Special needs

Trapped while dog sitting

Amy and Talia are locked out and trapped in a backyard while dog sitting for a friend

By Amy Baskin
Trapped while dog sitting

Jack Kesselman

Talia and I, intrepid dog-sitters, arrive at a friend’s house to let their pooch out for a pee. After unlocking the front door, we greet *Fluffy (Fluffy is a pseudonym to protect pooch privacy.)
“C’mon Fluffy,” Tal says leading her to the kitchen.
At the kitchen, I unlock the back sliding door and step into the yard &#151 coaxing out the dog to do her business. Fluffy follows me onto the grass. Then Talia steps into the yard and closes the sliding door behind her. OMINOUS CLICK. I tug at the door. Locked. Tight.
“Tal &#151 why did you close the door!?” I yell. (Not my proudest parenting moment.)
Talia grimaces and sticks her tongue between her teeth &#151 a sign that she’s mega-stressed.
“It’s OK, Tal,” I say. “It’s not your fault the door locked.”
I tug the door again. No luck. Peering through the glass, I see the house key and my purse on the kitchen table. Inside my purse is my entire life &#151 cell phone, wallet, and car key. Outside in the yard, Tal, Fluffy and I have nothing. Just our jackets. (Fluffy, of course, doesn’t have a jacket)
Trapped! OK &#151 there’s got to be a way out. I check the back door to the garage &#151 locked. While circling the yard, I see it’s barricaded by a high fence. I start to sweat.
But hey, I’ve seen 127 Hours &#151 the true-life flick about a climber trapped under a boulder in a national park. To survive, he drinks his own urine and cuts off his arm. Surely if he can do that, I can escape a suburban backyard. Hmm....I see  bricks piled in the yard and wonder if I can stack them and climb over the fence. But then what would I do with Tal? Leave her alone in the yard? Heave her over the fence and tell her to go for help? 
“I’m cold,” Tal says. Sure enough &#151 it’s getting dark and chilly.
Finally, I discover a little hidden fence gate. After jiggling and fiddling, I finally open it. Freedom!!!! Talia and I leave Fluffy in the yard and set off for help &#151 (remember my purse, cell phone and car keys are locked in the house.) So we walk to a neighbour’s home (with two cars in the driveway), knock on the door and ring the doorbell. No answer. Then we knock and ring at several other houses. Zippo response.
Finally, at the 5th house, a frowning woman opens the door a crack. After hearing my ridiculous tale, she smiles and brings us her phone. Phew &#151 Jack is home! We return to our friend's’ house to wait on the front porch for heroic Jack. (First we retrieve Fluffy from the yard, of course).
“That lady at the house was a stranger,” Talia says. “You shouldn’t talk to strangers.”
“Yes &#151 but she’s our friend's’ neighbour and we needed help. So it was ok we talked to her,” I explain.
Back home, at the dinner table (take out Chinese food &#151 I’m too traumatized to cook), we rehash our tale of survival.
“What if that had happened to me?” Jack says. “The neighbours wouldn’t have answered the door for a strange guy."
“We don’t know our neighbours well,” Tal adds.
She’s right. With neighbours, we wave and chat about our dogs and kids &#151 but we don’t have each other’s house keys. Man, it would have been so easy if Fluffy’s next door neighbours had the house key. 
So this terrifying tale of survival brings up two questions:
1. Have you ever been locked out (of your house or car or place you’re visiting) with your kids?
2. Do you know your neighbours well? Do they have a copy of your house key?
This article was originally published on Oct 27, 2011

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