One of my colleagues, A, and I have been walking after work once a week. There’s this loop that goes up the hill from our office and then down again back to the main drag where we then have dinner afterwards. It takes about 90 minutes to complete it. Good thing is we both walk at about the same pace. (I tend to walk pretty fast, but A is in pretty good shape.)
This past week, A was telling me about the lethargic flies that were hovering around the patio/deck of her house. Someone had told her that flypaper would not work. She’d been trawling the internet in search of a way to get rid of them. I said she should get a gecko or a lizard. After all when I was growing up in Thailand there were lots of lizards. They were considered beneficial, since they hung out on the walls and ceilings and ate up the mosquitoes. A tends to get squeamish about the lizards we come across while walking, so I was surprised when she said, “Oh that’s just like this episode of ‘Frasier’ where they got a lizard to get rid of a cricket, but then realized they’d have to deal with what to do with the lizard afterwards.”
“Well, then maybe you should get a frog to eat the lethargic flies, and then afterwards, you can make paddy-chicken jook.” (Paddy chicken ‘tin gai’ is the Cantonese term for frogs in cooking. In literary terms, they’re called ‘ching wah’)
“Eww, I wouldn’t eat the frog after that!”
“Why not, you don’t eat frogs?”
“I do, but I wouldn’t eat a frog knowing that it ate lethargic flies.”
“Meaning you’d eat other frogs because you wouldn’t know what kind of diet they had….”
As we came down the hill along Brittan Ave, an attractive white labrador dog (similar to Cava, my cousin Hottoes’ dog.) came bounding along, following us in generally friendly manner, while excitedly detouring in and out the front yards. When I put my hand out, she nipped at my wrist as if it were a chew toy. She had a collar on, but no leash. And there was no one else around walking on that stretch of the street. Even though the dog was relatively large, it was bounding around in a puppyish way, and proved to be rather juvenile when it crossed the street a couple of times rather recklessly. Heart-stopping moments for us indeed, we didn’t want it to get run over by cars! (A told me later someone passing by had yelled profanities at us, probably thinking we were the owners of the dog, and how irresponsible of us to let the dog run without a leash and recklessly cross the street.)
We tried telling the dog to sit and stay variously, but it kept following us. A is intimidated by dogs, so I tried to have to dog follow me, but it seemed to sense that A was a bit afraid, and thus follow her even more! A crossed the street to walk on the other side, and the dog still followed her! A woman drove by in a minivan stopped and rolled down her window. We thought “Yippee, here’s the owner.” But it was simply a concerned passerby. Unfortunately her little boy was in the minivan, and he was really afraid of dogs. She offered to help, but we weren’t sure what to do. Eventually I decided to try and look at her collar to look for a number to call. This was hard as the dog was still was excited, wouldn’t sit still, and still wanted to use my hand as a chew toy when I tugged at her collar. The font on the tag were really small as well, so it was hard to see. Eventually, I handed the phone to A, so I could call out the phone number and A could dial. No one answered so I left a message, but then I noticed the Lily’s (the dog had a name!) collar listed her address as 3150 Brittan, up the hill from where we had come. A decided to hike back up the street to see if the owners were home.
In the meantime, the lady in the minivan handed me a bottle of water. “The dog looks thirsty,” she observed. She offered to go home to get a bowl to hold the water for the dog to drink. But the house where Lily had stopped happened to have some abalone shells in the front yard as decoration, so I took one and poured the water in. She lapped it up and then stopped, and then came back to lap up some more (Just like little kids who have to stop and play in between taking bites of their food!) But she seemed calmer after the drink. The lady in the minivan was right; she’d been thirsty. I got Lily to walk back up the hill with me. A was walking back down with a couple, who turned out to be neighbors of the dog’s owner. They were well acquainted with Lily, who often made her way into their backyard. They kindly took her back home, and A and I continued down to customary dinner, a bit later than usual.