Snow Dog Part 2 (without snow)

If you remember last time I wrote about Bella, our Siberian Husky, she was on her way to run the Idarod in Alaska dragging me behind her in my pajamas. Since then she has been behaving herself fairly well aside from the fact she has turned Houdini. A master escape artist, she has broken out of three different fence modifications made specifically to contain her. She is challenged to see how fast she can reduce us to feeling idiotic for trying to enclose the wind.
Yesterday, I think she must have heard me say departure time for Savannah would be early in the morning and in an effort to prevent her boy from leaving, she staged an escape attempt to distract us. At quarter till early, as we were loading up the truck, Houdini (her nickname) busted out of the newly chicken wired backyard fence. I think the previous break out record was a week following modification, this time it was two days. This time she had an accomplice in Rusty, and soon they were roaming the neighborhood like they had escaped from federal prison…which of course they had. Not the way to start the very long day.
I armed myself with the squeaky ball, and some roast beef and off I went. Fortunately for me, Bella is easily spotted in the woods. She bounds like a rabbit, shaking every bush and stirring up every crunchy leaf on the ground. She is white, so she stands out among the green leaves. I would hate to lose her in the snow…I make a mental note of that. Unfortunately for me, she thinks it is a game and she does not know the word come. I roll down my windows and listen. Soon I hear them in the wooded area behind my house, the one that is inaccessible. I squeak the ball to oblivion, holding it outside the car window and I am sure all the neighbors are thrilled with this new early morning alarm. My smiling pups run towards the car, then circle it as if to say hello, and are off again. I decide to pull out all the stops, and get the roast beef out on their next ring-around-the-rosy. Smiling at me now standing beside the car, with their tongues hanging to the ground, they fly right past the delicacy. They do not even slow down. Didn’t even look.
Next stop neighbor’s backyard. Now remember, I said it was quarter till early and so I am trying to be quiet as I sneak around. They descended on her house, racing through her well-manicured bushes as if they were rides at Six Flags, sounding like a herd of elephants in the brush. I hobbled with my bum knee up the steep driveway in order to grab them as they made the rounds. My neighbor is now standing on her deck in her pjs, uping my stress level considerably. She is pointing them out to me as if it will help, “The little one is in the garden. The big one is still in the woods.” She does not seem to notice my limp or the incline on which the dogs are racing one another. Finally, I hear Bill yell down that Bella has been re-captured. That leaves only Rusty, who seems to give up the chase now that his partner is gone. He suddenly decides that roast beef sounds good, so he runs to me. He puts on his “she made me do it” face, and hops into the driver’s seat wagging his tail all the way. It seems he doesn’t know that he has been driving all morning.
All is well. All is calm once again. We turn to finish packing, locking the dogs back on the porch where they have lived the last months in solitary confinement. Back to the big house they go. After a while, I feel they need to come inside the house so they will have some run around time before their long day on the porch. It is those puppy dog eyes looking at me through the window, which makes me forget they have run around all morning. Rusty does not come, apparently he is still thirsty from their morning escapade.
Bella comes inside toddler-like as if nothing ever happened. I am going about packing when I realize it is extremely quiet, just as with a toddler my mother’s intuition kicks in. I look around and cannot find her. I look on the back porch and she is not there. I even check down below the porch, thinking maybe she decided to jump for it. As I come back into the house I remember that we left the front door open before, just in case they decided to come home, and so once again she is loose and laughing. The squeaky ball is beyond annoying when I squeeze it as if it is Bella’s head. I slow the car, now carrying the entire container of roast beef, and listen. Nothing. No bushes crashing. No leaves crunching. I only hear dogs barking across the main road. Now I do not usually use cuss words, they just do not feel right coming out of my mouth…but this was an exception and felt entirely appropriate somehow. Driving 45 miles under the speed limit on the main road didn’t go over so well. I was only glad that it was still just half past early, and there wasn’t too much traffic. I creeped the car up the driveway where the barking was coming from. I hesitated to get out, wondering if I was about to be shot. I decided to listen carefully for romping…I heard none, only the pinned in hunting dogs going crazy. I figured if I wasn’t sure Bella was the source of their agitation I wasn’t going to chance my life….even if she was I wasn’t going to chance my life.
I headed back to my neighborhood, all the time looking for a flash of white. I crossed the creek and decided to get out and traipse through the muck. As I was up to my knees in briars, I noticed morning glories in full bloom…not funny God. I kept listening. Nothing. Dragging myself back to my car, I went up past our house just in time to see Bella run out in front of me, saying “You can’t catch me. Nanananana.” If I had had a gun I would have shot her myself. But I didn’t…I only had the container of roast beef. So I threw some of it at her. She stood just out of arms reach, legs at the ready if I should attempt to grab her. She watched me out of the corner of her eye as she took the meat. Once she had wet her appetite with the morsel, I held out the entire container. I had her, like I was fishing for dogs she came right to me and took it from my hand as my arm went around her neck. I got her.
It occurred to me as I put her in the car that she had just been rewarded. No wonder she loves this game. Making me look stupid is her greatest skill. Once we were home again she was put on the porch while we finished loading the truck. When William walked out of the door she realized her trick had not worked…he was still going away. She frowned. The first frown I have ever seen from her…and I understood then…and I frowned too.

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