6: Frequent Flyer

6: Frequent Flyer

From Chicken Soup for the Soul: I Can't Believe My Dog Did That!

Frequent Flyer

If you obey all the rules, you miss all the fun.

~Katharine Hepburn

“What a funny little dog,” Mom said to me when I first introduced her to our newest addition. “Her head is much too large for her little body.”

“What a horrible thing to say. Gracie Lou is gorgeous. Well, maybe her head is a little big. I’m sure she will grow into it one day.”

Gracie Lou came from a Bronx, New York rescue that, during the spring and summer months, brought a small group of dogs from the Bronx to our suburban neighborhood in Connecticut in search of forever homes in the “country.”

When we met her, she was a six-month-old pup with stand-up ears, calm brown eyes and, yes, a head that seemed way too big for her body. And, she could fly.

Well, almost. That puppy could jump up and down so high and so often it made my head spin. I thought she would outgrow her high-flying capabilities but I was wrong.

It started about two months after Gracie Lou came to live with us. I would put her in the fenced-in back yard with her brother Sam, a nine-year-old black Lab. As Sam was getting older, we felt he could use a little puppy love to ignite that spark and bring back the inner youth we knew was still there. We were right. From the minute Gracie Lou ventured into our lives, they were inseparable. They would chase one another in the house, up and down the stairs, and outside all around the back yard. After dinner, they would lie paw-in-paw on the same dog bed, even though they each had their own.

Every day I would put them in the back yard, secure the fence, and go back inside. One day I let them out and within minutes, I heard a brushing at the front door. To my surprise, there was Gracie Lou asking to come in.

I went to the back to inspect the fence. All secure, but there was a slight gap in the back corner of the fence. Maybe she was squeezing through there. I found a piece of slate and blocked the hole. Problem solved.

The next morning I let them out in the back yard and watched them through the kitchen window. Around and around the yard they ran. Around and around the pool, onto the patio, passing by the window again and again. Finally, Sam had enough. Yes, age has its demands. He settled into his favorite shady corner for a well-deserved rest. Gracie Lou was not quite done, though. I saw her nudge him for a few minutes and then, after a warning glare from Sam, she too settled down next to him.

Finally, the “kids” were down for a nap.

Upstairs in my office I immersed myself in photos and text, trying to piece together an annual review I was working on for one of my principal clients.

A couple of hours flew by and I went down to get a drink and check on the pups. There was Sam in the same spot, but no Gracie Lou. Where could she have gone? After looking around the house, I ran up and down the street desperately calling her name.

I went back home to get my keys and drive the neighborhood. Before leaving, I quickly checked on Sam and there, behind the locked fence was Gracie Lou looking ever-so-innocent. I thought I must have been losing my mind. Had she been there the whole time? I let them both in the house. Gracie Lou seemed exceptionally thirsty.

A couple of days later, I was in the office and the phone rang. It was my neighbor, Maria.

“Lose something?” she said.

“Not to my knowledge. Wanna give me a hint?”

“She is furry, has cute ears and a big head,” she added.

“Gracie Lou? She’s in the back yard.”

“Oh no, she’s not. She’s in my house, eating Lily and Nolie’s food,” she replied.

It turns out Maria came home to find Gracie Lou lying in her living room with her two white Labs.

Gracie Lou had jumped over our fence, run down the street to Maria’s, jumped her fence and then went through the doggie door to play with Maria’s dogs, Lily and Nolie.

“I was wondering what the dark fur was on my living room rug,” Maria said.

“She’s done this before, Jeanne,” she said as she laughed.

I was so embarrassed.

After Maria’s call, I guess Gracie Lou felt guilty leaving Sam behind during her adventures. She rarely jumped and if she did, she would stay on the other side of the fence, nose-to-nose whining, as if coaxing Sam on. You can do it. You can jump it. Come on.

Thank goodness Sam had the sense not to try that game. Or did he?

Up in the office one afternoon, I looked out only to see my two canines trotting down the street. I opened the window and yelled, “Stop.” They both stopped dead in their tracks. Caught.

“Get back here,” I demanded. By the time I got down the stairs they were both in the back yard. The gate was open now. How in the world? I knew I had secured it.

This happened several times. I just could not figure out how that gate got opened. Maybe the kids left it unlocked, maybe the garbage men, or maybe I was losing my mind.

One day I heard Gracie whining to Sam. I looked out the window and saw them both huddled near the gate, as if formulating a plan. The next thing I knew, Gracie Lou was backing away from the gate, leaping over it and hitting the release lock as she soared. Upon landing, the gate was open and Sam was free to waltz out. Side by side they began their saunter towards Maria’s. I couldn’t believe the brains.

At first, I thought it was a fluke, but over the next few weeks, I witnessed this several times. Needless to say, I finally had to tie the gate closed.

Gracie Lou will still jump if Lily and Nolie are on a walk with their mom, but she hasn’t run down the street — I think she doesn’t like to leave Sam behind. Now if Gracie Lou and Sam want to play with their friends, I call Maria and walk them down like a responsible mother.

And yes, Gracie Lou did finally grow into her head. Or should I say she is perfectly proportioned in every way.

~Jeanne Blandford

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