66: The Boxer Rebellion

66: The Boxer Rebellion

From Chicken Soup for the Soul: My Very Good, Very Bad Dog

The Boxer Rebellion

Fun fact: Boxers got their name because they often use their front legs when they fight, so they look like human boxers in the ring!

“Ma’am, there is a dog on your roof!” I turned from my flowerbed to the bug-eyed driver and sighed.

“I know — I’ll get him down. Thank you.” I dropped my shovel and headed to the porch where my Boxer hung his head over the ledge to taunt me. “Yogi, get down. Off!”

His jowls were in a full smile, and I heard the patter of four more paws on the shingles. The two Boxers bounced from roof peak to peak like they had conquered the world. My shouting wasn’t working, so it was time for Plan B… bacon. Despite their happiness about being on the roof, Yogi always got a little scared on the way down. If the bacon failed today, I would be forced to crawl up to reach him. The only thing more humbling than climbing on your roof to corral two happy dogs is scooping poop at that altitude.

The recipe to have dogs on your roof is simple: Mix a full-time job and evening graduate school with two smart and ornery Boxers. Add in an exterior stairway covered by shingles that ramps up toward your roof, and simply wait a few months. The garage roof was four feet higher than the stairway roof, so the gap was too high for a creature to cross, right? Not for Yogi.

Yogi was special from the time I got him. After getting my first dog, I started volunteering as a foster mom for the local Boxer rescue. I thought it would be nice for my puppy to have some company during my long workdays.

“Sharla, guess what I have?” The rescue coordinator barely paused on the other end of the line. “It is a three-month-old Boxer that was abused and turned into the pound. The family bought him from a breeder, but they are going through a divorce. He is so malnourished that his wrist bones are soft, and he’s kind of walking on them. It might be permanent, but we have some vitamins that may help. And his feet are raw. We have no idea what happened to them. They will need to be soaked and wrapped regularly for a while. Can you foster him?”

After nursing the squirmy, bony, cuddly, little puppy back to health, I knew he wouldn’t be leaving my home. With a full belly, his wrists firmed up so that he walked correctly, and his paws healed over time. But some emotional scars remained. Yogi would get very anxious if I was home and he was not with me. Anytime I was in the house, I had a shadow.

I would no more put the dogs outside in the fenced yard, put up my feet and crack a book when Yogi’s whining would start. When I ignored his cries to come immediately back inside, he decided that the outside stairway roof could help. Yogi would climb the ramp, stand on the window air-conditioning unit, smoosh his face against the window and fuss at me as I glared back from the couch.

As with any other mischief, I suspect that a cat was to blame for the eventual leap to the roof. My neighbor fed stray cats and my two dogs loved chasing the cats that didn’t respect the boundaries. Whatever the cause, once the roof gap was conquered by one dog, the other quickly followed suit. Instead of staring through the slats of a privacy fence, the dogs had full view of the entire neighborhood from the roof. This was perfect for barking at cats and neighbors.

Because the situation seemed equally unsafe and embarrassing, I quickly constructed a barrier. I started at the bottom. I built a barrier with lattice and painted it red to match the fence. Yogi jumped over it. I doubled its height. Yogi got around it. When I reinforced it, the wind repeatedly brought it down.

So I abandoned the bottom barrier and went to work on the top with a spare piece of lattice. Yogi the magician would somehow jump an even larger gap to get around that, too. I wondered if his new maneuvers were even less safe than what I was preventing. After each failed attempt, the dogs would become more excited about the roof, and more courageous in defeating every barrier I tried. I’m not sure what looked more ridiculous — the dogs on the roof or the barriers.

I tried to think like a dog. The problem with my barriers was that the dogs could still see the temptation — the alluring roof. I needed to block their view with a wall. I hunted at Walmart for a solution.

What I found was a folding table. I lugged the table onto the roof. I opened the legs and set it on its side at the top of the ramp to look like a wall. It worked! The dogs saw the barrier and didn’t try to jump on the roof. At last, I found peace. My dogs were safe, the neighbors stopped taking pictures of my roof climbers, and all was well. Then it stormed. My table came hurtling off the roof, denting the drain spouts on its way to the ground. The following day, I dragged my wet table back onto the roof. I reinforced the legs with five-pound dumbbells. It was a sight to behold.

With every storm, I became more proficient in knowing precisely where weights needed to be placed on the table legs. The table corners were busted and the inside filled with water, but the barrier remained successful. Each time the table blew down, the dogs would resume their roof escapades until I got it readjusted. After five years, the circus finally ended when I moved to the country, where the house didn’t come complete with a rooftop ramp.

Yogi is twelve now and has settled into a more relaxed pace of life. I wonder if he sometimes dreams of being back on that roof, surveying the whole community and barking at invaders.

~Sharla Elton

More stories from our partners