You would expect, after a decade and a half of life with a herding dog, that Hubby might remember that such creatures are hard-wired to herd. This instinct manifests itself most noticeably when something passes by at a speed above a walk. If the "must be herded right now" target is accompanied by rumbling wheels, engine decibels and, "What could beat that?", brushes swirling around, then the weekly street sweeper surpasses even the irresistibility of UPS or the Garbage Truck.
Diva, our good citizen, now-geriatric, collie continued to attempt a take down of the wheely beast for many years after her physical abilities waned. The occasional triumphant guided-missile run far outweighed the subsequent need for anti-inflammatories to calm the crippling aches and pains of adrenaline-induced action. Now that her hearing is completely gone she is serenely oblivious to the passing temptation.
Foster-Dog Boomer took up the gauntlet this morning. We know he's fast. He can catch cats. We know he's a herding fool. Although he obeys me now on-leash rather than lunging after cyclists, joggers, skateboards, and trucks, I am always conscious of his hyper-awareness, bouncing gait and a look that asks "Can I? Please, Please! Can I?" I have worked hard with positive reinforcement training. I never leave home with him without treats to reward his good manners but I have no illusion that off-leash he'd be willing to answer the call of hundreds of years of breeding.
Monday is street sweeper day. I was happy to conclude our walk without encountering our nemesis. Back home, as I got changed and ready for work, Boomer was half-climbing on the living room furniture to get at the window and barking fiercely as the sanitation equipment slowly went by.
Hubby was gathering his wallet, phone, shoes etc. in the entry when I reminded him "Mind the dog. Don't open the door. Today is street sweeper day."
I have never before felt the need to jump into my car for dog chasing purposes, but this was obviously going to be one of those far and wide searches. I grabbed a handful of treats and my cell phone, covering the full spectrum of situations I might encounter and zoomed off in pursuit, turning off the radio and lowering the windows so that I could follow the sounds of the unseen drama.
The street sweeper leaves wet brush marks as it passes. Ear to the wind and eye to the giant tracks, I was about to turn up a cul de sac nearby when the mechanical behemoth appeared over the horizon in front of me, trundling back in my direction to clean the other side of the road.
By this time several neighbors were out to see what all the noise was about. Concerned, half-dressed and uncombed the citizenry made no impact on the driver of the vehicle. It is entirely understandable that driving something the size of a Cross Channel Ferry Boat would make one impervious to worrying about possible dangers. Insouciant in the face of a crazy canine; leaving a rudely awoken throng unwashed and untucked behind him; the driver of doom held to his mission. Boomer, meanwhile, was barking his battle cry, hair lifting in the slip-stream like a Scottish warrior's kilt as he beat the invaders back to Hadrian's Wall. Flying in circles, which any herding dog will tell you is proper herding etiquette, he was here, there and everywhere in a flash. I was pretty surprised that my voice yelling his name was heard over the motor and the barking. (More so as I apparently was unheard in the quiet of my own home a short time before). I was even more surprised that Boomer responded by running straight to me. I leaned across the seat to throw open the back door of the car. He missed that cue as he was circling my car to come back to my side. The sweeper driver finally understood that he was part of our morning scene and he slowed down to await the outcome. Boomer bounced back to me so very proud of what he had accomplished and bounded joyously into the back seat, panting wildly.
Hubby was in his car just leaving our driveway as we returned. He sheepishly handed me a leash as a peace offering as our cars passed one another. "Quelle C...!" he said, referring to the naughty, happy dog. "I counted two of them" was my reply as I went back indoors to gather my wits and the laundry I had thrown down all over the floor.
Clear and Cold
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