Friday, 23 December 2011

Pray tell me sir, whose dog are you?

Things were going so well this morning. I got up early-ish and, while listening to holiday music offerings from Otis Redding and Bruce Springsteen on CBC Radio, glazed one of the tourtières I had prepared yesterday, popping it into the oven for the Resident Fan Boy's office holiday luncheon which used to begin at noon and now begins at 10 am. Then, sipping egg nog, I prepared breakfast for younger daughter who has been home with a frog in her throat all week so "White Christmas" is moot. I then read another chapter of Watership Down with younger daughter. As a matter of fact, I was going to call this post "Watership Countdown". Witty? No?

Then elder daughter returned home just before noon, after I finished wrapping the last of the Christmas gifts, so I thought I'd grab the opportunity to take the Accent Snob for a walk.

It was a brisk morning, a light icing sugar covering of snow from last night, and ice crystals drifting in the air. Our pooch, as we've discovered during the past few weeks since his adoption, is not an avid walker. Generally, he lifts his leg in the shrubs in front of our house, then tries to go back inside. I pulled him up firmly and set off to the corner, then across our street.

Once the Accent Snob realized I was determined to make this a proper walk, he headed straight for some bushes to make a deposit. Then attempted to turn tail and go home. I gave a quick yank and struggled to get under the shrubbery row with my flushable poop-bag. It took a few more commands and yanks to twist the bag and clip it with a clothes-peg, then as the dog plunged around the corner, I struggled to get my gloves back on, the bag in my left hand and the retractable leash in my right. Immediately, I began to feel an uncomfortable cold trickling down the back of my neck. While I'd been retrieving the dog deposit, the bushes had deposited a cup or so of snow in my hood.

At each cross-street, the Accent Snob made a dive to the left, knowing by now that this is the way home. Tempted as I was, given the chill settling between my shoulder blades, I sternly pressed on, intent on a riverside walk in the brilliant, heat-less sunshine.

We reached one of the entrances to the stretch of pathways beside the Rideau River, and the Accent Snob became entwined around one of the posts that serve to discourage through-traffic. As I tugged his leach to disentangle him, he suddenly broke into the expanse of shallow snow, collar-less and leash-free.

The awfulness of my predicament took a fraction of a second to sink in. The pathway that stretches east to west by the river was deserted, this final weekday before Christmas Eve. The Accent Snob was looking with great interest across the nearby road as he made wide galloping circles around me. Suppose he made a break for the streets? I knew from past experience that he is clueless about cars. Furthermore, his identifying tags were dangling from the collar in my hand.

I spent several increasingly desperate minutes calling him, trying to sound enticing rather than frantic and failing miserably. The Humane Society had warned us that he didn't respond to his name and that he was not a candidate for off-leash. I had fleeting and ironic thoughts about a runaway dog I had witnessed exactly one year ago. The lady in that nightmarish scenario didn't know the dog's name. I knew this dog 's name and it didn't matter. I tried sitting down on the snowy benches. He did approach me then, before scampering nimbly sideways when I reached for him. This is cute as all get-go in our living room, but in the deserted, frozen park, it was infuriating. I knew there was no malice in this dog, but vacillated between wanting to kill him and fearing for his life, particularly when he made repeated forays down the bank to the river's edge where I could hear the ice creaking under his paws. More than one dog has been swept away by the freezing currents of the local rivers.

What to do? I could try going home, and he'd probably follow me, blundering into the paths of oncoming cars. I could stay here, but how long? And what would my daughters think when I failed to return?

To the west, a figure in a parka appeared with a long-legged gangly white boxer who was tumbling about in floppy dog-boots, a common sight in this neighbourhood. The Accent Snob shot toward him. When he's leashed, the AS is rather stand-offish with other canines, but he seemed to recognize a fellow free spirit: "Look at us, we're off-leash!"

I followed rather less speedily and smiled sheepishly at the young woman. "I'm afraid I'm in big trouble," I said and explained what had happened.

"Oh," she said in concern and called her dog (who came promptly, of course). Accent Snob followed and I was finally able to nab him. My fingers were now too cold to feel the catch, so I held AS while my saviour clipped on the collar, then held his lead so I could struggle to my feet.

"I'm so glad you came by," I told the girl fervently, and feeling stiff, wet, and cold, took the Accent Snob home by the nearest short-cut.

When I posted my sad story on Facebook this afternoon, I was told kindly by one of my Facebook pals that she has a harness for her pooch who also slips out of his collar. I guess we'll be making a trip to the pet supply store.

I'd ask for a strait-jacket for myself, but I don't think they carry those.

1 comment:

ptooie said...

How fortunate that other dog walker came along!
I now feel extra appreciative of the fact that the last time my dog escaped the leash it was warm out, although at the time I was unhappily jogging across very hot pavement in bare feet trying to catch him.