My latest book, HALLEY, Awarded 2015 Jefferson Cup Honor for Historical Fiction. Available at: NewSouth Books: www.newsouthbooks.com/halley and Amazon.
I’m a dog lover, and I particularly love Boxers. So when I found Bo
at a humane shelter about ten years ago, I was smitten right off.
Despite his claims to the contrary, he was half something other than
Boxer. His long snout was a dead giveaway. But he managed to charm
his way into Boxer Rescue anyway.
Bo had been surrendered by his original owner because he could leap
four-foot-fencing and had been roaming many neighborhoods at will. To
make him ours, my husband and I had to agree to install six foot
fencing and to pay for heart worm treatments. Bo wasn’t a cheap dog,
and if I hadn’t already been in love, I would have moved on. But we
paid for the treatments and a six foot fence surrounding a large area
of yard and connecting to a doorway into a building we call “the
cottage.” Inside the dogtrot hallway of the cottage, my husband,
Benjamin, built a carpeted, insulated doghouse, and he installed two
100 watt bulbs, to provide heat in winter. A curtain over the doorway
kept out winter drafts. It had carpet.
Bo inspected everything, scent marked key landmarks and then announced
he wanted out. He tried to leap the fence, and then he tried to climb
it. Then he whined and whined and howled. The second day we let him
out so he could check out the rest of the yard. Immediately he took
off for the busy highway. We chased and we yelled, but Bo was
oblivious. He zipped across that highway, totally ignoring honking
cars and eighteen wheelers, and raced across the cotton field on the
far side. Back to the fence.
The next outing Benjamin led him by leash into the woods behind our
house, and then staked the leash next to a stack of concrete blocks.
“You can get acquainted with your new home while I dig the foundation
for this shed,” he said. Bo was sniffing the air and then he was
racing around, smelling the ground. At that moment a mouse scurried
across the pine needles and ducked through an opening in a concrete
block. Bo was right behind him and managed to thrust his head through
the block. When Bo tried to pull his head out, the three-layer stack
of blocks began to shake and then crashed down. Bo wore the block he
was stuck in until Benjamin could free him.
We eventually trained Bo to know his own yard, but he “forgot” on a
regular basis, especially when chasing a stray dog or cat, a squirrel
or possom. On those occasions he seemed to forget even where home was
and sometimes he didn’t come back until the wee hours of morning.
Occasionally he returned smelling of a dead animal he’d rolled in.
One July when I was recovering from cancer surgery he pulled one of
those disappearing acts and he didn’t come back by morning. Benjamin
went looking for him. None of the neighbors had seen him. He wasn’t
at the trailer park about a mile away, where one of his former cat
chases had taken him. Another day passed and no Bo. I pictured him
lying in a field somewhere, dying. A third day came, and by then I
was sure Bo was gone forever.
At mid-morning a truck pulled up in the yard, and a neighbor got out.
“That dog you been looking for–is he caramel colored and about yay
tall? I’ve been hearing noises in my barn loft for several days, but
I figured it was just squirrels. It’s been so blamed hot I didn’t
hardly see how it could be anything else. Then this morning I decided
to check. Well, there he was. He was scared of those stairs–had to
whip him with a broom to get ‘im down. Soon as he was outside, he
drank about a gallon of water from the pond. I ‘spect you need to
come after him. Not sure he’s able to walk this far.”
Bo recovered, and I wish I could say he learned his lesson. But then,
if he had, we would know it wasn’t the real Bo!