Sunday, January 09, 2005

Fugitives from justice

The dogs ran away yesterday.

Big Pup usually trots over here every morning from her home down the road. She hadn’t arrived yesterday, so I assumed she wasn’t coming. I let Little Pup off the chain so she could loll about on the grass and gnaw bones. Which she did, and it wasn’t a problem. Until I forgot to tie her up again. And Big Pup arrived after all. From inside the house all I heard was their sudden reunion. By the time I got outside they were gone. No sign, no sound.

This has happened before. I used to try following them - generally they go straight to the creek. I once tracked them to the edge of the bush (ie. an overgrown messy treed area) next door, and sat in wait beside a track where I thought they’d run out. Which they did, and they even ran straight up to me, the idiots. But then, being the prime idiot myself, I grabbed Little Pup and couldn’t keep a grip on her collar, so they ran off again. I then became so incensed I stumbled along after them, further and further along creeks, through two neighbouring properties, until it just became too stupid and embarrassing to continue. I clomped home fuming and exhausted. They probably had the time of their lives.

Yesterday I didn’t even try to follow them. There are no cows in the paddock between the house and the creek at the moment, and the grass is seriously overgrown: at least knee-high and in some places higher, and it’s snake season.

I can’t blame dogs for being doglike - running away for them is fun. They get a day or two to do whatever they want, they can roll in muck, swim in the creek, possibly chase cattle and horses, possibly kill small animals, possibly attack neighbouring dogs... Are you getting the picture? Once they’re on the run, there’s no knowing what they’ll get up to.

They were back this morning, absolutely filthy. Big Pup even had a bit of old barbed wire stuck to her tail... God only knows what that’s about.

The thing is this: I look after these dogs quite well, I think - take them walking, give them food and water, check them for ticks, pat them every time I turn around, and so on. And covering all this activity, there’s a contract in my head: I do this for them, and their end of the bargain is to behave and not run away.

But they do run away. And every time it feels like they’ve betrayed me, failed to honour their part of the bargain. Which is ridiculous. I know it’s stupid. They’re dogs. They probably think they get fed because they get fed. They get water because they get water. It’s just the way things happen. They might not even notice I have anything to do with it. And yet... and yet...

If I could just explain the terms of the contract to them a little more fully, do you think there’d be grounds to sue? It’d make me feel a lot better. Not for the money, mind, just the principle of the thing.