Wyatt and I spent the afternoon of St. Patrick’s Day enjoying the beautiful weather while Zac cut our ankle-high grass.
I brought a soccer ball out with us, but Wyatt preferred to explore instead.
He picked up some gravel from our driveway and turned it over in his hands like we had shipped it in from the moon. We also spent some time talking about the dangers of a big ant bed that was still inhabited.
As we walked on, I noticed a large dog trotting down the road from the hill above us. I pointed it out to Wyatt because he is fascinated by animals.
To our surprise, this one turned at the end of our driveway and came into the yard.
Wyatt and the dog had a staring contest as I instructed it to go home. It ignored me and continued walking toward the house.
I was so intent on keeping this strange dog away from Wyatt that I realized too late it was headed straight for the abandoned soccer ball.
I yelled “Drop it! Now!” several times in my best angry mom voice. Of course, the mutt took off with it instead.
I stood helplessly by as the dog ran back to the road and went on its way with Wyatt’s ball locked firmly in its jaw. I was thinking to myself, “Well, I guess we’ll have to get him a new one,” when I heard the lawnmower cut off.
A split second later, a blur that vaguely resembled my husband rushed past me.
Zac hadn’t witnessed the incident because he was mowing in the back but sprung into action when he saw the dog leave the yard with Wyatt’s ball.
I have never seen a human being run that fast. I didn’t even know speeds like that were possible in steel toe boots.
Although the dog had about a 30-yard head start, Zac caught up with it just before they both disappeared from view at the end of the road.
I was holding Wyatt by this point, and we watched as much of the chase as we could from the driveway.
As we stood there, Wyatt kept whimpering, “Ball. Ball.” He also licked his lips a few times to illustrate how the dog had made off with his toy.
I think I told Wyatt that his daddy would get his ball back, but I didn’t really expect that to happen.
After a couple of minutes went by with no sign of either Zac or the dog, Wyatt and I walked back into the yard.
We hadn’t gone far when Wyatt jumped out of my arms and ran to the back of the house. When he saw Zac’s straw grass-cutting hat lying on the ground near the mower, he burst into tears. It was as if Zac had suddenly evaporated and the hat was all we had left of him.
Then I heard several dogs barking in the distance. My first thought was that the thief had found a pack of friends and they had all turned on Zac.
Zac called before I could jump in the car to go find him. “Tell Wyatt to come to the front,” he said between heavy breaths.
Wyatt and I got to the end of the driveway just in time to see our exhausted hero walking up the hill with soccer ball in hand. Wyatt ran into his daddy’s waiting arms and immediately plopped the straw hat on Zac’s head.
Wyatt is usually a Mama’s boy, but he didn’t leave Zac’s side for a while after the triumphant return.
Zac’s smile was bigger than usual that night as he reveled in the knowledge that he had protected his family from a four-legged intruder.
When I told him how impressed I was that he would put up such a fight, Zac responded, “I wasn’t about to let some dog just take that ball. It was one of the first toys we bought for Wyatt.”
I can’t recall when we acquired the soccer ball, and it held no sentimental value to me prior to this incident.
However, because of Zac’s heroic feat, that dirty old ball will always have a special place in my heart and in Wyatt’s toy box.