Here I was, a mere 4 1/2 years old, and I could tell Mike and Heather already felt smug about my general level of obedience. I recently heard Heather tell Mike on more than one occasion that I am the best-behaved dog she ever had. Mike, who has to deal with me one-on-one every day, remained skeptical, but he really wanted to believe it, too. Being able to assume that I will do what I’m told, when I’m told, would certainly make his life easier.
That’s why I felt compelled to zip off on a few brief toots last week, just to keep them honest. One time I chased rabbits through the thickets near the park’s south parking lot. Three times I eluded Mike’s grasp right outside our house, bolted down the block, and plowed through a few back yards after cats. Luckily, unlike in my puppy years, I didn’t get caught on any blackberry stalks, and I always came back within five or 10 minutes, mostly to scarf up a guaranteed treat party. But you never know what could happen the next time, do you? I might sprint for the park and get hit by a car. Or eat a dead bird or vole and get sick. Or worse. Even if nothing dour happened, my larks often get embarrassing for Mike. When I run into private property, for instance, or when he has a dentist appointment to get to. The worst is when neighbors or strangers hear Mike calling me and temporarily join his posse. They mean well, but Mike knows they all think he’s just another idiot who can’t control his dog.
Which he is, really. Slipping out of my new orange collar doesn’t take that much effort, frankly, and temptation always lurks. In fact, I’ve noticed more squirrels than ever around this neighborhood, and my three-times-a-day examination of every rock and potted plant along the walkway to our front door reveals they pass repeatedly. Not to mention all the raccoons and cats; last week I saw the Bartons’ brazen Fred scoot right down the middle of our driveway and into our back yard, unimpeded, and one neighbor down the street feeding a raccoon while I watched.
The help I had anticipated from the two new dogs who have moved to our side of the street has not materialized. Liesl (a midsize brown-and-white mix) and Scout (a French bulldog) seem nice enough, but we rarely see them outside. If they don’t even get out often for a walk, getting them to chase critters through back yards with me seems an iffy proposition at best.
I’ll just have to do more on my own. Next time I get away from Mike, I’m going to chase a critter into a fenced yard of someone we don’t know and unleash the banshee howl that I reserve for a cornered varmint that I can never catch. This howl is shrill and unrelenting. When Mike is on the other side of that fence, screaming at me to “leave it” and return for a treat party, imagine how embarrassed he will be. I’ll hold that thought for a while.