I watched them last night...Tiger and Smudge. I was watching them. To see where Smudge has been escaping every night around 3:00 causing Tiger to start barking endlessly (well, probably not endlessly, but certainly non-stop until 7:00 when I leave for work).

So last night, while Syd was asleep and Liza was at a friend's, I went around the house turning off the lights. When I got to the living room, which faces the back, I saw them outside “sleeping“. The living room was dark and the outside light was on. I could see them, they couldn't see me. So I watched...and I waited...two minutes...five minutes...ten...fifteen. Finally, MOVEMENT!

Tiger turns to Smudge and gives an imperceptible nod. “It's on!” he seems to say. Smudge gets up and starts a slow walk toward the fence, which incidentally, has the wire running through it that powers their shock collars. Halfway there, she turns back to Tiger. Tiger turns and looks my way. “I'm caught!” I thought but no, the light outside is obscuring his vision. And Syd informed me that day that dogs see only in black and white. Tiger turns back to Smudge and she resumes her trek.

She has zeroed in on a specific area of the fence and I can't help but give a little smirk. I had found that very spot earlier in the day. It has a 2x4 along the bottom that has the chain link attached to it to prevent the dogs from crawling under it. Except that Tiger and Smudge had at some point, chewed through the wire that attached the board to the fence and were able to push their way through. Tiger, I know, is too scared to approach the fence when his collar is attached but I don't see how Smudge is doing it. In any case, I had re-attached the fence that afternoon.

So I hold my breath in anticipation as Smudge nears the fence. She pauses when her collar starts beeping, the warning sign that she is near the shock boundary. Then she seems to suck in her breath and she crosses the invisible line. I see her give her head a quick shake but she doesn't stop. She heads to where she thinks freedom lay but is denied. She pushes at the fence with her paw but it doesn't give. She looks around desperately before slinking back to Tiger. As Stewie would say, “Victory is mine!”

I choose this moment to reveal myself. I open the door to the back and the change on their face is instantaneous. No longer cold and calculating, their eyes quickly glaze over and their tails wag and their jaws slack open. They rush over to me as if to say, “Hey, bossman, what a pleasant surprise seeing you out here so late at night when we usually expect you to be in bed. It sure is great to see you since we're just big, dumb dogs who love to stay in the yard all night.” I go along with the charade for a few minutes and go back in.

They frolick for a few minutes, giving an occasional glance through the door to see if I'm still watching. When they're satisfied that there is no movement from within, their mouths clamp shut and their eyes narrow. They are in surveillance mode, looking for the next weak spot in the fence. I'm not worried, though. I've scoured it all afternoon. It's impenetrable.

So obviously someone must have opened the gate to let them out after I went to bed. That's the only reasonable explanation to why I found them in the neighbour's yard when I got up the next morning.