in Checking In


Tuesday afternoon Travis had gone outside to sweep the driveway, with me about a minute behind him. The dog had been with me, and as I rounded the kitchen corner I saw the outside door had been left wide open. Rocket was galloping gleefully down the street.

After calling him a few times with no effect at all, Travis and I hopped into the car and followed him. I parked Travis and ran through neighbors’ backyards while our grinning dog happily raced ahead. Very Bad Words were forming in my head as I stormed back to the car. If he wound up at the troubled apartment complex a few blocks away I would have to abandon the search.

We drove over to the next neighborhood and set a firebreak of sorts. A man and his adult sons were busy decorating their trees with Christmas lights (it was Christmas Court, coincidentally). I gave the man my card and a description of the suspect before returning to the search. As I turned around, I saw our black dog, tongue hanging lazily out of his mouth, trotting towards us. I called him over and he pranced right up to the car.

All the dog training advice you get says to never scold a returning dog. Let me tell you what a Herculean effort it takes to do this. Let’s just say that rewarding him was, uh, not the first thing on my mind!

With the dog safely in the car, Travis and I returned home. The dog had somehow gotten wet, so rather than wonder what he was wearing, T and I gave him his first bath since he’s been with us. Travis greatly enjoyed this, and Rocket didn’t seem to mind, either – though Hallie was grumpy later when she found out she had been excluded.

We’re now looking into radio fences to keep this from happening again. Rocket just does not respect roads, and his black coat makes him hard to see. I’d like to think we can train him to stick around but that looks like a tough row to hoe.