01 March 2016

Leap Dog on a Leap Day


by Barb Goffman

The dog ate my homework. It's a well known expression, supposedly used by children because it's so easy. No worries if you didn't do the assignment. Blame it on the dog.

Alas, this week, I really am blaming it on the dog. I have no words of wisdom about writing for you today. No editorial insights. I'm stressed because I have a project I expected to finish today (Leap Day, as I write this post) and I'm behind schedule because of ... you guessed it ... the dog.

Pay attention to me now!
This is my dog, Jingle. He's probably part beagle and part dachshund. He's one hundred percent escape artist.

I have a large backyard for him to run in. He loves it. It backs up to woods filled with foxes, deer, squirrels, and other enemies that he loves to chase. The yard is surrounded by a split-rail fence covered with wire built into the ground. The fence is probably around five feet tall. Jingle is probably one foot tall. Yet he escapes the yard repeatedly.

I've seen him walking the perimeter, pushing at the wire, looking for weak spots he can exploit. He must have once crawled under the gate, because when a neighbor found him, his front paws were covered in dirt. And lately, he has figured out how to jump on an old stump, jump on the top of the fence like an acrobat on a high wire (I kid you not--I saw him standing on a rail with my own eyes), and jump to the other side.

Making himself taller
When he creates weak spots, I get them fixed or blocked. When he crawled under the gate, I had it lowered so he couldn't fit through the hole again. When he started using the stump as a springboard, I had a friend bring over a thick, tall, and heavy tree slab to sit on the stump, assuming the stump's new height with the slab would deter Jingle.

Nope. Somehow my twenty-five-pound dog pushed the slab off the stump and has continued his wily ways.

Panting after too much running
In fact, coincidentally, as I was writing this blog, Jingle ran away. I looked up and saw him in the woods behind the house. I stopped writing the prior paragraph, ran outside, called for him repeatedly, saw him run across the cul de sac toward a neighbor's house, got in my car, drove around calling for him, and finally found him running into a neighbor's garage. If this were a novel I was editing, I'd tell my client to cut the coincidence--no one would believe the dog escaped the yard while you were writing about him escaping the yard. But as we all know, truth can be stranger than fiction.

This little incident took twenty minutes of my time, and I've had many of them over the last few months. So that is why I'm behind schedule on my client work and didn't have time to come up with any writing wisdom for you today. But if there was any day for Jingle to leap over the fence, it was today, Leap Day. So that kind of makes it okay, right?
It's a good thing he's so cute.

I hope your Leap Day yesterday was less eventful than mine. And if you have any dog escape stories you'd like to share, please do. We can commiserate together.

BREAKING NEWS: A little Tuesday morning addition: Congratulations to my fellow SleuthSayers for being named finalists this morning for the Derringer Award given out by the Short Mystery Fiction Society. In the Long Story category, John Floyd, Robert Lopresti, and former SleuthSayer Elizabeth Zelvin all have nominated stories. John is also a finalist in the Novelette category--a twofer. Very cool. I'm so happy for you all. And, I'm happy to add, I'm a finalist in the Flash category for my story "The Wrong Girl" from the anthology Flash and Bang. This is my first Derringer Award nomination, and I'm thrilled.

12 comments:

janice law said...

Adorable dog.
And a better distraction than Facebook or the internet!

Eve Fisher said...

Congratulations to Rob, John, Liz, and you, Barb! Way to go!

Anonymous said...

I have to say Jingle looks and sounds like he's got border collie in the mix. I've had them for years, and if they want to get out they can certainly do it: digging under, balancing on top of, and even getting creative with finding points for a doggy alley-oop over an obstacle. If so, he's certainly smart enough to lead you a merry chase for many years -- while endearing himself to you the whole time! What a cute and sweet dog, escape artist though he may be! I won't share my doggie escape stories though, as the worst did not have a happy ending. I will wish ALL happy endings forever for you and sweet Jingle!

Barb Goffman said...

Thanks, Janice and Anonymous, for your kind words about Jingle. He is very sweet and cute. If only he were more of a homebody, like his mama.

And thanks, Eve, about the Derringer nomination. I'm beyond thrilled to be honored by my short-story peers in this manner.

Becky Muth said...

Completely thrilled for your nomination! Congratulations, and best wishes.

So glad Jingle's back home again. One of our previous dogs was a runner. None of our attempts to curb the habit helped. He'd bolt out the front door, lap the mountain, then come home and nap for hours. Every time he did it was as nerve wracking as the first.

Could Jingle be part Corgi? Their legs are almost spring-loaded, they're such great leapers.

Barb Goffman said...

Thanks about the nomination, Becky.

And yes, it's nerve wracking every time he runs. He always comes back, but I worry, will this time be different? Will he get into a fight with a fox? Will he get hit by a car. (Most of the time, he stays in the woods or in a neighbor's yard, but occasionally he crosses the road.)

And could he be part Corgi? Maybe. When I adopted him, the shelter guessed he was a beagle/basset mix, but he's so low to the ground, that I'm thinking beagle/dachshund instead.

Leigh Lundin said...

Ach! I can appreciate. I’m currently visiting friends with a cat that can open doors on its own.

I had a fox that could climb, dig, chew and charm its way out of captivity. My alligator Albert escaped and amid rumors it was terrorizing three counties, it merely spent the summer hiding in my parents back yard. Felix the ferret could open cupboards and slither under doors, prompting modifications to prevent that. And Valentine, my cockatoo, could manipulate the dozen snap hooks to get out of his old cage, sometimes snapping the trickier clasps and bars. Animals can be super smart. Still, your dog would be hard to beat. I bet you’re secretly proud of him.

Congratulations for that finalist position for "The Wrong Girl" in Flash and Bang.

Barb Goffman said...

You had a pet fox, Leigh? We must talk. I'll tell you about Nemesis, the feral fox that sort of adopted me a few years ago. And I must hear about this alligator. That is not your typical pet.

Thanks in regard to the Derringer nomination. I'm so thrilled.

Art Taylor said...

Congratulations again on the Derringer nomination--and to all the SleuthSayers on the list! :-)

Barb Goffman said...

Thanks, Art. I really appreciate it.

Anonymous said...

I'm back, in case you see this Barb. I think corgi is very likely, and they look much like (and act like) the border collie I suspected, were even used in herding originally. (I guess those little legs can really go.) I will say that I have done quite a lot with shelters and I've learned their guesses on dog parentage can be pretty far off the mark. But then again, they are basing their guesses, often, on young pups that don't show all the adult characteristics that would allow you to really place them. So look up corgis online. I bet you'll start hearing bells ring. Ahhh, "Jingle"! :-)

Barb Goffman said...

I don't know, Anonymous. Corgis seem more sturdy than Jingle is. Though the eyes look right. Have you ever used one of those dog DNA sites? I'm tempted, but I also worry that they're all full of ... A friend who adopted a dog that clearly is a schipperke (an exact match to the breed standard and appearance) ran a study and was told his lineage had every breed under the son but schipperke. Eye roll.