On thin ice

I live in the country.

It is a world without fences except where they’ve been added for decoration.

It is a world which knows no boundaries beyond the woods and the water. And, sadly, the road which, having already claimed one dog, has turned me into a banshee if I see them even near it. They know my rules and rather surprised me by stopping exactly where perfect dogs would stop after following a delivery man back down the drive. (I hope for but do not expect perfection.)

Major, the dog I claimed perfect from birth, had no desire to roam and always stayed close to the house. Minor has always been a little less well-behaved but did follow the lead of his older fellow and so always stayed within earshot. Roaming was not one of his problems. Generally.

I don’t imagine that Quillow, before he came to me, had known a world without fetters. He seemed content to lie outdoors alone even in the cruelest temperatures and, whenever he could stake out a sunlit spot, happily snoozed until I, seeing the snow and ice on which he lay, coaxed him back inside.

I blame Minor for developing the wanderlust. I suspect it was the scent of the deer, tracks apparent with great frequency as winter dragged on, that got him going. Now the two were often out of sight and gone for what seemed like interminable hours at a time. But when I’d see them again they’d be on one part of the property or another. Their fatigue was obvious as they returned to the house to begin the arduous effort of getting off all the burrs they’d also uncovered.

I’d been hearing the geese for a few days and welcomed their happy sound. Minor ignored it, content to turn his attention to the annoying crows and any mourning doves that waddled too close to the door.

Quillow was not accustomed to my ways. Two geese landed on the frozen lake and off he tore, barking madly to chase them off. Minor, knowing what lay beneath the deceptive ice, stopped at the shoreline.

Quillow remained uninitiated. Walking across was the easiest route to the far shoreline, a path traversed often as I could see others probably deer had done the same.

Major had fallen in once when we were out walking and I remained convinced he’d never have gotten out alone.

Reminded recently of the deer who had, I felt some hope for Quillow but, still frightened, planned to tie him up once the ice started to melt. Much as I hated the idea, I loved that dog and, if that is what it took, so be it. We had survived the lampshade torment. Being chained would just have to do.

My plans do not always work exactly as I figure for, long before I believed there was any danger from the ice, both dogs appeared at the deck door, obviously soaked top to bottom, through and through. (I had been writing in the den and so missed the episode for which I remain eternally grateful. There is little I could have done and the torture would have been unbearable.)

This ridiculous antic was repeated the next day. By Quillow alone.

And he had seemed like such a bright dog.

I hope it won’t take too many more “lessons” before it sinks in.

I pray too he’ll always be able to rescue himself but, please, stop bringing that putrid smell into the house day after day.

I have never been so eager to see the ice melt.

Susan Crossett is a Cassadaga resident. Send comments to editorial@observertoday.com