A Bid for Freedom and a Merry Chase

You know how they say you should be careful what you wish for? After a few days of idyllic dog ownership, I found myself thinking that I had expected more column fodder from the canine, but that life was calm and serene and lacking in drama. I wouldn’t call it a wish, per se, but the universe was clearly listening.

When Buddy arrived, my kids were on vacation with their dad. This was not an accident. I wanted to give him some time to settle in to the house and get used to me, without the added love frenzy that accompanies my children. I worked from home half-days so I could hang out with the furball. We took walks together, sat on the porch, practiced training commands, and wandered downtown for an outdoor music concert.

My kids returned home at 5:57pm on Sunday evening. At 5:58pm, Buddy escaped out the backdoor past my six-year-old and took off on a joy romp through the neighborhood. I was unloading an assortment of belongings from the back of the minivan and barely had time to register what was happening as a black and white blur streaked past me, tail wagging madly.

It took four adults twenty minutes to corral the beast and frankly I’m shocked we caught him at all. The freedom went directly to his head and all his training was for naught. Come? Ha. You wish. Buddy? Who’s that? Nobody here by that name. Good dog? You betcha. Good at running!

Holy cow, he was fast. Four legs, fifty-three pounds of muscle, and the call of the wild (or at least the call of suburbia) coursing through his veins. I swear that dog was laughing at me the entire time I chased him. He pranced and wiggled and jumped through bushes, barreling out the other side and running mad, joyful loops through the nearby yards.

My son stepped up to help, hollering enthusiastically and waving a handful of treats around, which the renegade rover steadfastly ignored. My daughters stood in the front yard and cried, utterly convinced that their new best friend was gone forever. I tried to shout consoling words at them as I sprinted past, but didn’t really have time to offer much comfort.

Finally, he slowed down, distracted by some delicious smell in my neighbor’s hedgerow, and I was able to grab his collar and haul him home. Silly beast wasn’t the least bit repentant. He clearly thought this was a fabulous new game my children had invented in his honor and he was eager to play it again.

Back on the homestead, new rules were put in place regarding the proper protocols for entering and exiting the house. No more leaving the front door open and trusting the latch on the screen. Always close the garage door. Keep your peripheral vision sharp when exiting; be on the lookout for breakaway attempts.

Given the age of my kids, I cannot hope for uniform compliance with the new safety procedures. I shared Buddy’s picture on the neighborhood Facebook page in anticipation of future APB posts; made sure his collar fits well and his tag contains all the necessary information; registered his microchip with the monitoring company; and bought new running shoes. We’re practicing his recall command daily and we watched several inspirational movies wherein loyal pets brave great dangers to return to their owners.

Frankly, I’m not convinced Buddy was paying close attention during the film screenings, but perhaps the core concepts sunk in. Time will tell.

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