It is not my habit to leave our neighborhood via this particular street, but when I do so on this morning, it alters the remainder of my day. From the corner of my eye I see a canine running loose, sniffing at a fellow dog nose through a fence. For a moment I debate how to proceed, before I pull the car over to the side of the road. I cautiously approach and soothingly talk to her. Her eye-catching tall and slender body is covered with a whitish coat. When she turns toward me, I stare into a pair of striking husky-like eyes. She wags her tail and allows me to examine a frayed rope wrapped around her neck. Unfortunately, she does not wear a collar or alternative identification. Once I take her lead, she follows me willingly, and we walk along some of the nearby streets, hoping to run into her owner. Her healthy coat and clipped claws suggest that she is not homeless.
My search is fruitless, but I receive helpful suggestions from local dog owners, and my foundling and I visit a vet office. An ID chip is detected under the skin and I learn her name – Bella. How apropos. The assistant even reaches her owner by telephone. What good luck, I think, until I learn that, sadly, she no longer has any interest in taking her pet back. Reportedly, Bella is an escape artist and she can deal with her no longer. Now I am faced with the decision of whether or not to become a dog owner (again). My husband and I agree that it is not feasible at this point.
Besides, Bella does not want to be adopted by us anyhow. Demonstrating her fugitive tendencies repeatedly in the ensuing hours, she attempts to dig out under our fence and finally clambers over it and trots down the alley behind the house. I am able to recapture her and am grateful and relieved when another couple volunteers to either keep her, or to find her a new home. I much prefer this option to taking her to the humane society. But soon after I drop Bella off at their home, she acts aggressively toward one of their dogs, and her propensity to seek her freedom yet again overcomes any potential desire or need to settle down and be taken care off. Soon thereafter she is observed running along a busy street, with a dog catcher in hot pursuit. Ironically, the humane society is getting involved after all.
Even though we spent only part of a day together, my thoughts often return to it, and I see Bella’s hauntingly beautiful eyes before me. For a while, we found an occasional white hair on our carpet or in the car, having eluded the vacuum cleaner. Should we have kept her and tried to make her stay? Even now I sense that she would not have altered her ways, a lot of love and attention notwithstanding, and we weren’t ready for the drama of having to chase her down regularly.
I wonder where she is now, but I have resisted the urge to learn about the outcome of that particular episode involving us, which sounds like only one in a long line of escapades. Instead, I choose to envision her running wild with a clique of coyotes on the prairie, or with a pack of wolves in Yellowstone. The alternative is too sad. Bella is a free spirit, and I naively hope that there remains room in our world for free spirits to roam.
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