Wednesday, February 01, 2012

Some vacation

This week (Mon-Wed) Bob and I finally got our getaway "weekend" to Lake Geneva, Wisconsin USA. It was our first ever vacation with our dog, Ozzie. We stayed at Eleven Gables Inn, a wonderful bed and breakfast that's homey and quaint and accepts dogs. We had a lake view, a kitchenette and a separate entrance through a gated patio, for less than $140 a night. It was beautiful.

On Monday night the very friendly owner welcomed us and we settled in. I set up Ozzie's crate as he sniffed the room and we prepared to be in for the night. At about 10:00 p.m, Bob stepped onto the patio for a smoke.

And Ozzie took off.

I couldn't believe I had just removed his collar, which meant that he didn't have any identification on him. If the patio gate had been closed, Bob could have nabbed him, but Bob had left it open. We had done everything wrong.

Since we had just finished unloading the car, we hadn't even had a chance to walk Ozzie in this new environment and we knew he didn't know his way around. It was an awful feeling. Bob and I split up. We searched and whistled and searched and called, but it didn't matter: the dog was gone. Ozzie, a 45-pound pitbull mix, can run and he loves his freedom. Also, we had no way of knowing which way he had gone. It was Lake Geneva, a small town with plenty of generous lawns, dark fields and an only partially frozen lake. Was Ozzie searching through garbage? Was he chasing the sound of nesting geese on the water? Pooping on a pitch black private lawn?

After about an hour of looking for a black dog in the cold darkness, we came back to our room. Bob looked so distraught. I felt awful for him. Some vacation! He slumped in front of his computer, but couldn't concentrate on anything. I called the Lake Geneva police to ask them to let us know if anyone found a black pitbull mix with no tags. The dispatcher was very nice. When I hung up, Bob looked at me painfully and said, "What do we do? Just wait?" I said softly, "Yeah. We wait."

About ten minutes later we heard a noise on the patio. Our eyes locked. It felt like an eon went by as I waited for Bob to get up and check, but he hesitated until we heard the second slight creaking. Our faces went sharp with anticipation as Bob sprang up to slide open the patio door. And in strolled Ozzie.

My mouth dropped open. Bob grabbed a towel and rubbed down our damp dog, while I stared. Bob started out repeating "Oh my God" and then switched to repeating "Thank you for coming back." Bob hugged and petted our self-satisfied-looking dog as I called the police back to give them the update. The dispatcher was glad to hear it and said, "Smart dog." After I hung up, I said to Bob, "Yeah, we got %!&-damn Einstein here." Exasperation tempered my joy. I felt hugely relieved, but didn't join in Bob's love fest as I considered what had just happened.

After an hour and twenty minutes of naked freedom in a small, sleeping town surrounded by rural farmland, our three-year-old pitbull mix had found his way back to our temporary lodging, in a town where he'd never been. Increíble. Yes, it was impressive, but I was still annoyed. Ozzie probably had the time of his life, while we panicked and grayed.

On top of that, the little brat had just pranced in as if everything were normal, as if to say:
"It's beautiful outside, what are you guys doing in here?"or
"I love Lake Geneva!"
"Thanks for the run. Same time tomorrow night?"

O, this dog!

We'll never know what he did for that hour and twenty minutes or how the heck he found us again, but now the experiment has been run: if no one stops or catches him (Lake Geneva is clearly asleep at 10:00 p.m. on a winter Monday), this dog comes back. That is good to know. Also, if you're going to have a dog who's a runner, it's better if he's also smart enough to negotiate new terrain.

After that, when Bob stepped onto the patio for a smoke, we put Ozzie in his crate first. And that patio gate stayed closed, and Ozzie's collar stayed on until we got back home. Fortunately, it didn't take us long to recover from the trauma and Bob and I had a great vacation after that.

Increíble. Little monster. From now on I'm saying that "Ozzie" is short for Ozzilla.


David A. Parker said...

Wonderful story. The dog knows where his meals come from - and who rescued him from his past life!

Regina Rodríguez-Martin said...

Wonderful story?? I hope Ozzie enjoyed that run because he'll never get another one if I can help it.

I've heard pitbulls are particularly smart, but this dog is starting to scare me.

LosingIt said...

So sorry! I know the feeling of waiting for a runaway dog to return all too well. My dog Princess once came home with a dead baby squirrel in her mouth. I had to lie to the kids and tell them it was a river rat so they wouldn't cry over it. Glad Ozzie is home safe and sound!