Typically his stints are short-lived, and include a spirited game of chase that my husband eventually wins. But recently, little Marley decided he was going to show us who was boss.
It was an unseasonably warm night, and we decided to take the kids out for ice cream after dinner. Marley surveyed each of us as we put on our jackets and shoes.
“No ride for you tonight,” my husband told him. “Maybe next time buddy.”
As if he understood, Marley sat down, put his ears back and whimpered.
I laughed as my husband rolled his eyes.
“He’s not coming,” he told me firmly. I shrugged, and we began to usher the kids out of the house. We buckled everyone in the car, and were just pulling out of the driveway when …
“Marley is running outside!” our oldest son exclaimed.
My husband slammed the brakes, and we looked outside in disbelief. Sure enough, there was our dog. He had miraculously escaped from our house and was now running free through the neighborhood.
“How…?” I asked, letting my question fall off as I stared in awe.
“Go back in and wait for me,” my husband said through clenched teeth. Then he jumped out and dashed after our runaway.
I took the kids back inside, made up for the lost ice cream trip with homemade dessert, and got them to sleep with reassurance that Marley would — as always — be back.
But when my husband reappeared an hour later without our dog, I wasn’t so sure I had been right.
“I can’t find him anywhere,” he said with obvious dismay.
I sank down into a chair and entered full panic mode as my husband began to call the shelters. Not only was I concerned about our rogue pet, but I was dreading having to tell our children that their beloved Marley was missing. As every worst-case scenario flooded my mind, I sank my head down on the table.
“It will be OK,” my husband said. “He’ll show up.”
“I don’t know,” I told him. “He’s never been gone this long. It’s dark, and he could be anywhere.”
A pained expression crossed my husband’s face, and I could tell he was thinking the same thing I was: if Marley really was lost, the kids would be devastated.
We spent the next two hours looking out the window, making calls and alternately wandering the neighborhood. No sign of our dog. Eventually, my husband sent me to bed, and I exhaustedly gave in.
I drifted through a fitful sleep until late into the night. And then, I awoke with a start. I bolted upright in bed and listened carefully. Had I been dreaming, or did I just hear a bark?
As I sat there, the welcome noise rang out again, and I excitedly awoke my husband.
“He’s back!” I exclaimed.
My husband jumped out of bed, ran downstairs and opened the back door. Marley bounded in exuberantly, evidently as happy to see us as we were to see him. Relief washed over me, and before I could help myself, I scooped the furry little menace into my arms for a hug.
“Don’t do that again!” I scolded him, looking into his black eyes. He licked my face, and my husband shook his head.
“I wouldn’t count on him keeping his word,” he told me wryly.
I smiled down at the pup. Something told me he had learned his lesson.
But then again, it wouldn’t be the first time Marley surprised me.
This column is the personal opinion of the writer and does not necessarily reflect the views or opinion of The News-Sentinel. Jill Adams blogs at http://lifewithoutbumperpads.blogspot.com.