Author’s note: My 9 year old dog got out through an open fence gate yesterday. He spent the next 14 hours roaming the woods and yards in our neighborhood, barking at everything that moved. We did not sleep. I’m too tired to tell his story, so these are his words. I’m just typing for him before I start baking pumpkin breads by way of apology to the neighbors.
It all started innocently enough. The Man Who Walks Me was working around the yard, as he often does on weekends. The Woman Who Feeds Me had gone out in her car, as usual on a Saturday. There was a Stranger Man working around the house, and my partner and I were on full alert. We did the usual House Protection Routine of barking, shedding, drooling and wagging our tails furiously. It was exhausting.
I took a short nap on my leather couch. Eventually, Stranger Man went away (after more barking, drooling, shedding and wagging) and Woman Who Feeds came back with many bags of food. She did not give me any of this food.
I noticed that I needed to go outside to relieve my bladder, so I whined at the slider door that goes out to the deck and into the prison yard, where I was expected to pee within the fence. Man Who Walks Me let me out and I went down the stairs.
And I saw it: the gate to the prison stood open!!!! I didn’t hesitate. There was no time to alert my partner. I took off running. I was free!! I dashed into the woods behind the prison yard, stopping to pee on several tree stumps and one rotten log. I lifted my nose and immediately picked up the scent of squirrel.
I am a hound. Such skills are my birthright. I raced through the layers of fallen leaves, following the delicious scents of squirrel and freedom. I bayed in delighted!
My primitive cry of freedom must have alerted the neighbors that I was out, because soon I saw Woman Who Walks Baby Hound in her yard. I rushed toward her, but I am no fool. I have done this gate escape trip many times before, and I know all of the human tricks to recapture me. Baby Hound was tethered to the Woman, as usual, but I knew that she was using him to lure me closer. I danced around him, barking and calling. “Escape!” I told him. “Wait for the gate to be open! Freedom! Freedom!!” Woman Who Walks Baby Hound was speaking in a sweet voice, trying to trick me with her gentle tone.
I was not fooled. I stayed exactly two inches from her fingertips and when she lunged toward me, I jumped away and raced back to the woods.
I was too smart for her! I was too fast for her! As I flew over fallen branches I called out to Baby Hound, “Look for your chance and seize it! Freeeeeeeeeeedoooooooommmmmmmm!”
For most of the day I wandered from yard to yard. I eluded capture by another Woman, who foolishly tired to lure me with a bowl of cat kibble.
My enemies are not worthy of me.
I spent a long time near the house where the food is kept. Woman Who Feeds Me came out a few times and pretended to be ignoring me as she picked up the mail or walked around the garden. I was too wily for her, though! I stayed one foot behind her the whole time, stalking her silently. I stayed close, just in case she dropped a piece of Milk Bone from her pocket. She walked into the open garage, no doubt hoping that I would follow, but I was wise to her. “So long, sucker!” I barked to her as she entered the house. She closed the door very loudly for some reason.
The Man Who Walks Me tried to capture me, too. He is my favorite human because he always scratches my ears and my belly and he is a soft touch for treats. He lets me stand right beside him when he prepares food, so that I get everything that hits the floor. If I was going to let anybody recapture me, it would be him. There would probably be some ham as a reward.
But I was not yet ready to give up my freedom.
The humans even sent my partner, Sadie, outside. They thought she could convince me to turn myself in. “Hey”, she said, in her usual calm way. “Come on in the house. If you obey them, they let you out whenever you want. Haven’t you noticed that I am allowed to poop in the woods, without a leash?” She was pretty persuasive, I have to admit. She reminded me of the cookies in the house, and the fire, and my beloved leather couch.
But I had tasted freedom. I had tasted the joy of digging in the soft dirt under the bushes. I had delighted in the smell of dead possum, a smell which for some reason never appears in the house. I couldn’t give up now. I jumped on Sadie playfully, and bit her ear to tell her that I loved her. “No, my friend”, I told her. “I must live out my destiny!” She looked at me sadly with her big brown eyes. “Godspeed!” she barked, as she turned to obey the voice of Woman Who Feeds Me.
The sun began to set, and it was getting colder. I lay on the grass in front of our house. I was proud. I was fierce. I was a sentinel, keeping the castle safe from intruders. No chipmunk, no mouse, no mole would get past my careful watch. The humans were inside, safe and warm. No doubt they felt more secure, knowing that I was on guard duty.
When night fell, I found myself freezing. I shivered in the darkness, but I would not relent. I decided to stay warm by running through the woods, visiting every yard over and over and over again, while singing my song of freedom. It may have been the lack of food or the intense cold, I’m not sure, but before too long, I began to see myself as a wolf. As the King of the Wolves! My voice changed, and my barking grew more and more feral until at last I lifted my head and howled into the night sky.
In fact, I howled every sixty seconds all night long! It was glorious!
How safe the Humans must feel, I thought. The Wolf King is on duty!
At last, though, my strength began to fail me. My sciatica was acting up, and the smell of squirrel was starting to make me nauseous. The sun came up slowly, and I knew that it was time to turn myself in. I made my way slowly through the still open gate, up the stairs to the slider door. I gave two sharp yips, sounding helpless and weak, no longer the Wolf King. Within ten seconds, Man Who Walks Me had opened the door. There was food in my dish, and fresh water in my bowl! I saw with relief that no one was seated on my couch. My favorite pillow was waiting for me.
Man Who Walks Me must have been pleased to see me. I think he said something nice about my mother, because the last thing I heard before I drifted off to sleep was “Son of a bitch”.
I can’t wait for my next adventure.