1: The Great Table Caper

1: The Great Table Caper

From Chicken Soup for the Soul: My Very Good, Very Bad Dog

The Great Table Caper

Fun fact: In most U.S. cities, to protect both people and dogs, “leash laws” require that dogs in public be on a leash that is less than six feet long.

Early one fine spring morning, Tyler (a large Golden Retriever), Zoe (a large red Doberman) and I (a woman of a certain age) headed out for a walk. Our destination was the lake in the neighborhood. First, though, we visited the local coffee shop so I could get a cup of tea to drink as we walked.

I tied Tyler and Zoe, who were very sweet and obedient dogs, to the base of a metal table that was in a cordoned-off area for the restaurant next door. When the restaurant was closed, I often tied them to a table. As usual, I turned to look at them before going in and said, “Be good. I’ll be right out.”

It was a Saturday morning, and very few people were about or in the coffee shop. After getting my tea, I went over to the condiment station to doctor it with some sweetness. My back was to the door. While stirring in the sugar, I had slipped into a bit of absentmindedness. All of a sudden, a man’s voice boomed from behind me, bringing me out of my reverie. “Someone own those dogs out there?” he called out.

Leaving my tea, I sprang to the door. Outside, mayhem reigned. Tyler, Zoe and the table were gone. Tables and chairs were knocked over. The black straps that cordoned off the area along with their metal stands were on the ground. I ran to the middle of the street. Tyler, the table, and Zoe — in that order — were running away as if the devil himself was chasing them. The metal table bounced, making a loud noise, which caused Tyler to run faster.

I ran after them, yelling, “Tyler, stop! Stop, Tyler, stop!” I could see that Tyler was the instigator since he was in the lead. He looked back at me, then at the table, and then back to me. His eyes said, “Mom, I can’t. There’s a table chasing me!” He kept running.

Zoe looked back at me, and her eyes said, “Mom, he’s gone crazy; I don’t know what to do.” She was definitely at his mercy, and Tyler was at the mercy (in his mind) of the table.

I continued to run after them and yell at Tyler to stop. He’d look back at me, wanting to obey, but then he’d look at the table that kept chasing him and continue running. He’d swerve toward a parked car, causing the table to swing out, and I’d pray, “Please don’t hit a car.” Thankfully, he’d correct his course to the middle of the road and somehow avoid hitting any cars with the table.

I was not in shape to be running full tilt, and I had no idea how long the “table chase” was going to last. It appeared as if the threesome was headed toward our home, but there were six or so blocks still to go with a couple of parking lots, woods, and busier streets along the way. And poor Zoe, she had no choice but to run. I think she had her senses about her and would have stopped if she could, but as Tyler was in the lead, she was an unwilling accomplice. When I called out, she’d turn her head to look back at me, and with her eyes would say, “He’s gone mad. Help me.”

A few blocks into the run, with me huffing and puffing, it occurred to me: I could be mad and frustrated, or I could laugh. I chose to laugh, which made the running even more aerobic. But the absurdity of a woman of a certain age running after a dog who thinks he’s being chased by a bouncing table was too much.

Soon, I was winded and could feel my heart beating fast. Then another thought came, “Oh, my God! I’m going to die of a heart attack chasing these dumb dogs and a table. What a stupid way to die. I hope my family will get a good laugh out of it.”

The dogs crossed a grassy median that sent the table bouncing and swinging even more. The trio was headed to a parking lot with several cars in it. Tyler came close to a new red truck, and I thought, “I’m going to be buying a bumper today.” Luckily, he veered away from it just in time.

Out of the corner of my eye, I noticed an employee standing in front of a Michael’s craft store. He looked at the dogs, looked at me, and then did a double take. Then he took off after the dogs, running diagonally to them, and stopping them just as they were about to cross a busy road and careen into another parking lot filled with more cars.

I slowed down to catch my breath as I saw he had the dogs under control. Then a new thought sprang to mind: How the heck was I going to get the metal table back to the restaurant while controlling two large dogs? Should I leave the table? Tie the dogs to something stationary at the coffee shop and come back for the table? Could I even carry it after running so fast? Or should I take Zoe and Tyler home and bring my car for the table?

By the time I walked up to David (my hero) and the dogs, he had untangled them. The table was up on one of his shoulders. I thanked him while he passed Zoe and Tyler’s leashes to me and marched off to the restaurant like it was an everyday occurrence to rescue a damsel in distress from renegade dogs and a fiercesome table. He was a godsend.

By the time Tyler, Zoe, and I got back to the coffee shop, David had just finished reestablishing order to the outside dining area. It looked as if nothing had ever happened. I can’t remember ever being so grateful for a stranger’s help, and I profusely thanked my Good Samaritan.

But it didn’t seem enough. I wanted to show him my gratitude with more than just words; I wanted to give him something that was heartfelt. Cooking is something I do from the heart, and my apple pie is a favorite among friends and family.

So, I went home and made David an apple pie. It was still hot when I took it to the store just before he got off work. Months later, I was in Michael’s and saw David. I repeated my thanks for his help, which he kindly brushed off. However, he thanked me for the apple pie, saying it was the best he had ever eaten.

By the way, from that point on, Tyler and Zoe were always tied to a stationary object, such as a lamppost, when we went to the coffee shop.

~Ann Denise Karson

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