OZZIE AND HARRIET

“Aussie, someone I know thought your name and Harry’s name were Ozzie and Harriet.”

“Why would he think that?”

“He thought I took the names from characters that appeared in a TV show in the 1950s, when men were men and women were women. The men were out front and outside all the time, bringing home the bacon—”

“I love bacon! And I love being outside! What did women do?”

“We stayed home and raised children, Auss.”

“I want to be the guy, Ozzie. Let Harry be Harriet. All he wants to do is stay home anyway. Were all those women also so boring?”

“It depends on how interesting you find accounts of taking the children to the dentist and the piano lesson, and how you got a good deal on chicken this week, and that the washing machine is breaking down.”

“I’d run away from home.”

“That’s your answer to everything, Aussie. “

The new fence held up for 12 days. For 12 quiet days there was no Aussie leaping over, no Harry following her happily. I let myself take a big breath of relief. I wanted her to settle down, walk on-leash on the road for a while, get the wild out of her system. Slow down, Aussie, I told her. It’s the dead of winter. Snow and ice on the ground, single-digit freeze almost every night (it was 0 degrees Fahrenheit at 6 am yesterday). Time to hibernate, time to have a rest.

Yesterday in late afternoon I warmed up a bowl of lentil soup and sat down, only to see two dark dots whizzing by the front of the house. Coyotes! I thought excitedly. But no, no coyotes, just Aussie running as fast as she could up the snowy drive, Harry in gleeful pursuit.

Did I throw the bowl of soup at the wall from frustration? I did not. I finished my soup calmly, put my boots, jacket, and gloves on, and went out in search of tracks.

The nice thing about having snow on the ground is that you can see tracks. The dogs had run up from the western side of the yard, so that’s where I went, looking for tracks on my side of the fence and on the other. Slowly I made my way along the perimeter of the fence and saw that someone else had preceded me.

Whenever I look out from my office Aussie is outside looking just as calm and casual as could be: I’m just hanging out, contemplating Plato, don’t mind me. The tracks showed the truth: That dog had walked the perimeter of the entire fence (and it’s a long one), casing the joint.

I could see where she’d paused, sniffing at wires and dead leaves buried in the snow, digging slightly with the tip of her black nose. I’d spot her black nose all white with snow when she came in and tell her she was cute. Cute, my a__! That dog had worked! She had done R&D. She had prepped and laid down the groundwork, working patiently and assiduously on her next getaway.

Tim is convinced that Aussie actually leans against the fence in the knowledge that this could loosen things up a bit. I don’t think she’s that smart, but that doesn’t mean she doesn’t do this anyway. Wherever I went, she had been there before me. Many times.

Finally, I found a place behind the shed where the wires had loosened. You wouldn’t call it a hole, but then you’re not Aussie. There were tracks on my side of the fence and tracks on the other. Bingo! I thought. I found a wooden platform that lay on the other side of the yard, dragged it over, and hauled it up. It didn’t stand perfectly over the loose wires, so I propped it up with wood logs to block entry and exit.

By the time I finished Harry had come back, but not Aussie. I fed him and went to the zendo. When I returned at 9:30 at night, temperatures at 7 degrees Fahrenheit, I thought I’d find her out front waiting for me to open the door (Aussie doesn’t seem to mind the cold one bit, she has thick fur). There was no dog out front. I drove in, shut the garage door, and went into the kitchen. Harry ran towards me. Behind him Aussie stood in the hallway, tail wagging nervously.

How did you get in! I blocked everything!

This morning she checked out the shed and came back. She didn’t go anywhere, probably gathering up her strength for the next excursion.

Me? I now dream every night about running away from home, leaving only tracks in the snow.