Jack Attack

by Brian on March 8, 2007

in A Parent in Israel

Thirteen-year-old Merav’s phone call was teary bordering on hysterical. It was hard to make out what had happened: was someone hurt? Had she been jilted by a boy?

“It’s Jack,” she sputtered through breathless sobs. “He got away…we don’t know where he is…he could get killed…what are we going to do!”

Merav had been entrusted by our friend Mallory to take care of her dog Jack, a little runt of a mutt with canine ADHD, while Mallory got away for a few days to a bed and breakfast in the Galilee Hills with a no-dogs policy. It was Merav’s first real job, a baby step to people sitting, and she was taking her responsibility seriously.

“Tell me what happened, exactly,” I said to Merav.

Merav had been walking Jack and everything had been fine. She had arranged to take Jack to our friends Lynne and Adam’s house where Jack would have a canine “play date” with their dog Zoe. Jack had been let off the leash; when Merav opened the front door, Jack saw an opening and darted out. Merav quickly caught him.

“But then he bit me!” Merav said. “I had no choice. I had to let him go.” At which point, Jack bolted into the night. Adam ran out after him and began searching while Merav called me.

“He’s probably heading home,” Merav said, trying to think clearly while choking back the tears. Mallory’s house was about a ten-minute walk (or a two minute Jack run) away, just off Emek Refaim Street in Jerusalem’s German Colony. “Adam’s going to wait for him there.” Then almost as an aside she said, “Could you bring some chicken?”

“Chicken?” I asked. “How can you be hungry at a time like this?”

“It’s for Jack. We need something to lure him into a trap. He likes chicken.”

I grabbed a slice of left over chicken breast from the weekend’s meal and we met Adam at Jack’s place.

“Any sign of him yet?” I asked. Adam shook his head.

Something darted across the street into the bushes. “Is that him?” Merav asked. But it was only a fat cat who, in the absence of sunlight, bore a remarkable resemblance to our tiny tormentor.

Adam took the chicken, laid it on the stairs, and hid behind the door.

Now by this time Merav had calmed down physically. But her mind was racing. She was afraid of what might happen to Jack…and to her. “Mallory trusted me,” Merav said. How could she live with herself if she betrayed her first major dog sitting job…with potentially grave consequences? Even if Jack was eventually captured, Merav was sure she’d be fired. Her budding business would go down the drain.

Merav and I began walking the neighboring blocks calling out for Jack, to no avail. At a nearby park on Elazar HaModa’i Street, we asked a man if he’d seen a little white dog with brown spots. He had, and pointed in the opposite direction. Jack apparently was enjoying his freedom.

After about a half hour of patrolling the streets, we checked in again with Adam. He hadn’t seen Jack yet but was willing to stay the distance. “Take Merav home,” he said. “There’s nothing much you can do until he comes back for the chicken.

“Call us if you need to be relieved,” I muttered, feeling more than a little guilty at stepping out at the height of the crisis.

Well, I’m happy to report that Jack finally showed up two hours later, presumably hungry but unashamed. He fell for the trap and spent the night in detention. Merav called Mallory.

“Oh don’t worry about it,” I heard Mallory say calmingly to Merav. “He does this all the time. We always get him home…after a bit.”

He does this all the time, I thought? I wasn’t sure whether to laugh or lash out. But Merav’s face was playing a different tune.

The heaviness was lifting as her overbearing guilt dissipated into the darkness. Relief spread like butter on a bagel. If there was a lesson in all this, it was that the power of forgiveness should never be underestimated.

“So, tomorrow, can you walk him in the morning and then again about two in the afternoon?” Mallory asked Merav.

“Sure,” Merav replied with a smile, once again counting up the money she’d earn now that she’d been pardoned with no time added for bad behavior.

As I tucked Merav into bed later that night, she asked me with great excitement and earnestness, “Abba, can we get a dog?” I thought she’d have been temporarily traumatized; I sometimes forget that remarkable ability kids have to bounce back.

“I’ll think about it,” I replied, “as long as he’s not named Jack!”

Leave a Comment

Previous post:

Next post: