Mike with Tarka at Kingston Lacy
Mike with Tarka at Kingston Lacy


Nobody said it would be easy. We foolishly thought our garden was dog-proof. From past experience, we should have realised that a dog will find a way of escape. Tarka is no exception.

Last Sunday morning she escaped from our back garden for the third time. I let her out around 7 o’clock in the morning; I was still in my night attire. I walked down the garden with her. In no time she’d picked up a trail of a night-time visitor, probably a rat. (She’s already killed one which was taking a short-cut across our garden.) Nose to the ground, she was oblivious to anything other than her quest. I saw her one minute, darting in and out of the undergrowth. The next moment, no sign. I called – nothing – again and again, no movement or sight of her. The danger is that on the other side of the hedge is easy access to a road, busy at times. The hedge is not our boundary, but belongs to our neighbours. Only the previous Monday, the young man who helps us with the garden now had put mesh against the full length of the hedge, but Tarka is small enough to pull it up and wriggle beneath it.

My heart pounding, I ran to the front of our house, opened the front door, and thankfully Tarka was running along the path adjacent to the houses towards me, looking very pleased with herself.

Esky on the loose in Spain

As the title of this piece suggests, we’ve had experience of escaping dogs before. Our first two dogs were not prone to escaping, but when we moved to Spain to live, over 13 years ago, we inherited two dogs, Esky and Gizmo. Although the land we were living on was fenced in with good quality wire, both of them escaped regularly. They climbed over the top, or burrowed underneath it. Esky was the pack leader for the whole area (life is very different in Spain for dogs in the countryside), and we heard how he controlled the others when they were howling. One growl from him and they would stop. Gizmo just came back muddy as he’d rolled in the nearby stream.

We didn’t have Esky for long; there was a lot of animosity between the two dogs, and Esky was taken to the local dog pound, where somebody could rehome him. He was so beautiful to look at that he would not have stayed long without somebody wanting him.

Gizmo in his later years
Gizmo in his later years

Gizmo of course stayed with us until last year when he passsed away at nearly 17 years old.

The next escapee was Cara – my beautiful dog brought up inside the trunk of an olive tree and raised in the wild. We moved house, and had fencing erected, but the workers did not do a good job and again the two of them, Gizmo and Cara, would find a way out. Not as serious a problem as it is here as there was so much land to roam. Still a worry though, especially as Cara was young and I never knew if she could find her way home, so we tried to stop the escaping, blocking up holes in the wires wherever we could. One day, when the orange pickers had arrived on the opposite side of a nearby river, Cara escaped and went visiting with them. I ran after her, but she was so quick and agile, and I rarely caught a glimpse of her between the rows of orange trees. Eventually she came to me, looking as if she was grinning at my worries! A dog with a sense of humour for sure.

Cara with me in our Spanish garden.
Cara with me in our Spanish garden.

Dear Cara sadly passed away aged only 6 from bone cancer. She will always be ‘my puppy from a tree’.

So, those are our experiences with these canine escape artists.

When we go out now, we try to go somewhere for Tarka too. She can’t always go to every part of National Trust properties, but she was able to visit Kingston Lacy with us on Monday last. She is sitting with my husband Mike in the photo at the top of the page. Other dog photos are not of good quality as they are old and just snaps taken when I was not interested in photography, (silly me.)




4 thoughts on “Escape Artists

  1. Good to see You and Mike, and Tarka and the of course! Happy! Glad You are all looking Well.

    Reading this, am reminded of my Cat, who is a Tom, and decided to ‘move out’ and be Independent! I had been missing him very much, and used to keep calling him. He turned up suddenly, [ I had feared that he had been killed. There are people here who think nothing of killing and eating Cats! 😦 ]

    He seems to have had bad experiences, like maybe people throwing stones at him or something, because of which he runs away even when he sees Us! But I am Very Glad he keeps turning Up!

  2. LOVE this photography, Chris. Really enjoyed your stories about escaping dogs and truly can relate. Growing up we had a dog that was not neutered and would escape every time he was in heat. We soon began to see small replicas of our dog in the neighborhood. Alex was his name and when he finally did come home he was filthy and exhausted. LOL Of course that was another era nothing like today. Dogs roamed freely back then in our neighborhood. It was no big deal. Your story reminded me of Alex who I hadn’t thought of for a very long time. Thank you!!! ❤

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