Sunday, May 06, 2007

Just Another Outing

We were headed out to a fundraiser for a literacy program on Friday evening, and I thought that it would be nice to take the dogs out for one last romp before we vacated the premises for the evening.

Al, our foster dog, is just about the sweetest, most well-dispositioned animal you could ask for. He is affectionate and attentive, at least until you get into the great outdoors. Sunlight and fresh air summon the puppy resting deep within his 150-pound frame to bubble up to the surface. He jumps, runs, barks and frolics, but he DOES NOT LISTEN, meaning chiefly, he does not come when called.

We have tried exercises where K stands at one end of the levee and I walk him to the other end. We turn him around, K gets his attention, I let go of his leash, and she calls him. About 75% of the time, he goes bounding straight for her, pulling up just at the critical moment where I cover my eyes, and where, if it were happening to me, K would begin to laugh. The other 25% of the time, he veers off to the side, choosing to skirt the edge of the pond to run at the goat fence, or to go crashing through the woods. One such time, he emerged from the woods, and headed up through the neighbor’s pasture, with me in hot pursuit.

Betcha’ didn’t know, but it is well neigh impossible to whistle while running.

On another occasion, as he made the return run to me, instead of pulling up, he danced around me, running full-bore. I reflexively reached out and took the leash as he whizzed past but could not arouse the conscious part of my mind in time to command my hand to “let go,” resulting in what may have looked from afar a lot like a blow-up doll tied to the back bumper of a honeymooner’s Ferrari.

Although I had already showered, I was still in my grubby clothes when I took Al and the krewe out for one final trip Friday afternoon. We headed north to the area around the goat pasture. I practiced commands with Al. He sat. He lay down. He heeled. The prospect of Al responding when I issued the “come” command, or even in response to a whistle, looked fair to cloudy. It looked promising enough that I let him off his leash.

I hadn’t anticipated the rabbit.

By the time I caught up with Al in the woods, I had slid down the back side of the levee, tripped and fallen across the bed of a stream, caught my shirt in barbed wire, slid back up the side of the levee, left flesh and hair trail markers along the schizophrenic and virgin path cut through the woods, and taken sizable mud samples from various locations around the property. My knee had a gash in it sizeable enough to bleed and continue bleeding throughout the evening. My theory is the copious amounts of alcohol I consumed through the evening promoted blood circulation and healing.

As has happened so many times before in the misadventures at MisFit Farm, I came trudging up the path, weary and forlorn, to meet a fresh and smiling K. She met me with the inevitable question, “Are you o.k.?” To which I responded in due understatement, haggard, muddy and bleeding, “I may need to freshen up a bit before we go.”

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