Boot Camp with Heather had been going so well. When we arrived for a two-week stay at my Cascade foothills Getaway, she voiced her amazement at how well I was complying with all of her increasingly difficult commands. On more than one occasion, I heard her tell Mike that I was doing “fantastic.” That was her word, not mine.
And then things got a bit out of hand. I got out there in the country with my pal Pumpkin and the sweet spring grass and lots of wild smells, and I just lost control. On four straight days, Heather let me off my leash and I ran away from her, at four different locations for four different reasons. She would call me back, and sometimes I would even stop and look at her. And run.
The first time I was chasing the orange ball that Mike had tossed along the Snoqualmie Valley Trail, and it took a bad hop and flew over the embankment right into the local gun club’s shooting range. When I skidded down after it, I caught my leash on a bush, and both I and the ball needed assistance. But as Heather slid down to get me, I extricated myself and ran back uphill to Mike, who was trying to keep Pumpkin from following Heather down. I dropped the ball in the process, but Heather was able to get it. No harm, no foul, right? I might have gotten away with it if it only happened once. Unfortunately, no.
Charlie was with us for the next incident. He drove out to visit on a Sunday, and we took him for a walk on a different branch of the Snoqualmie Valley Trail. I was leading the pack on the way back to the car when I caught a fresh scent of fox or weasel and took off on a small game trail that ran under some barbed-wire fencing and Posted signs. This sliver of a trail led to a much wider one some 20 feet below, which then wound further into farmers’ fields and ultimately toward the busy highway beyond them. Heather and Charlie kept calling me to return, but I ignored them, put my nose down to the ground and scurried another few yards in the opposite direction. At one point I bounded toward the highway, but soon reversed course and headed steadily back to the main trail, where Mike stood waiting at my original point of egress. This time Heather ordered Mike to keep me leashed up for the rest of our walk.
But did anybody learn anything from this? Apparently not, because on the following day, in between the heavy rains and hailstones I endured, I split again on yet another section of the Sno Valley Trail. (Heather likes this former railroad bed trail because it’s flat, and I like because it has lots of small critters lurking about.) This time I ran circles around a muddy field before returning to Mike and his waiting leash, again the prescribed punishment from Staff Sergeant Heather, who was amused by my recent performances. She was even less pleased the following day, when she and I were playing fetch on the back lawn, for both of us by far the most favorite activity on the Getaway agenda. She threw the ball, I retrieved it, and then I ran right past her and all the way down to the landscapers’ garage down the hill, ball in mouth – until a big dog named Coconut who lives there intercepted me and chased me back towards the Getaway house. Heather was made when she came to get me, and she was even more so when she saw the ball was no longer in my grip.
At least I’ve got another week out here at my Getaway to find that ball. Meanwhile, I figure I am on a leash for the duration of our time here, even when I’m inside the house. It’s like house arrest! And who knows how long it will last with Heather in charge? Might be forever, come to think of it.