Every morning we turn the corner out of the breezeway and venture down The Run where Duncan almost immediately tends to business. I stand and shiver, hands thrust deep into my pockets as I scan the golf course on the other side of the fence, marveling at the immense number of geese which keep appearing. Sometimes on the far side I'll see a coyote crouched in the long grass near the barn watching as well. Most mornings, though, after he tends to business I take the leash off and let Duncan run all the way down to The Glen. Typically he heads straight for the low shrubs where the small birds roost. Occasionally he stirs up a squirrel or two, sometimes chasing them right up the brick wall. Most of the time, though, they dart, panic-stricken, for the three big aspens which form a triangle in the space between the buildings.
This morning he found something interesting to sniff and so lingered at the fence line while I plodded ahead, my cheeks, still warm from the shower, turning pink and beginning to sting in the cold morning air. I looked back over my shoulder, whistled once for Roo and waited while he broke into a run, his ears swinging back behind his head, a wide smile on his face. At the last moment he turned, narrowly missing me and leapt straight into the shrubs, scattering a cloud of brown and gray sparrows and what looked like a small army of squirrels. Later I was able to count nine of them in the aspens but some scampered under the fence, into the tall grass and up the side of the enormous willow.
One, though, wasn't sure where to go, so, leaping from under cover, he darted straight up the nearest tree trunk, which wasn't a tree trunk at all but my leg. I dropped the leash and poop bag, took a startled step back and opened my mouth to cry out. He made it almost to my hip before he realized his mistake, screamed for me and pushed off with a tremendous amount of force, landing six or seven feet away. Duncan, overwhelmed by the sheer number of squirrels to chase, was turning in circles, tail wagging, barking and snapping at everything, completely oblivious to the attack. He'd pounced on a stick and was busy shaking it to death while the squirrel and I were fending for our lives. And while we both escaped unhurt––not even my pants suffered a wrinkle––I can't say the same for the stick. Duncan did a pretty good job of taking it out of the game.