Things have been so (relatively) calm and lovely this week that I finally remembered to tell you about Licorice’s latest adventure. BUT FIRST, here’s a brand-new game we’ve developed that you may enjoy playing at home:
Every morning before school, ask the newly-loving-school-more-than-life-itself kid if maybe he’d rather just stay home with you, instead? Reactions will vary but will never cease to be entertaining. This morning, for example, Monkey patted my arm and said, “No thanks, but I’ll stay home with you TOMORROW!” I cheered but then remembered that tomorrow is Saturday. That is CHEATING.
For a bonus round, when the OTHER kid, who’s been feeling like crap, makes noises about maybe staying home, merely make a sad face and say, “Well okay, if you think you need to. But then I guess no marching band…” and see how quickly she runs back upstairs to shower. (Football games trump sickness. Hooray!)
Anyway. Forget the kids. Chickadee should be healthy again soon, and if Monkey’s current blissed-out state is a dream, I don’t want to wake up. Ever. (Dear Hippie School, I love you more than bunnies and chocolate and bacon. U + me = BFFs always! Love, Mir.)
Today is actually about the dog. Poor Licorice, she’s kind of like a little old cranky lady. If she could have a little dog-sized cane that she could wave at people while telling them to GET OFF HER LAWN, she totally would. I mean, don’t get me wrong—she runs and plays and is adorable and loving and everything, but then she’s also sort of a curmudgeon at times.
Like, when my folks were here with their dog. Licorice kept growling at him every time he got near to her. Now, I’ll be the first to say that dogs have all different personalities and I like some dogs more than others, but you have to understand that NO ONE dislikes Buddy. There’s nothing to dislike. He’s sweet and calm and charming. He would sniff Licorice, and Licorice would growl at him. Because she just has no idea how to deal with other dogs.
And when the fence was finally finished, we were super excited to be able to let Licorice run loose out back inside her new confines, because we’ve noticed something interesting. Inside the house, Licorice is 1) a total sloth and 2) needy. She spends her days sleeping on the floor of my office and then the moment I sit down on the couch in the evenings, she pounces on my lap and goes to sleep there. But OUTSIDE, she’s a whole different dog. She’ll do that thing on the leash, sometimes, where you call her, and she ignores you, so you tug on the leash, and she turns to GLARE at you while digging her feet into the ground, so that instead of lightly urging around your 12-pound dog, you are now dragging what feels like 30 pounds of IRON WILL back towards the house.
We never let her off leash outside, because—as much as she clearly loves us when she’s inside—we have zero confidence that she wouldn’t run off, given the chance. But the fence was a whole new thing.
It’s been… what?… I guess about two months since the fence was finished, and in that time we have all greatly enjoyed being able to take the dog out with us, off leash. Licorice now goes out on the deck with Otto when he gets up early and sits out there, eating his breakfast, and she can come out and roam around when we’re out there swimming, and everything is awesome.
The new fence is totally secure, so we don’t have to worry about her escaping.
Rather, we didn’t. Until the day my folks were outside swimming with Monkey and I suddenly saw Monkey go FLYING past my office window, running down off the deck and around the house.
I thought something had happened and he was angry, but when I went outside to find out what was up, my dad told me that Licorice had gotten out.
“Wait, what? How?” Nobody knew. In fact, no one had even noticed, except for Monkey, who’d run after her soaking wet and barefoot.
A minute later he was back, carrying a not-very-repentant-looking dog, subjecting her to a lecture about how it is NOT NICE to chase the neighbor’s cat. Then he regaled us with the tale of how he’d had to chase them into the neighbor’s open garage, where Licorice had to be dragged out from underneath a car.
Once the excitement died down, we congratulated Monkey on his quick thinking (and running) and put Licorice back into the house. But one question remained: How had she gotten out??
The four of us walked the perimeter, trying to find an escape hole. Nothing. Finally we concluded that the only way she could’ve gotten out was by squeezing through the porch slats (right now we still have the original porch, built before the hey-try-to-make-the-slats-narrower-than-a-baby’s-head regulations they have now) and jumping to the ground, probably down at the gate end, where the drop-off is only about three or four feet. Still, she’s a small dog, and she appeared unhurt, so it was kind of a mystery.
That evening we told Otto what had happened, and he checked around the perimeter as well, and made sure that the piece of lattice he’d attached to the porch gate (a makeshift barrier to keep her from accessing the steps and getting out) hadn’t moved or come loose.
Weird. We shrugged our shoulders, reminded the kids that Licorice was not to go out unless someone was watching her closely, and went on with life.
A few days later, Otto got up early, got his breakfast, and went out on the porch with the dog. She sat next to his chair as she always does, and that’s where he assumed she still was when he became absorbed in his email.
Except then I got up and walked into my office, and I glanced outside and saw Otto on the deck, but I didn’t see the dog. So I looked around and there was Licorice, sitting on the porch stairs. On the other side of the barrier.
I may be reading into things just a little, but she looked pretty damn proud of herself.
My office door is right by the gate end of the deck. I opened my door and Licorice looked up at me and wagged, then started to squeeeeeeeze herself under the corner of the gate—where she’s apparently figured out she can come and go as she pleases. I decided to save her the internal organ damage and swung the gate open, whereupon she pranced right on in and began running in circles around first Otto and then me.
“Huh,” said Otto. “Okay, then. I can get another piece to close that up.”
He hasn’t fixed it yet, but we’ve had her outside a bunch and she hasn’t left. It’s like she knows we know her secret now. Or maybe it’s just that there hasn’t been anyone she’s needed to tell to get off her lawn.