Wed 19 Sep 2007
My houseguest’s tiny Bichon Havanese mix becomes acquainted with one of my resident raccoons. The raccoon could see the elderly dog better than the dog could see her, but neither could smell the other through the glass pane of my dining-room window, so both soon lost interest in each other.
A former neighbor, who through no fault of her own had to abruptly move out of a home on Tomasini Canyon Road, is staying at my cabin for a few weeks as she prepares to move into a new home in Santa Rosa. My houseguest, Linda Petersen, previously lived in Puerto Rico 21 years where she acquired a now-14-year-old Bichon Havanese mix, which is also staying in my cabin.
Havanese, which are related to Pekinese, were originally bred in Havana, Cuba, and this particular pup weighs less than five pounds. Sebastian is almost deaf and almost blind but still has a keen sense of smell. That’s not necessarily a good combination, for whenever the dog gets lost, it follows its nose — as long as its nose is pointing downhill.
My houseguest Linda Petersen with Sebastian the dog at the mouth of the Russian River. Ten years ago, Linda’s daughter Saskia found Sebastian hunting for garbage in the streets of a densely packed suburb of San Juan.
Linda is a horsewoman, and a day or two after she moved in, she went for a ride in the Point Reyes National Seashore and left Sebastian in my care. No problem. The old dog sleeps most of the time. After working at my computer for a while, however, I thought it best to check up on Sebastian and discovered to my dismay that he had slipped out my kitchen door and was nowhere to be seen.
I searched around my house and a neighbor’s. No Sebastian. I then drove over to Tomasini Canyon Road to see if the dog had returned to his old home. Still no Sebastian. By now I was worried that the blind-and-deaf old dog would wander onto Highway 1 where it might be too small for a motorist to see it, so I drove up and down the highway, but still no Sebastian.
As I drove back up Campolindo Road to search my hill further, I surprised an unusually large red fox that skedaddled onto neighbor Jess Santana’s property. A short ways further up the road, I spotted another neighbor, Carol Waxman, and asked her if she had seen a small dog wandering around.
As it turned out, Carol had seen Sebastian only two or three minutes earlier and took me to the place. “He ran off the road right here,” she said, pointing to the spot where I had just seen the fox disappear. That was alarming because Sebastian is far smaller than a jackrabbit and is no match for a fox.
Frantically, I crawled under nearby barbed-wire fences and through thickets of willows to look for the dog while Carol took over my search along Highway 1. The more time went by, the more I worried about the fox getting a hold of Sebastian.
And then suddenly there he was, at the edge of Jess’ driveway heading toward the home of another neighbor, George Grimm. The dog was clearly lost and seemed as happy to see me as I was to see him. As for the fox, it was probably pleased just to have me out of its thicket.
By now Sebastian has had several uneventful encounters with the wildlife on my hill although it’s not clear how much he was aware any of them.
Two blacktail fawns watch Sebastian trot past them down my driveway too blind to see them. (Photo by Linda Petersen)