The Old Man On The Mountain

A View From the Backwoods of NH

More Adventures with Shiloh

So, with the warm temps thawing the ground here in the Great White North comes the semi-annual “racking of the back door”. Late in the fall, when the ground freezes hard, the deck “sinks” about an inch, when it thaws, that inch rises back. This usually occurs over a period of a few days to a few weeks, depending on how quick the freeze/thaw takes. During this period, I have to manually jack up a corner of the porch and adjust it accordingly so that the door will latch, otherwise it swings free.

I learned about this a few years back, when my boy Blue came to get the rest of his “pack” to take off outside since the door had magically opened. I thought I’d fixed the problem, but the contractor I’d hired was an idiot. I’ve tried different things over the past couple of years to figure out just WHAT was causing the issue, and I’d pinpointed it down to the cement footing the porch is on. This was on my list of “things to finish” last fall, but time ran out.

Unfortunately, it isn’t as easy to work with this year, since I tore up my knee in March. And today it reached it’s first stage, with the door swinging freely. Usually, I’d put a chair up against the door to hold it closed, then go out a different door, jack up the porch and adjust accordingly. But with crutches that’s easier said than done.

So I cheated (kind of) and went out the back door, pulling the chair as close as I could, then pulling the door shut, hoping it would stay in place. I know this sounds like a simple operation, but I’ve neglected to mention my handicap – two dogs that, should they get out, could disappear. I’ve tried working with both and each one, once they were free, took off for doggie adventures. So I crossed my fingers that the door would hold until I was done – even if it did open a little, it wasn’t enough for a dog to get through. Oh dopey me.

I slowly worked my way down the three steps off the porch and across the yard to the shed to get a 4-by that was longer than the one in use. That’s when I heard it – the familiar “jingle jingle” of tags on a running dog’s collar. As I peer out of the shed there he is, Shiloh, sniffing around outside, then in the shed with me, then gone. I can’t chase him – I don’t know where Max is, or if he even got out (Max had decided to stay inside). All I could do is grab the 4-by and head back to the porch.

As I close the shed door, I give a whistle for Shiloh (it’s the tune to “Peter and the Wolf”) in the off chance that maybe, just maybe, he’d come. And you know what – that’s just what he did. He came out from behind the shed and walked with me back to the porch, at which point he jumped up and stood there watching me. Not running away, not being a pest, but being the best dog I could ask for.

And as I jacked up the porch, he stayed there with me, watching what I did, only getting down as I finished to go out in the yard to make a poop. Worried that he may try to take off, I tell him that I’ll give him a cookie if he comes inside now. And that’s what he did. But I didn’t give him a cookie – I gave him a special treat instead, because I felt he deserved more than just a cookie for his behavior.

It’s been a while since I could take pride in the behavior of my kids – human or canine. But today Shiloh gave to me the gift that all parents seek – the knowledge that, despite temptation, in the end they will do the right thing. Thank you Shiloh.