“My dog doesn’t like men with hats”, one of my customers told me seriously during her tour of our kennel. And this wasn’t the first time I had heard this comment…it’s probably come up over a dozen times through the years. And I have learned to respect that, along with a fear of raincoats, sunglasses, snow shovels and various other little phobias our four-legged friends may have. But sometimes, pet owners forget to let me in on their dog’s little secrets….
“Casey” was a shepherd mix I was looking after and had boarded with us a few times before. He was a nice dog, but a bit skittish at times. Well, this dog became more then a little skittish when my husband, John, showed up to let him out of his kennel and into the exercise yard. We were soon to find out that, although Casey had always been great with me, he was absolutely terrified of men with hats. Well, John had both things working against him that night, baseball cap and all. This dog wanted nothing to do with him and started eyeing up our 6 foot high board fence as his only escape from the situation at hand. I came running and told John to back off, but it was too late, Casey was already spooked and over the fence in one flying leap. The game was on.
I ran around the kennel to intercept him when he made a bee line for the recently plowed muddy field. For him, it wasn’t a problem, but after trying to keep up for half the field, I couldn’t do it any longer. My shoes were mired in mud and my adrenaline rush was gone, fatigue setting in. By that time, Casey had disappeared into the next field and off our property.
At this point, we got in the car and drove to where we last saw him, but Casey was nowhere to be seen. What to do? And which way to look? We drove around a bit, then I got out to start going door to door and asking my neighbours if they had seen him. Just as I was about to knock on my neighbour’s front door, I suddenly heard a lot of barking at the kennel, so I thought the boarding dogs were trying to tell me something. I somehow found the energy to run back to the kennel to see what was up, hoping I was right.
Sure enough, Casey was back at the kennel, standing outside the yard and stirring things up with the other dogs. He saw me and came running, but as I went to grab his collar, he swerved away, bolted for the road, and took off in the other direction. Apparently, the game was not over yet.
By the time I made it to the road, he was already half a kilometer away, so I flagged down the next car and begged them to give me a ride to the next house. They seemed to think that I wanted to put a dog in the car as well, but after I explained that I don’t have the dog, they reluctantly let me in. They were probably thinking by the crazed look on my face that I wasn’t quite sane at that point and they should do what I said or face the consequences. And they were probably right on both counts! I got out at the next house, only to see Casey take off down their very long driveway towards a forest. Running past my surprised neighbour, who I had never met, there was no time for explanations.
Casey saw me coming. Then he finally stopped. And I stopped. We stared at each other for a bit. He was on the other side of a pond behind my neighbour’s house. I sat down, exhausted, wanting desperately for this game to be over. We stared at each other some more. By this time it was getting dark and Casey was starting to blend in with the trees and bushes. I could hardly see him. This is it, I thought, it’s over, I’m never going to catch him. In desperation, I walked slowly towards Casey, my last ditch attempt to catch him. This time, he stood his ground. Not wanting to spook him, I stopped and waited. And waited some more.
Suddenly, Casey dropped his head, and started coming towards me. I froze as he came closer, head bowed in what I hoped was submission. He stopped in front of me, tired of the game, ready to come in. I slowly reached down and snapped a leash to his collar. Then I sat down in the grass and shamelessly balled my eyes out.
I finally got Casey back to his kennel and told John our story. Then I went straight for a bottle of wine I had been keeping for a special occasion and poured myself a generous toast to Casey’s safe return. And then, poured another…the game was over and I had won.
Cheers and thanks for reading!