So I’ve told you before about Rocky Houdini, my service dog with the tendency to escape. For a couple of weeks at the start, we were at our wit’s end, because she kept getting out of the yard. But she never went far. She always showed up at the front gate, as if to say, “Hi! I just found the coolest short cut!”
But we thought we had resolved all of that. We added extra chain link fence to the section by the low rock wall, ending that escape route. When Rocky was still managing to get out, we knew she was either going under the fence, or squeezing through gaps near the gates. (She has a weasel-thin body and is shameless about using it to her advantage.) So Sabrina, my wife, went for broke and put in a line of electric fence just off the ground all around the perimeter. We had done this at our last house for our small Catahoula-cross, Houla. When she hit the fence for the first time, we heard a little “yip,” then it was the end of the problem. Rocky is a bit more of a dramatist. We heard a huge “YIP-YIP-YIP!” and she came tearing into the house with her tail between her legs. She wouldn’t even go into the backyard for about three days after that. However, we had no more escaping dog. She now keeps a very respectful distance from the fence.
Well, a couple of weeks ago, we had two work projects going on, getting things ready for a friend arriving from out of town for a week’s stay. Miranda Otero had finished laying tile in the bedroom, and was due to arrive in about an hour to complete the painting of the hallway, and John Marble was in for the final day of the atrium project, finishing the new shade structure. All three dogs were in my writing studio with me. John started using a pneumatic nail gun for the final touches. Rocky hates that damn gun. I looked up at one point, and realized – no Rocky.
I went to Sabrina’s office. Rocky was not there with her. “Bri, Rocky’s missing.” We both went into high alert. It didn’t occur to us at first she could be outside of the house and fenced yard. We had closed all the loopholes. I started searching all over the house, and Sabrina went to the yard. Since we have been doing all of the work, there are not a lot of places to hide in the house. I looked in the living room, behind chairs, and under the futon couch and one piece of furniture she could possibly squeeze under. I checked the kitchen, then the bedroom, looking under the bed. I went back to my office. She wasn’t underneath my desk, or under the altar.
I heard Sabrina out in the yard, calling her name. Rocky was not in the yard. The other two dogs stood at the door, looking at us expectantly. Sabrina went out into the front, and started searching the neighborhood. Our next door neighbors were just pulling out of their driveway. They immediately volunteered to help, offering to drive one way down the loop, looking for her. Another neighbor heard the calls, and volunteered to go the other direction.
John got into his truck, and joined the search. Sabrina came back to the house, and looked through every corner of the garage. Still no Rocky. We were still incredulous that she had gotten out of the yard. Sabrina said, “Search the house again; I’m going to get in the truck and start looking.” So now there were four vehicles driving through the neighborhood.
I went back to the house, and started over. I opened every door: the kitchen pantry, the laundry room door, the linen closet in the second bathroom. I looked under the bed again. Two cats were there, staring at me, obviously hiding out from all the fuss. I said to them, “Well, you guys. Where is she?” Then I stood up and turned around. The walk-in closet? I opened the door – and there sat Rocky, with woeful eyes. She’d been in the bedroom closet the whole time. How she got in there, I’ll never know. The door opens out; it must have been ajar just enough for her to paw open to go in there to hide, and then someone else (as in another dog) pushed it closed.
I gave her a huge hug, and then went running for my phone. I called Sabrina’s number – and heard her ringtone two feet away. She had left the phone behind. So we had a whole posse of people out looking for Rocky, and I couldn’t tell them she had been found. Right at that moment, Miranda showed up, so I asked her to help me call off the search. She drove back out until she found one of the circling cars, and within minutes, Sabrina and John were at the house, and all our wonderful neighbors were back at their original tasks. The neighbors said only, “Glad we could help; this is a great outcome.”
Last time Rocky escaped, Sabrina was annoyed as all get-out. This time, Sabrina fell to her knees when she saw Rocky and started to cry.
This dog. She’s officially part of the family. No more tests of affection, though, OK?