Tuesday, February 17, 2009

In which Britney escapes and runs around like a frickin lunatic

Friday afternoon, work is done and I'm thinking I'll go on over to Toronto Animal Services and take a couple of the dogs out for walks as I've got an hour to kill before I have to get home to feed my own two garbageophiles who I've kept starving for at least half a day. I'm looking forward to a couple of relaxing walks as no new dogs have come in and so no need for photos - not that taking photos is strenuous but it does introduce a certain goal oriented slant to the affair and sometimes it's nice just to ramble aimlessly - like the way I do my grocery shopping ("Okay, I'll get the brocolli. Oh look, Pop Tarts!") and quite like the way I'm writing this post.

There's a whiteboard up at TAS which lists all the dogs requiring walks along with the last time they were taken out. According to the table, it looks like it's Britney's turn next so I go grab a leash and then head into the adoption room.

Britney seems more hyper than the last time I took her out which was maybe a week ago. Some dogs settle into pound life with a snore, but most experience low level anxiety and exhibit stress behaviours. Britney's stress behaviour is obviously drinking too much coffee and doing her best to imitate a sproingy kangaroo crossed with a flopping fish out of water. One moment she's on her back being submissive, then she's on her stomache wanting ear scratches, then she's pogoing up and down trying to either lick my face or break my nose. She's so excited and wriggling around so much that it takes me a good minute to hook her leash onto her collar.

(Which reminds me, I should see if TAS is following up on my suggestion to install Ritalin dispensers beside all the hand sanitizing stations.)

I'm thinking Britney will calm down a bit once we get outside but she's still acting like a freaky fruitcake ...

(Actually, maybe Rohypnol would be better than Ritalin. Rohypnol's faster acting, right?)

... and it may even be that the outside fresh air supercharges her hyperdrive because as soon as we step out the door, she starts pulling like she's lead dog on an Iditarod sled team.

Britney's a relatively small dog compared to my home-growns, so, though she's certainly putting in the effort, I'm not having too much difficulty controlling her. I'm thinking, "Ah, Britney, you may have the will but I have strength coupled with exceptional dog handling skills on my side and ..."

... that's when her collar breaks.

You know that b-grade superhero, Flash, the one dressed all in red with the yellow lightning bolts coming out of his head which I always thought made it look like his brain was evaporating out his ears? It's like, Hey, you choose. You can either be a superhero with super strength who can fly and be bulletproof or you can be a superhero who runs fast. Well, Britney, being a dog and all and not knowing any better apparently chose the latter.

It's probably because it's getting dark and there's not a lot of lighting in the area but I swear, Britney looks like a blur. She's ripping around like Speedy Gonzales on a six pack of Red Bull. She's running so fast that time actually slows down. I wave to her as she runs across the grass towards the empty thankgod parking lot and say, See you in Australia sometime.

I just basically stand there, defeated, and I'm wondering how I'm going to explain her self propelled trip around the world to the TAS staffers when Britney does the inexplicable and stops and turns around. She gives me a Why aren't you keeping up look? as she does her fly-by and then continues on, racing around me in a circle, wearing a track into the grass and then sending off sparks when she hits the asphalt.

This goes on for 15 minutes. Except for one very short break when Britney decides to offload some weight, she does not stop. I realize now that she's not going to run away from me and part of me wants to let her run, to let her savour this short moment of freedom and wind and purity of speed because I don't know when and if she'll get another chance but another part of me also knows that this has to end. I need to get her back.

It turns out to not be difficult at all. Britney doesn't let me approach her too closely but she has no problems approaching me and when she sees me heading back for the door to the TAS building and that I'm about to leave her outside on her own, she quickly sidles up beside me and ... sits. I loop the leash around her neck and lead her back inside.

When we get upstairs, instead of taking her into her kennel directly, I bring her over to the bench in the main foyer and sit with her. She's still a little kinetic but now that remaining energy seems focused on me, alternating between kisses and submissive behaviour. It's like she knows she did something wrong and is asking for forgiveness.

Of course it's impossible to tell her that she did nothing wrong. Someone allowed her to be created then gave her away to someone else who never trained her and then abandoned her to some pound in another jurisdiction that nearly killed her and now that she's had a minuscule taste of freedom, I'm going to go and put her back in her kennel and lock her up. It's I who should be asking her for forgiveness.


Kevin said...

I've been following your site since I started as a dog-walker last fall, but haven't commented until now.

About two weeks ago, while walking one of the Shepherd puppies back to the TAS building, Britney was coming the other direction with another dog walker. Suddenly, she pulled herself out of her collar, and took off like a bullet--until I managed to bear-hug her as she sprinted passed me. Figuring she was the sort of dog who'd run off and not come back, I thought we were lucky that day. But I'm glad to hear she was so easy to retrieve for you.

I've sometimes worried whether her rambunctiousness in her kennel might dissuade people from adopting her. If only she could find a way to show a bit more of her attentiveness and affection right off the bat.

Fred said...

Well, hopefully it won't happen again as she was given a new collar after I told the staff about it.

House of the Discarded said...

Poor Britney - I wish there was some way that you KNEW someone was coming to meet her, and you could take her for a really long walk and run before they arrived.

How old is Britney?


Fred said...

I think Britney's young, less than a year. She's no longer on the TAS adoption website so that means she's either been adopted or she's sick.

Barb said...

What an awesome dog!! You should advertise her as an agility or obedience prospect. I'm not kidding - being willing to stay with you, and focus on you once she got rid of some of the excess energy is a wonderful trait. I'll bet she will be quite easy to train.
I'd love to get my hands on her... too bad I'm about 1500 miles away :-)

Fred said...

Britney's been adopted! Hopefully, we'll get some news back on her from her new owners. May they have big hearts and a big yard.