Plan Ahead

A little advance planning can really pay off.

I first saw this little illustration of poor planning in my second-grade classroom. It was Lincoln Elementary School in Norman, Oklahoma, 1958.

Ahhh, the lovely Miss Jones.  I was an eight-year-old in love. There was something about her red Corvette.

But, I digress.

When I built this fence in the back yard of our home I did plan ahead. I was careful to measure the slightest of our dogs,

Pearl, Granny and Sara Riley during happier times.
Pearl, Granny and Sara Riley during happier times.

 Pearl,who was age four at the time. She was about four inches at the widest point of her chest, so that made it easy to make the spaces between boards the same width as the boards themselves, a nominal 3½ inches. Brother Peyton, being much larger and stockier, would never fit through a space Pearl couldn’t negotiate.

Up went the fence and in the next thirteen years we never suffered an escape. Even deep into “Peytonland,”

The wilds of Peytonland, where Peyton loved to roam and explore.
The wilds of Peytonland, where Peyton loved to roam and explore.

where Peyton loved to explore, no dog ever got out of the yard.

Until Willie.

Who would have thought that someday we would own a puppy whose father was but three pounds and whose mother was only six? We always thought our little Pearl to be delicate, but she was nine pounds most of her adult life. Peyton was a compact and powerful thirteen pounds.Willie contemplates his move to escape through the fence.

It took Willie 7/16ths of a nanosecond to walk straight through the openings in the gate. Beyond that is the boat ramp and a world of water hazards.

"Hmmm," Willie says, "this looks like a good spot."
"Hmmm," Willie says, "this looks like a good spot."

Right now, Willie hasn’t made it beyond 3.3 pounds, but we don’t want to make any permanent changes until he is grown. I have sacrificed some cheap clamps from my woodworking shop to hold pieces of PVC lattice in place.

It’s tacky, but temporary.

If he doesn’t grow to the point that he can no longer fit through the existing spaces, I’ve considered some thin strips of 1x 4 inserted between fence boards.

"OK, here I go!"
"OK, here I go!"

I’ll keep you apprised of his growth.

See you tomorrow, Dr. Randolph.






"Made it!"
"Made it!"
"The ultimate goal, interacting with water hazards."
"The ultimate goal, interacting with water hazards."
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Dr. Randolph
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  1. When I spoke with Brenda I told her “Willie” was in no way shy or skittish, He was always one of the first to greet me and he was up for anything. Well I never would of thought he was this brave. That is a very cute story. Thank you for sharing it!

    • Thanks for your note, Cathy. I’m not yet sure whether Willie is brave, or just inexperienced. Sometimes I think he’s just plain fearless, then I think, “Nothing has ever hurt him before and he’s never had any repercussions for anything he’s tried, so why wouldn’t he be brave? Some fears are instinctive, some are learned. If an alligator comes up out of the bayou one day after him, he might not be so quick to be brave! (Actually, we’ve never seen an alligator on our part of the bayou and wouldn’t let him anywhere near a known danger.)
      He seems to have an instinctive understanding that Martha could be dangerous to him, as he always gives her a wide berth, even as he’s barking at her from afar.
      His new nickname is ‘Daddy Long Legs” as his legs took a growth spurt but the rest of him hasn’t caught up to his legs yet.
      What a delight he is. We love and enjoy him so very much.

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