Monday, August 08, 2005

in the wild

Dogs, I once read, are astute observers of us (the folk who live with them). We're quite verbal in our communication, but they are readers of movement, and of small details. Hence, I move my leg one way in the morning, and Franklin may lift his head. I move it another way, and he is already off the bed, ready to go downstairs for his morning walk. But then, I also look at his moves, his actions, often anticipating what he is about to do.

On Sunday, (with me stiff and in some pain), I let him run a bit in the backyard. While I talked with one of the neighbors across the fence, he saw a black cat in the yard behind ours, and within about 15 seconds, he had climbed the fence and was chasing it towards their house. I am still not sure how a dog with six or seven inch legs can jump and then climb over a chain-link fence so quickly.

The way he was running, the intense and quick movement was telling in that this was not a mere chase a cat that he won't actually catch, but quite a fast and spirited run. I immediately went through the gate (we have gates to most of the yards touching our backyard, one of the nice amenities of our corner in the townlet), and went barefooted and sore, running after him.

He ended up finding a hole through a stone balustrade around their side patio, running into the yard next door, an old tudor sitting on a triple lot. It was there, as he ran and I kept positioning myself to block him from heading out toward the street, that I saw all his training and obedience (something that has strengthened over the last fews years as we get away from his puppyhood) fade away.

In that moment, as my little dog began his gait across a large open lawn, horse-like with the front paws out in unison followed quickly by the back paws, that he looked like a sportsman eyeing an open field in some game, running with great power. And I think joy. The fuzzy eyebrows that cover his eyes pulled back, as he ran a great arc, stopping to look briefly at me, and then looking across the yard and starting another run.

When Scotties walk on a leash, it is a perky walk that often reminds me of Charlie Chaplin's Tramp. But when they run, they become little horses, galloping away.

These kind of escapes have grown muchless frequent, but yesterday it was faster and more persistent than I've seen in a long time. I tried to keep myself as far enough from him as possible to not give him access toward the street. And then finally he broke past me and ran back to the other neighbor's front yard.

And I, barefooted and stiff, ran as fast as I could up the street to stop him, my head full of imagined horrors of a speeding car hitting him. Huffing away, I kept telling myself that I could not lose sight of him.

And then he ran into the middle of the street in front of me. And stopped.

And I picked him up and carried him back home, thankful that he had not been hurt, mad at him for putting himself in danger (as well as making me run so hard), and still marveling at the beauty and power of my little Scotty running on an open field, skimming and floating for a few seconds of freedom. Of course, I couldn't tell him what I was feeling, not that those words would have meant much to him. I tried to look stern. He, on the other hand, appeared quite satisfied, and certainly a little tired, riding up over my right arm as we walked back to the house and he surveyed the world he had just conquered.

3 comments:

Judith said...

A very enjoyable read. PS I thought I was the only one who reads The Diary of Samuel Pepys--thanks for the link!

lemming said...

(relieved that he is all right!!)

I thought this was the dog with a sore leg! :-)

Don said...

judith -- thank you. The Pepys Diary blog is an amazing example of how the internet makes an old text come alive, with readers annotating, asking questions, and conversing with other readers about the text. Sadly, I haven't kept up lately, but will get back into it.

lemming -- yes, he has not limped in about 4 months. I thought maybe that display would make the limp return, but it didn't.