Dearest little man, how are you? It’s been awhile since we’ve talked like this, hasn’t it? And my, a lot has happened. We lost one sibling, gained another, put on a few pounds, lost a few more…and you’ve escaped out the front door no less than five times.
You’re often very good at staying put when as we come and go. A firm “stay” and you cock your head and merely watch as the door to the outdoors opens and shuts. I’m sure you’re wondering why on earth you’re not going with us.
I’ll tell you why, little rooster: You. Are. Noisy.
But that’s another letter for another day. Right now I want to discuss the less common reaction you sometimes have when you see an open door.
That reaction is to bolt and run for freedom like a man escaped from Alcatraz.
I don’t know what causes that little trigger to trip in your brain. I don’t know why you’d rather go running through the neighborhood, sniffing other people’s yards, hunting for sticks and treats, and making your Mama and Papa look like goobers as we stalk you through the streets.
Although now that I say it out loud…
You might think the most frustrating escape would be the time you took off one Saturday morning while Papa was still in his robe and boxer shorts. Running through the neighborhood in pajamas did give me a few more gray hairs, but I think the most frustrating escapes so far were the ones that happened while we were visiting your Gramma and Grampa in Arkansas. It happened as we were packing up the camper to head back to Washington after our 8-day stay in the beautiful South. As the door to the garage opened, you heard voices, which naturally meant that someone had come to visit you, probably to give your ear a scratch and tell you what a good-looking hound you are.
As a sidenote, you have never received so many compliments as you did in the South. Up here in the PNW, people tend to admire your Brudder Finn, who is tiny and adorable and scrappy, and who can rock a killer mohawk when necessary. In Arkansas, however, men admire a good hunting dog above most things. We assumed you had no skill in this arena until…well, I should continue.
When you heard the voices of your new friends, you slipped through the open door and into the garage. It took you 3.7 seconds to realize the garage door itself was open, and off you took.
When you escape in our neighborhood, I don’t worry too much. I know your routes, which yards you like to explore in search of stray rawhides, which street signs you like to “mark”. My parents’ neighborhood, however, is brand new territory. The forest is denser, the yards are larger, and the cars drive faster. I panicked.
Papa took off on foot to find you. I went back inside to grab a handful of treats – the one thing I can usually use to get you back within my grasp. By the time I made it back outside, however, Papa was strolling down the driveway with you tucked under his arm, your expression reading something between accomplishment and anticipation.
“He caught a turtle,” said Papa.
“What?!” I said.
“Yeah, I finally caught up to him in the neighbors yard. He walked right up to me and dropped a turtle at my feet. Wasn’t bigger than a few inches.”
Well, this was new. We don’t have turtles at our house, at least that I know of. The turtles at Gramma and Grampa’s house, however, are plentiful, as I remember from my own childhood. We would often pull over while driving home to move one of the poor guys from the middle of the road to the curbside, confident that we had just saved one of God’s creatures from imminent doom.
We deposited you back inside, hoping your quick run in the humid Southern summer heat had cured you of your itch, but no…
…now you had a taste for turtle blood.
Within five minutes you had once again darted between someone’s legs and made it out the door. Once again we found you sniffing a turtle, this time a much larger one across the street. You were pawing it in frustration, trying to get your mouth around it’s hard shell.
I’m fairly certain that turtle is now in therapy.
The final time you escaped that morning you were derailed by the dog down the street. I found the two of you conversing loudly through a glass door. I’m certain you were telling him about your most recent hunting trip, and asking if he knew of any other spots in the neighborhood these hard-shelled creatures frequented.
Thankfully, by the time this trip was over we’d packed up and were ready to go. I’m sure the smell of those turtles haunts you.
I’m assuming you thought you caught a whiff of one when you took off this weekend.
Little Beans, there are no turtles in our neighborhood. I promise.
For the sake of your Mama’s sanity, and your Papa’s dignity, please ignore the open doors and stick to napping.