By Lesley Liddle
Lesley Liddle is a certified service and pet dog trainer. First Mate Lulu is a Corgi/Red Heeler with spots like a baby harbor seal; Crewman Leonard is a Chihuahua/Doxie with tall ears like a rabbit. Both dogs have very short legs and were originally found in California shelters. Lesley has average legs and can be found on Orcas Island.
Some years ago, as I returned to my car after a warm summer walk around Mountain Lake, I opened up my hatchback and Eli, my beautiful well mannered Sheltie immediately jumped in. I leaned in to detach his leash, dropped the keys while doing this, and as he jumped into the back seat I slammed down the lid.
Immediately I realized the keys were inside, the windows were rolled up, the car was in the hot sun, and Eli was already hot and panting from the walk. And there was no help around. I felt a distinct panic. Soon a man drove up and I asked him if he had a coat hanger or something to pry open a window. He didn’t but he had a cell phone that worked and I was able to call both the police station and the locksmith, neither of whom answered. I left dire messages at both places. I was about ready to grab a rock and break the car window.
Fortunately, another man came along who did have an old coat hanger in the back of his pickup, and we were able to work it through the edge of the window and down to the latch. Eli was saved from heat stroke, the car was no worse, and I learned to check for my keys before closing the car doors, especially with a dog inside. More importantly, I got myself another key and hid it under the car – not that I would ever do such a dumb thing again – but just in case.
A couple of years after purchasing that extra car key and hiding it under my car, I was down in California at service dog school. I took Lulu and my school dogs in the car to the beach on Sundays and let them chase the waves. It was a huge release for all of us because school was tough.
But one day while we were romping I lost the car keys somewhere on the beach, and as the sun began to set I was forced to give up the search. It was terrible. I had three young service dogs and we were tired, the beach was closing and we couldn’t get in the car.
I called my roommate who very grumpily got a set of spare keys out of my dresser drawer and drove thirty miles to the beach. She tossed them to me, turned around and left in a righteous huff. Right after she left, I unlocked the car and felt a great wave of relief pass over me.
And that is when I remembered that I had a key stashed under the car. Of course I never could confess this to my roommate. It was just too awful.
And in conclusion, what is the point, I ask, of hiding a key, if you cannot remember that you have hidden it?