Previous Challenge Entry (Level 2 – Intermediate)
Topic: Escape (01/02/06)
TITLE: The Escape Artist
By Shannah Hogue
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I checked to see if the dog had been put out. The Wilsons, our backdoor neighbors, had gotten a puppy early in the spring, a roly-poly little bundle of brown and white energy named Peanut. Every morning, Janet put Peanut out on a little wire run that Sam had fixed up so that Janet didn’t have to wait in the chilly morning air.
The fun began when Peanut was about 4 months old. Peanut’s run was carefully measured so that she couldn’t reach any prohibited parts of the yard, but she soon discovered that she could reach further by pulling steadily on the lead. With coffee in hand, I watched her small rebellion with great amusement as, little by little, she pulled the stake loose.
After about a week of these efforts, Peanut unexpectedly won her game of Tug-o-War. Pulling the stake out of the ground, she rolled over three times before jumping upright, obviously surprised by her success. Totally free, she sniffed around the yard and straight into our back yard. Highly amused, I helped Janet corral Peanut that morning, while Sam fixed the run. But the performance was repeated twice in the next three weeks. So Sam, with some help from my husband, spent an early June weekend putting up a new fence.
I sat in the kitchen looking at the newly constructed fence. It was your typical chain link fence, nothing fancy, but certainly functional, and it gleamed brightly in the Monday morning sunlight. Janet put Peanut outside for the first time as I refilled my coffee cup. The puppy was delighted to be free in her own backyard. Without a leash, she scampered around, sniffing every plant in the carefully manicured flower beds.
After a few minutes, however, Peanut found the fence. She slowly toured the outer edge of the yard, sticking her little nose between the chain links of her new nemesis. She sniffed under it and tried to climb it. She pushed her nose against it and pulled at it with her little puppy teeth. But unlike her run, it wouldn’t give. So she went back to the middle of the yard and lay down. I thought she had given up, but I soon realized how wrong I was.
At 7:30, I noticed Peanut was again roaming the fence line, this time with her nose hard against the ground. Looking for something specific, she traced the entire outline of the fence once, twice, a third time. On the fourth tour of her yard, Peanut found what she’d been looking for. She began to pace, nose hard to the ground, directly in front of my bay window.
Suddenly, she lay down behind some daffodils and began to push, nose-first, under the fence. I watched, amazed, as inch by inch, the puppy’s nose, then head became visible on our side of the fence. She stopped for a moment, flat on her side, seemingly catching her breath. Then she pushed again as the spring ground, soft and pliable from recent rains, slowly gave way to allow her energetic escape.
Her little back legs worked furiously. Slowly, slowly she pushed her way through: neck, front shoulders, brown and white belly. Then, with a final burst of energy, she began to move. Pushing from behind, pulling from the front, Peanut exploded from under the fence at nearly a full run.
She was sitting on the red brick of our patio, facing her own house, when Janet came to bring her back inside. Janet walked to the fence and leaned against it, shaking her head. I set my coffee cup on the table and went to the back door, garden shoes in hand. Peanut just looked between the two of us, obviously proud of her morning victory.
From then on, we nicknamed her, “The escape artist of Blossom Lane.”
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