When I was a kid we had a scruffy little Terrier named Bandit. Bandit wasn't the smartest or most obedient of dogs although he did know how to sit on command. He also knew how to unlatch the backyard gate and loved to go out on adventures. I would often run into Bandit roaming around the park and the second he would see me he would high tail it back home. We were always perplexed how such a small dog could get out of the backyard since we always took great care to keep the gate closed.
Now that I look back at it I think Bandit had all of us fooled and may have been one of the smartest dogs I have ever owned. I remember one day sitting in my 7th grade history class staring out the window daydreaming about things that 7th grade boys daydream about. In the background was the steady monotone drone of my teacher Mr. Cox. A balding man in his 50's who wore wire rimmed glasses and had a special talent for speaking non-stop in a cadence that was a sure fire cure for insomnia.
As I gazed out into the clear sky looking across the front lawn of the school I saw a familar sight. It was my little dog Bandit and he was making a bee line straight for the school. There was no doubt he was on a mission, no stopping and sniffing his focus was undeterred. For reasons I still don't understand to this day we were not allowed to bring our lunch boxes into the classrooms so they were left lined up against the outside walls like slats in a picket fence. Only half the kids had actual lunch boxes and the other half had their lunches in brown paper bags.
I quickly realized the canine crime that was about to transpire as I watched my dog in all of his glory. His pilfering skills were exemplary as he passed the metal lunch boxes as if they were non-existent and went nose first into the closest lunch bag. With surgical precision he removed a sandwich, dropped it on the ground and scratched the cling wrap loose. Once his prey was exposed he proceeded to nudge the useless bread out of the way as if it were a disposable wrapper and proceeded to dine on Oscar Meyer's delicious sandwich meat. He repeated his honed skills about a dozen more times before he headed out sight in search of more treasure.
When the bell rang I watched the chaos unfold as countless classmates came out to find their lunches had been raided. Tentative to mention that it was my dog that was the culprit I can remember being overcome with a feeling of pride. For Bandit wasn't as dumb as we had always thought, in fact he was a canine genius. When I got home that day I found the gate to the backyard was open but only slightly ajar. There was Bandit laying down by the back glass sliding door acting as if nothing happened, just another boring day in the backyard. I asked him how his day was and he just looked at me, tail wagging much like he always did with that blank stare....an Academy Award winning performance. I told him how proud I was of him, that I had been wrong about him all along, that he really was a very smart dog.
About a year later while I was playing with my brother and decided to sneak over the fence on the far side of the house. I was hoping to sneak up on my brother who I thought was on the backyard patio. When I came around the corner, much to my surprise I finally caught Bandit red-pawed and saw how he got the gate the open. That smart little dog would jump up on some stacked wood we had by the fence, hop up on top of the garbage can next to it, stretch as far as his little body allowed him and catch the gate latch with paw nails.
Bandit was a good little dog.......