The house where we lived, at 5 Claude Debussy was one of five row houses in the west-end Paris suburb of Rueil-Malmaison. The main living space was the ground floor and the first floor. There was an unfinished basement with the furnace, storage areas, and a play area for Elizabeth, and, at the time, the washing machine. As noted earlier, the back door in the basement had been redone when a carpenter came and installed a swinging door to facilitate Beau’s comings and goings.
Through the door was the yard – some flowerbeds, a small lawn and fence. The fence was about two metres high and fitted snug to the ground. Perfect for a dog. We figured there would not be the slightest concern for Beau’s safety. He could walk through the swinging door and out into the garden with no risk of his getting away.
It appeared that we had not incorporated paws – front paws specifically – into our calculations. Even if we had overlooked it, Beau had not.
He might have been small, but his busy little front paws did the trick. He dug, and he dug, and he dug. Beau discovered that it was not necessary to move all that much earth to make a hole adequate for a pup to squeeze under and go to explore the larger world. Imagine our shock when we came home a found him sitting outside on the front sidewalk.
This development clearly called for remedial action. A quick trip to Truffaut, the French home improvement store at the local shopping centre, Parly II and we returned with a quantity of bricks. The earth was returned and a brick was put in place over the former hole at the bottom of the fence. “Gotcha”, thought Glen as he came inside. The pup shall wander no more.
Unfortunately, it was not quite as simple as that. Beau found other places where the fence did not go too far into the earth, and once again the paws went to work. In the space of about two months, the back yard fence was ringed with bricks to prevent the digging of holes as escape routes for the wanderer. More holes, more trips to Truffaut, more bricks; it seemed as if it would never end.
Fortunately the pup was growing through all this – a diet of the finest canned dog food and some supplements of fine French cheese (camembert was a particular favourite of the pooch) or meat.
Eventually his size got the better of him and he ceased from his escapades. It might have been discipline that subdued, but, based on the evidence, size would likely be a better explanatory variable. He would, however still indulge in the occasional digging frenzy, storing away a tasty crust of baguette in case of sudden famine, or une pénurie de croquettes, should the family not care adequately for his needs. Periodically such tasty treats would be unearthed months later, and Elizabeth would come home from school to find a soggy, mouldy old crust of bread languishing on the basement floor or occasionally on her bedspread. The pooch always enjoyed well-aged food, after all.
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