We had two dogs buried in our back yard. We had Katie, who loved to climb trees. And we had Henry, our stealth dog who got into trouble in sneaky ways. I think Frank was channeling both dogs.
One afternoon, early in June, I was outside grilling a steak for Wife and me. PD started barking. I thought PD and Frank were arguing over one of the toys.
I looked around to see what toy was being argued over. I could see PD, but couldn’t find Frank. PD was looking up at the trees, barking like he does when the squirrels are harassing him. I noticed movement over the little hot-tub house in our backyard. I looked up and found Frank scampering around on the roof!
I hollered for Wife to come out. I told Wife to watch Frank while I got the ladder. She was pretty sure she wouldn’t be able to catch him, but she agreed to watch Frank, anyway.
I grabbed the ladder and climbed up. I called Frank to me. I wasn’t even sure if Frank knew his name, yet. I was both surprised and relieved when he came.
I ran to the hardware store after supper to pick up a role of aluminum flashing and some screws. Wife thought she knew which tree Frank had climbed. I thought the climb was awful steep and guessed that it might be a different one with more of a slope. When I got home, I began screwing the flashing in place around Wife’s tree so that Frank couldn’t get a toe-hold on the bark. I covered the sharp edges with duct tape, since I was pretty sure Frank (Mr. Persistence) would probably continue to lunge at the tree and try to climb it.
As I stood back to inspect my work, PD started barking again. Looked up, following PD’s gaze. I guess you could call PD a tattle-tale. Except that it was his barking a few years earlier that saved me from a deadly fall off the roof when he called Wife outside for me. So I won’t call him a tattle – tale. Instead, I think he just recognizes that some folk simply do not belong on tall objects.
In any event, I looked up, and there was Frank. This time, Frank was walking across a narrow branch that hung about two feet above the roof of the hot-tub house.
I ran up the ladder and called Frank down. I held my breath as he jumped off the limb and onto the roof. He ran over to me and I brought him down again.
All of the trees in our backyard wore bright shiny aluminum collars before sunset.
We had bought a small house in Victoria as a place for me to stay when I was teaching. The yard was tiny, but had a large tree. I put an aluminum collar around that tree during my next visit. Frank still thinks he is a Billy Goat, and I’m doing my best to convince him he’s a dog.
Did I mention he’s persistent?