Freedom

Posted by on May 3, 2011 in Uncategorized | Comments Off


It was an unusually warm day when I went to pick up Sebastian for his first “outing”. The sun was shining and the sky was free from the rain clouds one normally expects to see this time of year in the Northwest.

After a few pleasantries, I put Sebastian on a leash and out we went. Or rather out I went as he proceeded to drag me to the car. Clearly “bye-bye” was a word he knew well, and once out the door, he shot off like a Husky rigged up to a sled. I was like a feather thrashing about in a tornado entitled “Sebastian”.

When he stopped at my car, I couldn’t help but wonder how he knew which one was mine. Up till now, we’d never been anywhere together. But without much prodding, he loaded up and we left. As I called my husband to tell him we were headed his way, I was already having second thoughts. With the lunch hour upon us, I offered to pick up a pizza and tried to push back my concerns. Knowing I had a bit of a drive home—thirty minutes or so—I called ahead for a drive through pizza, figuring I’d pick it up along the way. It should have been a simple chore, an in-and-out event. And had I truly been analyzing what was going on in the back seat, I would have realized my unease was warranted.

In the back, Sebastian paced from one window to the other. They were cracked no more than three inches so it was impossible for him to squeeze his big head out, but he tried anyway. Watching, I couldn’t help but laugh. It was as improbable as shoving a square peg in a round hole. After awhile he finally conceded to just sit and sniff the breeze. That pale nose of his was pressed as far through that crack as possible, and his excitement was obvious in the drool that ran down my glass. As I drove, I could feel his tail slapping the back of my seat. It felt good taking Sebastian for some fun, like I was doing something truly humane.

When I pulled in to get the pizza place, I left Sebastian in the car, and went inside to pay. Distracted with that all over good feeling one gets when you know you’re helping a worthy cause, I was completely unaware that pent up excitement was destined to be set free. Because it was so warm, I cracked the windows a bit more, but not too much more—so I thought. Looking back, and even in hindsight, I found it hard to believe that Sebastian could get a shoulder through that gap much less anything else. Satisfied, I smiled to myself and went into collect my food.

As the lady behind the counter prepared my order and took my money, I could hear car’s honking, but didn’t pay it much mind. The traffic in this area was fairly thick. Small town suburbia was anything but quiet, I thought.

Clueless, I was handing over my last dollar when the lady very casually asked, “Isn’t that your dog?”

Because “my” dog Winston was not with me, it took me a moment to realize she was speaking about Sebastian. I paused for about a heartbeat, wondering what the heck she was talking about, while the ruckus still going on outside slowly made sense. It really was a light bulb moment as it felt like everything turned on inside my head at once. I quickly turned, and the first thing I saw was this golden furry butt waddling across the road, headed for the grocery store parking lot across the street!

Now let me tell you, Sebastian never walked anywhere, he trotted and or raced. That’s it! And his gate was really more of a waddle, rear end swaying side to side and those back legs perfectly stiff. He toddled, left-right-left-right, trotting as if his back legs were in splints. It was a real “run-Forest- run” moment, belly swaying opposite those hips. The first time I saw it, I remember wondering if he had hip troubles. And when Marc saw it he asked, “Can dogs be gay?” (That’s my hubby, ready with a joke, politically correct or not.)

So here I am pizza in one hand, and watching in complete horror as Sebastian—head high and tail up—waddles across traffic. Vehicles were slamming on their breaks, honking. I don’t remember if I said anything before I raced out the door, and I can’t tell you what I did with the pizza. I just remember racing, empty handed, out into traffic after Sebastian. My hands were waiving as I warned cars what I was doing. Most of which seemed fully aware as they’d just come to a sudden halt moments before. Of course I’m screaming Sebastian’s name, but he never once flinched. I could have been yelling any name, it didn’t matter.

As he raced down the sidewalk, his face was tilted into the sun. He hesitated only briefly to smell a light pole as he hopped the curb. Though I knew better, he appeared to know exactly where he wanted to go. He pasted confused pedestrians, and each time I’d scream, “Will you grab that dog”, and of course they’d looked at me like- I don’t think so crazy lady. I couldn’t blame them. Sebastian didn’t “look” mean, and Labradors have great reputations, but he was a big boy. He was a large dog on the move, and nobody wanted to reach out and stop seventy plus pounds in full motion.

So onward we went, zigzagging through the grocery store parking lot. At the sound of me screaming his name, over and over again, people were gathering to watch the show. Finally, and I have no idea why, Sebastian finally looked back to me and stopped. I did that stereotypical human hand gesture we all do to our children and animals when we’re serious; I pointed at him in a- you- better- do-what-I-say motion and he sat. He was done.

I remember how Sebastian looked as I approached him, unsure if he was really going to stay or bolt. He was so handsome sitting there with his ears back like a perfect little gentlemen, and nothing but sweetness on his face. It was like he’d just flipped a switch. Hard to imagine that he was the same dog I’d been chasing for the last twenty minutes, and though exhausted and upset, I found it difficult to be mad at him. Especially with him wagging his tail at me like, “wasn’t that fun?” I simply grabbed him by the collar, and in using the protective cross walk this time, we walked safely back to the car.

I lectured him the whole way back. To which he would simply look up to me with those deep brown eyes, tail wagging, and a smile firm on his face. Yup, he smiled; he smiled a lot for a dog. He’d wrinkle up his nose and a crease would form over his cheek bones, as if he were breathing deeply, but with his mouth closed it would look like a smile was on his face. In truth he was probably panting, closed mouthed, but I like how I tell it best. Anyway, I’m sure we looked ridiculous to passing traffic, me muttering to a dog trotting along at my side without a care in the world. At least nobody got hurt, and he’d had fun. “Fun” being what I was soon to learn was Sebastian’s main goal in life. Granted not a bad way to live life, but I wish someone would have told me ahead of time! Sadly, up to this point, I don’t think the humans in his life really knew what made him tick, or what brought him happiness. I got the impression he was used to entertaining himself, and passing up an opportunity for fun was just not an option.

When we got back to the car my cell phone rang. It was Danielle, checking to see if we’d made it home ok. I could only laugh. And after I told her what I’d been doing since I left her house, she laughed. Did I want to bring him back, she offered. Of course I said no. I was not about to let him win!

“He’d never done anything like that before,” she said, and I had a sneaky feeling this was the start of many first for Sebastian.