Viktor played a major role in an all out jail break a couple of months ago. Fozzie started the chain reaction by being gone in the bushes longer than allowed. Every morning, Fozzie is permitted 60 to 90 seconds to find a good spot in the bushes to do his business. If he takes longer than that, I start to worry, and I go looking for him. This particular morning, after several minutes of calling Fozzie, I asked Mu to “Go find Fozzie.” Sure, Mu is not a dog finder, but he knows Fozzie. It didn’t seem like an unreasonable request, but Mu just gave me a blank stare. I sighed and put him in the house. I brought Tino out, off leash, and said, “Go find Fozzie.” He put his nose to the ground and immediately trotted off as if on a scent. While Tino went clockwise around the house, I went the other way. When I got to the driveway, there were four dogs, everyone but Fozzie. I guess I didn’t latch the door tight. We all looked at each other for a moment, like, this is weird, we’ve never been in this situation before. I knew their hesitation wouldn’t last, and I had to figure out which one to grab. I grabbed Sky, possibly because I might have been remembering the time she went after ducks in Puget Sound and almost drowned.
I grabbed Sky and dragged her back, and I was able to yell at Mu and Tino and get them back to the house. Viktor happily trotted up the driveway in search of adventure. After I got Sky and the boys secured, I grabbed two leashes and went looking for Fozzie and Viktor. When I got to the driveway again, there was Fozzie, looking a little guilty. I leashed him, and said, “Go find Viktor.” Fozzie seemed willing, but I hadn’t presented a scent article, and Fozzie didn’t have his search vest on. I think he was a little confused. When we got to the bottom of the driveway, no Viktor. I did see the neighbors’ cat, and the probable cause of this morning’s troubles. Fozzie may have found him in the bushes and chased him. This cat has been known to sit outside the window and make Sky bark her head off. The cat was at the edge of the bushes, and he looked down the hill. I should have known better than to trust this devious little cat, but I took that to mean that Viktor had gone down the hill. By the time we got to the bottom of the hill, I heard the little dogs at the top of the hill barking, probably at Viktor. The cat had misled us. As Fozzie and I walked up the hill, I could hear the little dogs barking closer and closer. They came around the corner, lead by their owner, barking behind them at Viktor, who was following at a safe distance, interested in the little yapping dogs. The neighbor led her barking dogs past our driveway, and Viktor followed and then went up our driveway, towards home. I thanked her, and then Fozzie and I corralled Viktor in the driveway and put a leash on him. He didn’t struggle too much. Then we went for our usual walk.
Many of the searches that Mu and Tino and Fozzie go out on are caused by a door or a gate being left open. I got lucky on that day, and I found all five dogs quickly. The days around the Fourth of July are prime for dogs and cats escaping, partly because there are visitors from out of town, or the pets’ owners are out of town and someone new is caring for the pets. Routines change, maybe someone doesn’t know that you have to give the front door a hard pull until you hear the latch click, or something. Someone goes out for a smoke and doesn’t see the cat sneaking up behind them. Maybe someone opens a window because of the heat. Maybe the dogs are in the yard, and when the fireworks go off, a panicked dog finds the weak fence board and forces it out. Before the Fourth, you should go around and check your fence for any rotten boards or loose nails. Check your gates to make sure they latch securely every time. Tell your guests or the pet sitter to be absolutely certain that the door is properly closed. Just be aware that many cats and dogs do escape through doors, windows, and gates that aren’t properly secured. The escape you prevent will free up resources so we can concentrate on finding other pets.
When I first got Viktor, after I had him for a week, he escaped through a boarded up cat door that I didn’t think he could even fit through. The week I spent catching him again meant that I could not help any other lost pets that week. I’m glad Viktor didn’t go far this time, and that he came home with a little encouragement.