COLUMN: The Great Escape


As I tend to the scratches and scrapes on my bare legs, I’m wondering if I should get a tetanus shot. I don’t think the ones on my leg came from the rusty barbed wire fence in the woods, but I’m not 100% sure. So, I guess I’ll just hope for the best while I try to scrape the mud of my new Nikes.

It is still difficult to believe that all of this happened as the result of a dog chase – but it did.

It started out innocently enough. I decided to take my rescue pups, Reese and Roscoe, for a walk up the street. No problem there. The problem came when I chose to play the Dog Whisperer and take Roscoe off leash to see if he would still follow the pack. I did it knowing full well that my pups are runners who behave like nomads. So, my decision ranks up there with eating jalapeños right after hemorrhoid surgery. In both cases, you’re gonna get burned.

And burned I was.

Roscoe hung kind of close to us until he fully realized he was not on the leash. Then, whoosh! In seconds, he was 100 yards away. I think I heard a sonic boom. He was up the street in one of our neighbor’s yards, gleefully following his nose.

In case you don’t know, let’s review Canine 101. Dogs are faster than we are. Dogs are more agile than we are. And dogs are closer to the ground than we are. That means they can quickly go under the bushes that we humans have to go around. This makes catching them almost impossible if they don’t want to be caught. And he didn’t. Relishing his newfound freedom, Roscoe flew from yard to yard as fast as he could. Then he ventured a long way out into the woods that backed up to our subdivision. Sometimes we wouldn’t see him for 10 minutes, only to discover that he had flanked us and was three houses down from where we were looking. Poor Reese was still on leash wondering why she couldn’t play, too. And I was going through alternating waves of concern, panic and anger.

And one of the most difficult things about chasing a dog is that they think it’s a game. When I would get close to Roscoe, he would feign right, then cut left at full speed. He was taunting me and loving it.

As if that wasn’t enough, I tried my best to do what I heard a dog trainer say: never sound angry when you’re calling a wayward dog. If they think you’ve blown a gasket, they won’t come to you. He said you should talk in a high pitched, happy voice, no matter how mad you are.

It just didn’t sound right, walking through my neighbor’s backyard, yelling in a perky falsetto, “Come on, Roscoe, you little black and white mongrel. Come over here so I can grab you, and choke your furry little neck!” I’m sure everyone on the street was amused.

About 45 minutes into the search panic began to set in. So, I trotted to my house to get the car. To my surprise, there was Roscoe in my next-door neighbor’s yard. When I called him in my happy voice, he didn’t even look my way. Roscoe was ignoring me like a supermodel ignores cheeseburgers.

I went around the house to cut him off, and by time I got there he was nowhere to be seen. Where is he? I scanned the area until I saw movement. Oh, my Lord in heaven. He had made his way to the far side of the busy road that borders our subdivision. What’s worse, I can see a truck headed his way.

No time for happy voice now. “Roscoe!” I screamed. The truck closed in. I closed my eyes. I was not going to witness this.

Fortunately, the driver saw him and slowed down. I’m breathing again, kinda. Then, unbelievably, Roscoe came back across the street and ran parallel to our backyard fence. It looks like he’s running toward me to do another one of his little fake moves, when he gets too close and I rush him. Roscoe freezes, I grab him and just like that, it’s over.

We took him back in the house and rather that scream at him, I just held him silently. Finally, my wife Carol broke the quiet and said, “Next time do yourself a favor. Don’t ever let go of the leash, OK, Dog Whisperer?”

I opened my eyes, looked at the mud on my Nikes and said, “OK by me.”

And the next day I went out and bought a longer leash.

Joe Hobby is a barbecue-loving comedian from Alabama who wrote for Jay Leno for many years. Find more of Joe’s stories on his blog: Follow him on Facebook at Joe Hobby Comedian-Writer.