We called him the Houdini of the Dog World.
Sam looked goofy.
Black, because of a Labrador retriever among his ancestors. Otherwise, a beagle, except with ears so long he often tripped over them. His sister, and admirer, Sasha, looked like a beagle, white and brown and pretty, with appropriately sized ears.
Crack open the kitchen door and Sam squeezed out, with Sasha following. Two hours or so and Sasha would be back, clearly pleased with her forbidden run in the woods. Sam? Maybe that night. Maybe tomorrow.
We'll skip the time Sam got shot, or toppled over our waterfall, or got a face full of porcupine quills (three times for that). We'll tell you about Sam's greatest escape of all.
We built the dogs a backyard pen, for when we had to spend an afternoon away. Routinely, as if by magic, we came home to find Sam gone from the pen. So we made its wire-mesh walls higher, then higher, then higher still.
Nothing daunted the dog Houdini.
Finally, we hid behind an upstairs window's curtain to watch.
Sam sat looking out through the pen's mesh, making sure nobody watched. Satisfied, he got up on his hind legs, stretching his front legs as far up the mesh as possible. Then he used his front paws to pull himself up, giving his rear paws a purchase on the mesh. And so he strenuously ascended, his tail pinwheeling, to give him lift, like a helicopter's rotor.
He teetered at the top, looking down at the ground, far below, getting up his courage.
Then he jumped.
Sasha, still in the pen, virtually applauded her brother's amazing feat, watching him rocket off into the woods for another adventure, going where his beagle nose led him.
Sam—the bad dog—outlived his sister. When he died, peacefully, at an exceptionally advanced age, he looked thoroughly pleased with himself.
--Joyce & Richard