Who Let the Dogs Out?

Or rather: who didn’t let the dogs out? Part of our morning go-to-school-and-work routine is to let the dogs out at the last minute and check that the doors are locked before we leave. I’m usually the last to leave and up until the end of last year I had the privilege of taking (by then only) child No 3 to school every day and since she despises being late and wanted to help me as much as possible to get ready in the mornings before we left to ensure we’d leave early, she would let the dogs out, check that they have enough water, put my handbag, mobile phone, car keys and lipstick (everything I need at the last minute) ready at the front door. Not that I ever caused her to be late but she wanted to make sure. It was quite an adjustment for me when she went to high school this year and she didn’t need me to take her anymore and my handbag, phone and car keys weren’t waiting for me at the front door in the mornings! She still lets the dogs out and checks their water bowl, but that was now the extent of her last minute house checks.

Then one morning a while ago Ironman left home after us, and we didn’t have to let the dogs out when we left because he could do it. I reminded him to let them out and lock the back door and No 3 – not trusting dad to remember – wrote him a note to remind him, which she left on the kitchen bench. By that time No’s 1 & 2 had both left. That afternoon we arrived home to two very excited dogs who were so happy to see us as they met us inside the house as we walked in the front door, where they wouldn’t have been able to be had they been let out! Upon closer inspection we found that the back door was open (security fly screen with dog flap was thankfully locked though) and the dogs had had free reign of the house all day. They must have thought we wanted them to have a party! Hmm, so much for all the reminders to let them out…

When I told my husband that he’d forgotten to let the dogs out and lock the back door he was quite adamant that it was our (the other human inhabitants’) fault for not doing it because he wasn’t used to doing it. Of course. The funny thing was that the exact same situation repeated itself not long after that and again, it was our mistake. Luckily the dogs behaved themselves and didn’t make a mess in the house, but they probably had an absolute blast sleeping on our beds all day and eating the cat’s food!

Letting the cat out is, on the other hand, a serious thing in our house. It’s council regulation that cats have to be kept inside at night, and after the trauma of our previous beautiful and loving ginger boy-cat getting mysteriously killed one night while we were out nearly two years ago (he loved roaming and never stayed inside when we tried to keep him in), we taught little M to stay inside at night and she only gets fed her dinner once she’s inside and the window with the cat-flap has been closed. Everybody knows the drill and our Jack Russell cross Kelpie, T, knows it as well. She’s particularly obsessed with the window where the cat (and her predecessors used to) goes in and out and late afternoon she starts watching our movements in case we’re going to move towards the window and close it or hears us say the word, then she’ll race to the window at top speed with nails scratching on the floor and jumping up towards the window on her short little legs regardless of whether the cat is at the window or about to come in at that moment or not. What she thinks she’s going to do once she gets there and there’s no cat is still a mystery to us, but she does it without fail. She’ll even take off for the window if the cat was sitting calmly right next to her when we said the word and one of us starts moving towards the window and the cat will just look at her with an air of detached amusement while T runs for her life on this serious mission of getting to the window.

T, guard of the window (and house)

T, guard of the window (and house)

Once kitty is inside for the night we all have to be extremely careful that she doesn’t escape so no doors or windows without flyscreens can be left open. I’m paranoid about this as I can’t bear the thought of a repeat of what happened to our ginger tom. And then one night a while ago my husband and I were sitting outside having a quiet drink and the next minute kitty M came casually walking along the top of the fence with the neighbours as if it’s the most natural thing in the world for her to be walking the (top of the) back fence at night while we sit outside watching her and having a drink. It only took a split second for me to realise that there was something very wrong with this picture and then we had to try to coax her inside again since catching her was completely out of the question. As we were trying to persuade her to come inside my mind started racing to work out where she’d got out and once we had her inside I went around the house to look for her escape route and found that child No 1 had left his bedroom window wide open and the flyscreen nowhere to be seen. Naturally a curious cat is going to investigate and accept an invitation like that! Child No 1 was out that night but I couldn’t wait until he got home to let off steam and sent him a text message doing just that.

But it seemed that one assisted escape was not enough for M and her co-conspirator child No 1 because not too long after that he left the back door open one night and that time it was him, child No 2 and I who spent about half an hour foraging around in the garden looking for a mostly black cat on a cold, wet and windy night and she wasn’t giving herself up without making us work for it. She was probably having a quiet giggle to herself watching us trying to find her.

Most nights around the time that we have dinner it’s like our M cat decides that she’s been couped up in this Alcatraz that is our house for way too long (maybe two hours by that time) though and she starts running through the house like a cat possessed literally jumping off the walls (from the floor about a metre up in the air against a wall, kicking off the wall with her back feet and off in another direction). Just like a bouncy ball, as child No 2 described it. If we’re lucky we get another show as well where she somehow manages to get the dogs involved and she starts playing hide and seek with them hiding behind a couch and then jumping out over/past/onto the dogs and shoots off behind another couch and she has the dogs running around in circles not knowing where to look for her and when they find her she has already darted off to another spot. It’s the best live dinner entertainment!

Miss M, the queen and ruler of dogs. Butter wouldn't melt in her mouth.

Miss M, the queen and ruler of dogs. Butter wouldn’t melt in her mouth.

Z, hide-and-seek playmate

Z, hide-and-seek playmate

But our best letting-the-dogs-out tale yet is of our Kelpie/Jack Russell girl T who was home alone one Saturday afternoon when she was only a pup of about six months old and we all went out but my husband didn’t realise that the garage door didn’t close properly behind him as he left and she was left sitting there with the big wide world inviting her to go walkabouts but being the good, caring, and faithful girl that she is we got home later to find her sitting right there at the open garage door watching the road and guarding her house.

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