A Lesson from Lexi

Written by Wendy Buss



The Lexi I was first introduced to  was the gentlest friendliest sweetest dog part husky with a lovely brindle coat  and a beautiful welcoming nature .

When I first met her  she was all waggly tail and squirmy butt  and willing to be friends from the get go  when I arrived at the housesit in Yeppoon  where I was to look after her for close to a week  while the owners were away visiting family  .I felt comfortable  and confident Lexi and I  would get on well together

She’d follow me around the house  always sitting in close  range   and always ready to come up for a pat  or a belly scratch and indeed she gave the impression of being a totally  docile compliant  obedient and fully  domestic dog  .The owners had warned me she could be  an escape artist but when I first met her  it seemed  not very unlikely she’d try to escape  as she seemed to stick to me like glue .However maybe that was part of her ruse to lull me in to a sense of false security and little did I know it then but Huskies  actually put the  H into Houdini and are renounded for being escape artists  as i was soon to find out .

The owners had directed me towards her red electric collar  the sort that will give a dog an electric shock  if they go near the  fence  .I have never really liked them feeling  the electric current that runs through them is likely to  affect an animals electro magnetic energy field and cause them to feel antsy and restless and I used them as little as possible

However when Lexi did eventually make her break for freedom as the owners had warned me she might  the red collar wouldn’t have made any difference as it turned out  for there was more than ne way for Lexi to make her escape .

The owner had told me she was used to going for a walk in the afternoons when the weather had cooled off  and around 4.30 like clockwork  she would  look lively and expectant and come up to me wither tail wagging as if to say “well shall we be off then ?”

One particular  afternoon I was planning  to take her  when the weather had cooled off  a little but I was dragging the chain a bit and decided I would first look in on two little  foster  puppies I was also looking after and give them a cuddle before heading off

Perhaps Lexi  impatient that I hadn’t seemed to get the message that it was’ walkies time’ and showing me that well she was going for her walk with or without me for as I opened the   screen door  she was like greased  lightening as she slid past my legs and made her bolt for freedom .

There was no calling her back .All my entreaties and wheedling tones and offers of treats were in vain as she took off down the hill .She’d stop now and then to  look back over her shoulder at me almost mockingly as if to say” do ya think I’m stupid ?” as she bolted down the hill and disappeared  out of sight .

Panicked  I  took the path she had taken following the road down the hill and my heart sank  when I saw that the road led to a main highway at the bottom .Readers need to understand it is a house sitters worse nightmare  to think you might lose a pet entrusted to your care .It feels like it  would be like losing one of their children. Unthinkable really. Too awful to contemplate   .

Luckily there had been very few deaths or casualities on my watch  as a housesitter .I had once done a sit  where the homeowners pet hermit crab had died .I had gone down stairs in the morning to see the little creature belly up in its tank, its stiff little claws pointing skywards and I had had to ring the owners in South Africa to tell them the sad news.  That was bad enough  .

Now here I was poised beside a very busy main road with bush flanking either side and no sign of Lexi  .I stared hopelessly at the fast moving traffic .Surely she wouldn’t try to cross the road would she ?  I scanned the road  both ways calling  her name but  no sign of her and eventually walked wearily  back up the hill, my heart heavy  wondering what to do next .

Once back at the house I reread the instructions the owner had left  which I had scanned through briefly . Rereading more slowly  I felt a great sigh of relief and immensely reassured  when I read the owners notes

“ If Lexi runs off  the game will be up  .There’s no calling her back  but don’t panic  .She’ll go exploring close by and then come back when she is ready”  .Feeling somewhat  less panicked  and immensely reassured  I decided to wait and hour or two  before calling the owners.

However as sunset came and  the light began to fade panic started to rise again and I knew I would not get any real rest until Lexi was safely back home inside the house .

It was reassuring to see that she did reappear a couple of times however She would flash past the house with a gleam in her eye as if to say “Catch me if you can “  She would stop  half way down the hill  and look back at me  quite impervious to my frenzied calls and offers of treats

It looked as if she was a bit uncertain wavering there though as if  really tempted at times  between  relishing and secuumbing to the thought of a yummy schmacko but the lure and pull of sweet sweet freedom was much more compelling than some old dog candy and it was like “ na I think not “ and she was off again  down the hill.

Eventually with darkness setting in I rang the owner Tony who was pretty cool about it  and incredibly relaxed . Obviously he had experienced Lexis escapades before and had every confidence she would be back and he instructed me to just leave some food out for her in a strategic place and chill out and not worry too much. So I followed his instructions and waited a couple more hours  I saw her flash  past again .She’d stop momentarily sitting up  high on the kerb gleaming ghostly  in the moonlight like some some wild wolf or praire dog   .Keeping her distance and clearly not willing to give up her freedom .

