We have a little Jack Russell rescue, who's somewhere around two and weighs twenty pounds. As a Terrier must, he barks daily at the squirrels that run along the top of the back fence and swing impudently from branches, flicking their tales at him. For the past few days though he's been running to the front door and barking his deepest Big Dog bark; he keeps it up even after I've turned on the outdoor light and seen nothing. There are a number of cats who roam the neighborhood.'Cats,'I said to myself.
Last night however he was in a frenzy, even though again I could see nothing for him to be barking at. Finally, he quieted down and jumped up and lay beside me as I was trying to watch a college basketball game on TV, and read the New Yorker. The forecast had been for snow and below-freezing temperatures---unusual for Portland, in November, and after a while I went to the front door to sniff the air. I opened the door a crack---no more than three inches---and like a shot, a shot propelled by a rocket on steroids, Milo the Terrier was out the door and disappearing down the street, which was lightly covered with frozen snow. I put on some shoes and an old hat and ran upstairs to wake Linda. We backed the car out and drove slowly around the neighborhood, trying to keep to the route we take when we're walking him.
Every now and then we would see flashes of white fur zooming the opposite way from us. A few times he came near the car but when we reached out to him, off he went again. Eventually, we gave up, came back inside and hoped that Milo would find his way home by himself. In a bit, Linda went out again on foot and came back to report that Milo was chasing a very /big/ coyote around the neighborhood, and that sometimes the coyote seemed to be chasing /him/. She'd last seen them as they disappeared into the underbrush. I thought of him lying bleeding from his wounds as he froze to death on this coldest night of the year.
A happy ending: Milo kept returning to the front door but shying away when we tried to grab his collar or his tail or even his fur. He did this three or four times; but in the end, wet, muddy, half-frozen, he came in through the door, which we'd left propped open, on his own. He was glad to be rubbed down with dry towels and to be fussed over but his heart was still beating as if he were still in flight or in hot pursuit. Or both.
Robert Paul Lake Oswego OR