Last time I told you about Tramp. I found his free spirit both endearing and frustrating. He had learnt to survive in a hostile environment of farmers with firearms and big, aggressive dogs. They do not take kindly to a free spirit like Tramp running off with a chicken or a chunk of beef biltong that may have been hanging out to dry.
Our dogs were learning his wild ways. So eventually, to save them, we had to take Tramp to a shelter. We prayed that he would not be euthanised before he had a reasonable chance of winning over a new home owner.
As far as Chloé and Darling were concerned, we were too late. They were already infected with the need to wander. Given the smallest opportunity they would slip away down the dirt road, on the sort of adventures to which Tramp had introduced them. They always returned, sometimes late at night. A few times I locked them out, letting them sleep outside and hoping that would teach them something about staying close to home comforts.
Reports and complaints started coming in on the neighbourhood WhatsApp group. “A white wolf hound has been running through my place. Would the owner please keep him at home.” Well, Darling was not a wolf hound, but we had no doubt who they were talking about. A worse complaint concerned a jet black bull terrier who ran off with a chicken. Chloé was no bull terrier, but the jet black description matched.
After that, we did everything possible to keep them inside. Darling was the bigger problem. She got over our two and a half metre fence without any trouble. She would leap – high enough to get her fore paws over the top strand and pull herself over. I have never seen another dog do anything like it. Chloé found soft places in the dirt to burrow under the fence.
On one occasion a photograph of Darling appeared on the neighbourhood app. She was standing alone in a field of green Lucerne. She looked lovely. The caption said, “The little black one got away before the picture was taken.”
We set about a full-scale campaign to keep them at home. But it could not last forever. One day while a delivery was being made they slipped out. I still have in my mind the picture of the two of them, fleeing down the dirt road as fast as all eight legs could take them.
Chloé came back late that night, covered in bite marks. Darling never returned and we never learnt what happened to her. Searching the roads round about and sending out appeals on the community WhatsApp group brought no results. We were a quiet family for some time afterwards.
It was around the same time that Astro died of natural causes. we planted a tree on his grave site to honour and remember him. As for those loose-limbed travelling types that turn up at your door, looking for love or comfort or both, we will never take in another.
Read more about dogs who have touched our lives
A free spirit arrives on the wind