At the time little did I expect a slight deviation from my usual route home would have me wrestling with a Saint and hitching a ride with two angels!
The distant horizon sizzles with hues of orange and yellow as the sun burns down for the day. My five-dollar sunglasses do nothing to relieve the discomfort so I resort to looking through the slits of my lowered eyelids. Further on, I vaguely make out a four-legged animal crisscrossing the road. As the distance diminishes, I see a large St. Bernard dog. Oblivious to the angry honks and near misses of passing cars, the Saint seems to have a guardian angel sitting on his shoulder. I decide that taking the Saint out of harm’s way will be worth the slight interruption to my commute home.
I pull onto the gravel shoulder. Half my car still protrudes into the lane of traffic. In the dwindling light, the glow of my car’s yellow hazard lights provides intermittent protection as other cars zip by.
His nose hovering just a fraction of an inch above the earth inhaling the sweet essence of virgin ground. The Saint doesn’t even notice me. I pat my hands on both knees and, in a high pitched, soft mothering tone, I call out, “Come here boy! Come here! Aren’t you a handsome fellow.” Not even a glimpse my way. It didn’t take long for me to realize that I was no match for the sights and smells of the impending adventure of unfettered canine freedom. Hmm. What to do? I return to my car and take the ten-minute old sub out and, like magic, I have the Saint’s attention!
The Saint lumbers over to me. Grabbing his collar is the easy part, reading his tag proved to be as infuriating as the buzz of a mosquito when you’re trying to fall asleep. A phone number is printed on the tab. Sub devoured, he wants to go where he wants to go. There’s my dog, Wally’s, leash. With a Houdini like maneuver, I manage to get the leash snapped onto his collar. I take out my phone and call the vet. The secretary has no luck contacting the owner so she gives me the Saint’s home address. I decide the easiest option is to simply take him home.
After several long minutes of trying to coerce the stubborn Saint into the back of my car, it’s obvious he’s doesn’t want to get in a vehicle, much less ride in one. OK, I say under my breath. I’ll just walk you home. By my best guesstimate, I figure his rural route address is East of our present location.
After a few steps I realize our fate is sealed. The adventure begins. His familiarity of being lead on leash is even less than that of his time riding in a vehicle. He proceeds to drag me in and out of the ditch at will. I get soaked on the first ditch detour but I’m not letting go. Stiff dry weed stalks are cutting my arms. At points he lies down and refuses to move. After catching his breath he’s off and running. I brace myself against mailboxes to hold us back from heading into traffic. I am as determined to hang on as he is to make me let go! My breath is heavy and hot, the salty taste of sweat on my lips. We tangle and untangle in the cord tethering us together like a choreographed dance between capture and escape.
Finally, as the glow of the sun’s dying embers burns out I find his house. My guesstimate was terribly wrong. After heading ¼ East we had to double back and go another ¼ West. Of course nobody is home so I confine him to the garage. Satisfied my punishing ordeal is over, I give myself a once over. Mud covers my numb arms and the constant jerking motion has given me a sore shoulder. Beneath the cool mud balm the sting of tiny cuts and scrapes works its way through the dried blood.
I am a hot mess. I mean that literally not figuratively. As I shake my head in disbelieve, a giggle wiggles its way out of my belly. The giggle quickly turns to hysterical laughter. I tuck knotted strands of hair riddled with weeds behind my ear. As I struggle to regain my composure, far in the distance, I see the faint pulsing glow of yellow hazard lights. The good laugh seems to have cured all my wounds, seen and unseen. Satisfied my Saintly mission is accomplished, I head out carrying its good medicine in my memory—laughter.
Exhaustion is setting in and each step is heavy and slow. The smile still stretched across my face, I ask my guardian angels for protection and strength as I walk down the silent country road. The gleam of headlights gone. With a chuckle, I say out loud. I guess you never know where a good deed will lead… you…Angie.
Then out of nowhere, a car appears! The arm of its passenger frantically waving me over. I can’t believe it! Two wonderful women offer me a ride back to my car. As we drive, I recount the St. Bernard story to rousing laughter. Laughter has a way of lifting the weight of our humanness off our spirits. As we depart I had an amusing thought. Not all Saints are angels and not all angels have wings.
“Every time you do a good deed you shine the light a little farther into the dark. And the thing is, when you’re gone that light is going to keep shining on, pushing the shadows back.” ~Charles de Lint