This afternoon is a balmy, high 50s day. A great one to be out in the sun for a while, listening to my neighbors’ banda y corridos music, me and the dogs both quivering our noses at the delicious smells floating our way from their barbecue.
Elf and Opus each get a way overdue brushing. Which they wouldn’t have gotten if Opus hadn’t taken a good roll in the dead grass, emerging in this condition:
When you have your house on the market you really don’t want that much grass highlighting your freshly vacuumed carpets.
This bucolic happiness made me really, really happy that we were not repeating Opus’s disappearing act of last Sunday.
That was one cold, cold, windy, windy day, fraught with snow clouds. I decided that an emergency grocery trip would be necessary, in light of impending horrible weather. All went okay until returned I home to find Elf and Opus ready with their enthusiastic smooch-you-to-death greetings.
During which my wheelchair got tangled up in a small mud rug at the front door.
As I bent to straighten the rug, Opus — channeling his inner Houdini — charged through the front door. No choice for me but to throw the groceries on the floor, curse the rug under my wheels and whiz back out without even closing the big door, leaving Elf of the obedient habit watching me head down the road through the screen.
For an old boy Opus was in fine form. Looking slyly back to assure himself that I was in sight, he sized up the opportunities and lit out towards the busiest street in town. So I had about three city blocks in which to persuade him to let me leash him up and lead him back home.
He was having none of it, showing how under-exercised he is. Ha — the dog is a total couch potato, so whose fault is that?
Why do I not take him for street walks regularly? Because of the many large, loose dogs who may or may not be aggressive or vaccinated.
So what does Opus do but launch nose sniffing, tail wagging encounters with a neighbor’s enormous rottweiler mix followed by two stray black German Shepherds? When the shepherds don’t pay him much attention I heave a big sigh, which does nothing to suggest to my 23 pound racing dog that it’s time to turn around and head home.
The funny thing is that Opus is half dachshund. His legs may be longer than those of a proper doxie, but his body is proportioned long. Watching him dash alongside me — but ten to twenty five feet to the side — I couldn’t help smiling at that crazy shape flying along. His ears flopped, his tail flapped and I swear he was grinning.
Instead of turning around, though, he lights out for the busy street, still two blocks north.
This dog keeps enough away from me that I can’t leash him up, but close enough to be sure I’m still with him. Pretending not to be, turning around and heading home does no good with him. He seizes such opportunities to vanish. Meanwhile I was steamed enough to give off a thermal map like this:
For two good miles we examined empty lots and dirt alleys, he sniffed and marked every post and tree he got close too. Dozens! Do dogs never run out of juice? Wearing an important air like a super-dog cape, he did that while the faithful human mired the power chair in gravel and soft dirt, got separated from him by chain link and adobe fences — and generally cussed and fussed like a sailor. And there was nobody around to ask for help in tackling this suddenly frisky ancient roommate of mine.
All the while I was running the batteries down, and began wondering at what point I might have to turn around before the things got low enough to be damaged. Gravel and soft dirt are h-ll on batteries.
Happily, as my non-reading canine began sniffing his way around the city’s large library I remembered some older dudes standing around the parking lot of the big Baptist church nearby. There when I went shopping, there when I returned, maybe they were still busy sharing stories while their loved ones worshipped? Abandoning Opus to his seemingly endless library investigations, I located the group and came away with one younger fellow in tow.
We finally wrangled the now-weary old pooch into a corner, where he allowed me right up to him and gave me a thoroughly desperate look of “Where have you been all this time?”
The rest of the story is happy.
He drank half a bowl of water and retired to his futon in the feeble sunshine for hours after that. Leaving Elf and me to enjoy the rest of the cold day in front of a space heater, with a blanket.
Today the old fellow snoozes gently beside me, stretched out to the max, heaving the occasional contented sigh. Whatever gets into him, I wonder? From such a quiet snuggle-up-agus who would expect the zeal of a seasoned adventurer to push him so long and so far?
I guess dogs must sometimes be allowed their mysteries.