35: Bowed In

35: Bowed In

From Chicken Soup for the Soul: The Dog Did What?

Bowed In

Sometimes it’s best to hide in plain sight.

~David Estes, The Moon Dwellers

A funny thing happens when you are 300 miles from home for several years. You get lonely and homesick, and adopting a puppy seems like a really good way to combat those feelings. I found Boden while attending my last year at Florida State University in Tallahassee. At first I thought the rescue agency named him after the legendary FSU football coach, Bobby Bowden, but it turns out they named him after his own legs. They were extremely bowed in, hence the name Boden. He was a scrawny, floppy little thing with a skinny head who draped himself on my lap and promptly fell asleep for the entire thirty-minute drive home.

One big surprise about Boden is that he loves water. He will jump into just about any body of water that presents itself. He gets so excited he trips over his own legs and practically falls in head first, loving every minute. When he exhausts himself swimming he will find a raft and float. And if no raft is available, he will use the nearest available human.

Boden also loves birds. If he were human he would most definitely be an ornithologist; but since he is canine, we simply call him a bird chaser. He would catch them too, if his legs didn’t get so tangled up. That must be why he prefers to swim.

His passion for water and birds came together neatly one cool winter evening while on a casual stroll. My boyfriend and I were walking Boden on his leash through my neighborhood next to a large lake. The manmade lake was large and wound around through several housing developments. It was pretty dark along this particular stretch of sidewalk, but we could see the back porch lights of all the houses across the lake.

As we rounded a curve in the sidewalk that meandered close to the water we came upon a duck. I barely had time to register the duck before Boden slipped his skinny little head out of his collar and took off. My biggest concern was that he would get dirty in the muck and I’d have to bathe him when we got home. That concern became unimportant as we watched him swim across the lake in hot pursuit of the frightened duck, who clearly was the better swimmer. I lost sight of my dog in the dark water after only a few seconds and decided that yelling his name was not going to work. My boyfriend and I split up and ran along the bank frantically searching for him, but there was no sign of him.

We thought that maybe he’d exit on the other side of the lake and we ran around to the neighborhood opposite our walking path. It was late evening so we were hesitant to knock on doors, but we had no other choice because fences blocked access to this side of the lake. I heard dogs barking behind one house so I knocked. A very nice lady answered the door and, after I explained our situation, she invited us to walk through her house to her back yard so we could check the backside of the lake. She explained that they had three dogs of their own and knew how worried I must be. Since the night was cool the owner had all of her back sliding doors open. As we rounded the corner from living room to kitchen the lady looked down at her floor and told us not to slip on the tile. She explained that just before our knock she had noticed several large puddles of water and had been on her way to the laundry room to grab a towel.

The back yard of this house was amazing. As you walked out the sliders you were on the covered patio, which led to a very large swimming pool. Beyond the pool lay a grassy area and then the lake. The only way to access the grass was to walk across a footbridge that spanned a narrow section of the pool. We crossed the bridge, went into the back yard and called for Boden. Silence. No splashing, no barking and no sign of a duck. My panic rose. I couldn’t believe I had lost my dog.

We headed back across the footbridge and entered the kitchen. The lady of the house was finishing her puddle cleanup. We thanked her and asked if she’d keep an eye out for a scrawny, leggy, shorthaired reddish-brown dog. I turned to write my phone number on a scrap of paper and, as I did, caught sight of her dogs. To my surprise, or maybe horror, there sat Boden nestled between two of the resident dogs. My dog was just sitting there, tail wagging and dripping pond water, quickly creating yet another puddle. He had apparently been there the whole time, completely unnoticed by the humans. I just know he was laughing at all of us.

~Samantha Eskew

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