Saturday, November 24, 2007

Doggone ... almost

In our push to New Orleans, we spend hours watching the scenery flash
by. My 4-year-old poodle, Jacob, is restless. We stop for dinner and
insistently he drops his toy in my lap, begging for play. I toss it a
few times, then wave him off. I should recognize the signal.

When we stop for sleep next to a cotton field (see picture) in the
panhandle of Florida, Jacob calculates his chances and once the leash
is unsnapped, he bounds past us through the camper door and heads into
the dark of the cotton field's night. He's a 90-pound black dog with
the feet and spirit of a gazelle. In my heart, I know he's gone.

Allen follows in full dash. I slam into my slippers, grab the leash
and head out in pursuit of them both. I see and hear nothing. Both are
so far away. I squint. Nothing. I listen. Nothing. All around, tuffs
of cotton dot the landscape like marshmallows in a vat of hot
chocolate. I call. "Jacob." "Allen." "Jacob." "Allen." It is surreal.
"Jacob." "Jacob." "Jacob." Stillness. Then I see him. Jacob. Trotting
toward me. I sit down (a trick I've learned to entice him over). He
skirts the edge of my zone and continues away. "Jacob?" I whine. He
turns, trots back and is ready to snuggle. SUCCESS!

I find Allen way at the other end of the field and he's relieved. Then
worry descends. Joshua! Our other poodle. Is that him barking? Allen
runs full tilt the half a mile back. Joshua is safe.

Time for bed.

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