Franco the Wanderer

When Franco was just a puppy, we used a leash whenever we walked him. Early on, I sensed I could trust him off leash, and tentatively tried it. He came when called, even when he was very interested in whatever he was pursuing. As the years went by, I trusted him more and more, to the point that I could daydream on our after-supper hikes, and not worry too much if I didn’t see him right away when I looked up.

About a month and a half ago, things changed. Two days in a row, Franco took off and did not come when called. Both times he was gone for 15 or 20 minutes, during which time I called until I was almost hoarse. Mind you this only happened twice, but in 15 minutes, that dog can cover a tremendous amount of ground, and he has no smarts when it comes to 55 MPH blacktop only 1/2 mile from our house.

After the two “walk-abouts” I kept him on a leash for the next several walks we did, and also asked him to walk very close to me. Whether that was what did the trick, I’ll probably never know. But since then, he’s been off leash again, and has never disappeared again, until yesterday.

It was cold and blustery, and I needed to walk out to the garage to get something. I was wearing my usual hooded sweatshirt and slippers, so just popped out the door along with the dog, went quickly into the garage for what ever I needed, and headed back toward the house. I called over my shoulder for Franco to hurry up because I was cold, but he didn’t come. I stood where I was and called several more times, each call more insistent than the last. No dog.

I walked across the snow with my slippers to the road and looked up and down. No dog. I called and called. No dog. By this time, my heart rate was going up. In just a few minutes he can be a long distance away, and if it is windy, he may not be able to hear me for long. I called up and down the road and looked carefully. You guessed it… no dog.

I then walked back toward the house with the intent of getting my coat, boots and gloves on because I was cold. As I was heading for the house, an idea struck me that made me stop cold. I literally stopped and stood there in the snow. Sometimes he follows me into the garage, and if I’m not paying attention, he gets stuck in there when I close the door. I walked to the garage door and called his name softly. He walked out and gave me the I-would-have-come-if-I’d-have-had-an-opposable-thumb look. I was very happy to see him, and to know that he hadn’t taken off on me. He got a treat when he came inside.

One Response to “Franco the Wanderer”

  1. Mel says:

    A similar thing happened at the in-laws a couple summers ago – Mom had just come home with a load of groceries, so the dogs went out to ‘help.’ In rounding them up afterwards, one of the four didn’t appear. No big deal – she knows where she lives, and usually turns up a few minutes later, barking on the porch to be let in. A long time passed, and there was no barking. We went out to call for her, thinking she’d wandered off to one of the neighbors around the lake. We called, and could hear her barking – so called louder. Still no dog appeared, but she continued to bark. We were getting concerned that there would be an angry phone call from whichever neighbor she was terrorizing.

    I don’t recall how long it took until one of us realized the barking was coming from the van in the driveway.

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