Cookie is living a secret life. She disappears for hours at a time and has no explanation for herself.
Finally, it came out. I saw her picture on Facebook. She was on a back deck that wasn’t ours, enjoying a drink with a man who wasn’t Tim, outside a house that wasn’t hers.
“What is thisssss?” I asked her, showing her the photo. She said nothing.
We knew she liked to visit the neighbors, but this was going too far. Now she was posing for other families’ Facebook photos? She’s refused every selfie I’ve tried with her.
It started last summer. She would disappear for a few minutes and, just when I decide to panic, here she’d come loping down our long driveway. We live on 12 acres, behind other houses, secluded from the road. So I usually didn’t worry. Wherever she had been was somewhere between the trampoline and a field of crabgrass.
Things escalated by fall. She would roar out the back door each morning as if on a mission. We have a community dog trail in the woods. It’s a combination of our property and the next and has turned into a nice little free-for-all for the dogs.
This means that on occasion I’ll be out back in my rattiest fat pants, Tim’s sweatshirt with paint dried on the sleeve and wearing a pair of the kids’ sunglasses, when one of the neighbors will appear on my property.
“Greetings, Cookie,” he will say.
“Hello, Savannah,” I will reply.
We always choose to talk through the dogs. Much safer than admitting my state of dress. Roger, unforgivably, always looks dapper.
Next, I got a call from Barb, a neighbor up front.
“Kandy, do you realize Cookie has been here all day?”
“All day?” I say, stalling. Oh dear. It was time to pick the kids up from school, and I had last seen Cookie barreling out the back door to see if anyone was out walking at 8 a.m. To my credit, I had been so busy that I was still dressed in last night’s sleeping attire/outback hiking outfit.
“Well?” she asked. I cringed. What would she say next? “Can Cookie stay for dinner?” (Note, I’ve never had dinner with them.) Before I said yes, I knew Barb was peeling open a can of soft food. I stared at the day-old dry food in Cookie’s bowl and hung up.
Next, a chance meeting at the grocery store. This time it was Mary.
“I just love that Cookie!” she said, as we walked side by side out to the parking lot. “I haven’t seen her in a week; is she OK?” We’d been gone to Gulf Shores on vacation. She hadn’t noticed our entire family was also missing.
That’s when Mary saw Cookie in the car. “Oh my Lord, you have her right here! Cookie!” she squealed.
I had to unlock the back not to put the groceries in, but to allow Mary and Cookie a reunion.
“Now, hold on,” she said. She produced a dog biscuit from her purse. “Here you go!”
It was bigger than any dog biscuit I’d ever seen, approximately the length, depth and weight of a grown woman’s purse.
“See you back at home, Mary!” I called, waiting her out so I could go back into Tom’s and buy gigantic dog biscuits and soft food. It was becoming apparent I would have to woo my own dog.
And the last straw: Char’s Facebook photo of Cookie lounging on their back deck.
“Is this dog ever home?” I asked Tim. It was like having a teenager with a (dog) license.
“At least she’s in good hands,” he replied.
It was true. Cookie was living the high life. Taking handouts and entire meals and epic dog biscuits at not one, but five houses in all. That we know of.
But if I see one of the neighbors set up a fan page for her on Facebook, I’m drawing the line.