Jasper Goes Houdini on Us

Cochise tells the tale

Jasper got out of his pen and ran off. He was gone about 4 hours. HairyFace went out to track him down (on foot). That was doomed to failure, but Jasper did get returned safely. This story has a happy ending, let’s state that right up front.

Hairy wasn’t sure how he got out, but knew he didn’t tunnel out and the door was still securely latched so he didn’t jimmy that. But he can do this:

So we suspected he managed to get up and squeeze through the mesh HairyFace created with cabling across the gable ends of the dog pen roof. We were warned that Jasper was an acrobat and HairyFace took precautions. Just not enough precautions, apparently.

Hunting Jasper

When HairyFace was getting ready to go look for Jasper, Volt was exceptionally excited, “Take me with you, Hairy, take me with you. I’m a hound, I’ll track him for you!” If he could be sure Volt wouldn’t drag him through the woods, hot on the trail of some rabbit or groundhog, he’d have done it. But in the end he decided to search alone, much to Volt’s chagrin.

Old Mountain RoadI told Hairy that Jasper was last seen heading up the old mountain road. This winds its way up to the peak of Piney Mountain, but it is unlikely he stayed on the road. There are many dogs who live at houses between the old dirt road and Piney Mountain Road. Jasper, being a gregarious fellow, would probably go introduce himself. But he started here anyway.

He got to the point where the dirt road makes a sharp bend to swing around and head back the other way as it climbs when he heard a group of dogs “discussing” something in a fairly unfriendly manner. They were (of course) down by the hard road. HairyFace could have gone straight down through the woods, (I would have) but that’s a great way for a peoples to break an ankle, get snake bit, or attacked by a bear. Maybe (if you’re having a really bad day) all three. So he hustled back to our shop driveway, down to the hard road, then on down to where he thought the ruckus had been. By the time he got there (he is NOT the track star he was 45 years ago) all was quiet and there was no sign of Jasper. At this point there is little he could do without a helicopter.

Blondie_Pining for JasperWhile we waited to see if he’d come back for dinner, Blondie pined away. I wasn’t sure if it was because Jasper ran off or because she didn’t get to go with him. Volt and I kept watch from up by the workshop. Hairy set about alerting local friends and asking them to keep an eye out for Jasper.

When it started to sprinkle, Volt and I came in. Blondie dislikes the rain, but she chose to sit out on the wall, watching the woods, until the sprinkle turned into a rain, then she too came in. I guess that answered the question of why she was upset.

Not too long after, Jasper returned: seeking shelter and a meal, I suspect. HairyFace’s Mom spotted him out in the yard between our houses, called him, he came eagerly (hoping to be invited into her house), and she snagged him by the collar and started hollering for Hairy (although that’s not what she calls him). She managed to hang onto him until Hairy got there. Not bad for an 80 year old Peoples in a wheelchair!

Jasper Looking remorsefulHairyFace returned him to his pen, where he looked properly remorseful. Yeah, like we’re going to buy that!

HairyFace rigged a tether to keep him “grounded” until he and NiceLady could work out some other means of keeping him inside the pen.

HairyFace tended to his wounds: nothing too serious, and stayed with him a while, then brought his dinner.

It was a couple of days before they were able to go into Newport to buy the supplies they thought HairyFace would need to fortify Jasper’s pen. As he prepared for this work, Hairy was in the yard when we heard Jasper’s frantic “I want to come with you” barking and the chain-link singing as he hurled himself roof-ward. Then something made Hairy turn around and look …

There was Jasper, extruding himself through THE ROOF above the door of the pen!

Hairy rushed back and pushed on Jasper’s chest with one hand (trying to keep him from climbing all the way out – which failed) and unfastening bungees with the other (not as easy as it sounds, even when you have fingers). When the corner of the tarp came loose, Jasper fell back into his pen: and the immediate emergency was over.

Jasper's Escape RouteHairy’s theory was that this gap between tarpaulin and frame rails offered just enough hope that The Amazing Jasper made like Spiderman up the pen door and managed to stick his head through the gap. Once he found that the bungees stretch (thus so does that gap he was in) it was just a matter of determination.

Jasper's Escape Route BlockedInstead of fastening the piece of hardware cloth (metal mesh) across the gable end, HairyFace and NiceLady hung it under the tarp and wired it securely to the frame poles.

For the past couple of days, Jasper has been running up the door and bonking into the mesh, which now prevents his utilizing that particular escape route again. But there are others, and it’s just a matter of time before he finds them. To block them all will require a major re-design of the dog pens. Until then, maybe we need a ball & chain made from a 5’ tether epoxied into a bowling ball – or have him fitted with a harness that can be filled with lead shot to double his weight. But if he wore that for very long and we ever took it off, he’d be jumping over the moon.

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