Right Place, Right Time

Some dogs seem to have an extra hard row to hoe. Take Iniesta, my black-dog-with-four-white paws, for instance.

It’s hard enough to play second fiddle to Sophie, the cutest dog in the whole wide world. Iniesta (pronounced enny-ES-ta) and Sophie are not only sisters, they’re littermates. As a puppy, Iniesta belonged to daughter-in-law Natalie and son James, who named her after his favorite professional soccer player. When James and Natalie moved from Cookeville to an unfenced yard in Maryville, they couldn’t take her with them.

So Iniesta became my dog.

I’ve written about her before in this column. She’s the dog who jumped the brick wall in James and Natalie’s yard on the Fourth of July in 2013 and was gone for almost a week. The dog who, at the ripe old age of eight, is still terrified of fireworks and thunderstorms and gunshots. The dog who repeatedly dug out of the pen in my backyard until I ringed the perimeter with concrete blocks. Then she chewed through the chain link.

But the trouble Iniesta got into last weekend takes the cake. I worked at the Election Commission office on Saturday morning and then went to a baby shower. The mom-to-be had just started opening gifts when my cell phone rang. It was my neighbor David Malin. His wife Sandy, business manager at the Herald-Citizen, had been planting flowers in their backyard when she heard something crashing around in the woods. It was a black dog with four white paws and a plastic container stuck on its head. David managed to remove the container and found Iniesta’s name and my phone number embroidered on her collar.

“She’s in pretty bad shape,” he told me. “She’s lying on her side, breathing heavy and frothing at the mouth.” I rushed home and eventually managed to coax Iniesta to her feet. She stumbled back to our house, listing and weaving like a drunk person, and collapsed onto the back porch. After a while, she drank some water, vomited up her breakfast, and then drank some more. Within a couple of hours, she began to rally.

So how did all this happen? It turns out that another neighbor, Jerry, who my dogs love almost as much as they love me, had filled an empty plastic baby formula container with water in case the dogs got thirsty when they visited his yard. Sixty-pound Iniesta stuck her head into the container’s four-by-six inch opening, presumably to lap up the last drop of water, and became entrapped.

You’ve already read the rest of the story. I’m forever grateful to Sandy and David, guardian angels who happened to be in the right place at the right time. And I’m happy to report that Iniesta is back to normal, or as normal as a dog like her can be. Maybe she’s really a cat in disguise. A cat who’s moving ever closer to using up her nine lives.

(April 29, 2018)