Every now and then I go out with a friend of mine from my anxiety group.
We’ve been hanging out more and more lately. She lives nearby, has two pug dogs, and we both have babies, and while our anxieties manifest in totally different ways, we understand each other’s peccadilloes. She’s also a good match for my personality, because she’s as outgoing and extroverted as I am hermit-like and introverted, which means she actually gets in touch with me and badgers me to hang out, both of which are helpful to maintaining a friendship with me, since it never occurs to me to actually call people and invite them places.
She picked me up this morning and took me for a walk at a nearby slough (pronounced “sloo” and meaning “channel or river or other body of water that looks pleasantly marshy above but contains deep, quicksand-like sediment on the bottom”).
…Not that I’m foreshadowing or anything.
It was a gorgeous day. Spring has suddenly remembered that it is on duty, so suddenly the leaves are out and the days are 18 degrees and sunny. The first thing we saw when we got on the trail was a deer, which ambled down the path casually without seeming at all concerned by the sheltie, retrievers, and snorting pug dogs roaring around.
Pug Mama said she has even seen bears on this trail! I decided to leave my dog’s leash on him. Just in case.
We had a lovely walk, which ended in a little beachy area, and the dogs had a nice splash. Then we turned around and came home.
The path runs along a dyke, with water on either side. Every now and then the dogs would run down an animal trail in the brambles for a little splash, and then return to us, panting and refreshed.
We were about halfway back on our return journey when I noticed that the two pugs were rollicking along beside us, but my Beloved Dog was nowhere in sight.
I called his name.
Now, you have to understand that my dog always comes when called.
For the first few years of his life I never let him off leash without a light long-line (you can buy them at the dollar store and I do so in bulk). If I called, and he didn’t return post haste, I would catch up to the trailing end of the leash and step on it, which brought him to a very sudden stop. Therefore he is not really aware that he has a choice in the matter when I call him, and he usually wheels around the second I call, even if it’s just a casual “don’t go too far!”
So my dog was now conspicuous in his absence.
I decided that I would have to use The Word.
YOU know. The “C” word. The great, hallowed word which no dog owner should EVER utter unless:
a) they have a way of enforcing the command
b) they have treats
…unless it is a complete and utter emergency.
Then, one day, when your dog is barreling right towards a bear or Mac truck, you can speak The Word and know that your dog will reverse direction and shoot towards you like an arrow from a bow.
I had no treats, but hadn’t my friend mentioned bears?