I silently pushed open the glass door and stopped in shock. Hearing toenails dig in for traction, I watched the white blur, with head down and butt tucked, fly around the corner ahead of me. I tensed for pursuit, but paused as I heard laughter – looking to see all heads turned in her direction.
“Oh jeez,” said Anna suddenly – catching sight of me from the other side of the reception desk. “You are back early.”
Laughter stopped, and there was silence in the large open room, as all heads turned towards me.
“She needed exercise,” said Neal – shoulders slumped and guilt plastered across his face. I just looked at him as he slowly wheeled his chair out of the aisle and back into the security of his cube.
“You know she cannot be let out of the kennel,” I said angrily. Clark stepped out of his office, and with mild exasperation said, “They do it whenever you leave.” A smirk twitched at the corner of his lips. “I’ve given up enforcing any HR policy in this crazy place.”
She must have heard my voice, because the white blur rounded the corner at full throttle, leaping straight at me. I felt like a backboard as four legs, backed by 35 pounds of pure muscle, used me as an aid to propel itself in the opposite direction. Notebook, pen, purse – everything went flying as she hurtled back down the hall! I staggered and gasped in surprise, hearing several snorts as people choked back laughter.
I bent to pick up my things, really just seeking a few seconds to absorb the anger and pain. I needed to gather myself and not loose my temper. I stood slowly to hushed silence.
“How long has this been going on?” I said.
“They have been letting her out for a couple of weeks,” said Clark.
It was at that moment that Gordan came through the door from the warehouse, entering with his usual exuberant energy, and immediately spotting Lulu.
“Land Shark!” he sang out with a big grin across his face, as he dropped to his knees. She whirled at the end of the hall and sprinted towards him at full speed, pure joy radiating from the huge grin across her face.
“No!” I said as I stepped forward. “She cannot be loose in the building!” She dodged me as I leaned over to stop her, slamming into the wall and then bouncing off the cubicle on the other side of the narrow hall. I turned to see Gordon and Lulu rolling around on the floor, and turned in frustration to unlock my door.
Setting my things in my office, I turned and stood in the doorway. Gordon was sitting on the floor near Irene’s cube. Irene was scared of Lulu because of her breed’s reputation, and had always made it abundantly clear she did not like dogs, much less approve of this “pit bull” in the offices.
“I don’t know Gordon,” Irene said as she slowly extended her hand, palm flat and rigid. Lulu was seated directly in front of her, watching attentively.
“She won’t hurt you he said. She is very gentle.” Gentle was probably not one of the top twenty words I would use to describe Lu.
Gordon placed a treat in the middle of Irene’s palm. Irene slowly leaned back with eyes wide as Lulu slowly leaned forward, extending her small muzzle.
The whole room was watching at this point, and I held my breath, wondering how my wild beast would react. Slowly, Irene leaned forward until her hand was just under Lu’s nose.
I watched as what had been pure energy only moments before, ever so gently nuzzled the treat from Irene’s hand, as if lifting a feather. Clearly, the dog understood the situation.
“Oh wow,” she said as a slow smile spread across her face. Her tension washed away, and I could see that same smile reflected on all of the other faces in the office.
It was the end of a long day, and everyone was tired, but the “lift” I felt in the atmosphere was almost tangible. Everyone was laughing, chatting and smiling. For the first time, Irene was the center of attention, and I watched her shyly smiling as the people that worked around her complimented her on how well she had done with Lulu.
I snapped my fingers and called Lu. She trotted over and we headed for her kennel. I knew she had been out for some time by her willingness to go inside the cage.
I knew I would have to address her being loose while I was gone, and as I reached the door, I stopped and looked out over the room. There were numerous departments that worked here. Normally, this whole area was tomb like, with little noise, except for those muttering on their headphones or asking brief questions, with the questions reserved for those that worked in their same department.
Now, everyone was sitting out in the aisles chatting, with only a few working. People I had never seen communicate were hanging out as if this were a neighborhood bar. They weren’t procurement, warehousing, accounting, etc. It was just a group of people that had one little dog in common – a joint interest.
I turned and went back to my desk. I would talk to everyone about Lulu tomorrow. If I had time. And I felt like it.