Monday, August 04, 2008

It seemed like a good idea.

Liz wanted to run cable through the attic from the office to our bedroom at the far end of the house. The problem was that our tastefully vaulted ceiling in the center of the house leaves only a tiny crawlway between the two sections of attic space. Our options were to either hire an anorexic contortionist cable guy to squeeze through the narrow gap or run the cables unsightfully through the inside of the house. My solution, brilliant in its simplicity, to tie a string to the puppy’s collar, push her through a small hole in the ceiling of the office closet, and have Liz (whom the puppy likes more than me) (I can’t imagine why) call to her from the other side of the crawlspace. Once the puppy runs to momma, so to speak, Liz unhooks the string from her collar and pulls the cable through to the other side.

I propose this idea to Liz, in the half-joking tone I reserve for suggestions that I’m not certain to be received well. Liz seems impressed by my cleverness, and, ten minutes later, I am balanced precariously on the edge of my computer desk, sawing a puppy-sized hole in the sheetrock with an old space-age stainless steel carving knife (guaranteed for life).

Now Liz has made a minor modification to my plan for the sake of safety (the puppy’s). Instead of affixing the length of white nylon rope (previously used as a hangman’s noose for a glow-in-the-dark skeleton two Halloweens back) to the puppy’s collar, she instead ties it to the leash of the puppy’s going-walkies harness, so that, if, for some reason, we have to pull the dog back, we’ll be pulling on the harness around her chest, rather than the collar around her neck.

Hole cut. Liz in the attic. Dog harnessed. Rope affixed. The operation begins.

Precious Puppy does not want to go in the dark hole. I feel a little bad, but hey, it’s not like I’m asking her to herd sheep or something. One quick run through the attic, and it will be a hero’s welcome and all the cat treats she can eat (apparently they taste better than puppy treats). Puppy goes in hole. Proceeding well. Feeding the rope into the hole. My mind drifts back to the heartbreaking Jonathan Coulton song about Laika the first dog in space. The rope goes slack.

Me: “Puppy? You there?”

Puppy: “…”

Ember: “Daddy, I scared.”

Me: “Puppy?”

Ember: “I want to hold you daddy!”

Me: “Ember, puppy’s in the ceiling right now and I have to help her, please wait a minute.”

Puppy: “…wheeze…”

I give the rope a little tug. More wheezing. Tug harder. It’s caught on something. No further movement.

Ember: “Daddy! I want to hold you!”

I climb as high as I can. The table sways dangerously underneath me. Elbow deep in the puppy hole. Sheetrock dust in my eyes. Coughing. Feeling in the darkness. No puppy.

“Daddy, I scared!”


Wrong answer. Ember starts bawling uncontrollably. She sniffs in rage and strides across the room, climbing up to slap me hard on the ankle.

“Ember… go… to… your… room…now.”

Liz climbs back down and joins me in the office for Puppy Rescue 2008. She climbs up to the puppy hole, slips her arm through and begins to pull in earnest on the leash. A curse. Liz hands me down the empty puppy harness. Either the puppy has managed to somehow wiggle free of her bonds, or she’s been eaten by a grue.

Liz straps on the LED headlamp her grandmother gave us two Christmasses back. She climbs the ladder in the garage, and she makes her way toward the dreaded crawlspace. This time, they’ve got her dog!

Somehow, she makes it through. In the dusty beam of the maglite, I can make out one ashen-faced Liz and a bored-looking puppy. No, sir, she does not want to go back through that puppy hole. Liz doesn’t give her the option not to. Dog in hand. Precious Puppy looks up at me and coughs. Go chase a cat or something.

So, Liz, as long as you’re up there… you want the rope? I’m kinda glad that I can’t quite hear what she says. Liz takes the rope and begins the long crawl to freedom.

Ember releases herself from time-out on her own recognizance. I take baby aggro again, leading her to her favorite DVD (Robots) and getting her a drink. I return to the office just in time to see the tangled bundle of spare rope about to disappear into the puppy hole. I lunge for it and tie it off. I proceed to the garage to pull a mangled, exhausted, dust-covered Liz from the attic.

We survived.

My boss’ first comment when I get to work this morning, “why don’t you do a wireless network?”

It seemed like a good idea.