Diva lulled me into complacency. She's been listening so well that rather than have them "potty" in the run I've been taking them out into the yard. I'm always outside with them. I'm always paying attention to them. We've been playing in the yard. We've been working on "wait", "stay", and recalls - all in the yard.
As per normal routine I'm almost always awake by 7 am. Wearing my PJs I walk the dogs out into the potty area of the yard. Diva is always much quicker than Ryder in completing her business. So while Ryder stood there with his leg in the air, Diva cocked her head, and sprang into a run. Calling Ryder in, I put him back in the house, slid on my winter boots and walked to where I could better see where Diva had run off to. Calling her with no response. I continued walking towards the field. Knowing the Canadian Geese (Diva's arch enemies) were out there I figured she was stalking them. Was I ever wrong. Not only were the geese out there, there were also 4 deer. Seeing me Diva dove towards the deer, chasing them across the field. The deer easily jumped the fence and took off down the subdivision road. Diva ran back and forth, ignoring my calls before finding a hole and diving though the fence, and giving chase to the deer.
Wearing my pajamas and winter boots I began trudging down the subdivision road towards where I last saw my dog. She had followed the deer up a driveway and past a house. Calling, and calling with no dog in my sights. Walking back to my house I got dressed and went back out. Calling her name, whistling I tried to figure out where she'd be. I live in a populated area near very busy roads. Worst case scenarios jumbled in my head as I walked up and down the road. By this time it's 7:30 am. I'm not really wanting to go knocking on doors...
Beginning to feel hopeless I began to head back when I heard shrill barking. Recognizing Diva's distinctive bark I begin calling more enthusiastically. It sounded like she was behind a neighbors land. The only problem? Almost all the lots are fenced. Most with page wire or chain link. How on earth was I going to get back to her? Walking along I thought I'd try coaxing her along the fence line to get closer to where she entered the area with the deer. I began to really worry when her cries never moved. Was she hurt? Trapped? Captured? Why were her barks not moving? After each time I called I'd get these shrill yips. It was as though she was saying "Mom! Mom! I'm here!" By this point in time over 30 minutes had passed. I pondered my neighbors. Do I just tromp through their land to try to get closer to my dog? Do I knock and risk waking them up? The other thing I wondered about is no one, not one single soul stuck their head out to see what the ruckus was about. This blew me away. There is no way I'd have slept through it. Her shrill barking, my calling her name and whistling. I clearly live in a very friendly neighborhood...
On the verge of giving up, I see a flash of black through the trees. Calling I see Diva streaking towards me. Only to be stopped by another fence. Walking partially up the neighbors driveway I call and call. She tries to get through the page. She digs. She stands up and tries to climb. Weighing my options, I walk along the edge of their property, and up the fence line, moving deeper onto their land. Reaching Diva I try to figure out how I'm going to get her onto my side of the fence. It was old large squared page wire with barb wire along the top. It's important to note we still have an easy foot or more of snow. I had walked/half fallen through the crusty snow. Sometimes staying on top, sometimes breaking through. This just added another layer to the challenge. Reaching down I gently tug on the wires, managing to pull them apart enough to let my athletic dog squirm through reaching me. She joyfully leaps up and trots ahead of me as I try to work my way back to the road.
Once on the road the little rotter does an amazing job of off leash "heel" staying perfectly by my leg. She happily trotted into the garage and Ryder and her greeted each other as though they'd been tortured. Chilled and tired, I curled up in bed. Diva jumps up and licks and snuggles in, not understanding that I was still not talking to her.
Needless to say she has lost her off leash privileges.