Thursday, August 23, 2007
From her spot at our feet, Ivy the dog hears the grumble of a truck engine in the driveway. Suddenly, she forgets just who it is who has left her behind – who always leaves her behind – and charges out across the living room floor, her nails click click clicking on the ancient wooden floor as she bolts impatiently through the screen door and out onto the porch. The door slams back in place with a hard, defiant smack.
Truck doors echo with their own slamming sounds. A child shouts. There is a flurry of conversation, elated voices rising to greet waiting neighbors. I listen hard for the sound of someone greeting Ivy. Her name would be good. Or even just that high-pitched lilt that creeps into our voices when we greet small creatures that are beloved to us.
No one greets Ivy.
Within a minute she is back in front of the screen door, whining. I let her in. She settles at my feet, but upright, her back to me, her head turned full to the door.
Surely, I think, our hosts will drop in and say hello to us on this, our last day? And surely then, I think, they will see Ivy at my feet and break out into an elated grin and pat their thigh and bend down to greet her, sighing softly into her, "Ivy."
But no one comes to greet us. Minutes go by. S.B. continues to read peacefully, but I can only seethe.
Outside the flurry of voices, of activity, waxes and wanes. Ivy cocks an ear at certain sounds. She remains alert, but doesn't move.
I run a hand along the top of her head and around her ears. She likes this. While I pet her, I remember the words of the woman who comes to put her up at night: Ivy is eight years old. She fends for herself because her owners are gone a lot. They’re really not very attached to her. She can be kind of cranky, kind of standoffish.
But while we've been here, she's been here for us. Yesterday, she and S.B. even played a little along the porch, she racing back and forth, back and forth, barking and hopping as S.B. egged her on in an excited voice. And later, we gave her an entire steak for dinner.
I sure do wish Ivy wasn't the dog who always gets left behind. I sure do wish I could bury my face in her fur. I sure do wish I could take her home, give her a purpose and a place beside me in the mornings up in the hills.
But she stinks from multiple daily swims in the ditch along the road, so I can’t bury my face in her fur. And she doesn’t belong to me, so I can’t take her home.
So there remains the problem of Ivy. She has owners, but she belongs to no one.