A few minutes ago, my husband and I were outside screaming our heads off. Not at each other -- at the road, some 600 feet from the house.

A few minutes ago, my husband and I were outside screaming our heads off. Not at each other -- at the road, some 600 feet from the house.

I was holding a pink squeaky toy above my head, squeezing it as if I were performing CPR while my husband shouted hoarsely. Then he ran into the house for his truck keys, leaving me to squeak and scream alone.

Well, not entirely alone, because a neighbor had dropped in before our adventure started and was now offering commentary: "Looks like he's chasing something," he said. And, "He's really intent on whatever he's following." And, "Lucky all those people are stopping."

Our attention, and the attention of a string of cars on the highway, was on, you guessed it, our dog. One minute he'd been snuffling around near where my husband and the neighbor were talking, and the next he was down the long drive and onto the road, nose to the asphalt, trotting around like Sherlock Holmes on a case.

I am full of gratitude for these drivers. One second they were hurtling down a state route at the legal breakneck speed, and the next they had slowed to the crawl of a funeral procession, which my husband and I were desperately afraid it might become.

"Pip!" we screamed. "Piiiiiiiiiiiiiip!"

Once or twice Pip glanced up, like someone pausing to listen, but both times he shrugged and returned to his sleuthing, trotting in loopy circles onto the berm, back to the road, down the road and back to the berm.

"You stupid dog!" I shouted. Heavens, how I loved him in that moment. I wanted to sprint to the road, to explain to all these kind and careful drivers that while our dog might be holding them up, he's really a good dog. He's just at the mercy of his nose.

He's done this before, I'm sorry to say. While he mostly prowls the perimeter of our property like a trusty caretaker, his head can be turned by a scent so potent as to cause him to forget everything and follow it, yea, even unto the ends of the earth.

When he gets there, our phone rings.

"Um, I live at the ends of the earth?" the caller will say. "And your dog is here? Pip?"

When we arrive, his finders are always eager to share the details.

"He was walking right down the middle of the road," they say. "Smack on the white line."

Pip doesn't wander off often. We'd thought he'd stopped entirely, in fact. Early in our Pip ownership, he disappeared several times into the cornfields around our house. Sometimes he reappeared hours later, wet and ruffled, panting happily and surprised when we fell on him with glad relief. Other times he required a ride in the truck and we'd find him palling around with his new friends.

"He's a nice little guy," his rescuers would say. Some couldn't stop themselves from adding, "You should train him to stay home."

"Right," we'd agree. We could have kept him on a leash outside, and for long stretches we did. But our house is surrounded by outbuildings and thickets and hidden spots and places where foxes once lived and a rabbit family or a stray cat may live now that are perfect for the rambles of a scent-driven dog. We couldn't deny him the pleasures of an outdoor life. It wouldn't be fair.

"Piiiiiiiiiip!" I shouted, with that dreamlike feeling of being unable to scream loud enough or move fast enough to stop something terrible from happening.

My husband came back with his keys. He planned to start the engine, beep the horn and start down the drive if necessary. Pip never turns down a truck ride.

But the truck remained parked, because the squeaking of the toy in my hand had finally penetrated Pip's trance. He looked up, turned and disappeared into the deep ditch next to the road. Then he reappeared on the ditch's near side and came galloping across the muddy field and through the yard, ears and tail flying, intent on reclaiming what is his.

"Mine!" he probably thought when he reached me, grabbing the ball from my hand and trotting ahead of me into the house.

The neighbor, who had been sitting on his riding lawn mower, started his engine. My husband stayed outdoors, and I collapsed at my desk. Pip was already in his bed, teaching the ball a lesson.

"You are such a dumbbell," I told him.

"Mine," he said.

Write to Margo Bartlett at margo.bartlett@gmail.com.