White Dog eyes were as wide as mine when Candace came into the office. She was breathing heavily and looked distraught. I immediately went into worry mode since she had been in the basement working on packaging up items from the recent Paws To People Auction so that they could be shipped out to the winners. Killer spiders? Some newly uncovered old house issue? Ghosts?
"Are you all right?" I asked.
"Just a little shaken," she replied. "Although I am kind of freaking out over how bad it COULD have been." NOW she had our riveted attention.
"I came up to put some boxes on the shipping label pile and went back downstairs," she told us. "I KNOW I closed and latched the gate to the laundry area (where the basement stairs are)." White Dog ran to check on the White Dog Army.
Candace continued, "I sensed something next to me and turned around. There was Ferguson. I did not even hear him come down the stairs. He just stood there wagging at me like he wanted to help."
I took a deep slow breath. The gate was put up when Quinn joined us to keep the White Dogs out of the basement when Michael lived there and often forgot to close the door. Our home has a quaint history including the story of the original family hand digging out the basement as their need for space grew. The rooms down there are finished but the stairs are narrow, steep and not evenly spaced. Entry is something that takes getting used to and is a fall risk for those unfamiliar with the quirks.
When Quinn first came to the WDA, Michael was anxious to show him the "mancave" we had created for him. Michael encouraged Quinn to go down the stairs to see the space. Quinn took a misstep and went tumbling down the remaining steps. Fortunately, he was not hurt, but that was enough to prompt ironclad strict rules about no dogs in the basement and a lockout system...the one in place today.
Ferguson had not fallen, Candace was certain. He had carefully and quietly managed to outwit the gate and follow his friend. She took no chances on his coming back up the steep stairway and carried him to the kitchen. Then she latched and tested the gate. It seemed functional.
After coming in to tell me and to issue a warning of caution about the sweet innocent boy with a sneaky streak, she went back down to finish her tasks.
Ferguson, thwarted, stood at the gate and barked his demand to join her.
WD had returned to my side. "This," I said to her, "is yet one more reason that my furs are turning grey."