By Kate Blalock, contributor
I’m convinced there isn’t anything faster than a dog off a leash…or at least happier. My 3 year old Siberian Husky, Ruby, has gotten away from me more times than I care to admit, but today’s incident took the cake.
This morning, at about 7am, I took Ruby out for her morning constitution. She’s usually pretty quick–she does her business, has a few sniffs, and goes back inside. She knows that our mornings are pretty busy, and we always go out later for playtime and walks. This morning, however, Ruby did not want to go back inside. I was right outside my son’s window, and hear him start to wake up.
“Okay, Ruby,” I said, tugging on the leash, “Let’s go inside.” Nothing. Ruby planted her feet and fixed me with that wolf-like blank stare.
“Ruby, let’s go!” I said, louder. I started to walk up the porch stairs, thinking that she would follow me like she always does. I was wrong.
With a mighty lurch, Ruby pulled backward on the leash, letting her collar slip over her head. I felt the leash go slack and whirled around just in time to see Ruby staring at me, collar-less, for a split second before she bolted down the driveway.
She was running with the speed of freedom; her ears were laid flat on her head, tail curled for efficiency, and all four paws off the ground. I, meanwhile, stood in the ankle-deep snow in my yoga pants and oversize winter parka, complete with bed hair and glasses, and watched Ruby run straight into the neighbor’s yard.
I didn’t run after her; I had chased Ruby down plenty of times before, yelling like an idiot, before I realized that this only added to the “game”. Cursing under my breath, I turned and walked into the house and grabbed the truck keys. There is one thing on this earth that will halt Ruby’s little game, and that is the prospect of a car ride. I jumped into the truck and idled down the driveway, looking into the neighbor’s yard.
There she was, having a grand old time jumping through the drifts and making yellow snow piles in every corner of their yard. She’s been in their yard before; they have a little dog of their own and are very understanding, but it’s still embarrassing to be that neighbor. I turned the truck into the street, and Ruby’s head perked up.
“Ruby, do you want a car ride?” I hollered at her, opening the door for her to jump in. She raced towards me, looking like she was going to jump right in.
Psyche! Ruby dodged the truck at the last second and sped down the street. I followed her slowly in the truck, keeping my distance and trying to get her to jump in. This lasted for quite a few minutes–Ruby led me down the street, back into the neighbor’s yard, and out again.
Finally, it looked as though she had had enough. I stopped the truck across from the neighbor’s yard, and opened the truck door. I stood there for a minute or two, negotiating with a dog like a crazy person and Ruby staying just outside of arm’s length. Just then, the neighbor came outside to let his dog out, and distracted Ruby. I saw my moment, and struck. With a lunge that would have made any linebacker proud, I tackled Ruby to the ground.
It was a spectacular tackle, except my right knee took the entire force of my fall as I hit the ice, giving me a dead-leg. I lay there for a few moments, holding 60 pounds of squirming, wet dog and trying not to whimper about my knee and ripped yoga pants.
Ruby, realizing she was beaten, went limp and looked at me apologetically. I grit my teeth and hauled her bodily into the back seat.
“Ruby, right now I am not your friend,” I said as I drove back to our garage. Ruby jumped in the seat next to me and looked happily at me, wagging her tail. My irritation was short lived, when later, I spied her curled up contently on the couch, a little smile on her doggy face.
Next time I’m using her harness.
Photos by Kate Blalock