The sneaky little puppy

By Mir
August 26, 2011

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.


  1. aly

    ok, well first of all– YAY MONKEY SCHOOL and YAY MARCHING BAND!

    but also, it makes me repeatedly laugh at how similiar our wee sized dogs are. we have a 14 pound shih tzu/poodle mix and she is extremely slothful and requires much petting unless she is able to escape our evil lair and dance around outside. that said, our dog once tripped over a bunny trying to get to a squirrel (scaring the bejesus out of all involved) one day, so i dont think ours is smart enough to figure out a fence weakness.

    yet. :)

  2. Fran

    It’s always amazed me how flat an animal can get if they really, really want to get through, around, under and by some barrier. Our cat, while in diabetic shock, managed to pull himself into the opening under the corner kitchen cabinet to get behind the built in dishwasher.

  3. Chuck

    Dogs always like to go out roaming on their own. My parent’s old dog got out several times, and I couldn’t figure out exactly why as he had a pretty cushy deal there. But we always found him OK. I guess he just really liked the park near our house.

  4. Mary

    We once had a cat that we would KNOW was in the house when we left in the morning but would be outside when we got home. Turned out there were cracks in the slats that slide next to the window air conditioner and she would whither her way through those and then jump to the ground (she was an outdoor cat and the window was on the first floor. Thankfully!)

  5. Beth A

    you love Hippie School more than chocolate and BACON combined? WOW. I wonder if Hippie School knows you might become a rabid stalker at any time. :)

  6. Cheryl @ Coffee with Cheryl

    Oh so funny!

    Our neighbors have two Jack Russell Terriers, and they are constantly escaping as our neighbors aren’t as completely awesome as you and Otto! I used to think it was cute that they wanted to hang out in our yard and visit Connor (they would even hang out at the french doors in our den and virtually beg us to come play), until I was around 7 months pregnant, and the female decided to try and rush me from behind. It’s a good thing for her that as soon as I turned around and stepped towards her she ran away. I’m sure it was because I smelled different or something, but I sure lost a lot of trust for those dogs that day. Don’t get me wrong, I love dogs. I want to get one for my boys when Kyle is a little older. I just feel they need attention from something other than another dog. Okay, sorry for the rant…I’m glad you figured out how your little Houdini was escaping!

  7. addy

    Sneak didn’t want to be left out. @aly – I have food in my mouth and almost lost it all over my screen… hee hee hee

  8. Angela

    That must be sooo nice to have kids who like school! Saves a lost of stress for everyone, I’m sure. My little poodle can squeeeeze through the slot in our gate, but all she does is sit out in the driveway waiting for us to come home! It’s pretty funny because when she sees us coming down the street she takes off for the gate and squeezes back inside, like she knows she’s not supposed to be out there. I think female dogs are better about not running off, she never tries to get away from us. Male dogs, on the other hand, are always running off looking for the girls!

  9. Andrea

    I have a grumpy old lady dog, too. She won’t stay outside for more than 5 minutes at a time, but if she ever did seem like she might want to run away, my husband would leave a trail of treats down the street just to make sure she got a good start!

  10. Leanner

    My husband introduced me to your blog and I started reading through every post from the beginning. I just reached “current” yesterday. Your writing has spoiled me, making many other blogs seem dull & clumsy.

    So thrilled for all of you & the Hippie School! We once had an escape artist dog and were all to familiar with his many escape routes. Although, when we moved to a new condo, I was shocked to find out that he had spent the day on the roof to our 4 building complex. Imagine my embarrassment when upon returning home our new neighbor stopped by to ask if I knew he had spent the day both in/out of our house & hanging out on the 2 story roof checking people out. My only solace was that he hadn’t invited himself in at one of our neighbor’s homes.

  11. Patricia

    Perhaps Licorice is looking for Super?

  12. myboyzach

    A sneaky curmudgeon little black dog huh? Hum…I believe we had one of those !!! A few pounds heavier. We thought Zach wanted to be with us and only us. He managed to sneak out under the fence that had a 2″ opening from the ground to the bottom of the fence and roam the ‘hood’. Somehow he would managed to squeeze thru spindles on the staircase. We could never figure out how he did that, until we saw him..little snot !!!
    But he was too cute not to love, just like Licorice.

  13. Cele

    She’s lulling you into a false sense of security. just when you think it’s safe… bam!

  14. Kate in Michigan

    We have a basset-mix who managed to get out several times before I watched him do it. He figured out that if he pressed his (considerable) weight against the bottom corner of a fence, the entire panel would bend and he could scoot out.

    However, he only ever went across the street to the little old lady’s porch, climb up on her cushioned porch chair and fall asleep. I’d get the occasional call from her, saying, “Well, the dog’s asleep on my porch again. You want him back?”

  15. The Other Leanne

    Large Siberian Husky, industrial chain-link kennel, and I returned home to find dog roaming free. There is no barrier, no enclosure, that can keep a determined dog from freedom.

  16. Tracy B

    Once a dog has figured the art of escape, it’s hard to keep them inside a fence any longer. My neighbor just wrapped her fence with chicken-weird and her dog still gets out. And yay for hippie school! It’s such a relief for everyone when the kids are happy and content.

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