Thursday, April 15, 2010

Launch Party

Many moons ago I had a wonderful dog called Chips. I've written about him on these pages before, but for those readers who are new, and those with the attention span of a noodle, Chips was a Staffordshire Bull Labrador Cross, who came to live with me from Battersea Dog's Home when I was about eight years old.
He was a fabulous dog; a friend, companion, side-kick and minder all rolled into one, furry package with a big grin and a waggy tail.
From the first day I got him we went everywhere together whenever we could, and between us there wasn't an inch of the local park left unexplored.
But then after he'd been living with us for about six months, one day we couldn't find him in the garden.
We called and called, and despite my searching every nook and cranny of the garden including the embankment, there was no sign of him, but just as I was on the verge of tears thinking he'd run away, suddenly, there he was strolling in through the back door and treating me to another big grin.
I was so relieved I couldn't be angry with him, but one thing remained a mystery. At the time, the garden was separated from the road by a fence that was almost six foot high with no gaps or holes, so how the hell had Chips got out?
We all forgot about his great escape until one day, a couple of weeks later, he vanished yet again.
Although I worried I had a feeling that he'd be back, and sure enough, a couple of hours later, there he was sitting by the front door waiting to be let in.
My mum and dad checked all around the garden perimeters but again found no holes big enough for Chips to get through, so how he disappeared remained a mystery.
Until the day that I saw him make a break for freedom.
Unknown to Chips, I'd climbed a tree by the front gate and as I watched he looked around to check the coast was clear to escape before jumping up onto a tree stump that was next to the fence and then jumping up onto the fence itself and then leaped to the pavement below.
After that we got used to his comings and goings and after I saw him using a nearby pedestrian crossing (He waited patiently looking both ways until to my astonishment, the traffic in both directions stopped for him and he crossed over giving each driver in turn a grin and a wag of his tail) I figured out he was smart enough to not get lost or into trouble*
I was still curious as to how he got back into the garden though, as there was no tree stump on the other side of the fence to give him a paw up, but then one day, on my way back from school I saw his method.
What he did was to wait until there was no traffic coming, then walk out into the road, then curl himself up into a tightly sprung coil before getting a good run up that got him all the way back up and over the fence! For a medium sized dog, he sure could leap!
The locals got used to seeing Chips coming and going over the fence and most were savvy enough to cross the road before the got to his escape point, after all, none of them fancied getting jumped on by a well set dog, even though he had a charming nature and a big grin.
But one poor chap wasn't so lucky.
One fine summer's eve, I was on my way back from the station, and in front of me by about ten feet or so was a man who'd also exited the station at the same time.
I rounded the corner in time to see the poor man nearly have a heart attack as as if from nowhere, a rather heavy, medium sized black dog fell on his head.
He screamed.
Chips screamed.
I ran, as a) I didn't want to own up to owning Chips at that moment in time and b) I was desperately trying not to laugh.
I heard the man scream some more and next I knew Chips hurtled past me as fast as his paws would carry him.
I waited for a moment or so before peering back round the corner in case the man was still there, but happily he was just limping out of view by then.
Maybe I should have put up a sign that read 'Beware of Low Flying Dog!' but then again people might have stopped to read it and the chances of being landed on by Chips would have been even greater.
If that man is reading this, I am very, very sorry for my dog's behaviour, but I bet you got a great story to tell at parties.

*Apart from getting a bitch in Greenford pregnant, he didn't. Or at least, if he did, we didn't find out and he wouldn't tell us what he got up to on his excursions.