Reporter Christena T. O'Brien recently might have foiled three attempts by her cat, Winston, to get rid of her dog.

On Sunday, Feb. 24, my spirits sank as my garage door opened. While I had expected snow, I hadn’t anticipated there would be that much of it.

Close to a foot of snow had fallen overnight and that morning, and strong winds were causing the snow to drift across my driveway.

As I pulled the cord to start my snowblower, I said a silent prayer that my single-stage machine would cut through the blanket of white lying between me and the street.

It was slow-going because of the volume of snow as I pushed the snowblower down the driveway and then up it again. As I got closer and closer to each side, it became evident that I was going to have to shovel some because my little snowblower couldn’t shoot the snow up and over the walls of white that lined both sides.

As I was finishing up with the snowblower, my black Lab, Chance, came bounding down the driveway, made a quick left and dashed down the sidewalk. Confused how he got out of the house, I froze for a split second and then sprinted up the driveway to the garage, where I found the door to the house standing open.

Hoping my cat, Winston, hadn’t escaped, too, I ran inside, yelling his name. Thankfully, he appeared at the top of the steps. I slammed the door, jumped in my Jeep and roared out of the garage after my dog.

There is no other way to catch Chance, who has proven himself a bit of an escape artist during our 11 years together. To him, the chase is a game, one he has mastered. However, long ago I stumbled upon a little trick after chasing him all over the neighborhood.

Chance loves to go for a ride, so if he sees the Jeep, he often turns tail and comes back, wanting to go for his ride.

Thankfully on that snowy Sunday, his desire for a ride outweighed his plans to explore. Stopping in the snow-covered street, I opened the door, helped Chance get in, drove around the block, pulled back into the garage and put Chance back in the house.

Figuring I must not have shut the door from the garage to the house tightly, I trudged back down the driveway to my snowblower and shovel. A few minutes later, I looked up to see Chance running down the driveway and making a hard right down the sidewalk.

Fortunately for me, my neighbor on that side hadn’t cleared his portion of the sidewalk yet, and Chance found himself up to his belly in snow. Before he could dash off again, I had a leash around his neck and was leading him back to the house, where I found an open door again. Strangely, Winston – who normally loves to go into the garage — was still sitting at the top of the stairs.

Slamming the door from the garage to the house, I was sure Chance was inside for good. Just to be safe, I closed the overhead garage door and exited out the side door — just in time to see the mountain of snow the plow had left at the end of my driveway.

Knowing it was pointless to even try the snowblower, I started shoveling. About 20 minutes later, I had cleared about two-thirds of the snow away. As I stopped to catch my breath, I glanced back at the house — only to see Chance dash out the side door and down the driveway. He managed to sidestep me and headed left again.

Running back to the house, I entered the door Chance had just exited. Seeing the door from the house to the garage standing open, the light went on. Winston!

Like Chance, Winston is a bit of a Houdini. About a year ago, he figured out how to open the door to the garage, and on occasion, he lets himself out to explore. I hadn’t forgotten to shut the door. He had opened it — all three times.

Fearing he was on the prowl in the garage, I hesitated to open the overhead since I already had one pet on the lam. Running into the house, I called his name, and thankfully, he appeared.

Locking him in the bathroom, so he couldn’t open the door yet again, I dashed back outside, opened the garage door and backed the Jeep out for a second time. As I pull onto the street, I couldn’t see Chance anywhere.

Roaring down the road, I turned onto a neighboring street, where neighbors were digging out their sidewalks and driveways. No one had seen Chance. Panic set in as I drove around. Considering the depth of the snow, his path of escape was limited, but there was no sight of my black dog anywhere among the white. Did he change course and I missed it as I made sure Winston was in the house? Did someone pick him up?

The third time I looped around the neighborhood, I spotted Chance as he and another dog were playing near a neighbor’s garage. Seeing the Jeep, Chance trotted out to greet me and go for a ride. I helped him in and headed home again.

Not wanting to take any chances, I left him in the Jeep for about 10 minutes as I finished the end of the driveway. To reward him for coming to the Jeep, I took him for a ride to the gas station, where I bought him some string cheese.

Exhausted from shoveling and chasing after my dog, I drove home. Once I was convinced both garage doors were tightly closed, I let Chance out, and we went inside.

Remembering Winston was locked in the bathroom, I sprang the culprit from his jail cell. He didn’t seem too excited to see Chance, making me wonder if he was actually attempting to get rid of the dog.  

Contact: 715-830-5838,, @CTOBrien on Twitter