Dom Joly: Don't be fooled: Huxley is planning his great escape

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The Independent Online

My gorgeous dog Huxley has started disappearing again. He used to do it a lot until we built a Colditz-standard fence around the property. This, coupled with a surprise castration (Huxley, not me), seemed to do the trick.

I'd sometimes come into a room and find him staring into the distance out of a window. He'd hear me come and turn, shaking himself out of his reverie, to fix me with a hollow stare. Whatever any woman tells you, castration does have an effect on a male, dog or otherwise.

Huxley appears to be the same dog I've loved since he was a puppy, but deep down something has changed. Being a black dog it's not unusual that he might suffer from what Churchill called "black dog", that is, depression. But I don't think it's a genetic thing. In fact I can date it almost precisely to the day that he had his testicles cut off. Coincidence? I think not. But although the heinous act happened while I was away, I was forced at least initially to accept that it might have been worthwhile, as Huxley did stop running away.

I guess I just never really thought about it that logically. If someone suddenly cut my testicles off, I might have a period where I went out a little less. I'd probably want to avoid polite conversation for a while.

"Hello, Dom, haven't seen you for a bit, how are things?"

"Oh, OK... I had my testicles cut off, but apart from that, things are OK. I'm the new voice of B&Q... "

It's a situation you would naturally avoid and it must have been the same for Huxley. After a while, however, you start to get used to your new situation and you want to begin to rebuild your shattered life. This must have been what Huxley experienced. He probably woke up one day and just thought: "There must be more than this. I'm still a handsome dog. Get out there, Huxy... "

Being a smart dog, he thought the whole thing through. He continued playing the quiet eunuch at home, but at night he was planning. Last week he went for it. He'd clearly been preparing an initial tunnel under the first fence. Having got under it he had to clear a 6ft wall and get through thick shrubbery. The smell of freedom must have given him super-canine powers.

He was gone for three hours and Stacey went crazy with worry. We drove around the village shouting out his name. I went along because I knew she needed to feel that she was doing something. Secretly, I knew it was useless. Huxley had planned the whole thing meticulously. My best bet was that he had gone to a nearby village where a lot of local dogs meet up behind the village pub.

I could imagine him holding court in front of a hushed group of hounds: "So, there were six burglars and they all came at me at the same time. I managed to deal with four of them but the fifth one had a knife and came at me from behind. That's when... the accident happened.... "

"But you can still... you know?" asked a worried golden Labrador bitch.

"Oh yes.... I just need to rest for a while. Everything will grow back." A big Boxer brought him a bowl of old gravy from the kitchen bins and Huxley was thankful for the distraction.

He came home just as it was getting dark and as Stacey was calling the police. We were told that from this week the police no longer deal with lost dogs. We have to ring the council.

We've rebuilt the fortifications so it'll take Huxley a little time to work out another plan. He'll do it though. You can't keep a good dog down.

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