Um--Could You Help Me Get My Dog
                 Out of That Tree?

by Tina Blue
December 27, 2000

          In 1975, my then-husband and I got a beautiful eight-month-old Afghan hound puppy. Of course, at eight months, an Afghan hound puppy is bigger than many other breeds at full size, but he's still very much a puppy.

          Afghan hounds are tall, leggy animals. They were originally bred for mountainous terrain, as well as for running down prey across flat distances. They're fast runners, but they also like to climb. No self-respecting Afghan hound will lie on the floor if there is a chair, a couch, or a bed to lie on. They would much rather be up.

          We lived in a house with a decent-sized fenced back yard. I loved to watch Jason out the window while I washed dishes. He looked so regal sunning himself, or stretched out in the shade. One of the trees he liked to lie under had a wide, low-hanging branch. One day, I watched Jason examine that branch for several minutes, and then reach up on his hind legs to drape his forepaws over it.

          I was just thinking how I wished I had my camera loaded, when the goofy dog heaved and pulled to get one of his hind legs up and over the branch. It was an awkward position: His front legs and one of his hind legs were draped over the branch and his other hind leg barely reached the ground. He couldn't get the rest of the way up, but he couldn't quite get back down, either.

          He was obviously not comfortable, but he also seemed to be aware that his dignity was at risk, so after looking around to see if he was being watched, he posed himself--regally, of course--as if to say, "This is exactly what I wanted."

          I went out to help him down. At that point, he was a mere fifty-five pounds, so it wasn't that hard to maneuver him back to the ground.

          Afghan hounds are runners--they need to run a lot to stay healthy and happy. I used to take Jason over to the large athletic field near Stouffer Place, an apartment complex set aside for married students, just a block from where we lived. This field was big enough for Jason to really race around for some distance. In fact, it's where the KU Marching Band used to practice its halftime routines.          

          Over to the side of the field, near the apartment playground, were several trees, some of which were perfect for climbing.

          One day, when I was playing chase with Jason, I decided to go up one of those trees, just to tease him, since he wouldn't be able to reach me. But Jason had other ideas.

          The tree I chose had a low, wide crotch, and a couple more only slightly less wide just a short distance above that one. As I said, perfect for climbing. So I went up, past even the third crotch, and started calling to my dog, "Jason! Jason! Come on, boy!"

          And Jason did--all the way up to the third crotch, where he stayed. He couldn't get any further, but he also couldn't get down. I was able to drop to the ground from where I was, and to go around to try to help him down, but I am fairly short, and Jason was a good-sized dog.

          Fortunately, a young couple was playing with their toddler at one of the swingsets near the apartments, so I went over to ask for their help, "Um, could you please help me get my dog down from that tree?"

          The man was already laughing about Jason's predicament. He said he'd help, but his wife wasn't so sure that was a good idea. She was afraid that such a big dog might bite. I promised her that he wouldn't. What I wanted to say was, "Look where he is. Obviously he's a big pussycat!" But I didn't want to sound too flip. I really needed her husband's help.

          Well, with the two of us working on him, we finally got Jason down from the tree. He learned his lesson, too.  From that day forward, he never climbed past the first crook in the tree.
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