I broke my dog

Anyone who knows my dog will tell you that Juliette is incredibly sweet. They’ll also tell you that she’s a bit jumpy. We rescued her at six months old from a local humane society. In that short time she’d already suffered abuse and been slightly traumatized by it. Guys make her nervous. As do screaming, running kids (yes, we’ll have some issues to contend with as Devin grows up and has more friends over).

Surprisingly, though, my little nervous dog is not afraid of fireworks. Or any loudish noise of that type.

Well, she wasn’t until my little faux paus.

The nightly routine is that we let her out for her last potty break between 9:00 and 10:00. That gives us a good window so she won’t wake us up at some ungodly hour. So on the Fourth, we followed the same procedure. The banging was just beginning in our neighborhood, but I wasn’t concerned. I escorted her onto the deck and watched her make her way down the stairs to the grass. I planned to stand there and wait for her, but decided to go back inside and take care of a few things. Those few things ended up taking a while. And I completely forgot about her.

That’s usually not a problem. In fact, I often get distracted and she simply barks to let me know she’s ready to come in.

I heard no bark that night.

About 20 minutes after I let her out, I walked back through the kitchen and saw the light on in the yard. Ooops! So I went to the door and called for her. No tinkling dog tags or scampering canine greeted me. No noise but the boom-boom-boom of the fireworks. I looked around the house, thinking I might have let her in and blanked on the whole thing. She wasn’t anywhere.

Panic set in.

I turned on another light in the yard and saw no sign of her. I went outside and ran around yelling, “Juliette! Juliette!” Nothing. She was not in the yard. NOT IN THE YARD.

We have two gates that lead into our fenced-in backyard. Two locked gates. And a 6-foot tall fence. On top of that, you can leave a gate wide open and hang out in the front yard and she won’t come out without being summoned. (Well, I wouldn’t try it with a squirrel in the vicinity.)

And now my dog was mysteriously AWOL. I realized at this point that the barrage of light and noise must have infiltrated her senses and freaked her out. She wasn’t impervious after all. But where the hell was my dog?

As I tend to do, I sprinted for my husband with tears on my cheeks. “Juliette’s gone! She’s gone!” He grabbed his shoes and I ran willy-nilly through the house, choking back sobs and trying not to wake up my kid (who was sleeping through the explosions anyway).

I opened the front door to scan the street and there I found her. Huddled on our front porch. Pressed up against the door with her ears down and her tail between her legs. My poor, poor dog. I yanked the door open and she shot in and cowered at my feet. She’d somehow managed to squeeze through a broken slat on the back gate and escape from the yard.

I ran back to Scott, who was heading up the stairs. “I found her!”

“Of course you did.”

“She was at the front door.”

“I told you she was here.”

“No, she was outside of the front door. On the porch.”

“Oh.” (Trying to process how she accomplished her escape from the backyard.)

“I broke her!”

He shook his head and dismissed my drama. But I’ve had this dog for five years of fireworks. Five years of ignoring all the brouhaha and not twitching an ear at the bangs, booms and ka-booms. And here she was, velcroed to my leg, following me desperately from room to room, crouched next to the bed in fear as I laid down to sleep.

Even last night, a silent evening with only the chirp of the birds and the laughter of the kids in the next yard over, she protested when I let her out for the evening. I had to coax her into the yard and sit with her until she went.

I broke my dog, damn it!