The Midnight Rambler
Maddox, our cairn terrier, is the wildest terrier we’ve had, and we’ve had three Scottish terriers who have all tested us in many ways. Terriers by their singular nature are a tough breed, and you need to be tough to roll with this type of prey-driven canine— we must be vigilant at all times. Our cockapoo, Sailor, is also a handful; however, he’s a minor leaguer compared to his brother Maddox, a.k.a. Mad Dog, who is a dude, a halibut among minnows, a boulder among pebbles, a dog’s dog, and a true hunter. He can be given no quarter whatsoever; no intentional slack is allowed for this guy. Maddox is always calculating his agenda, and living in the Port of Galilee he has much to calculate as my bride walks him and his brother around the harbor. It seems like his little
head is constantly scoping out an angle of escape. His recent escapade—he’s had a few—gave me a mental hernia.
A few weeks ago I was staying up late to write my column because I was off duty the next day. I told Cindy I’d take Maddox out for a walk after I was done writing.
“Use the collar on the leash hook, okay? I took off Maddox’s harness because it’s getting too tight for him,” she said. “We need to get him a new one, I think he’s gaining some weight.”
“Will do,” I said. “I’ll grab a new harness in town tomorrow.”
An hour later I finished writing, rigged up the collar on Maddox and leashed him up for a walk around the hood. Simple enough, right? I was just being a good dog guy and taking my little terrier out for an evening stroll. What could possibly go wrong with this pleasant late-evening scenario, right? After all it’s just a simple dog owner drill, right? We dog owners know this rote drill; we leash up our charges and take them out for a casual stroll, sniff and a squirt. It’s dog ownership 101. Again, what could possibly go wrong. Ahem, just after we got out of the door, Maddox, the wily little terrier that he is simply wiggled his head out of the collar, and went tearing away from his hapless owner holding a leash with a dogless collar making feeble and pointless yelps for his dog to come back to him. Thus began a nine-hour stretch of stress, uncertainty, and horrific possibilities as Maddox the Mad Dog went on a midnight ramble around the Port of Galilee. I was in a major jam with this situation. I repeat, a major jam.
The first critical decision I had to make was whether to wake Cindy and explain the unfolding nightmare-in-progress. Or, let her sleep in peace. I figured with either decision it was a sideways deal; I was between a rock and a hard and thick-headed cairn terrier who was doing god knows what, and heavens only knows where. (I was in a level of dog owner hell that Dante couldn’t even write.) Subsequently, I decided to let her sleep through this little mess I had to sort out- alone. First, I hopped in the car a did a loop of the port. Nothing. I was cruising by the ferry dock, George’s and the DEM property because of his familiarity with these particular places. On the next loop, I grabbed some chicken to cajole Maddox toward me so I could leash him. At 0100 I called the Narragansett Animal Control office and left a message. It was at least an action that I could take. Finally, after four loops around Galilee, I figured it would be best to stay parked on Great Island Road near the ferry dock and see if the rambling cairn would appear out of the darkness. I felt like I was in a bad dream. I dozed in my Jeep, and woke intermittently. Again, nothing. This went on all night long.
At sunrise I broadened my scope to see If I could spot Maddox, and again came up empty. While driving over the Great Island bridge I saw some former students - Jim and Colleen Flynn - and told them that Maddox went walkabout and to please, “grab him if you see him, he’s friendly.” Jim and Colleen are dog people and understood. I chased a neighbor up the Escape Road and yelled out my window as I drove up next to him and yelled, “did you guys find a dog last night?” They had not. I drove back to the ferry dock and told my coworker George Lyons to grab Maddox if he wandered by the ferry. I saw a lumper I know heading to unload a dragger, and asked Wayne if he saw Maddox. “My dog went to the Point Judith Lighthouse one day, and he came back, he’ll show up.” Wayne’s words were hopeful. Then, I went to wake the bride and told her what had transpired. She hopped in her car and I in mine, and off we went. We basically had a local APB out on Maddox the Mad Dog.
My phone lit up and it was Monica Tutko who is the Narragansett Animal Control Officer. Her voice was calming and she put me somewhat at ease when she said she would check the Dispatcher and see if any information turned up over the last nine hours. Throughout the night, I was thinking maybe Maddox got jammed up with a coyote, a fisher cat or got hit by a car. I kept pushing those thoughts aside to stay cool. I know Maddox is tough enough to throw down with, or to avoid another dangerous animal, but the car thoughts really bothered me. I went home to rest for a few minutes while Cindy was still on the hunt. Suddenly, I heard our neighbor Steve Hull yelling: “Joey! They found Maddox!” Monica spotted him wandering around the DEM building, which is familiar ground for him. We can’t even imagine what this guy witnessed throughout the long night ramble among the nocturnal creatures in Galilee. Finally, Maddox was placed in Cindy’s arms while Sailor looked on at all the fuss, and then he conked out for twelve hours when he came into the house and hopped on to the couch. Ahem, another bullet dodged. Thank You Officer Monica Tutko.