The great escape

Peter Jackson
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The one thing we said wouldn’t happen, happened.

Within an hour of moving the dogs to our new house in the city, our 110-pound retriever bolted through the front door and out into the street, untethered.

Bolted is not quite the word. It’s more of a football manouevre.

He saw the door open for a second longer than usual, and the tiniest of spaces between my legs and the doorframe. So he plowed on through and kept going before I could grab his collar. Even if I had, there’s a small chance his momentum would take my arm clean off.

It’s not the first time he’s escaped.

But at our country dwelling, he had enough front lawn to get his freedom fix without leaving the property. Even if he did, there was nothing but a sleepy town road and the shore of a pond beyond. We regularly put him out, and he stuck around.

Now, he was on the loose in an urban jungle (such as it is). If he’d turned right, he’d have been seconds from one of the busiest roads in St. John’s. But he turned left, and darted back and forth to greet pedestrians and neighbours as they materialized along the street.

I was terrified.

It was then I realized that, after growing up and spending most of my adult life in St. John’s, I had forgotten what it was like to live in the thick of it.

What would city enforcers do about a large dog romping around off leash? For all I knew, they shot them on sight.

My heart skipped every time he bounded up to another person, ignoring my pleas to return.

City people don’t like dogs, is what kept going through my head.

Or, at least, the ones who don’t are very quick to write angry letters to the paper, or summon their lawyers.

But here we are now, safe and sound, back in the new house after our inaugural adventure.

The other dog, an old dame of a setter, is reluctant to navigate new stairs, but seems resigned to the new digs.

Darkness having settled in, they are both lying quietly as I sit in the kitchen and glance around at the clutter of boxes and dishes. We should be settled in by August — if we’re lucky.

It’s ironic that my wife and I have moved into town the same week that my column has moved to a new spot. I’m now here on the bottom of page 6, along with all the important editorial stuff.

That’s the editorial cartoon at the top right, and the vaunted editorial itself to the left. Immediately above, on the right, you’ll find a letter or two from readers. If anyone has any complaints about what I’ve written (a pox be upon them) that’s the space where they’ll put me in my place.

I only regret that in this, my first missive since moving from Tuesday’s news pages, I have nothing significant to say. The drudgery of packing, lifting and unpacking has utterly consumed our concentration these past few days.

I’m vaguely aware there’s an election campaign on; that Stephen Harper is promising the moon, Michael Ignatieff is promising the planets, Jack Layton is promising some distant galaxy, and Elizabeth May is not even allowed to talk.

Other than that, everything’s a blur.

But look out next week.

I’m back in the city, baby. Back where things are happening. Heck, I’m in a totally new demographic now. Ask me those poll questions again. I’m not afraid.

So, next week, it’s back in the saddle and itching to ride.

Unless we’re still unpacking. In that case, more drivel.

Peter Jackson is The Telegram’s commentary editor. He can be contacted by email at

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Recent comments

  • Dog owner x two
    April 07, 2011 - 07:37

    I think that your story is quite cute. I have two dogs myself and I know what it is like to have a dog try to get between your leg and the door!! Luckily, I live in a rural community and if they get out, they can run around our big yard. Sometimes though, they do get to the road, but, we do not have busy roads like St. John's. Good luck and congratulations on your new house!