I was just assembling the ingredients for a batch of dark chocolate cupcakes when I glanced out in the backyard. I looked again. I went upstairs and poked my head in timprov's door: "I thought we agreed we weren't buying Ista a puppy."
"I agreed to that," he said.
"Then why is there a black and white dog in our backyard?"
"I didn't do it!"
"I know, I know. Quentin got out again." Quentin is one of the two neighbor dogs, a veteran escape artist. So I went out in the backyard with Ista's leash (and no Ista). Quentin, aside from his Birdman tendencies, is a sweet and docile pup. He wagged happily when I approached, licked my hand as I snapped Ista's leash on his collar, and trotted happily up the steps to his own front door with me. No one answered the doorbell, so I put him in his backyard. (Note: if you have dogs running around your fenced yard, you may want to make sure the gates to your yard are easily closed from the outside. Took me several tries to get the gate to latch.)
At this point, Ista was going just insane: her monkey was taking some other dog for a walk on her leash. Without her. It could only have gotten worse if I'd been letting him play with her Piggy. So I went back inside, got Ista, and started on our walk.
We had gotten about a block down the fairly busy local through-street when Sammy, the other neighbor dog, came bouncing up to us: hi! Are we going for a walk? What fun! his body language said. So I herded him back into his own yard, using Ista for bait, latched the gate, turned around and went back to our walk. About three blocks down, I heard car horns behind me. I turned. A white dog was running around in the middle of the street. Sammy again. When Quentin gets out, he's fairly street smart. Sammy isn't anything smart. Also Sammy is deaf. So Ista and I started running full tilt down the street. I was calling Sammy's name so that it would be clear to random observers that this was a dog known to me rather than a random stranger intervening with a random strange dog. One car stopped, and the guy in it shouted out the window, "Is that your dog?" "No, my neighbor's dog!" I called back. "Well, you'd better go get him -- he's running around in the street!" the man yelled at me nastily. Thanks for your help, Captain Obvious! We couldn't have done it without you! What a jerk. I was running towards the dog. He had no new information. Why stop me to sneer at me for not taking proper care of a dog not my own? Some people's kids.
Anyway, as I was herding Sammy, I heard a voice asking, "Do these two belong together?" Surprise, surprise -- Quentin had gotten out again, too. A woman in the circle across the through-street from our circle had found him. Linda. She had snapped her dog's leash on him but didn't know where he belonged. She had also called the number on his tag. No answer. Linda and I ushered the two neighbor dogs in through their doggie door (using Ista as bait), and then she propped the doormat in front of the door in hopes that that would work. Ista and I went for a walk.
When we got back, I saw Linda leaving the neighbors' backyard again, having shut Sammy and Quentin in the smaller enclosure to the back of their backyard. We have nowhere to put them here, and my mom's taking Ista for the afternoon so I can get some groceries run and some stuff done without puply assistance. And if Quentin can get into our backyard, he can get out of our backyard. The house they have in the enclosure is heated, so I'm not too worried about that, but I hope the neighbors come home soon, because Quentin is a digger, and if he digs out of the enclosure, it's Katy bar the door.
But anyway, now I strongly suspect that Ista's frantic barking last night may well have been at Quentin out on the town.