He was born a ramblin’ man

3 Oct

Remember how my last post I was all, “Yeah, my dog is totally pampered and I am the best dog-owner EVAH and no dog could want for more than my special, special dog, and I am a wonderful person.”? Yeah. I let my dog get lost yesterday.

We took him for a long hike in the foothills Sunday morning. We’ve let him off-leash exactly twice on other foothills trails, and he was pretty good. He would run ahead a bit, then turn around and run back to us, and repeat. He got out of sight a few times, but always came when we called (eventually), and always stayed on the trail. Yesterday we let him free about a mile and a half into the trail (when it officially became a loose-dog allowed section), and he took off like a dog chasing a bat out of hell. Like a dog on a mission. A mission to totally ditch us and return to his stray trampin’ roots. 

By the time we started yelling his name, I’m sure he was out of hearing distance.  The dumb dog has a microchip, a license, and a tag with his name and my number on it, so I figured if someone else on the trail had found him they might be calling me.  We tried to figure out how to access my voicemail via Stephen’s phone, but randomly pressing # at various times after calling my own voicemail didn’t work, so. We split up and searched, and after no luck Stephen went on to search off the trail while I walked back to the car, where I had left my cell phone. By this time we were well into the steep, woodsy trail, where there were plenty of ways for Cosmo to have run off trail any which way, and he had been on his grand adventure for about 40 minutes. 

I was, surprisingly, not too worried. I am somewhat good in these situations, refusing to panic over The Worst until necessary (I’ve always been good at delusional thinking). I did ask everyone I met on the trail if they had seen a little brown dog, and everyone was really nice and sympathetic. “He’ll find you,” a very sweet woman told me, while patting my shoulder. She was jogging back to the trailhead with her big black dog, and had stopped when she saw I was without the pup who had greeted her on her way up the trail. While we were first looking and calling his name I had asked another couple on their way back to the trailhead. They hadn’t seen him, but promised to keep their eyes out for him as they finished their hike.

And keep their eyes out they did, because when I was about a mile from the trailhead, they were walking back up towards me, with Cosmo. They had two dogs of their own, both off-leash, so Cosmo was on one of their spare leashes. As soon as he saw me he about yanked the guy’s arm off, so they let him loose to run to me. The fact that he ran PAST two friendly dogs, ignoring their excited play-with-me-bounces, just to get to me, was about as pure expression of love as I’ve ever had directed towards me (have I mentioned he ADORES other dogs? He does.). 

Ok, the story doesn’t end there though. Because these extremely sweet, wonderful people returned my puppy, (who was soaking wet, somehow) and then walked on their merry way. And since I had given Stephen the leash, I was left with houdini and no strait jacket. And a mile left on the trail. Which is the length those awesome people had walked to return Cosmo, by the way, and all up hill. He had apparently found some other hikers who smelled better than us, and he had followed them back to the trailhead. The hikers had called my phone, then were planning on just leaving him tied to a post, but my favorite people ever decided instead to just walk him back to me. How nice is that? Except now they were walking away. As was their right. And I had to escort my 40 pound leashless dog a mile back to the car. 

I ended up half carrying, half collar holding him the whole way. A very nice man offered me his dog’s leash (because HIS dog behaved off-leash. Show-off), but because I am one proud bitch, I turned him down (this was about five minutes into the walk, and I severely regretted it later). Ok, but THIS IS THE BEST PART:

When I FINALLY got to the parking lot, arms and back about to fall off, a woman was getting ready to start biking the trail with her daughter and two black labs. She saw me carrying Cosmo, and said “They’re friendly!” thinking that I was worried about her dogs attacking mine. I answered that Cosmo had broken his leash and was a runner (I was too embarrassed to tell the truth to a stranger, without adding a million caveats about how we’d had him off-leash before and he was normally really good and my boyfriend had his leash and was still looking and I would have still been looking but my phone was in the car and . . . blah. Although saying his leash broke didn’t make me seem much saner, because why didn’t I rig it somehow to still work? But I let them worry that out without my explanation). She very kindly offered me one of her dogs’ leashes, and this time I accepted, because I just had to run him to the car and could then return the leash. So I did, and after I had Mr. Explorer safely in the car, she pulled up on her bike and was all, “did you go to Colby?” cuz see, I was wearing my poser Colby-crew shirt. AND SHE WENT TO COLBY TOO! Class of 1993! How random is that! We totally chatted for a bit, her name is Alison, and I so wanted to be like, “let’s hang out and talk about whoopie pies and a capella groups together!” but I am not cool enough to make a friend that way. Sigh. But yeah, she’s only the second Colby grad I’ve ever met in Idaho (the first guy was kind of creepy. I ran into him while wearing a Colby shirt in the supermarket. He was about 65, wearing sunglasses, and pointed to me, then to himself. I gave him a blank look, and he was like, “That’s me! I went to Colby!” and I was like, “Right on!” and that was it. I was thinking if he had his sunglasses off it would have been even creepier, because he would’ve been staring at my chest (or rather the COLBY on my chest, but I wouldn’t have known that) when he pointed to himself.), and I almost want to write in to the alumni magazine about it. The Time Another Colby Grad Saved My Arms.

Anyway, I don’t think Cosmo intended to run away . . . but his stray dog roots give him confidence that he can do what he wants and where he wants, biznatches. Normal dogs rely on their humans for things like, food, so they might not stray. Cosmo knows how to live on the mean streets, man.  But he was very noticeably more clingy yesterday, and he’s pretty cuddly on a good day, so that’s saying something. 

In summary:

People who are awesome: Boiseans and Colby grads (did I mention Colby-Alison was a coxswain at Colby? She was! Like all the best people)

Dogs who are kind of shitheads: Cosmos

Dog owners who have two thumbs and are never letting their dog off-leash again: This Girl

he is just a natural explorer (pic taken through dirty glass window, please forgive the spots)

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