Why dogs are people’s best friends but sometimes we want to beat them

 

Biscuit is in so much trouble. She’s AW-ful. At different times today I was both pleading for her safe return and wanting to wear her like a furry shoe on the end of my foot.

We drove the dogs up to Forest Ranch to check our friends’ property. As we got the dogs out of the car and moved them toward the gate, a routine we’ve been through a million times, a foursome of deer trotted practically right up to us. They hesitated a minute, making eye contact with us and the dogs, then they bolted. Biscuit did something she’d never done in the 9 or 10 years we’ve known each other – she took off.  The last I saw of her, she and those deer were headed straight for the canyon.

She’s an Australian Catte Dog, they are born to run. She once chased my husband and the boys on their bikes all the way from our house east of Hwy 99 to One Mile, at night. She was a pup then, and when they took off to get ice cream at Safeway, she nosed her way under the gate to give chase. I felt so lucky to get her back that night, a tiny ink-black dog running the streets of Chico at night. Luckily she could really run fast, and as soon as they looked back, they noticed her sprinting along behind them.

At least nine years old, she’s still got it. She ran like a rabbit after those deer. I was frantic. My husband ran after her, whistling. I kept expecting to see them heading back through the trees, instead, his voice went farther and farther down the mountain, becoming faint, finally disappearing.

For my part, I stood with Badges in the yard, yelling “BISCUIT!” over and over and over, like a fog horn. I can’t whistle when I want to cry, so I just kept yelling and yelling her name, pacing the property with Badges, her little mate. My husband has been all over the nearby trails on mountain bikes with my kids, but it just looks like one tree after another to me, and Badge’s leash gets caught in the underbrush.

It was about 37 degrees when we arrived in Forest Ranch, just about 11 am. There was hail still frozen on the ground in drifts, like snow, and the clouds were moving in. By noon the temperature had gone down to 35, and still no sign of Biscuit. I was getting pretty worried, an old dog like her. I knew she’d come back if she could, but what if she’d got herself into some steep terrain, lost her sense of direction, got winded or sore from running?

All this time, little Badges was worried too. We walked and walked around the property line, until I wondered if his little feet must be cold, and I put him back in the car while I blasted the surrounding hillsides with BISCUIT!

After an hour had gone by, I called my son back in town, asked him if he could put aside what he was doing and drive up to help us. Of course he could. I had to tell him, don’t panic, don’t speed. He promised he’d be careful. I felt better now, I had some help coming. It’s good to have a family.

I went alternately through panic and self-assurance. I wanted to beat her hide, but I thought about the good rub-down I’d given her this morning, and missed her silky coat.

Just a dog.

I just don’t know what I’d do without Biscuit. It’s great having a husband and kids and friends but Biscuit is my bff.

I could hear the neighbor’s dogs barking a lot over.  I didn’t think anything of it at first, because they always run to the fence when they hear us, calling for my husband to come over and throw their Frisbee or tennis ball. Our dogs always bark at them too, a big commotion. Then I realized, they weren’t barking along our friend’s fence, they were barking way over the other side of the neighbor’s property, very unusual, there’s nobody over there. I had the most wonderful feeling that my old bitch had finally wandered herself back up the canyon and got stuck inside one or another of the neighbor’s fences.

I was just about to lock Badges in the car and go crashing down the trail toward neighbor’s fence when I saw my husband, walking back with his jacket tucked under his arm, completely winded from scouring the hillside. I didn’t see Biscuit, and I was sick for a minute, then I heard him say, “I got her, she’s okay.” She came behind him, ears down, tail between her legs, but none the worse for the wear, apparently.

She had the nerve to be frisky. I couldn’t believe it. Nine year old dog runs off after deer down a mountainside for an hour and a half and comes back frisky wanting to play. She jumped into a our friend’s horse’s baby pool, filled with ice cold rain and snow melt water and paddled herself all over, stopping now and then to lap up big drinks, and smile at us as if nothing had happened.

God, what a bitch.   I love her.

 

 

 

 

 

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