The day after my birthday on Guy Fawkes Day, the dog snuck out through the front door when my back was turned. I tried to stop him to corner him in the front yard before he reached the entrance gate but he was too quick.
He ran out onto the road and did not die. Cars honked, I screamed and eventually my daughter managed to corner him on Beaconsfield Road, around the corner, but the trauma of the near miss is still with me. I cannot settle.
The next day I gave a paper at a conference on migration. And now I’m struggling to prepare that paper for publication.
The image of the dog running onto Riversdale Road won’t leave me. It’s one of those recurrent scenes that flashes before my eyes involuntarily and I have to shake my head to get rid of it.
It is a small trauma in the scheme of things but a trauma nevertheless and it will be days before it leaves my memory, not entirely, not forever, but at least like music that repeats itself again and again when you least want it, in time this image will only come back when I call upon it.
For the moment it is lodged there, cruelly shattering my sense of peace. It reminds me of how easy it is to lose a loved one; how easy it is to fail to be vigilant and leave the front door open long enough for the dog to slip out; and before you know it he is out on the street.
The dog has no road sense, no understanding whatsoever that the things roaring past will not stop for him if he chooses to run in front of them, if he chooses to play.
When I was a child we had a dog named, Peta. Peta loved to chase cars. It amazed me even then that she never ran under the wheels. When our car took off from the curb, Peta started to chase us all the way down or up Wentworth Avenue to Canterbury or Mont Albert Roads where he finally stopped.
Peta seemed to know when the cars were too much for her. She chased only the single file of cars on the side road on which we lived. She did not take on the main road.
We called her Peta with an ‘a’ because when we found her as a stray and begged our father to let us keep her we had to convince him that Peta was a boy and not a girl.
Several litters of puppies later he knew the truth, but by then it was too late.