As everybody knows, Harry Houdini was a master escape artist who could compress himself into, and then work his way free from, the tiniest spaces. Our dog Duffy has perfected only one feat of this type, but it's dazzling to watch.
First, a little background to the Harry Houdoggy moment. We supposedly bought a purebred shetland sheepdog, but Duffy has grown fabulously huge for the breed. Can you picture a 50-pound sheltie? Friends, relatives, and even total strangers walking their dogs have taken it upon themselves to kindly let us know we were total chumps if we thought we were getting a purebred. But we don't regret it, because Duffy is one of life's sweethearts. For one thing, in his heart he's still a tiny guy. He will crawl confidingly into our laps, crushing us. And he's passionately attached to the little crate which he used as a puppy, and insists on taking his naps there. It looks impossible, but in his mind the sun shines on all his endeavors, so he never hesitates. First he crouches and creeps through the tiny door. I worry that the day will come when he can only do this if he's covered with grease. He eases forward until his nose touches the back of the crate. Then comes the Harry Houdoggy moment: slowly, but with fabulous confidence, he twines his loo-oong, flexible spine around on itself like the unfurling of a rosette, and ends up facing out, in a compact bundle. His big, dark, furry head and shoulders loll out the door, and his face has a look of ecstatic stupor, as with half-closed eyes he gently mumbles a shred of the battered red flannel shirt that's been his blankey--also since puppyhood.
And we smile, because we know we're looking at perfect happiness.