Monday, July 6, 2009

Houdini Contained!

It was a long process, but Fred is now safely enclosed. What follows is the process that finally got us there.

Thursday: We’ve added an overhanging shelf to the cat fence and we can now relax knowing they are safe. We have also installed another frog barrier along the top of the wall to be sure that frogs don’t jump or fall in. They are very poisonous and can kill an animal within an hour.

Saturday afternoon: Two days after the new overhang was completed Fred Houdini Astaire got out again. Fortunately he comes to us and Norm found him just outside of the fence. The bars on the overhang are only 3 inches apart, but he squeezed through. As Norm was putting the mesh on the bars, Fred kept looking up and crying. He spent the whole afternoon walking along the fence, looking up, and crying. He’s climbed up a few times and tested it and can’t get through. He keeps looking at the wall. We hope that his Houdini like skills don’t include extra length in jumping. We should have brought our Purrrfect cat fence from the Bainbridge house.

Sunday morning Fred Houdini Yoda Astaire was out again! “Do or do not... there is no try.”(Yoda). Norm was convinced that he couldn’t do chin-ups. Well it wasn’t exactly a chin-up, but he very easily managed to do a paw over paw up, around the new netted barrier, and over. He had probably been out all night. Norm found him hiding at the base of a tree close by . He responded to our call with very small tentative meows, and then came out. He seemed to be very happy and relieved to be back inside (ahh, yes we are anthropomorphizing). That lasted for about an hour. We stayed outside drinking coffee and waiting. Finally his tail starting twitching and he went to the fence crying and eyeballing it like he did yesterday after the new netting had been installed. Then we witnessed him climb up and over! No problem. He walked along the top of the wall and then plopped himself down in the loose dirt and was rolling around contently when Norm picked him up and carried him back in. So we have draped netting loosely, although anchored and he climbed up again and didn’t get out (she said hopefully).

Thursday: The shelf overlap now has bars only two inches apart. The mesh is removed, so his little paws should slide right off!

Saturday: He did it again! He was able to get enough purchase and apparently move quickly enough to get over. He was not happy when Norm brought him back in. Next solution (we hope) is a 4 inch plastic pipe hung along the edge of the shelf. We don’t know if he tried to go out while we were not watching, but he has been doing his visual inspection of the new barrier. Our friends say he is too smart of his own good and we should add Pauly to his name after Steve McQueen in the Great Escape. Another Yoda quote seems apropos: “Size matters not, look at me. Judge me by size, do you?”

The pipe worked and we replaced the plastic with metal pipe. Mario, one of our workers is welding it in place with assistance from Bernardo.

All of the above saga took place in April and was resolved by the end of the month. After a week, Fred stopped pacing along the fence and crying as he looked up, no doubt analyzing it for any potential escape routes.


Two weeks ago we brought home an eight week old puppy. He is a mix of Lab, German Shepherd, and Retriever. His behavior seems predominantly lab. He is a very happy boy and smart. His name is Django Reinhardt. He and the cats Jelly Roll Morton and Fred Astaire seem to be making progress. Much nose sniffing and occasional bats (without claws) by the cats. It is probably like having a toddler----very active, have to watch him every minute, everything goes into his mouth for a vigorous chew, and we look forward to his naps.