My rabbit-chasing escapades finally got me into real trouble. Mike and I were almost home after an hour’s walk and ball-chasing, but I convinced Mike to take the ball out of his pocket for one more throw near our Adopt-an-Area. Mike wanted to get home and watch the end of the Mariners game. I wanted to fetch. I won. The Mariners, alas, did not.
But Mike never saw the game, even when it went into extra innings. Because when he threw the ball, I chased it at full speed down the gravel path – until I saw a black bunny out of the corner of my eye. It scooted up the wooded hill to my right. I veered and was gone.
In seconds, I was up the hill, into the thickest thicket in the park, chasing rabbits of many colors in a labyrinth of blackberry vines as hard and wide as silver dollars. Mike sighed, knowing he was in for a long haul.
His cellphone had enough juice for about two calls. After about 45 minutes, he dialed Heather at her office and headed home for loppers and gloves. He was not happy, and I could have cared less. I was hunting.
After he came back, there were a couple of times that Mike could see me, but there was no way he was getting close to me without chain saws and machetes. I had a blast until my harness got caught on a blackberry spike, and then I had to wiggle my way out of it and leave it behind. That must have happened while Mike got his tools, because I did yelp a few times and made some racket while I was squirming. When he came back, though, I was stealth. I really didn’t reveal my whereabouts until Heather showed up. I heard her immediately, and I did not like her tone of voice. She was fuming. Strangely, not at Mike, but at me! (Maybe she was saving Mike for later, when I wasn’t around.)
By the way she was ordering me and Mike around, I knew I was in trouble. So I whimpered a couple of times, and she was finally on me, directing Mike on where to lop next to give her an opening and some leverage so she could grab me. I felt like I was in a hostage rescue on The Unit (I watch a lot of reruns with Heather).
Because I had no leash or harness anymore, and we were still in Rabbit Central, Heather carried me all the way down to the parking lot. She was quiet in the car, and that’s why I really didn’t comprehend how much trouble I was in until we got home, and this not talking to me or looking at me continued. She must have made Mike do it, too, because it’s not something he would have done on his own. Mike silently gave me dinner (thank god!) and then sent me to the bedroom while they ate. When I whimpered, they ignored me.
When I got sent to bed without a biscuit, I realized the severity of my crime.
For the next few days, there was no rabbit chasing. There was no ball chasing. There was a lot of “Chloë, walk with me.” There was a whole lot of command tone thrown around. (Poor Mike, he’s just not very good at it. Ms. Grim, on the other hand, is a pro.)
After a few days, however, things started to loosen up a little. I got a brand-new harness and leash, both newer, sportier versions of what I had. Mike and I have had a few fetch sessions in carefully designated, bunny-free areas. We’ve even done a few short dropped-leash segments. But whenever we pass remotely close to a thicket, my leash was on and shortened. Until the other day, when he was trying to get me to play with this other dachshund named Beamer, who I’ve met several times. When Mike dropped my leash, I briefly pretended to be running around with Beamer and then made a beeline across the parking lot and into my favorite maze.
Frankly, I didn’t think Mike could run that fast anymore, with that leg pain he’s been suffering. I think it was the shock of seeing him streak across the parking lot, and not his command tone (“Chloë, No!” that actually made me stop right on the fringe of the blackberry thicket. Mike, for once, could breathe a sigh of relief.
So have I learned any lesson? Heather thinks I’m smart enough to be trained to obey, always. Mike thinks I’m smart enough to act like a dachshund.
Sure, I’ll pay attention to Mike – for a while. Until one day when he’s listening to a Mariners game on the radio, and he takes his eyes off me for a few seconds. And then I’m gone, on the road again.
What can I say? There are bunnies and squirrels and birds out there, and it’s spring. What do you expect, Rin Tin Tin?