A pack, of dogs galloped across our yard panting and barking their welcome as we moved into our house. Their owners had left city life to enjoy the freedom of country living for themselves and their dogs.
Not only had we moved into an area without a leash law, we also were without a weekly trash pick-up. Bags of garbage waited in garages for the trip to the dumpster tempting the roaming dogs with free meals. One afternoon as I was concentrating on paper work, I saw a couple dogs trot into our garage. As I reluctantly pushed back my chair to chase them away, they sprinted down the drive to the road. I settled back to my work.
Five minutes later the two returned – followed by a pack of dogs with tongues hanging out hungrily as the scouts lead them to the garbage bags in our garage. I ran to punch the garage door button. The dogs had gotten into our garbage once when I dashed into the grocery store and left the door open. I returned to a yard strewn with shredded black plastic and Styrofoam meat trays. I did not relish a repeat performance. I watched the door close and the dogs disperse. I felt triumphant at breaking up their impromptu party.
A couple weeks later, I had a hectically busy day and did not get garbage to the dumpster as I had planned. I fixed a supper of fried chicken and called the family to eat. As they sat down to eat, I realized they were supposed to be at a program at the school. Shoving chairs back quickly, we left the chicken to cool on the table and told the kids they could eat when we got back.
As we backed out of the garage, my husband triggered the garage door opener. The door stopped halfway and started back-up.
“Please make sure the door shuts,” I said. “I don’t want to come home to a trash strewn lawn.”
My husband aimed the electronic device at the garage door and pressed the button again. The door slowly slid into place. We sped around the corner to school.
An hour later we returned to a clean yard. I did not have to spend the evening raking up trash. The kids piled out of the station wagon and rushed into the house, eager to eat. My husband and I followed.
I walked in and stopped. The table was set neatly with glasses, silverware and plates. The serving dishes waited in the center of the table where we had left them, but the chicken was gone.
I stared at the table puzzled. I knew I had spent an hour fixing fried chicken, but it wasn’t there. A gentle breeze touched my face: The sliding door to the back yard was wide open.
We had closed the garage door keeping the dogs out of the garbage and left the back door wide open, offering them a chicken dinner. I insured an evening free of trash pick-up, only to guarantee I spent it fixing a second supper. The dogs had feasted. My children did not.
As I warmed up leftover, I realized those dogs had not welcomed us warmly – they had scrutinized our house for any flaw in our defense against them.