An Almost-Escape

A few days before Thanksgiving, our yard man showed up to mow/mulch in what we anticipated would be his final appearance until next spring.

Now this is a guy we’ve used in the past, several times in fact. He generally does a decent job, is reasonably fast, and (when we remind him) edges and blows off the sidewalks and driveway.

I distinctly remember cautioning him when he first reported for duty that I have a dog. The gate, I said, needs to be shut and locked when he finishes — every time, no excuses.

Okay, he said.

Being a Nervous Nellie, I always checked after he left to make certain he’d done just that.

And he had.

One can grow complacent in the face of reliability.

The day in question was dreary. Foggy. Damp. Drizzly. Cold.

As soon as the yard man left, Mom opened the door so Darling Doggie could relieve himself.

In his nice, safe, fenced yard.

Did you check the gate? I asked her.

No, he always shuts it, she said.

Something insisted I check.

I took out a bag of trash and found Darling Doggie standing on the back porch. A quizzical expression flitted across his furry face.

I need to check the gate, I told him. He beat me there and stood about a yard inside staring at the OPEN gate!

My heart skipped a beat, or maybe more.

Patting him and praising him for being a good dog, I inserted myself between him and the gate, and swiftly shut the thing and locked it.

He followed me inside, where I promptly gave him a Pupperoni treat.

But as he slept that afternoon (and as I fell asleep that night), scary images raced through my mind:

What if he’d seen a squirrel or cat and given chase?

What if he’d become disoriented in the world beyond the gate and couldn’t find his way back home?

What if I’d had to track him all over the county?

What if someone had stolen him?

What if a strange dog had come into our back yard?

What if I hadn’t checked that gate?

Those whose hearts have never been claimed by a dog probably can’t understand the panic I felt. Pets rely on us their entire life, not like babies who eventually grow up and often move away.

So St. Francis, thank you for the insistent nudge, for looking after my Sheltie!

And next time, I don’t care how reliable a worker is — you can bet I’m going to check that gate before sending my doggie outside.

14 thoughts on “An Almost-Escape

  1. Shelties, are so smart!–he remembered to check the gate and remind you!

    My gates are padlocked with combination locks and as soon as the yard man arrives a “Check Gates” post a note is stuck on the back door.

    Ok, now you have to put all those bad thoughts in a big balloon and send them up up and away..your pup is safe his guardian angel was looking after you both…..

    • Bless you for understanding — only a true animal lover can! Maybe I need to buy a combination lock for our gates. I love your advice to put the scary thoughts into a balloon and send them up and away!

  2. I can very much understand your panic. I would be crushed if my furry little girl escaped our yard. She’s a high-energy dog and I have no doubt she would take off if given the chance. I’m so glad all turned out well for you and that your dog is safe and sound.

    • Me, too, Terri, and thanks! Shelties are notorious for being easily spooked. If he’d gotten out, even I would have had a hard time rounding him up. Most ethical Sheltie breeders won’t even consider selling a pup to folks who don’t have a fenced yard, and I’m always cautious when opening my front door.

  3. Oh Debbie, I can relate to your panic and I’m so glad you and your Sheltie had a positive outcome. Trusting your feelings,I.e., close the gate yourself, is always a wise move. You are so right, our furry family members rely on us for everything.

    • Thanks for your understanding and sympathy, Kathy. I can’t believe he didn’t scoot outside the gate — either he somehow knew it was the wrong thing to do, or he didn’t see anything interesting out there, or he didn’t discover the opening. Regardless, I’m blessed Someone was looking out for us!

  4. Debbie, I can imagine the panic you must’ve felt. I read your post sitting on the edge of my seat and it left me feeling quite worried about the fact that we can never be too careful with our furry friends. I agree–double checking no matter who does what is the best thing to do. I worry about Roxy all the time. I’m try to stay one step ahead but like you mention, sometimes you can’t control all the variables. I’m afraid that if something were to happen to her because of carelessness, I would not be able to forgive myself. I’m so glad your lovely Sheltie stayed put and received a treat as a reward! Thank goodness for Saint Francis and his careful diligence at protecting our furry friends! 🙂

    • I knew you’d understand, Bella! Dog-lovers are like that. Kids eventually leave us to make their own way in the world; our furry “kids” never do. Wild animals are used to fending for themselves, but I’m afraid our domesticated and spoiled pets wouldn’t last long in the world’s jungle. Thanks for your comments!

  5. Luckily, Debbie, you caught it in time. I would have been as terrified as you. We must be worry-warts, because I would have gone through all the what-if scenarios, too. Thank goodness, your dear Sheltie was ok! 🙂

    • Thanks for empathizing, Monica! He can be an aggravation at times (particularly when he’s under the kitchen table, begging for more food!), but I wouldn’t be the same without him!

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  7. I love my dog so dearly it’s rough imagining if something bad were to happen to her. We live in ranching country: no yards, the only fences are barbed wire. So I don’t have to check gates, but I have to stay aware. Are the coyotes around? What is she eating/rolling in?

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