Whitey decided to sneak out of the house on his own once again. This is him from yesterday morning, under the illusion of being well camouflaged when I came searching for him. Though clearly surprised at his masterstroke not working, he was quite happy to accompany me back to the house and then promptly do his regular walk round the block just to give this early rising human some company and much needed leash holding exercise.
I find it hard to begrudge Whitey these little escapades. The call of the road burns strong in him so much so that I am often confused as to whether adoption saved him or came in the way of a rich fulfilling life. After all, for a couple of weeks before Holi 2020 (when he adopted us), he freelanced the streets with his other independent canine buddies. Being abandoned by his previous set of humans, I do understand why he needs to seek out more reliable company. On every one of those escapes, his happiness at living the free life is evident - a toothy smile lighting up his goofy face as he rockets around a field or sand pile or under construction house with his buds from the 'hood. Unlike them, he is not fully committed to life on the road and before long, he is back at me, smudging my clothes with mud and enthusiasm.
Though much recommended by serial dog owners, the "human must be leader of the pack" philosophy of raising one never caught my fancy. IMHO being an alpha male is just too much work. Every dog-human relationship has its share of mutual frustration - of one half thinking that the other is not human enough, and the other regretfully realizing that his buddy is not actually another dog. I am happy enough with the rest of it, filled as it is with ridiculous fun and life restoring camaraderie.
I get it, Whitey. It's fun being your own boss. It's great to be doing your own thing. Yes, there's the risk and there's the uncertainty. But it's balanced by (theoretically) limitless possibilities. As a responsible dog keeper/fren and well aware of the damage that free-ranging dogs cause to local wildlife, I cannot let you live up all your dreams. That mongoose across the nala, the brinjal stealing monkey - all best kept at barking distance and will remain so.
But I do like to quietly sneak up to the roof on a full moon night and catch you howl to that orb in the sky like your wilder cousins from forests past. It reminds me that there will always be a tinge of the untamed in you. Come to think of it, Whitey, this may be why dogs are kept in the first place. Leashed as we are by modernity into concrete caves of comfort, a bark, a wag and a sprint are instant channels into what we had once known well, back in our days of sleeping in the wild.