Runaway Borzoi and the Lingerie Leash
by Christie Keith
I've never had a Borzoi before, and until now, I didn't realize there was a dark little secret lurking in the ancestry of this breed. Somewhere back in the foundation stock of the Borzoi, hidden in the arcane language of early Russian pedigrees, is that hardy and agile animal known as the mountain goat. I'm sure of it.
In March of 2001, my then-two-year-old Borzoi, Kyrie, got a special treat in honor of my birthday. I let her come out into an area near our creek where I have previously not allowed her to go, due to her past history as an escape artist. Bounded on one side by a wide, rocky, winter-swollen creek, on two sides by a fence, and on the other by a sheer cliff at least five stories high, I have let my older deerhounds come out there to run and play under my supervision. Because Kyrie has been so easy to train (a state I confused with "obedient") I decided to let her out to play with the older dogs a bit.
At first she was fine, running on the beach and playing with my 7-and-a-half year old deerhound, Rosie. It was then that the heretofore hidden "mountain goat gene" was somehow triggered.
Kyrie started up the sheer cliff, one rocky pawhold at a time. No human being without rock climbing equipment could have followed her. The deerhounds gazed up at her as if to say, no, that's just not possible. My mom and I raced after her yelling her name (isn't it amazing what stupid things we do at times like this?), which of course she completely ignored. Kyrie, you see, was working on a Project, which renders her deaf. (I don't know what gene that is, but it's one the Borzoi shares with the Scottish Deerhound, so I assume they inherited it from their distant sighthound ancestors.)
About halfway up, however, whatever had triggered the mountain goat gene suddenly was overridden by the "Russian Princess" gene, and Kyrie froze and started pitifully whimpering. Of course, at this point she was three stories above our heads, frozen on the side of the cliff.
Finally, Kyrie began to inch not up or down but sideways, heading away from me and my mom and toward an extremely inaccessible area beyond our property.
I climbed up a hill next to the cliff that got me about two stories up above the beach, keeping an eye on Kyrie's white tail waving back and forth in the deepening twilight. As she disappeared into some trees on the far cliffside, my mom headed back up to the house to see if she could get the car and drive back on my neighbor's land and get her from the other side of the cliff. We've never been up there so we really didn't know what it was like on the other side.
I kept yelling Kyrie's name and her many nicknames (Bozissima Kyrissima being one of the least embarrassing), until my throat felt torched. No sign of her. After what felt like hours she reappeared, sliding down the gully between the cliff and the hill. The gully was full of fallen logs and rocks and branches, and many times she yelped and stumbled. I scrambled over rocks and fallen logs toward her, and finally she got to me, leaning on me, trembling and whimpering. I picked her up and carried her until we got to where I had to go over a log fallen across a gully, and I had to set her down. Although she was clinging to me, I was afraid she'd bolt, so I wrapped my arm around her loin and yanked my shirt off over my head, and undid my bra and used it like a slip lead. We walked over the log and back through the gate to the fenced part of my land.
She was covered with ticks and sore all over, but safe at home that night, curled up next to my bed on a soft pillow and very subdued.
Ah well, yet another adventure in the life of Miss Kyrie Borzoi! What really matters is she's safe at home, and hopefully that gene (and the reckless gene that made me let her out there in the first place) will stay safely dormant! My mom thinks she's learned her lesson... but I wonder... I really wonder....