After about 20 minutes of blissful drumming, Lady decided to jump down from the elevated area into the sand. She cut the leash in the process and started running towards Santa Monica like a mad bitch. I followed her calmly but she kept sprinting ahead. I stood there in the middle of the beach, hoping that she would run into someone who would be able to hold her until I get there. This has happened a few days ago when we were running by the sea and touched the water when she houdinily escaped from the harness, which is something I never knew was possible. The neck collar yes, it happens sometimes when it’s loose. But the body harness, this was a first.
Anyway, so at some point Lady decided to turn around and run towards my direction, still frantically.
I thought that this was going to be the end of it. But she kept running past me and kept going further towards Venice.
Perhaps some reverse psychology might work. So I went back to the drum and thought that maybe if she’ll hear my drumming she’ll come back by herself.
This is when a guy who had been sitting by that pier since earlier came towards me and handed me a one-dollar note. Mid my daze, I had no idea what was that about.
“You’re too good, man” he said. “This is for playing.”
Oh. Thank you, it’s OK, I play for fun. Though I thought that if it was the week of A Dollar & Thirty Four Cents in Me Pocket and Feeling Fine, I would have probably taken it.
Looking back at Lady on the horizon, I could see her pretty far. So I left the drum and the bike and followed her. Every now and then I see someone trying to hold her but she wouldn’t let them. I wave my arms and shout ‘Lady’ so that the people understand that I need help. But the doggie wasn’t showing any sign of stopping or trusting any stranger. She's not that much into strangers so she obviously wasn't going to start then.
I could see from afar a girl trying to communicate with Lady. By the time I got to them, the dog was still on the loose. The girl stayed with me for about 15 minutes, trying to corner the dog but to no avail. After a while, I felt bad so I told her thank you and that I’ll handle it myself.
After 10 minutes, another girl just appeared out of nowhere, wanting to help out. She kept trying to talk to the dog, even run after her. But Lady was in some kind of automated mode and kept dashing off.
My main issue was that I had to leave the bike and the drum unattended to follow her. To make matters worse, I didn’t have a lock for my bike — someone at home must have removed it and I only found out when I got to the beach. So as she kept going further towards Venice I was torn between both sides. The drum was right there, so was the bike. So that was a pretty easy catch.
On the other hand, thoughts of losing Lady, or any dog for that matter, started to loom on my mind’s horizons. She’s not even mine, which made me start imagining calling her owner:
Hey buddy, today at the beach lady just cut the leash and started running and now she’s lost.
I even had a flash in my head of those ‘LOST DOG’ notes we see on lamp posts. What a nightmare.
It was also about to get dark in less than half an hour and I had to act fast.
First, I found myself too far from my belongings so I thought that I had to go back. One the way, I started to weight out the options. Calling the cops who could help with their vehicles was a first thought. Then I remembered I don’t have my phone. Well, I could always use someones' to dial 911. Then again, maybe it would be easier or faster to just find a police car around the beach, they are always around.
It took me about 10 minutes of light jogging to get back to the mini pier and luckily the bike and drum were still there. I got on the bike and moved towards Venice using the walkway as I scanned the horizon for a running dog. Finally, I saw her and…I could also see a moving silhouette close by. So, I left the bike and the drum on the sand and started running towards them.
“Lady,” I shouted and waived for them to know where I am.
As I went closer I realized it was the same girl — the second one. I thanked her as we tried to encircle the dog, but again, to no avail.
I was really starting to lose patience then, for it has been about 45 minutes of running around the beach. I thought that if I’m starting to get tired, this one-year-old pup must be even more tired. We both had our morning jog earlier on that same day.
At the time, there was three other people close by whom I asked if they can form a human wall to block the way and prevent her from running. They stood for a moment but then, not wanting to be cornered, she started running again in the other direction towards Venice. Apparently, she still had some energy.
Again, I thought of the bike and drum which I left on the sand, though right by the boardwalk. It was getting dimmer by the minute so I thought I would go back and maybe follow her on the bike as I did before. The kind girl was still following her.
Another few minutes on the bike and I could spot their silhouettes from afar. To be safer, this time I thought of venturing more into the beach before I leave the bike and drum. It was getting seriously dark.
The girl was close to her at the time. “Lady! Hi Lady,” I sat on the sand while trying to change my tone of voice from shouting to a loving one.
