Salukis are the oldest recognized breed of dogs, bred to hunt rabbits and gazelle. In California, you don’t see many gazelles, but rabbits can be quite abundant. They were out in droves a couple of weeks ago when my husband and I took our three Salukis, Parker, Lexi, and Zoe, to Palm Desert for the Palm Springs dog show. Our hotel became a rabbit Mecca for our Salukis and an optimal place for a rabbit hunt.
The rabbits were less visible during the day, but at night it was a free-for-all, making it fun for the dogs when they needed to go out and do their thing. It was not a joyful experience for me as I held onto the leash for dear life. Just imagine three Salukis with a combined weight of 127 pounds vs. my 90 pounds. The scale was not balanced.
A sleek, fast-running dog, the Saluki is categorized as a sighthound and aptly so, as you can imagine my dogs’ excitement when a rabbit crossed their line of vision. I needed the death grip to keep control.
It was time for the last walk of the evening. My husband was sprawled out on the bed, so I took on the midnight task of getting that last potty in. I strolled outside clad in my pajamas and a long heavy overcoat, thinking, “Let’s hope they do their business quickly as it’s freezing outside for this native California girl.” I spotted five rabbits scampering on the lawn. I thought I had a good grip on the leashes but soon discovered the leashes were twisted. As I unwound the leashes, Parker saw the rabbit before I could get a better grasp. Off he went with the leash trailing behind him. If I had been on the end of the lead, he would have been dragging me through the grass on his pursuit of the rabbit. Thus began the midnight rabbit hunt.
In shock, I stood there for a moment, wondering if this could really be happening. I quietly yelled, “Parker!” not wanting to make too much noise and risk waking all the guests.
I got strategic. Rather than have a second or third dog get loose, I gathered the two girls and scurried back to the room to get my husband’s help.
“Parker is loose,” I said.
“What?” my husband asked with a dumbfounded look.
“Parker got loose and is chasing a rabbit, and I’ve got to go,” I said. “Meet me outside.”
I realized I had no flashlight and remembered that I could not yell for fear of waking everyone up. I relived stories I’d heard about other Salukis who got loose in the desert, and I saw myself stuck in Palm Desert for weeks, searching for my dog — or at least being up the rest of this night searching. I also had not informed the hotel that I had dogs with me, so I wasn’t really in a position to ask the staff for assistance.
So I persevered. Parker had run around the back of the buildings, and it was pitch black. I raced around calling “Parker!” in an audible voice but not loud enough to wake those in deep slumber. I walked behind about five buildings to no avail. I began praying to the universe or whoever is up there to please find Parker for me.
Wondering how far Parker had gone, I returned to the front of the buildings through the parking lot, where there was light, heading toward our room to see where my husband was. I noticed some movement in the bushes and wondered whether it was another rabbit. No. It was Parker, waiting like nothing had happened. I called to him, and seeing that he is my most obedient dog (he has met his Canine Good Citizen requirement — the first leg of his obedience title), he came willingly.
This post is an excerpt from an article I wrote for Dogster.