I felt really impatient and fed up with her at that point .I gnashed my teeth and wrung my hands saying “Lexi why are you doing this to me ?”  I’d treated her with great kindness throughout the sit and we had gotten along like a house on fire and  she had really now turned the tables on me with the  balance of power and was showing me who was actually boss of the sit .Suddenly  Lexi held all the cards because if she chose not to come back then that would be devastating both for the owners and myself .

However I couldn’t help but feel a sneaking  respect for her as she  suddenly took on another more dimensional quality as not  some slavish docile compliant predictable  doggie but rather a  freewheeling   soverign being and free agent making her own choices and living life as it suited her

Somehow domestic Lexi had morphed into this wild untrammelled free spirited creature of the night who was running the show . It was if she was saying to me “ You think  you are gonna keep me waiting for my walk  ?” I’ll show you .The more I thought about it  the more humbled I became  as I recognised this was no dumb servile being  at the mercy of my dominance and control  but a free willed creature  making choices entirely  to suit herself  and obviously completely regardless of my feelings . I felt a sneaking respect for Lexi as I realized she had somehow found a way to slip the noose and restraints  of the humdrum everyday domesticity  and  get out and live large and right now was enjoying the best of both worlds .

Huskies from what I have read make for  companionable dogs and being athletic  are good working dogs if  part of a working team  for example  but   they are highly independent in nature  and  not easy to train  .

Here is a little bit of background info on the Siberian Husky  courtesy of website dogtime.com

“The Siberian Husky is believed to have originated among the Chukchi, a tribe of Siberian nomads. The breed’s history is relatively unknown but DNA tests confirm that they are among the oldest of dog breeds. We do know that the Chukchi used the dogs as fast transportation and that they interacted with the Chukchi as a family dog. Huskies often slept with the children and provided warm comfortable beds for them.

The Siberian Husky was imported to Alaska in 1908 and was used as sled dogs during the gold rush.:

The Husky  is to be  distinguished by the Alaskan malamout but their descendacy from Siberian wolves  would mean   it would be in their dna to run wild and  revel in their freedoms .Sure Lexi wasn’t  out there chasing   bobcats  across snow covered  mts and plains but there was Lexi out there in the Yeppoon  night  running free and wild under the stars having a ball , her senses no doubt  alive , immersed in all the mesmerizing  sights and sounds  and smells and sensory delights  of the neighbourhood as she wandered in and out of peoples front lawns listening to the night noises  frogs and crickets, as she conducted her night cruise  against a backdrop of the  thousands of  bats  flapping silently by overhead , and accompanied the mournful cries of the bush stone curlews  sniffing the different smells of cooking  from the various neighbourhood houses and the  ‘pee mail’ from the other neighbourhood dogs and lost in a world of sensation  and aliveness no amount of sitting enslaved by a red electric collar  could ever afford her.

Eventually tiredness overtook me  and I had to get some sleep  and  I spent a  I spent a somewhat sleepless night tossing and turning and getting up  every so often to check outside  .Once I saw her there sitting at the kerb gleaming ghostly  in the moonlight a creature of the night and her own sensibilities and choicesstill  clearly not ready to give up her freedom

The owner seemed convinced Lexi would come home when she was ready  it didn’t really feel that way  to me at that point   but I had no choice but to accept his word for it  I had  hours ago  realized I had no control over the situation and needed   practice mindfulness  and surrender the situation  the Higher Power .

“Please God” I prayed “Let Lexi be there waiting for me by the front door in the morning and remarkably just as the owner had predicted  that is what happened .My prayer was answered and when I went outside first thing at daybreak there was Lexi outside the front door  a little cold and subdued  but completely morphed back into the docile obliging  domestic doggie  I had previously known her as  and more than happy it seemed and  ready to come home  .

I marvelled at the transformation as I moved myself like greased lightening to secure her once more  on an outdoor leash  .With Lexi back home the world righted itself once more and I breathed a  big big sigh of relief .

However I wasn’t taking any more chances with her  or willing to go through another sleepless night  and it was with a heavy heart I  slipped on that red electric collar.  It felt  almost criminal though  to act to put restraints on this creature who clearly had a wild side to her and relished her freedoms   and consign her to captivity once more

However Lexi had made her choice to come back of her own accord  What made her change her mind I wonder ?Had she gotten cold and lonely out there in the wee small hours of the morning ? Was she missing home  and her creature comforts ?  .Did she in her wisdom  recognise the sweetness of both sides to was really dependent on also being willing to submit fully to the other  Did she conclude perhaps that freedom stopped being  fun when the absences of food on tap  and the treats and the companionship and cuddles and and a sense of belonging and being waited on hand and foot was the trade off  ?

No worries domestic Lexi was back .I smiled to myself  as I recognised in Lexi  a kindred spirit.Being a wild girl at heart myself I realized Lexi and I  actually had a lot in common. We were two old girls  who liked our creature comforts and who could appear on the surface of things to be very good girls but who also  had a wilder freedom loving side and  took every opportunity to  slip the noose of the humdrum everyday routines  and claim our freedoms   and go out into the world  and live large ……..


The END  .



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