Sunday, September 27, 2009

Following Lucy

I realize it would be understandable to accuse me of prejudice, but Edward is a most intelligent dog. When he is dozing by my chair, he never fails to snap to attention when an animal comes on the television. (Grizzly bears seem to be his favourites.) When we watch the Westminster Dog Show he sits right in front of the screen like a child from the fifties watching the Lone Ranger in his footy pajamas. I am convinced that he knows when the UPS man is coming to the house long before the man even knows himself. And if I point at something, he looks where I point. Now that one is a rare talent for a dog - try it, you’ll see what I mean. I do have to admit however, that as an only child who grew up with very close dog companions all my life, I tend to credit them most highly in pretty much every area...intelligence, kindness, wisdom.
But to be fair, this has only once caused me any problem.
Only once.....

Years ago, the Songwriter and I were staying at a lovely little inn in a particularly bucolic setting. Tucked away high in the mountains, far removed from the hoi polloi, this was a charming place with verdant mountain trails singing out for exploration. The inn had, as all good inns do, a resident dog. A large, elderly girl named Lucy, she was usually to be found lounging on the front porch, ears half-cocked, keeping a drowsy eye on things. Her one well publicized occupation was that of trail guide. Whenever anyone would start out on a hike, the innkeeper would encourage them to, “
Take Lucy along! You’ll have no need of a map, she knows the way perfectly, and she loves nothing better”. This sincere admonition was even included in the inn’s brochure and of course the idea naturally appealed to me. And sure enough, when we headed out, Lucy jumped up, eager to lead the way.

We hit a gorgeous trail, following her at a brisk pace until the inn was out of sight and we were beginning to wonder exactly which route she had selected for us. Having been told that each trail formed a long, wide loop that would eventually lead us back to the inn, we were a wee bit disconcerted to see that we seemed to be travelling, not in a loop exactly, but rather in sort of a hexagon. (At one point we found ourselves in the back garden of singer Perry Como’s holiday cabin. Yes, really. Seems this particular property featured a small, and fairly fetid, duck pond which was an irresistible feature for our exalted four-footed leader who wasted no time in diving in and retrieving a duck who was, sadly, in one of the latter stages of malodorous decomposition.) I kept faith with old Lucy, up hill and down valley, continuing on for another hour or so. But soon, it became painfully apparent that the skills of the dear girl had waned a bit over the years. Either that, or her sense of humour was more highly developed than her owners had ever realized. We were lost. Well, two of us were. I was still reluctant to give up on Lucy’s heralded abilities completely, so when she suddenly turned and headed straight up a densely wooded hill almost as if she was thinking...”
Oh yes, by Jove, I have it now!”.... I turned to follow.
The Songwriter, who to be honest, had voiced sincere misgivings about the head of our hiking party all along, could finally stand it no longer. “
You are not going to follow that dog into the wilderness! You are not! There is a road here somewhere and we are going to get on it and find our way back!”...
What about Lucy??”, I wailed.
Suffice it to say, I was informed, in so many colourful words, that Lucy was, well, on her own.

So. After a winding, and fairly arduous, trek up a mountain highway, we eventually made it back to our inn. Tired, filthy, and seriously bramble scratched, with muddy boots and cloudy moods, we climbed the steps to find our dear Lucy sound asleep in her comfortable spot on the porch.
I swear I heard a chuckle as we passed.