“Oh, what nice dogs,” I said to Keith as we ambled through the Temple of Apollo in Didyma near Miletus, Turkey. Two free-range dogs accompanied our small group as we soaked up blends of Greek, Roman and Turkish cultures. The mixed-breed pups tussled with one another, like our dogs playing ‘bitey-face.’ Although we’d only been gone a few days, I missed Heathcliff and Freya.
By the time we reached the Cycladic Islands of Greece, I had become a watcher of sun-lounging Aegean cats. Tabbies, orange, white, black and grey approached for pats, ankle-polished and posed like models outside jewelry shops. Tourists like me stopped to admire and snap pictures. Cats are not pack animals, but these felines, perched atop the display, knew how to market.
We discovered a tougher breed of cats along the Dalmatian Coast on the Adriatic. Seaport Toms of various furs sported battle scars and cauliflower ears like the shelled buildings of old Dubrovnik. Cats waited on piers for an opportunistic “catch of the day.” Females tended kittens, who when old enough tucked away to sleep out of harm’s way.
A trip that had began in Turkey ended in Venice, a city of well-behaved dogs and owners. Small to medium sized dogs, all on leash, trotted along like canal boats with only occasional barks and bumps.
Then Keith and I came home to our mixed-breed pups.
Heathcliff and Freya barked and leaped at the gate of their kennel run, like kids excited to see us after two weeks of camp. As the kennel owner unlocked their gate, I opened the back of the car. Our free-range dogs bounded out, pogoed a few times in front of Keith and me then jumped into the car as if saying, “You’re not going to leave without us this time.” That night, they tucked into their nest beds as we tucked into ours. We all sighed, “Home again, home again.”
A few days later, we grilled fish for dinner. Heathcliff and Freya sat on the deck, well behaved on leash and posing like model dogs. Keith pealed the skins off the sock-eye salmon, let them cool then pitched each in the air towards one dog then the other.
I heard alternating slobber-smacks, the sound of an opportunistic catch of the day.