Chaser was a Dalmatian we adopted from the pound. About three years old when he came to live with us, he had already led a rough life.
At first I was very vigilant with our new pet. He had wild, fearful eyes, and I was just not sure if he was trustworthy. He was terrified of my husband Wayne. He would nearly wet himself whenever he saw a semi-tractor trailer. One day my son was playing swords with an empty paper towel roll. When Chaser saw it, his knees buckled and he began to cower pitifully. He had been abused, there was no doubt.
Within a few months, Chaser began to trust me. He loved wrestling with the children and our Labrador retriever. He even made friends with all of our cats, who adored him. Soon, his eyes were peaceful. Finally, after a year, Chaser ambled over to rest his head on Wayne’s lap. Our family bond was sealed.
Chaser had some very bad habits. Although our large yard had plenty of running room, Chaser would not stay inside the fence. We tried everything to keep him within our boundaries, but he was an escape artist. We learned that all he needed was a gap of four inches to squeeze his 60-pound body through to freedom. If the front door opened, he could zoom past any of us in an instant. He was unstoppable.
Once free, Chaser would tear into our neighbor’s trashcans, steal toys and food and generally create havoc all over the block. Neighbors would hurl things at him, but he would dance effortlessly out of harm’s way. Several swore that our dog laughed out loud at them.
One his greatest joys was playing “Nah-Nah, You Can’t Catch Me!” We would pursue him until he stopped to wait for us, big eyes dancing. He’d allow us to sneak within a fingertip from catching him before curling his lip into a smile and darting off again. Sometimes all the neighborhood kids would join in the chase for Chaser, and he was never happier!
When we went on vacation, my best friend came over daily to feed the animals and let them outside. Bi-fold doors separated our tiled dining room from the carpeted living room, so we told her to just leave the dogs in the dining room and shut the doors whenever she left.
After two days she called to tell me that, even with the doors closed, Chaser was in the living room every time she visited. She tried pushing a chair up against the door. She tried tying the doors together. Frustrated, she began moving furniture.
When we came home later that week, we were astounded to find our sofa pushed up against the doors on one side, with the dining room table on the other. The doors were tied together, with pillows and chairs piled on top of the furniture on both sides to form an impenetrable blockade. But there was Chaser, overjoyed to see us, making a mess in the living room. We should have asked her to set up the video camera! We still don’t really know how he did it.
One night many years later, we were reminiscing about the past. Stories of all of our animals were prominent. But our daughter made us all smile and shed a little tear when she was asked to share what one of her favorite memories was. In response to that question, she smiled and said, simply; “Chasing Chaser.”
by Carol J. Channer