This is the story of a dog. Her name was Chelsea. It could be Ruff or Princess or Spot by now.
Wait. Let’s back up. This is the story of a family:
Randy, Barbara, Colin and Adam moved from Arkansas to the house across the street two summers ago. We found them instantly endearing. A Mississippi native, Randy speaks with a friendly drawl--often about how he feels like a fish out of water in Southern California. Barbara adapted more easily.
Both work long hours in law enforcement. I think they would agree with the observation that two demanding jobs and two feisty boys stretch them thin.
About those feisty boys. They’re as cute as a button and as rascally as a rascal. “I call Adam ‘Dennis the Menace,’” notes Barbara. Indeed, her precocious, freckle-faced first-grader looks, acts and talks like he belongs in a sitcom or comic strip.
Maybe it’s because they come from a more rural, trusting and spontaneous environment--where a kid actually can do something like climb a tree without adults hovering nearby. Fearless, Colin and Adam tackle life like a couple of wild puppies.
For months after their arrival, they would crawl out a second-floor window and sit on the roof’s edge, feet dangling over the driveway below. Eventually, their parents persuaded them this was a bad idea.
On school mornings, the brothers gleefully scamper about ignoring demands to board the car--just in case their office-bound parents weren’t already frazzled enough.
OK, this is the story of a dog: Just in case they weren’t already frazzled enough, Randy and Barbara adopted a year-old boxer-lab mix.
Chelsea was (is) the sweetest dog imaginable. She loves grownups, loves children, loves other dogs. When our mutts, half her size, so much as grumbled at her, she rolled on her back submissively to signal she came in peace.
Her only fault: Chelsea was (is) mischievous.
My husband and I couldn’t believe our eyes when we saw Chelsea wiggle out the upstairs window and survey her kingdom from on high. I tell you, she was a virtual extension of her littlest masters.
For the first two weeks, Chelsea lived with us during the day. That’s because she could climb her six-foot wall like a cat. Then she’d prance over here, certain that Chester and Pepper would be thrilled by her company. With her owners gone for the day, I'd take her in--a pattern that became quite annoying to her presumed “pals.”
As a solution, Randy hammered a trellis to the side wall, extending it four feet. Next, Randy and Barbara installed an expensive doggie door so Chelsea could have the run of the house in their absence. They really, really wanted her to settle in happily.
Randy returned from work recently to the sight of foam rubber scattered in the entry hall. “I guess Chelsea tore up a pillow,” he thought. Rounding the corner, he realized, no, not a pillow. The sofa. The new sofa. The entire new sofa.
So the next day, Chelsea's exasperated guardians locked her outside. Where, in nine hours flat, she proceeded to dig up the plants. Not just a few plants. Every single plant.
“She’s a great dog, but she needs to be with a family that’s home most of the day,” Randy decided. “She’s too social for our schedule.” Sadly, back to the shelter went Chelsea.
But that’s not the end of the story. A few days ago, while paused at a stop sign in our neighborhood, Matt and I suddenly noticed a familiar, darling face--that of Ruff or Princess or Spot or, as we know her, Chelsea. She looked us straight in the eye with cheerful recognition, yearning to bestow one of her heartfelt kisses.
In the distance, her new owner trotted toward her, leash in hand, like a cowboy about to rope his calf. He’d better add a trellis to that corral.