Thursday, February 18, 2010

Tales From the Dog Park: This Is All True, Promise

About 10 years ago, Mary Scully was arrested (and acquitted).

Her crime? Loving animals so much, she joined an organized protest over using them for genetic research. ("It was after I saw a dog, a black lab, in a cage, one day without an ear, the next without an eye. She was in such pain."). For this she was fingerprinted and booked (unlawful gathering.)

Several months ago, she learned, the FBI suspected her of harboring weapons of mass destruction (dismissed in January). ("Now what would I do with those things anyway?")

Today, she's at the McAllen Dog Park in Texas, telling her stories while her charges, Princess and Madam, two heavily spotted dogs,  sail around the perimeter of the 12-day-old park in unison, like greyhounds on a racetrack.

"What WMDs could I possibly have? Exploding underwear?" she tilts sideways, embarrassingly, then  giggles with the rest of us. There are six of us sitting near her, some on benches, some on the ground, all mesmerized by her tales. We're like kindergartners at her feet.

It's no wonder. She spent years teaching children with special needs.

Mary's from Minnesota and talks with a delicate lilt. She's tiny, just a few inches over 5 feet and has to sit forward on the bench before her feet touch the ground. 

She's 65, but looks 10 years younger ("oh, ya know, I dye my hair"). She's delicate, soft-spoken and sweet. It's hard to imagine this woman a threat. To anyone or thing. 

But the school system in McAllen, a mid-sized city in southeastern Texas near the Mexican border, felt threatened. It  denied her a job based on the misinformation. This sweet, former nun, from a family of 19, just wanted to continue teaching children with disabilities.

How sad, we all say. Then we sit back for more.

As she regales us with her tales of medical tests on animals, jails and conspiracies, her dogs soar round and round, their feet exploding dust bombs when they chance to touch the ground.

The dogs, she says, belong to her neighbors, a working couple who spend the days away from home. She felt bad for the dogs, cooped up inside. So she asked permission to bring them to the new dog park while the couple was at work.

How nice of you, Mary, we all nod.

She talks on and on about these dogs, about their life in Mexico, before their family moved here, about how one of the dogs, Princess, was abused. There's a permanent lump on her head to prove it.

Mary, you are a gem, we all agree, a great neighbor, a fabulous person.

Her phone rings. 

She answers, then squawks! Albeit, a dainty squawk.

Seems her neighbors, the ones who own the dogs, weren't off at work today at all. They ran an errand and when they returned, they discovered their dogs missing and panicked.

"I have them," Mary exclaims and points to where she last saw them fly.  

She finishes her call, then giggles, just a bit. Her eyes twinkle, because now she can add "thief" to her stories to tell.

And her stories are true. I found them online, at the Minneapolis-St. Paul Star Tribune.

1 comment:

Laura said...

"..her dogs soar round and round, their feet exploding dust bombs when they chance to touch the ground."

That's gorgeous, Nancy.