(Mis)Adventures with Rufus

14 Feb

Rufus in the Snow
Brad and I have partitioned part of the house off, allowing Rufus access to the kitchen, the downstairs hallway and our bedroom. We used a room divider to block access to the living room and dining room but we should have been a bit more strategic in its placement. Sure, we blocked access to the living room and dining room, but the door to the upstairs rooms was wide open and still accessible. I never dreamed Rufus would venture up those stairs on his own, but that is exactly what he did the moment my back was turned. I went up to retrieve him but he most decidedly did not want to go back downstairs. I coaxed and cajoled but he was not about to budge. To make matters worse, Baxter and Lulu had climbed to the top of the stairs, watching and listening to the show, effectively helping to convince Rufus it was not a good idea to go downstairs. I finally resorted to leashing Rufus to take him downstairs, after having shooed Baxter and Lulu away. I’ve since repositioned the barrier to block access to the staircase as well.

I wish that had been the only drama of the day.

Later in the morning, I decided to take Rufus for a walk in our neighborhood, despite the fact that many of the sidewalks had not been cleared. I sensed he was yearning for some exercise and I myself enjoy nice long walks. We both set off in high spirits.

Rufus’ spirits were a bit too high for me. He tugged at that leash, pulling me reluctantly along at a pace faster than I felt safe on ice covered sidewalks. Our neighborhood is quiet and there were not many cars out on the road so I decided to abandon the sidewalk and walk in the middle of the road. It had been cleared of snow and was dry and there would be ample warning of a car’s approach for us to move off to the side.

And then I lost hold of Rufus’ leash.

I must have been shifting it from one hand to the other when it slipped from my gloved hand. I saw it fall to the ground as if in slow motion. But that dog was not walking in slow motion. He just kept trotting along turning his head this way and that, ever curious about his new surroundings. I tried to catch up to no avail. I called out his name and he ignored me. I don’t think he even knows what his name is yet.

We were going uphill and I was running out of steam, short of breath and beginning to panic. All I could think of were the words uttered by a shelter staff member: “If you let go of his leash, you will never get him to return to you.” I continued to call for Rufus in vain. Then I just plain yelled for help into the neighborhood. Maybe someone somewhere could help me corral my dog. I realize now how stupid that would have been if someone had responded. The dog surely would have run away if approached by a stranger.

Nearly at my wit’s end, I desperately sought a tactic to lure Rufus back. I thought, maybe if I throw a snowball in his direction it will distract him. I stopped and bent down to pick up some snow. Rufus stopped too. I walked slowly, cautiously, as quietly as possible towards him. I bent over and grabbed him gently and firmly and heaved a huge sigh of relief, ever thankful for the ambling nature of dogs. And oh so grateful that a car had not approached during our moments of separation.

We returned home and I nearly collapsed with exhaustion. I am sure I have never been so scared in my whole life. Today, Rufus’ owner learned some very good lessons quite the hard way. Now she is researching obedience classes so that he can learn some lessons as well.

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