“Bruce, Mrs Long just called,” Tracey’s voice came sweetly out of my phone, meaning she wanted something. “Have you seen her dog? It must have got out today and she can’t find it.”

I stood up and walked next door even as I assured Tracey I’d go see what I could do.

“I saw him about two hours ago,” I said to Mrs Long, “at the end of your drive.” I can see the end of her driveway from where I sit tapping away into my computer. “But he sniffed the pole and then seemed to walk back down to your house.”

I went for a walk up the road and she went for a drive around the neighbourhood.

I love helping our neighbours find their dogs. It’s reminds me of why I don’t want another one.

In this case it also made me hyperaware a couple of days later when I saw the little walking puff of white fur sniffing at the pole again.

This time I just happened to be on the verge because our Woolies delivery had arrived and I was helping (chinwagging with) the delivery driver.

“Sorry,” I said, running off.

I say running but I run in the same way a pre-schooler does who’s lived his whole life in an apartment. I tense up and my arms sure do move quicker but my legs don’t seem to get the message beyond lifting my knees a little higher.

I caught up with the wandering cloud a few houses up – and let’s be honest, only because it was sniffing and pissing on more fences than I was.

Despite having lived next to this dog its entire life, it won’t have a bar of me. Usually if I venture down the driveway to chat with Mrs Long it will yap yap yap the whole time I’m there, but today we were on neutral territory so as I approached it glanced at me and went back to its important work.

Knowing there was no chance of me being allowed to bend over and pick it up, and being wary of the traffic on our busy road, I walked a few steps past it and then mustered it slowly back along the fence lines and down the driveway to its own yard, where I quickly shut the gate before mentally patted myself on the back for a job well done.

Karma even gave me a nod by ensuring all the groceries were inside by the time I got back to the delivery van.

The day returned to normal. The kids barked orders at each other which each other ignored. We removed Master14’s head from the restocked fridge and Tracey delivered everyone to school before catching up with some friends.

Meaning less than an hour later I was blissfully alone in the studio, tapping away on my computer as my Sonos blasted out my playlist without anyone playing games from inside the house and changing songs. I occasionally sipped coffee.

The phone rang.

“Bruce, Mrs Long just called,” Tracey’s voice came sweetly out of my phone. I waited for the praise. “Would you mind ducking down the drive and letting her out? You locked her inside her yard and she can’t reach the latch.”

Yes, I’m fixing the latch for her.

Raising a family on little more than laughs

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