One dog, one pup and a long backyard make this home the Kansas Derby of the suburbs

·3 min read

One of my family’s favorite pastimes during our beloved pandemic was watching our dogs’ play out back in the yard. During the first week of quarantine, circa March 2020, we got a Jack Russell terrier/border collie mix rescue puppy. Our adolescent daughters named this lovey, Maisy Lou, but Crazy Maisy is what I like to call this rambunctious pup.

She’s now 15-months-old and comes to the name of Louis because that nickname makes as much sense as us getting a Corona pup. Was this dog an impulse purchase? Could have been. Hard to say.

Louis and our 4-year-old golden-doodle Bella became fast friends, because what other choice did they have, except to chase the cats through the house? Since they already added that to their day-planner, despite our exasperated cats’ cries for help and much swatting and hissing at the dogs, the canines weren’t giving up their fun group activity.

This dog-chasing-cat routine developed early on, and it isn’t nearly as funny as it sounds on paper, especially when your family of four is penned up for a year at home. As all of you know, when you are sardined into your house-cage, you’re often starving for entertainment other than Netflix.

Early on, the dogs developed a robust daily routine. Wake up, pee, eat, pee again, then train for the canine Summer Olympics. Actually, when our puppy was tiny, she couldn’t keep up with the long strides of her older sister. That didn’t last long though. After several months, she could keep in stride, and every morning they’d be off to the races.

Our backyard is deceptively long. It’s the perfect racecourse for any domestic animal attempting to expend energy. Since our dogs are quite competitive, they burst out of the blocks, sprinting across our yard as if they are being chased by a team of wild horses.

In fact, that is exactly what the two of them sound like: A neck-in-neck horse race, heavily clomping the earthen yard trail while running for the roses. It’s our own Kansas Derby of the suburbs. If we weren’t all nervous and afraid of our future, we might have set out our finest lawn chairs.

I could have sported a snappy sun dress and fashioned a wide brimmed hat or an architectural fascinator masterpiece that only Princess Beatrice would covet. Then our family would sip mint juleps and spout clever banter about the weather and our winnings.

Alas, this never materialized due to our strict pandemic rule of no drinking before 9 a.m. on any quarantine day. We had to have control over some limits.

So, I imagined when I watched clips of last weekend’s Kentucky Derby, I’d find the spectators sitting 6-feet apart due to my made-up 2020 fashion needs of increased circumference COVID-19 hats. Wouldn’t that be a good way to keep everyone apart when outdoors? Of course, a hat like that would not fare well in a crowd or indoors. There aren’t enough hat pins to keep that head adornment secured.

Ironically, as the winner of the 2021 Kentucky Derby crossed the finish line; I was gardening near our private worn away racetrack. A fascinator may have been missing from my head, but I was rocking my gardening hat reminiscent of a 1950s farmer’s wife. After I finished planting some of my new perennials, I rested on the nearby soil, noting the temperature lowering as the sun skimmed the horizon.

Our familiar backyard chorus of birds and the steady chords of our soprano and bass wind chimes filled the air. Then the recognizable sound of stampeding of feet crescendoed the closer my pups approached.

Pausing to smile, I thought to myself, “It’s a good day at the races.”

Stacey Hatton can be found mostly in her garden these days but will stop to read emails if the need strikes you. She can be reached at