As an artist, most of my decisions are aesthetic, a big mistake when it comes to picking dogs. I passed over gentle faces wagging their tails and promising to snuggle on the couch and pass me the remote. Instead, I chose the most beautiful dog I’d ever seen, a gold and white, blue-eyed Australian shepherd named Freedom. For reasons I can no longer recall, I renamed him Cody.
Had I studied up on the breed I’d have learned that Australian shepherds are as intelligent as they are active. They need a job, preferably herding sheep, of which our condominium was in short supply. Cody did the best with what he had, and constantly tried to herd us into the hallway. He barked nonstop and his fluffy tail was a disaster for Sue’s collectables. He ran around our condo faster than the Road Runner.
One day while loading Cody into the car to take him to the park, he slipped out of his leash and was off like Secretariat. Soon he was out of hearing range, and before long he’d vanished. Sue and I hunted the neighborhood for him. He’d never responded to voice commands but we kept yelling out his name, “Cody…Cody…Cody…”
An hour later we regrouped in front of our condo and took a breather. “You know,”
Sue said, “he really hasn’t been with us long enough to know his new name.”
By gosh, she was right! We split up and continued our search, yelling out the name our run-a-way came home from the pound with. I finally found him several blocks away, rolling about in someone’s petunias. Sue, unaware that I’d found the subject of our search, continued to run through the neighborhood, waving her hands and shouting, “Freedom…Freedom…Freedom…”
A young African American woman was driving by and heard Sue. She slowed down and pumped a fist of solidarity through the car window. “Freedom’s where it’s at, sister!” she shouted. “You go, girl!”
Several weeks later we found a more suitable home for Cody…er Freedom, who ended his days on a ranch in Central Oregon, where he had all the freedom he could want.
I decided to let Sue pick our next dog.