In the moment, Jessica Bass could only worry about the task in front of her.
And that was finding Daphne and Theo, a pair of family mutts she affectionately refers to as “Pinky and the Brain” — a ’90s-era cartoon in which one scheming character (the Brain) inevitably leads his bumbling, good-natured sidekick ( Pinky) into mischief.
The dogs managed to slip out of an ordinarily well-secured yard and head into an unfamiliar and dangerous world of high-speed traffic along Silas Creek Parkway as it approaches Wake Forest University.
Thanks to a total stranger — and the patience of motorists zipping along a notorious speedway ribbon of road popular with traffic cops — the story ended happily enough.
Then and only then, a precious moment of perspective broke through the fast-paced clutter of everyday life.
“I try to approach things with optimism and kindness,” Bass said. “Part of my hopes people will do the right thing. And part of me knows that’s not always possible.”
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Small drama, big emotion
Bass, a young mom who sometimes works from home as a mental-health therapist, is fully aware of the constant stream of bad news and societal challenges bringing everyone down.
Shootings in schools and grocery stores, gas and food prices approaching the cost of gold, war in Europe, collectively they’re adequate reasons to despair.
And when family is factored in, whether that’s balancing work with child rearing or finding enough time to care for aging parents the way they deserve, it’s easy to lose sight of little things.
One of those small dramas unspooled Wednesday morning when Theo and Daphne made a run for it.
Someone, a neighbor possibly, had left a little used gate unlatched while chasing his own escapee dog the previous night. So when Bass’ husband Jim let the dogs out for their constitutional morning, there was no reason for concern.
After about an hour or so, Jim, who also works from home, asked Bass if she had the dogs. She didn’t, and the search was on. Jim reads out on foot, Jessica in the car.
It only took one pass through the neighborhood and then on toward Silas Creek to see what was happening.
Daphne and Theo obliviously trotting along the road as the brake lights of stopped and slowing drivers glowed.
“I think they were headed to Village Tavern for lunch,” Bass said.
Sharing at time
Jokes come easy now thanks to a stranger, a pet groomer from Asheville who happened to be in the right place at the right time.
Bass had pulled up to an intersection near the Merrimont Hills subdivision when she saw another motorist stopped by the side of the road.
Daphne, the meeker yellow mutt, had been bundled into a car. Theo, the more obstinate one, was still circling, so the woman — a first name, Tammy, is all Bass caught — sat on the ground in an attempt to coax him closer.
All the while, a growing line of cars was stacking up. I know because I watched it happen.
“People were alert and watching out for each other,” Bass said. “It could have been a human issue, too. Somebody could have been in a wreck. If the dogs had caused people to be injured….”
She didn’t finish her thought; she didn’t need to because it’s a hypothetical. All’s well that ends well.
“(Tammy) wasn’t going to let the dogs go,” Bass said. “She said she had two herself. I just grabbed her hand and said ‘Thank you, thank you, thank you.’”
With the dogs safely at home, no worse for the wear other than “smelling like 12 kinds of death” and needing new collars, Bass took an opportunity to reflect.
Normally she’s not a huge consumer of Twitter or Facebook, but this time she decided to share a moment of positivity.
“We’ve had a rough couple of months for sure,” she said. “It’s about seeing the good in humanity.”
In this case, a pet groomer in town to help settle her late mother’s estate provided that.
“One little gesture can change the course of someone’s life,” Bass said. “You just never know when that might be.”