He doesn't know it yet but the love of Wolf's life is going away. She's heading off to Europe. She saved him when he was middle aged and he'd already lived through five families. They all had their own reasons for jettisoning him. They were renting and the new house didn't allow hairy folk/they divorced/they moved interstate. When Mum and Wolf found each other they clung together. He watched her every move and followed her about in case she left without him. Every ride in a car for this dog meant a possible reshuffling or extinction of his pack.
About three weeks after Wolf came to live with Mum, she staggered into my house windswept, teary and grey. "I think I've lost him," she said.
She'd been canoeing. She launched the canoe off the white sands to go around Mistaken Island, left Wolf on the beach. On her return, no dog. She thought he'd gone off into the bush after kangaroos and so she waited around for hours for him to come back. She asked a few people if they'd seen a rangy, brindle dog and they had. They had seen him slip into the water and swim after her canoe. At that point she thought he'd tried to follow her around the island and drowned.
I drove with her back to the beach. By then it was nearly dark. It was windy too and as we walked along the beach looking for this dog, I felt the desolation and emptiness. It was like looking for a lost child. You don't know what to do, which direction to head in. It was just awful. We talked to some residents and they promised to put up a notice on the chalkboard.
Out of Mum's earshot I said, 'You may find his body wash up. Sorry. But if you do, can you please ring us?'
We went home and I reckon Mum cried all night.
Late the next day we found a pamphlet in the letter box with his photograph. He'd walked back and overshot our house by a few hundred metres, ended up on a neighbour's verandah utterly exhausted, his paws worn to flesh. They gave him some water and food and tied him up.
It took him eleven hours to walk home. He must have a decent internal GPS because he'd lived with Mum for only three weeks and yet he still found his way the twenty or thirty kilometres home along the beaches.
So, she's going away. The last time I tried to take him for a walk, he stopped at every corner and made it plain to me that he would not continue another metre away from Mum. This is quite infuriating because I know he goes for a walk with her every day! He won't get in my car either. Mum's is the only car he will jump into without being dragged. My only solution to this conundrum and to save him from utter melancholy over the next few months is to record Mum's voice as she she is calling him up for a walk or a feed - a bit like that magpie that I wrote about a while ago - and play it back to him on the computer. Or maybe set up skype for him, so they can talk to each other while she is away.