Long ago, when I had three school-aged children off at their respective schools, I sat at my desk writing during the quiet of the day, when I heard the Dachshund barking. He was somewhere in our spacious half-acre back yard.
I ignored it at first, but when the barking didn’t subside, I decided I’d better go check it out. I went outside and followed the noise to the side yard where I discovered the dog wedged underneath my new Tough Shed.
He was stuck. I reached for his little front paws and tried to pull him out, but he arched his back and wouldn’t let me. I tried and tried, but every time he arched his back so that I couldn’t pull him out.
He must’ve been chasing the big rat that lived in the yard (that I couldn’t seem to catch). He’d gone under the shed at a low spot and couldn’t find it to get himself back out.
I’d ruled out poison years before when a huge Norwegian sewer rat ingested some and crawled on the deck to die. With my husband at work for hours to come, I had to move that dead rat away from a toddler and two dogs by using a bucket, a plastic bag and shovel.
It was the most un-fun thing I’d done since arriving in California.
Now a decade and a half later, I’d picked up more dead rats than I cared to admit, plus an errant opossum or two. I had abandoned poison and switched to rat traps, dog unfriendly and also hard to set.
But I digress.
Meanwhile, the wiener dog was getting hoarse from barking, I was getting cold, and I didn’t know what to do. So I called the fire department.
“Uh, my dog is stuck under the shed.”
“Why don’t you pull him out?”
“I tried a bunch of times. Could you send someone?”
It was a slow fire day, and soon four good-looking fire-fighter guys were in front of my house. I ran to meet them and led them to the shed and the cold, unhappy dog.
“Did you try pulling him out by his front paws?” they asked.
“Did you try coaxing him out with food?” another asked.
“Believe me, he doesn’t need food to be motivated to get out from under there,” I said. “He’s cold, and he’s stressed. I’m stressed!”
A couple of the guys huddled up to discuss what to do.
“We have a hydraulic jack,” one of them said. “We could try to lift up the corner of the shed.”
This was a Tough Shed, constructed on-site on top of the blacktop the previous owner had poured for boat storage.
“Yes, do that,” I said.
“You had to understand, ma’am, that if the jack slips and the shed falls on your dog and crushes him, we can’t be held liable.”
“Do it!” I said.
The guys went back to the truck and returned with the jack. Wiener kept up his scratchy barking as I stroked his little paws to calm him down, although it didn’t work.
The guys got the jack into position and started it up. The noise was bad for a stressed dog. No sooner had they lifted up the corner a half inch than the dog streaked out of there, ran to the doggie door and into the warm house.
We high-fived all around, me and the four good-looking fire fighters.
“You’ve saved the family dog!” I said. “Thank you so much!”
“You’re welcome,” they said as they headed back to the rig.
The following day, my handyman made a skirt for the bottom of the shed.
In the end, the rat got away, but Wiener was saved.
All in all, a good day, but I didn’t get any writing done.