Saturday we went to Mel’s sister’s house in central Pennsylvania, where we would meet our new doggie on Sunday. There was much debating about whether or not to take little Thilde on this road trip. (We had already farmed out the older dog with a friend and found someone to come in and look at the parrot.) We didn’t really have anyone, and I didn’t really want to unleash the holy terror on the only volunteer I did have – the lady looking in on the bird. Trying to entertain a high energy dog who likes to chew things, steal underwear and shred paper of any kind for more than a few hours is a real challenge. I didn’t want to inflict the badness of the little princess on just anyone… it should at least be someone deserving. Like my dad, but he was out of town. So, in the end, we decided we’d take her along.
Thilde did very well, sleeping on a pillow in the back seat for most of the four hour drive. When we arrived at T’s house we took the dog on a fairly long walk hoping to wear her out enough that we could put her in her crate and go to dinner. But, the walk only seem to hype her up, so we decided to play the “come” game with her. Mel and I had used this game to teach Thilde the command ‘come’, and she would usually get pretty worn out from it in the process. Basically, we stand 10 yards apart or so, each of us with a handful of treats and take turns calling the dog. She runs at top speed between us, back and forth, to “get paid” for coming. We hadn’t played this game in a while, but the last time we’d played Thilde was distracted and had started to wander a bit – conveniently not hearing us when we called. Yes, she’s a stubborn little thing, that’s a breed characteristic, and she is basically a teenager. We did remember that’s what had happened last time but foolishly decided to play the game anyway.
This time, she didn’t just wander… she took off after a rabbit. Fast. It was dusk and hard to see her. Mel ran after her, calling her and calling her. Undoubtedly, the prey drive had kicked in and the little dog wasn’t hearing her. I had also started running but then realized we would need the leash so I doubled back to get it. After grabbing it, I followed the sound of Mel’s voice. As a heavyweight person, the best run I could manage was a slow jog so I heard her but she was getting further and further away. I couldn’t see her at all and had no idea if I was even following the same path. Mel’s calls became higher pitched and more desperate. She too was losing steam and (I learned later) had lost the dog from her sight. I lumbered along through back yards, stumbling on uneven ground and crashing through rose bushes whose thorns drew blood. I was scared out of my mind that we would lose Thilde in the dark in this unfamiliar town. I had already started thinking the mantra “please don’t let this happen,” and praying that Mel hadn’t lost sight of her.
After crossing what seemed like endless backyards, I came out between two houses to a street. I looked up the street and saw Mel standing in front of a house almost a block away. I heard her call the dog and then saw that she had Thilde in her arms. We met and got the leash on her. What a relief! By this time, Mel’s sister had caught up to us as well. (She’d been in the house when we started chasing the dog.) After getting our bearings, we realized that we were less than half a block away from a major road with heavy traffic, and several blocks from where we’d started. Again, what a relief… so much so that tears were shed. We were thisclosetolosingher.
So, read it now, as I put in writing this promise we’ve already made… We will never, ever again let the dog off her leash in a place that isn’t completely enclosed by an adequate fence. It won’t happen. Period.