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Finnegan, the canine escape artist
THE MISCHIEVOUS look on Finnegans face matches his personality. The Super Dog cape helps to describe him well, but Jane says his skills more closely rival those of the legendary Houdini.

VIOLA - Finnegan, my 13-pound rat terrier mix, isn’t allowed to run free when I’m not home because I don’t want him getting dognapped. So I’m shocked, when I pull into the driveway and see Finn sitting on the front porch.

Still in my car, I wave my finger at him. 

“Didn’t your Papa put you in your kennel this morning?” I say through the open window.

Finnegan can’t hear me, but he stands and wiggles every inch of his body with glee.

Finnegan’s outdoor kennel contains two big doghouses stuffed with straw on top of old yoga mats, and sports an open-sided roofed structure in the middle to provide shelter from sun and rain, along with his water and food bowl. We’ve made it as comfortable as we can, and we tie the gate shut to keep him inside it while we’re away.

Later that evening, Dane calls and I tell him Finnegan was sitting on the step when I came home. Dane insists he locked Finn in and tied the gate with binder twine as usual. When I go out to do chores that night, I take a close look at the scene of the crime. The gate is ajar and the twine is on the ground. Dane must have forgotten to tie it shut. 


Mom's not home. It’s just Papa, Téte and me. Oh no, Papa’s packing up his computer and calling my name. Now, he’s picking me up and.....I know what this means. If Mom's not home and Papa has to leave, I’ll have to go in the kennel—but my sister, Téte, won’t. It’s so unfair. I’m gonna run away.


My workday ended early. I’m excited to get home and have time to chill out before chores. Pulling into the driveway, I spot Finnegan sitting on the porch again, right where he was the last time. 

“Why, you scamp! What are you doing outside your kennel again?” I say. 

Finn's body betrays his guilt: his head hangs and his eyes look up at me like a child caught writing with crayons on the bedroom wall.

Téte comes barreling over to greet me, but Finn stays put and watches me walk to the kennel. He knows I’m trying to find out how he managed to get out. I walk along the fence looking for holes he may have dug to crawl out, but I can’t find any. The gate is open again, about the width of a four-legged, 16-pound Houdini. The binder twine is lying on the ground nearby. I leave it there, with the other piece of twine, to show Dane when he comes over.


Mom’s looking at the fence. She seems kinda mad, but also curious. Maybe she’s looking for new holes I dug. I’m a good hole digger! But today I had other things on my leaving my kennel and hanging out on the porch with Téte, who never even has to even go into the kennel. I should have run away when I had the chance.


“Are you sure you’re tying the twine tightly when you put Finn in the kennel?”

“Of course I am. I always tie a square knot so it’s easier for you to get open.”

“Weird—Finnegan was on the porch again when I came home and I can’t find any new holes. We have rocks on top of all the ones he’s dug before.”

“Well, I know I’ve been careful about securing the gate with the twine.”

“So have I!”


Over the next two weeks, three more times I come home to find Finnegan not where he is supposed to be. Each time, I examine the kennel like Nancy Drew and question Dane. As usual, Téte, who must know what Finnegan is doing, isn’t talking. 


I’m in trouble now. I saw Papa studying the ropes by the gate on my kennel. He picked them up and is taking them into the house to show Mom. They’re gonna be so mad at me, I’ll be grounded for the rest of my life. Téte, that brat, will be gloating and laughing at me. I’m gonna hide in the basement.


On a Sunday afternoon I’m in my office writing when the front door opens. Dane is calling for me to come and see what he has. When I walk into the kitchen he shows me five pieces of twine—the exact number of times Finnegan has managed to escape his kennel! Smiling, Dane points out his perfect square knot in all five of them. I’m trying to wrap my head around how the knot can still be tied when Dane turns the bundle over to reveal the frayed ends of the twine. Finnegan chews through them! 

Laughing at Finnegan's ingenuity and our slowness to catch on, and cracking jokes about the quality and quantity of fiber in Finn’s diet, we call for him. 


I hear Mom and Papa calling me. They sound cheerful, not angry. Maybe I should go and see them. It’s kinda dark in the basement and I miss Téte, even though I’m still jealous of her freedom. 


“Finnegan, there you are. Come here you smart, smart dog you! You sure had us baffled at how you keep getting out of the kennel. We’ve been worried that you’ll get dognapped or even run away. Thank goodness you’re here. We love you so much, we want you to be safe and sound until we get home.”

Tonight, when I snuggled between Mom and Papa under their blanket, Téte jumped up on the bed and just about broke my head, as usual. Only this time, I didn’t get mad. I overheard Mom and Papa talking. Tomorrow, Téte will have to come in the kennel with me to keep me company! I’m glad I have a family that cares about me and wants me to be safe. Sweet dreams!