Aussie looks out the window and dreams of being Genghis Dog, the greatest squirrel killer of all time.
So far she’s killed two, which is two more than any other dog I’ve had has killed. One reason is that she benefits from this cold, wintry March in New England, when animals are going hungry. The hungry squirrels have attacked the bird feeder on the side of my office and chewed up a couple of its tiny platforms. As a result, the sunflower seeds fall onto the ground rather than into the feeder, so the squirrels congregate on the white, icy ground at the bottom, looking for seeds, and Aussie, stalking them carefully, sneaks up on them around the corner and pounces.
But even Genghis Dog can’t get past the fence. They know this and cavort on the other side, chasing each other from branch to branch while she looks disconsolately from the door. She tried, oh yes, she did try, and Tim had to twice reinforce the fence as a result. But now she has recognized her limits. She sits inside and looks out longingly, and dreams of creating mayhem, havoc, and terror in the hearts of the local, diminishing squirrel population. Also, she dreams of running.
I take her into the woods for 60-90 minutes where she goes unrestricted by leash, and then return to work. In the afternoon she comes and scratches me on my leg, clamoring and chattering, the most voluble dog I’ve ever had: I have to run! I have to run!
“I can’t take you out again, Aussie. You have a big back yard to run in and lots of squirrels.”
“And a big fence, too.”
“You have to stop running away, Aussie.”
“You know what the trouble is? You’re too old for me! I need someone younger in my life.”
“You don’t scooter, you don’t skateboard, you don’t skate. You don’t even bike!”
“Aussie, don’t tell anyone, but I’ve never biked in my life. Never learned how.”
“I’m probably the only dog stuck with a human who can’t bike, And do you go cross-country skiing or snow-shoeing?”
“I’m not comfortable in those things anymore, but I still take you into the woods in deep snow wearing plain boots.”
“My life is going by and I’m not living it!”
“You’re living it in a slower lane, Auss.”
“That’s not life for a hound like me. I need to follow the scent of deer and elk. I need to go to the woods and run, run, run! Why can’t we go camping?”
“Because it’s too damn cold outside, not everybody has your fur. Like Harry there. He’s glad to stay indoors. Look at him, cozy and warm on the sofa. Does he look like he wants to go camping?”
“Harry’s a wimp. Did you see how afraid he was to cross the plank bridge in the woods this morning? I came back across and nudged and nudged him, and he wouldn’t cross. I even grabbed the collar of his sweater and tried to pull him across, and he wouldn’t budge.”
“Harry will grow up and gain more confidence. Have some patience, Aussie. You know, Maezumi Roshi, one of the great Zen pioneers in this country, used to tell a friend of mine who studied with him: Put time into your dreams. That’s what I have to tell you, Aussie. Have patience. Put time into your dreams.”
“I gotta run, I gotta run, I gotta run!”