It was then when I finally saw two Police vehicle approaching us from each side of the beach. When the one coming from the Venice side came closer, I started waving my hands in the air. I explained my dilemma to them so they took a small cruise around us, trying to block her way.
This was when I instinctively put my hand in my pocket and got out a roll of white tape that I use for drumming and said “Where’s the ball?” exactly as I say it when we play with the actual white golf ball in the garden. She bought it and I could see her attention focused on the ‘ball’. I still have no idea where that light bulb suddenly came from — probably from a desperate place.
Then, I threw the roll on the sand, pretending I’m about to shoot it with my foot. Again, as I usually do. “Where’s the ball? Huh”
She was coming closer and closer but I didn’t want to make any sudden moves. Another fake shot and she was even closer then, all her attention was on the ‘ball’. Then BAM I held her from the back of the neck just like a fox that she is and carried her in my hands.
I turn around, expecting a round of applause from the officers but I didn't find them. Those helpful ones were already by the boardwalk. They must have left about a full minute ago. Well, thanks for the help, guys. I believe this was my last chance; if I were not successful then I'm not so sure what could have happened. It was almost pitch black then.
I then looked at the spot where I had left the bike and someone is moving with it on the sand, they are holding my drum too. That’s really heavy load. As I went closer, I could see that it’s the same girl carrying my stuff to give it to me. The hat and the flip-flop too. Waow.
“Thank you so much. Angels are all around us, as they say,” I said smilingly.
“I'm glad I could help. I know how it feels.”
We tied the torn leash on Lady and headed back towards the boardwalk as we chatted a little. I found out that she lives by the beach so I asked her to come join us at the Drum Circle. I thanked her again and we bid farewell.
I'm so grateful for this guardian angel. I'm seriously not sure what could have transpired without her.
After all I went through, going home on the bike with a torn leash and a crazed dog made me think of all sorts of scenarios. What if in the middle of the street she just decides to somehow run away. What if she’s then ran over by a car.
Actually, I changed route and took a less busy street because of these nasty thoughts. If she was a bit smaller I would have kept her in the front basket of the bike.
Finally, we made it home. I couldn’t help but to say: “Bad Girl” a few times while slightly spanking her on the popo. I didn't, however, overdo it since we should never punish a runaway dog after (for) coming home. If you do choose to punish them after running away, more likely when it happens again they will be afraid to come back to the punishment, so they won't.
In fact, we should always give our canines good reasons to come back home — some petting, a praise, or a treat work out great.
I was colder than usual and didn't give her much attention for a couple of hours. During that time I reflected upon why this has happened.
I already knew how stubborn Shiba Inus could get, even hard to train. Titles like Shiba Inu will never surrender even when all is lost, and Shiba has the heart of a rebel are quite common online. This time, I came to experience this hard-head myself.
I was reminded by a similar incident involving my late dog Caramella in Toronto. I was going away for a few days and left her with a neighbour. I got into the car and they were in the garden. I was told later that Caramella ran after the car for a whole block until the neighbour was able to catch up with her. So freaking out that she's alone made her chase the car.
I was equally reminded by having to chase some other dogs around the garden or park when they wouldn't listen. Though it wouldn't last more than 10 minutes and then reverse psychology usually wins at the end
The reasons why some dogs behave this way vary.
Some because they have extra energy and are not getting enough play or outdoor time. For Lady, this may be one of a multitude of reasons, since her owner is always at work so she doesn’t get the appropriate time at the park or elsewhere.
Another related reason is that dogs do get lonely, bored, and consequently depressed. Running away is simply one way to express such feelings. I believe this is also the case with Lady. This seems like a natural reaction after her owner moved to another place and left her with me. The big, wide sandy beach is sure the best playground to get her frustrations out.
A third reason why dogs run off is to mate. Though this is more of a male behaviour.
Generally speaking, a runaway dog is usually not happy at home. To leave the comfort, the familiarity, and the love they are supposed to be getting for the unknown, they must have convincing reasons to do so.
In conclusion, dogs are social animals. They need to connect with nature and other dogs as much as possible. They also need to stay engaged; some with physical exercise, others with puzzle toys, or both. Those who are always kept at home lose their heads from loneliness and boredom and end up with psychological issues. Just like us humans, dogs need to keep busy at least for a few hours a day.
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