Thursday, May 26, 2011

The Magician

Harley, now officially an adult dog, continued to wreck havoc on the backyard landscape, never burying anything just making holes—like in that book.  When he bored of rearranging the earth, he occupied his day with tree climbing. Despite the inconvenience of pitfalls, it was the scaling of the backyard foliage that landed him in trouble.
A V-shaped tree grew in such a way that Harley could seat himself in-between the forked trunk. His new seat gave him a good view over the top of the fence; he could see the sunset, occasional squirrels and the entire expanse of one neighbor’s backyard. That backyard held a nicely trimmed lawn instead of the dirt of floor of Harley’s enclosed space. It was also equipped with a basketball court, instead of the spider web-ridden swing set that rested in Harley’s territory. The neighbors’ had two sons who practiced basketball every day, making Harley believe their noise-making ball was a direct threat to his boundaries.
A barking dog behind a fence can be threatening enough, but to have one poking its head over the fence growling with fangs bared, staring like a crazed demon and snarling with drool might be scary if you didn’t know the demon in question very well. The neighbors went to Ben’s parents because we were often not home when Harley was terrorizing their two sons. Long days at college left Ben and I little choice about what to do with Harley.
Ben started tying Harley up in the backyard so he couldn’t reach the tree. Harley would accept his long leash as we attached it to his collar every day. He sat on his haunches, leaning to one side, licking our wrists, thumping his tail as if to say he would be good all day if we just gave him another chance. When we left, he watched us, nose pushed through the chain–link fence until we were gone. After that, I can’t say how the events of the days played out, but I know the results.
Ben’s two family dogs, Rex and Beatrice, were always sitting in the shade when we got home—the uninterested audience of Harley’s antics. It did not matter what Harley’s tether was made out of, rope, chain or coated cable, because he could escape out of anything. Harley was clever but not nimble; I had a feeling he used brute strength or luck. After a basketball landed in the yard one afternoon, and Harley broke his leash to puncture it repeatedly, Ben got creative with the restraints. He created a cable run for Harley’s tether.  The lead would move as Harley moved, giving the illusion of freedom, but not let him near the tree.
            Harley won permanent freedom when one of his magic tricks failed. Eventually, Harley ripped down the cable that ran above him and sneaked his leash off the other end. In victory, he scaled his favorite tree to threaten the neighbors’ kids. He managed to wrap the cable around the tree several times as though he had climbed up, jumped down, came around, climbed, jumped down and/or slipped down in the thralls of barking.
When Ben and I came home, we found our thick-necked dog trapped against the tree trunk. Regrettably, I snapped a photo just as Ben moved in to release Harley, but Harley lunged in excitement. I captured him forgetting he was tied to a tree. The picture serves as a reminder why no one should ever tether their dog.
Sorry, Harley, for the awful day. I took you almost everywhere with me from that day forward, even when I was accused of babying you and even when you growled at people and made them uncomfortable.

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