For four or five years (though looking back, it feels much longer), Toby and I lived in a small white house on the top of the hill in duluth. if you stood in the middle of the street and looked down the road, you could see Lake Superior, just two miles away. if you turned to the left and walked up the road, you were very quickly in the woods.
it was a great place for a dog, and a great place for me. every morning we walked in the woods, and on hot summer evenings we got in the toyota and cruised down the hill to the lake. toby was not a swimmer, but he did love chasing that tennis ball, even into the water. many, many summer evenings we went to Brighton Beach just outside of town for games of tennis-ball-fetch along the rocky shoreline.
my yard on top of the hill was huge, but it wasn't fenced. when toby was young, i'd let him out the back door for his evening pee. he mosied around the yard, peed on my daisies, and came right back.
but then the teenage years hit. and wanderlust. he started running off. usually he ran into the woods, raced around the underbrush for a while, and then came back, muddy and with burrs and seeds hanging from his beautiful plume-like tail.
i knew this wasn't acceptable behavior; i knew that i should never let him out without a leash, since i couldn't afford a fence. but our street was very quiet; there were only about six houses before you got to the woods, and the chances of him being hit by a car were slim.
the first few times he ran off, i ran after him. but he was much faster than i was, and just as single-minded as when he was racing after a tennis ball. i coudln't catch him, and he wouldn't listen to my yells. i'd go home, and within an hour or so, so would he.
sometimes neighbor girls brought him back. they'd find him milling around their yards, or sauntering up the street, and they'd grab him by the collar, take him up the 15 or 20 steep steps that led to my front door, and ring the bell. "here's your dog, Lady," they'd say, and i'd thank them, knowing that i was fast gaining a reputation in the neighborhood as the Weird Woman with the Runaway Dog.
i got much more responsible about putting toby on a leash every time he went out. after dark, in the early morning, in rain, in wind, i'd hang onto the leash while he peed against my daisies. but one january night, with the thermometer frozen solid at 30 below, with wind chills even lower, i lost my fortitude.
the deep snow in my back yard had a thick crust of ice over it. the stars glittered in the black sky. my back-door window was etched in frost. i opened the door for toby and a blast of cold air made me shiver. "go pee," i said, and shut the door. ten seconds later, when i opened it again, toby was gone.
TO BE CONTINUED
Walgreen's Wellness Team-ABC WEDNESDAY "W"
1 hour ago