After moving into my house in 2013, I got used to seeing a cute little procession through the backyard. Tinkerbell, the white dog, would lead two others: Charlie, the Chihuahua with the red collar; and Sophie, a black-and-white Shih Tzu-type. They toddled around the east side of the house and went out to the street, where they followed along the curb. The destination was a residence two doors down.
The escapees were from the house next door to the west; it’s one of three rentals occupied by Desert Breeze Senior Living. They got free by jumping through the vertical bars. This is quite a feat because the deck of that porch is 40 inches above the ground. When the dogs returned, they got back into their yard at the back, where similar steel fencing stretches across to the wall.
But Charlie the Chihuahua isn’t quite as smart as the other dogs. At least twice, I picked up the confused pooch in my yard and carried him to the front door of Desert Breeze, where I rang the bell and handed him over to the caregiver.
I witnessed this procession intermittently throughout the first year. Once, the neighbor kids even came through the backyard to collect the dogs.
In June of 2014, I went away on a reporting trip. Upon returning, I noticed Sophie’s absence. The chief caregiver was on the back porch one morning soon after, so I asked her about the dog. She could have told me they found a new home for Sophie, or that she had ascended into heaven.
Instead, I was told that Sophie had plunged over the edge of the porch and strangled at the end of her leash.
The story was embellished with gruesome detail about Sophie’s bulging eyes.
What made the account even more vivid was how the Desert Breeze caregiver inasmuch blamed me, saying Sophie was probably trying to come over to my house for a biscuit.
It was so rankling that I mentioned it to a friend, who still remembers saying she would have ripped the neighbor after such an offensive statement.
And I posted this account of Facebook:
While it continued, the conversation revealed a natural tendency to make excuses, as if this would be an isolated incident arising out of ignorance.
As it turns out, Sophie was only the first of two dogs to die young in a period of just 18 months at Desert Breeze Senior Living. The miserable story of Shaky (pictured above) is detailed in another post.