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This petsitter has finally flown the coop!

Henrietta, Gertrude and Dame Drummond

One of a  petsitter’s worst nightmares is getting locked out. It’s an innocent enough mistake. You go into the house, you put the keys down, you take the dog out and…SLAM! You realize the door has locked behind you.

Honestly, as common as that scenario is, I’ve always been proud to say it’s never happened to me.  (I freely admit to having locked my keys in the car and falling victim to malfunctioning house alarms  – both occasions that necessitate a visit from the local police –  as well as having keys fall out of my pocket, I assume when pulling out a poop bag.  Maxine got a whole second walk several years ago when I had to backtrack to find her key. More recently, Scout and Pearl got a nice car ride while I searched for theirs. It happens to the best of us.)

Today, however was a first. I didn’t get locked out. I got locked in.

I’d been to the house before and never had a problem, but between the many  trips in and out that I needed to make for this particular job ,the door swung shut behind me when I was in. I wanted to be sure it was secure, so I dutifully gave it a good pull. I didn’t hear the latch engage. But when I went to  go back out again, the door wouldn’t budge. It wasn’t jammed. I could feel the resistance right at latch level. I knew it wouldn’t open, yet I continued to try it again and again. Finally I had to face it. I was locked in the house. The hen house. Yes, the chicken coop.

I quickly dialed my emergency backup, Linda, who I later found out was in Borders Bookstore at the time. No answer. I left a message, and then dialed back several times. No dice. I decided to try Glenn. But I didn’t have his number on my cell phone.

Being the resourceful problem solver that I am, I knew I could get it from my chiropracter’s office, since Glenn goes there too. As luck would have it, I was calling during afternoon hours when they were open. Anita answered the phone. I told her it was me. Of course, being polite, she asked me how I was doing.  When I told her, there was a silence, which I broke by asking her, “Can you hear them?”

The three Silver-Laced Wyandottes were clucking contentedly, since on my last trip in I had filled their suet cages with fresh greens. Anita quickly found Glenn’s number and wished me luck. I called Glenn, who didn’t answer his phone.

I dialed Ashley, another petsitter, who I later learned was busy with her afternoon client in Denville at the time. My phone battery was getting low. 

I called Linda again. This time she picked up. She was just in the middle of listening to my message. “You locked the keys in the chicken coop!?” she asked.  When I told her that it was I who was locked in the coop, I had to hold the phone away from my ear, she was laughing so hard. She said she’d tried to reach Glenn at his office number.

Finally, I heard from Glenn who was on his way and thrilled to get a chance to meet the lovely trio. Between calls, it wasn’t a bad way to spend a warm February afternoon  hour. The chickens got hand fed, Glenn got to take the eggs home, and I spent some quality time bonding with the hens and taking pictures.

I added Glenn’s number to my directory. I heard from Ashley who was checking in to see if I was still stuck. I got a lot of great photographs, and I checked in with the owner of the chickens, who told me how to open the latch next time should I get stuck again, and who himself admitted that he’d once gotten trapped in the smaller house inside the coop where the chickens laid their eggs, from which there is almost truly no escape, considering the small size of it, which made me feel all the better. (Mental note: do not climb into the small enclosure when collecting eggs.) And so all’s well that ends well – as it usually happens.

And you thought a petsitter’s life was boring!

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Posted in Action!, Behavior, common sense, farm animals, home experiments.


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