“You are a nu-nu-nu, Aussie!” I tell the irrepressible dog when she bounds into the office, looking immensely proud of herself.
Nu-nu-nu is a babyism from Israel that has stayed in my bones. It’s what you say to young children if they do wrong. Aussie has heard nu-nu-nu from me from the day she arrived here, and for only one reason: She won’t stop running away.
Last night I tried to do what I usually do, put the dogs indoors for the night and block up the dog door. Aussie was nowhere to be found. Housemate Tim went out and clapped his hands, but she didn’t come. At 6 in the morning I find her fast asleep on her favorite living room chair. “You’ve been all over the world this past night, haven’t you?” I say.
“Go away, I need my sleep.”
I go outdoors and find it. The side gate from the back yard has been opened. It has a latch, but what’s a latch for Aussie? She nuzzles it up and then sidles sideways and through, and she’s outa-here!
I had to go out so there wasn’t much I could do but shut the gate. Sure enough, when I returned there was no Aussie. Then I heard a bark and turned around. Harry was on the inside of the back fence, and he was looking straight across at Aussie’s face barely a foot away from his, with the fence in between. She was out, he was in.
Harry barked shrilly, then stopped. Quietly they looked at each other, uncertain how to proceed. I could almost hear their thoughts:
Harry: “How can you be Aussie if you’re on the other side of the fence? It’s always you and me against the world, only now you are in the world. Where does that leave me? Who am I?”
Aussie: “Oh Harry, you got to join me and see the world.”
Harry: “We have a big yard, Auss.”
Aussie: “A big yard is not the world, Harry.”
Harry: “We have trees, we have grass, lots of flowers and plants to pee on.”
Aussie: “It’s not the world, Harry.”
Harry: “We have worms, caterpillars, salamanders, toads, snakes, squirrels, and lots and lots of chipmunks.”
Aussie: “But it’s not the world. Don’t get attached to all these local forms that make you comfortable, Harry, don’t be a typical Zen student. The yard may look like it’s got everything, but it doesn’t.”
Harry: “What doesn’t it have, Aussie? I have the earth here.”
Aussie: “I have more earth. I can run and run and cover far more earth than you.”
Harry: “That’s true, Auss, but I got lots of earth under my paws, in fact as much as you. And I have sky.”
Aussie: “I have more sky.”
Harry: “You may think you got more sky, but when I look up the sky goes as far as my eye could see. Who needs more?”
She must have pondered the conversation, because half an hour later she came bounding into the house, full of rain and high spirits.
“You’re a nu-nu-nu!” I told her.
“You’re a control freak,” she told me.
Just to confirm her diagnosis, I immediately walked outside with two pieces of wire and fastened them tight around the gate entrance. “You can raise up the latch all you want,” I told her when I came home, “but that gate won’t open.”
She shook herself hard, getting all the rain on the rug, and jumped up on the sofa, part of her strategy to get all the furniture as wet as possible. Next, I knew, was my bed upstairs. She lay her head down between both paws and pretended to go to sleep, but I knew she was already plotting her next big escape.