), has set up camp here as a sort of military general.  the other one, my particular favorite, is mexican-born, crossed the border without identification of any kind, and has set up camp here sleeping on the couch.  this, to the cat, is great news.

however, the little german general, acting true to both his genes and the fatherland, is decidedly curious about the fuzzy, ethereal creature who has chosen to hole-up in my bedroom for the duration of the visit.

this makes for tricky wickets here, as, big-hearted me, is now juggling to share affection and positive vibes with all three of the furry inhabitants of our little country house.  but, since we lost our dearest astro dog just two weeks ago, i’m finding this pickle a healing one beyond the juggling act required.

the mother of the terriers assured me before her departure to the big apple, that they loved to roam, and were accountable to always return to my door, so i was to feel free to let them run out and about on our 5 acres and the nature preserve that lays just across our pasture.  ever-vigilent, i suggested that we ‘tag up’ the terriers before any roaming commenced, so that i wasn’t going to lose either or both of them.

i take my dog-sitting duties seriously, mostly because i grew up on this land, and can count on all digits, many times over, the close-calls, and heartbreak of a dog gone missing.

for the first few days, we had a good gig going. the cat would perch on the window-sill, heart-beating, watching for signs from the invaders.  this kept her fit and not bored for a split second.

the critters, once harnessed up, would be let out of my big coach-house doors and leap about the property, gathering sticks, rolling in the snow, and digging to china.

the other day, i returned to my drafting table, as i’m on deadline to create dozens of illustrations for a book with my amazing people at harpercollins uk.  coffee steaming, music streaming, and terriers exploring the snow drifts around my house, i got happily lost in my work.

after a while, i heard the yap yap yap of herr general, and walked over to the door to let him in.

realizing it had been a while since i’d seen ‘fuzzy larue’, i grabbed my handy whistle (too old to yell loudly for visiting dogs, or dogs of any kind), and did my best captain von trapp imitation, urging her to hear my call and return to the casa.

well, no sign of her….

throwing on my daughter’s nifty green hunter boots (i’ll miss those, well, and her, when she sets off for college in the fall), i trudged about in the snow in search of the second member of team terrier.  after a few minutes, i admit, i was a bit worried.  i didn’t like the idea of losing this sweet dog, and felt the prickles of panic start to crawl up my neck when, out of the blue, my cellphone ‘pinged’ an incoming text.

digging into the deep pockets of my son’s snowboard jacket (these kids come in handy for many, many reasons), i read the missive,

“daisy is in a silver suv, returning to your house.”

cryptic, but straight to the point!

so, here’s what happened, and why we do love the modern world at times like this.

little mexico, fuzzy cuteness incarnate, happened to be sitting, SITTING, on the road.  a nice woman pulled her car over, urged the pooch into her huge car, read the tag, with an iowa address, called the number, with a california prefix, and spoke to the gal, who, that very moment, was teaching a pie class in newtown, ct for a gaggle of preschoolers.

and all of this happening while i was jamming and sketching to elvis costello!

soon enough, a gargantuan car pulled up to my driveway, and i spotted the grinch-like curly-haired pooch hugging this new friend!  the dog seemed to be more than happy to drive off into the sunset with the lady, but i had my obligation to keep her safe here with brother terrier until the return of their actual mother.

so, with apologies to both lady and dog, i pulled them apart from their emotional embrace, hooked daisy back up to the leash, and walked her back into my house.

the rest of the week?  well, let’s just say, i’m keeping fit as the dogs have LOST their free reign privileges and are now the impetuous to get me out and about in hearty, blood-pumping walks many, many times a day.

and how’s the cat in all of this?  still pacing her self-imposed jail cell, no doubt planning her own escape into a phantom, dog-free bright and shiny silver suv!

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