I look up from my desk, out the window to see the horse stable, front yard, and Jasper. He runs, sniffing everything, checking to see if the horses got hooves trimmed for a snack.
Jasper belongs to Dan and Rona, neighbors across the street (up the hill) and has a spacious home, teens and their friends, a huge back yard and the attention span of a house fly. He is restless, inquisitive, easily bored, and has the searching nature of a poodle and the retrieving nature of a Labrador.
The first time it happened I ran out with treats, a leash cleverly concealed behind my back and suckered him in with the treats, clipped him into the leash (he waited as I held him), and walked him back up to his house.
Today, I watch and ask Jill if she wants to put our dog, Myska, in the dog yard with Jasper or let him in, or take him home.
We don’t run to capture him, because we know. Son home from college, or daughter running out to go play volleyball — someone — left the door or yard gate ajar and Jasper ran away from home.
He ran away to his other home, to Myska, to lazy days in the huge dog yard, helping to herd the horses to the pasture or back in for the night through the stable, to our grandkids who bury their hands in his curly coat.
We even know that if we do nothing, he will sniff everything, go to the front door and wait…and then trot back up to his house, back through the open gate, or wait after barking at the front door.
It lies deep in us, especially teens, that we desire a place to run away from home to languish in, to enjoy an escape, to be elsewhere and then return home — safe.
Unlike Jasper, many making poor choices run away to scary, scarring places. For some it is the maw of the grave.
So nurture your child’s need for a third place, neither home nor school. Help to choose wise places by choosing wise places for first sleep overs, your choices for homes away from home, and teach them that wanderlust, informed, wise places for wanderlust are part of life’s adventure.
And call Dan and Rona in case they have not missed Jasper, do not take it for granted that they know.
And take the compliment, the calling to be that place others run to as a sacred trust. Inviable.