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 .