LESLIE CRISS: Time in country gives dog duo taste of freedom

By Leslie Criss/NEMS Daily Journal

“Every dog must have his day.”
– Jonathan Swift

“If a dog will not come to you after having looked you in the face, you should go home and examine your conscience.”
– Woodrow Wilson

“The country life is to be preferred, for there we see the works of God; but in cities little else but the works of men. And the one makes a better subject for contemplation than the other.”
– William Penn

I love the country, but technically, I’m a city girl. The first time I stayed alone at a cabin on a lake in Yalobusha County, I ended up driving into town to spend the night with my grandmother.
Why? When it gets dark in the country, it gets dark. And I was not feeling very brave all those years ago.
With two dogs in tow, my friend and I headed to the country last weekend. We were warmly welcomed to Tishomingo County by shrill sirens signaling a sighted tornado.
Now, because I am a city dweller, so is George, son of a Jack Russell mix mama and a pedigreed Lhasa apso dad. My brown-eyed boy turned 5 on May 1, and the only time he’s run free is in a fenced-in yard. If there’s no fence, he’s hooked securely to a leash.
So, it was with much trepidation that I decided early last Saturday morning to untether George from his leash – and from me.
Chunk, the 14-year-old female black Lab, accompanied George on his first foray into freedom. That old girl was practically prancing as she sniffed the fresh country air lightly scented by the occasional honeysuckle vine.
Because I had in my hand the root of George’s greatest obsession – a tennis ball – he did not, at first, venture far.
I handed the ball off to my friend Cheryl as George waited like a seasoned outfielder for the ball to be thrown. Before it popped from Cheryl’s pitching arm, George took flight, watching and waiting for the ball to touch down.
When it did, George picked it up and ran away from us, toward a great old barn. Not far from the barn a life-sized concrete pig named Wilbur stood watch.

A fun moment
George was running fast toward Wilbur when suddenly he noticed the petrified pig. He slammed on his brakes, his hackles flew to attention and his head twisted from side to side as I’m sure he wondered, “What in the world?”
Then, tennis ball still clenched between his teeth, George began barking at Wilbur.
It was quite a sight and provided us with some wonderful early-morning laughter.
Many times on Saturday and Sunday, George and Chunk roamed the amazing acreage they’d been invited to visit. Cheryl and I were never far behind.
Sunday, as we loaded the car to leave, our pups stayed close. It was reassuring to know that as much as they love the country, they love their masters more.
Monday morning, George was in his fenced-in backyard enjoying the sunshine. As I stepped outside to throw the ball for him, I saw him sitting at the gate, looking longingly in the direction of Tishomingo County.
I could have sworn I heard him singing: “Give me land, lots of land under starry skies above …
“Don’t fence me in.”

Contact Leslie Criss at leslie.criss@journalinc.com or (662) 678-1584.