When I saw the thing it just stunned me. I tripped on the sidewalk and fell into the immaculately manicured lawn it guarded.
My mind whirled.
“How had they captured the likeness of my little dog Buster so perfectly?”
I had unsettling visions of men with telephoto lenses lurking in the bushes outside my house or riding by in black sedans.
Buster was taken aback as well. Growling, he tore it from the ground, clamped it in his teeth and flung it into some rose bushes with a shake of his head.
Then he got down to business. I pretended to be watching a seagull while he assumed the position and left an ample brown calling card on the lush green lawn.
Who could blame him? The humiliation of having his private act expropriated into a metallic image was bad enough (Would you like to see yourself in similar circumstances as a lawn ornament?)
But that NO! in his face, at dog eye level. What an insult.
Buster would have been just fine with a more dignified sign, say:
‘Please refrain from leaving canine digestive byproducts on the lawn. It prevents full chlorophyll functionality.’
Respectful, and providing a persuasive rationale. So was that asking too much?
We moved on. The next few yards were filled with that white gravel so popular in some Jersey Shore communities. Buster disdains such yards as repositories for his own digestive byproducts. No, it’s got to be the real deal for him. Rich green grass. Depth about 2 ½ inches. Hydrangeas in bloom in a painstakingly mulched flower garden close by. It’s all about the atmosphere.
With liquids, Buster is a mix of traditionalist and avant-garde. Bright red fire hydrants get a robust hosing. But he always saves half a tank for the verdant green pastures on mega mansion row. There he favors two spot treatments that will emerge as small yellow blotches in a few days. We leave it to the home owners to add a crescent below them to complete the smiley face.
After several gravel wastelands we came upon such a fine lawn specimen. I could tell Buster was excited by his impatient yips. The owners had clearly invested enough money in its perfection to supply a village in Nepal with food and clean water for 5 years. Buster was anxious to get to work.
But there it was. Another sign. This time, a picture of a white terrier which bore the words:
‘Please keep off the grass’
Buster was enraged. He clamped his jaws on it, tore it loose, and let it sail into a cheery patch of pink and purple flowers.
The sign was polite. (They did say please.) Though it was a little preemptory.
But what really set Buster off was the image itself. An exact replica of Daisy, the little white terrier who used to live down the street.
The two canines had had a torrid affair last summer. Then she dumped him for a roguish Irish Setter. Daisy’s owner, Helen, traded up to a pricier beach house somewhere. But Buster still carried a torch for Daisy.
I was about to extricate metal Daisy from the garden next to the house, when the front door opened to reveal a familiar woman in her early fifties in a running outfit. It was Helen in her new house. And behind her was a small white terrier barking frantically.
Buster yanked the leash out of my hand and charged towards his love. She scrambled out the door to meet him. Helen walked to the sidewalk to chat.
“Oh, thank goodness the sign worked!” she exclaimed. “That damn Irish Setter. I knew that Jack was bad news. But try to tell that to Daisy. Well, nooooo, don’t listen to me. Then the bounder dumped her for some demure Dalmatian.”
I glanced at Buster’s and Daisy’s reunion. The passion was running very strong.
“Daisy was crushed.” Helen continued. “She wanted Buster back but I knew she felt bad about how she’d treated him.”
“Looks like all’s forgiven” I replied, observing the panting and crescendo of canine coitus.
“I had the sign made in her image.” Helen explained. “I was hoping you might walk by and that this would happen”
Helen was a genuine romantic.
“Good call” I acknowledged.
Daisy and Buster were now lying in the grass, facing each other, snout to snout. The air glowed with consummation. I checked my watch. It was time to go.
We never saw them again. Helen sold the beach house and moved to the south of France with Daisy who’s now in a committed relationship with Georges, a Basset Hound with a fine pedigree. Helen sent pictures. Quite a family. Daisy, Georges, Helen and four brown and white puppies.
When I showed them to Buster, I knew he was thinking the same thing I was. He may have lost his one true love – but those pups definitely had his eyes.
If you don’t think a dog can smirk, you’ve never seen Buster.
I knew he was starting to get over Daisy and I figured I might as well help the process along.
“I hear a Beagle just moved in down the block,” I told him. “Want to go for a walk?”