Sammie…Master of Escape!


This is a story about fence building. It was taught to me by none other than Sammie our 10-year-old girl who likes to stay on the deck in her retirement days. Now she doesn’t cause any trouble, but that’s not how it used to be.

In her prime Sammie was truly an artist at escape. Even today she will occasionally show she hasn’t lost the skills that she excelled at for all of these years. I learned how to build an almost escape proof fence due to her.

When she was a pup back in Oklahoma, she quickly let us know that a solid wood privacy fence 6 feet tall was not enough. It kept my lab/pit mix contained but it was small potatoes to a husky of her abilities. It wasn’t long before she tunneled out with digging skills that would make a back hoe jealous.

We are talking red, sun baked Oklahoma clay. It almost equals concrete if you try and dig it with anything other than powered equipment. Not much to Sammie, she dug an escape hole and was gone.

I will give her credit for sticking around. Whether it was the dogs next door or the fact you can’t really escape Oklahoma that made her stick is hard to say. But we nabbed her fairly soon and so the next thing I did was try invisible fence and shock collars.

I ran the wire around the bottom of the fence, put these expensive collars on Sammie and Two-Socks and felt I’d solved the problem with technology. I was soon proven wrong.

True, it worked for a couple of days as Sammie studied the problem of her collar giving her a buzz when she approached the fence. I guess she figured out the collars were the problem so with husky teeth she somehow sliced her collar free and then sliced off Two-Socks collar as well just for good measure.

Apparently, this extra annoyance and work I caused her made her chew the electronic boxes on the collar into so much scrap metal and plastic. That collar wouldn’t get her again!

Another quick dig and she was gone once more. And once again realizing that she was still in Oklahoma, even after such a great escape kept her easy to find. She had not solved the Oklahoma problem yet. I really couldn’t blame her because nobody actually wants to stay in Oklahoma. It’s like a black hole and even if you are born there the need to escape is strong…there has to be a better place somewhere over the rainbow!

My next effort was more power (Tim the tool man type power.) I bought real electric fence wire, and ran it around the bottom of the wood fence with insulators to keep her from digging out. Growing up in Nebraska I was familiar with electric fences but I didn’t want to hurt her. Fortunately, they make a fence charger for dogs. Not anywhere near the power a cattle fence has.

This in fact stopped her for quite a few months. But her mind never stopped working on the problem. The solution was to get Two-Socks the lab/pit mix so worked up at the neighbor dog that she ate a hole through the wood fence.

Sammie scooted through and left old Two-socks behind. Two-socks was too big to get through the hole but Sammie made it easy. Once again Oklahoma saved me. Sammie still couldn’t drive or hitch out of the state so she was captured easily. Then we moved, and the game was once more afoot!

We moved from Oklahoma to Virginia. With two cars, my job was to take all three cats with me. A painful ride of two full days with crying cats in the car. My wife would follow a few days later after the movers had packed up things. Her job was to drive out with the two dogs.

My wife stopped in Wichita Kansas to see her mom on the way. The dogs could stay in the back yard because it was privacy fenced except for the gate. A five-foot-tall chain link thing that would make a husky laugh.

I got a call from my wife in a panic. Sammie had escaped and was nowhere to be found! The problem of Oklahoma no longer in her mind, and she took off for better pastures. Now these pastures included her crossing several high-ways and busy streets. Miles away she was captured by the humane society.

My wife would not leave without finding Ms. Sammie. Luckily, she was micro-chipped and there is only one dog pound in Wichita. She was retrieved the next day, and soon back on her way to Virginia. Sammie had not liked the pound, and actually was good for the rest of the trip.

She found her new yard and home to be acceptable here. As soon as the memories of the pound wore off the old habits returned. Houdini was at it again!

Sammie could slide under the fence with ease. But she had learned the pound was not a place for her. She stuck around after a successful escape. Going up on the deck and barking at the sliding glass door. We opened it and she smiles and seems to say, “Look at me!”

When I bought a new fence for this place I spent a bundle on it. It works but I still have a small area of old fence that she quickly found was the weak spot. Many a time she would be on the deck 5 minutes after we let her outside. I’ve filled many holes with cut firewood to block the tunnels but she always dug more.

Luckily as she has aged the need to prove her skills has waned. She is happy on her deck but occasionally she will prove that she still has it.

The photo is of a gate we put up in the basement. It has an opening for the cats to pass through. Sam could easily have jumped this back in the day but now not so much. Instead she can squeeze through this tiny opening!

I wouldn’t have believed it if I hadn’t caught her half-way through the other night!

The opening is 10” tall by 7” wide. A 45-pound female husky squeezed right through it like it was a joke!

Never underestimate a husky!


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