April 06, 2016
So I casssssssually mentioned in Monday's post that Beau is a runner. That was...ever-so-slightly understating the situation by like, fourteen million words.
His foster mom warned us about it: Keep him on the leash at all times outside, even within the fence. Don't open car doors until you've got a firm grip on it. Watch him around doors in the house, because he can bolt out like a flash. And the more you chase him, the faster and farther he'll go, because YAYAYAY THIS GAME IS FUN LET'S KEEP RUNNING FOREVER.
Both Jason and I had dogs just like that growing up, so we assured her we understood the behavior and would be very, very careful. And we'd thoroughly explain the situation and need for caution around opening doors to the boys.
Yeah that's going GREAT.
On Friday night we went out for a quick dinner. I put Beau in his crate and went outside to the car. Noah was still inside, trying to track down a full selection of screens and chargers and whatnot, and suddenly I looked up and Beau -- off leash, not yet tagged or chipped -- went shooting out of the garage and over to our neighbor's yard.
"I'm sorry!" Noah wailed. "He sounded so sad!"
I'm pretty sure I felt a significant portion of my brain physically explode as I jumped out of the car. Beau was still close by and spotted me, but instead of moving towards him, I turned around and ran back to our car.
Sure enough, he chased me, then excitedly jumped up into my open car door. Where Jason promptly tackled him and took him back inside.
"Noah." I said quietly, in the ohhhhhh you are in for it now Tone. You know the one.
"Do not. Ever. Do that. Again."
At dinner I held their screens hostage while we talked AGAIN about the crate and the leash and the doors doors doors whyyyyy do we have a house with so many doorrrrrs.
The next morning I went right to the pet store and got Beau a tag, and all final holdout discussions about possibly changing his name were shut the fuck down, because NOPE. Not going through that again.
Except we totally did, the very next bloody day.
Noah and Ezra were outside playing basketball, which was distressing Beau greatly. I was still in my PJs and puttering around doing housework, and Jason was out back working on his new raised garden beds. Ike put on his coat and opened the front door to join his brothers, and MOM MOM MOM BEAU'S OUTSIDE BEAU'S OUTSIDE.
I ran outside and tried to repeat the trick from Friday, but unfortunately the car was locked, so Beau would chase me for a bit, then veer right past me and continue on running. The kids were running all over the place and making everything even more chaotic. I shrieked for Jason "KEEP A VISUAL KEEP A VISUAL," sent the kids back inside and went to grab the first jacket/shoe combo I could find, which was a big heavy North Face parka and a pair of knee-high rubber rain boots.
These were very unfortunate choices, because Beau took us on an hour-plus-long adventure through dozens and dozens of backyards and front yards and wooded common areas. It was the 2016 Trespassing 5K.
We'd get close to him, and he'd take off. (MY KINGDOM FOR A LEASH.) He'd chase us a bit but zoom right past at lightning speed. Pedestrians tried to help, one homeowner offered to open his door and tempt Beau with some treats, we waved like idiots at passing cars to warn them that there was a tiny brown dog weaving back and forth across the street RIGHT THERE, and no, we couldn't just walk over and PICK HIM UP, those stubby legs are fueled by the very fires of hell.
(I also want to remind you of the visual here, of me in rubber rain boots, Christmas pajama pants, sweating my ass off in a big heavy puffy jacket, and Jason covered head to toe in mud and topsoil, looking like he just buried a body.)
Eventually we sort of gave up on actually catching him, but resigned ourselves to keeping him in our line of sight until he tired himself out or cornered himself somewhere. We apologized to multiple homeowners for our casual trespassing through their yards, occasionally tried sitting or lying down in the grass in hopes he'd come over for some petting/face licks, then would sigh, get back up and start running after him again.
Finally. FINALLY, he ran through an open gate of a fenced backyard. We had no idea if anyone was home but we were officially out of fucks to give and followed him in. The gate clearly had not been shut in YEARS, but I maniacally fought with the rusty hardware until I got it loose and slammed it closed and locked it. Okay. Provided the yard was in fact, fully fenced, there were no escape routes. This was going to be where it ended.
He ran around in circles for I don't even know how long, while Jason and I stood by panting in exhaustion, waiting for him to realize the game was over. Finally, he went back to the gate and stood still just long enough for Jason to grab him.
He immediately leaned over and started licking my face, and he wagged his tail contentedly the entire walk home, while Jason kept a death grip on him and his harness. He'd covered several miles of territory, easily, and it took Jason and I little while to even figure out where the hell we were in relation to our house.
(Meanwhile, the boys had gotten alarmed by our extended absence, and wandered off to look for us. Then they went to a friends' house and informed his mother that "our parents went to look for our dog and never came back." She eventually showed up at our house with them, where Jason and I stood there slackjawed and still breathing heavily, having ZERO IDEA THEY WEREN'T EVEN IN THE HOUSE. I assumed they'd taken advantage of the situation to play Xbox in the basement. Oh. Okay. So my children were technically missing there for a few minutes too. Sorry, I only have the bandwidth to panic about one living creature at a time.)
It would be great if the story ended there, right? You would really think that would be the end of the story.
"Hey kids, it's recycling night. Can you take the bins down to the curb?"
(Two motherfucking seconds later...)
"MOM MOM MOM BEAU'S OUTSIDE BEAU'S OUTSIDE."
Yep. Noah went out first and opened the garage, Ezra opened the inside door a few seconds later and bam. Out. Again.
Jason was furious at the kids but really that one was our fault. We knew recycling involved opening doors to the outside and should have had Beau restrained or contained ahead of time. WE'RE LEARNING. SLOWLY. THE HARD WAY. WE'RE ALSO GETTING A LOT OF CARDIO.
This time I didn't even bother with a coat or shoes, another regrettable choice because DAMN IT WAS COLD. I was on "keep a visual" patrol and Jason hopped in the car, hoping to tempt Beau in for a ride.
He didn't get quite as far this time, but darted back and forth across the street a couple times, and considered and calmly rejected getting into the back of the minivan. Neighbors came out to watch our antics and literally held their breath as he stood by the van thinking about it, and then were all "NOOOOOOO!" when he turned and ran away instead.
Finally he paused at a hydrant while I opened the passenger side door and got in, and at that point Beau was like, "OH OKAY SURE" and jumped onto my lap.
This morning I took him in the backyard for some exercise (with leash attached, because I no longer trust our fence or our gates or probably any containment system short of an impenetrable bio-dome) and tried to figure out some tricks to get him to actually come to me when he's in full-on runner/chase mode. He is tagged and chipped (although not a lot of good those will do when he's running off into the sunset away from all civilization). We've locked the front storm door so we all have to stop and think about Beau's whereabouts before opening it. (He can jump and push it open anyway, so the lock is already a must.) I'm gating off the inside door to the garage and Jason is installing secondary back-up latches on our fence gates. I have extra leashes so there's always one handy to quickly hook him up in case of an unexpected visitor or someone spacing on the whole Door Thing In General.
Tl;dr, IT'S A GOOD THING HE'S CUTE
(Who, me? What?)