FOR SEVERAL weeks, his new owners called this four-legged escape artist Harry Houdini.
Every time they left home, so did Harry.
This mixed-breed with the face of a blond Labrador and the body TTC of a basset hound was found several months ago wandering in the Govans area where Sue Diffenderffen and Diane Fenton live. They gave him a home but found he had to have company at all times.
He was thin, hungry and afraid. One of his ribs stuck out farther than the others, and it is now diagnosed as possibly an old
break from a hard kick. ''We are positive he was abused. He is so cautious of people, particularly men. His bad rib was very noticeable when he was thin, but he has filled out,'' says Sue.
Diane remembers the evening he was found. ''I was shopping at the market in Belvedere Square and Sue was going to a meeting when she came flying in to tell me she'd found a dog and not to worry, it was in our back yard.''
But when Diane got home, there wasn't a dog in the yard, there was only their 4-year-old greyhound named Murphy, who was in the house. Harry Houdini had climbed the fence and disappeared, but he did have some identification.
''Sue had put a collar on him with an old rabies tag from another dog we had owned [these two are always saving dogs] and within a week we had a call from a person way out in Carney who had Harry. Since that time we have changed his name to Emmett Kelly for the clown who was so sad-faced but happy,'' says Diane. ''We think he is beautiful, but others are divided. Some agree with me, others think he's ugly. Ugly,'' she adds.
Before the two discovered Emmett had to have company, he ran away again. ''We went out and left him in the house figuring he didn't even know where the pet door was or how to use it. However, we were wrong and he went out the door and over the fence,'' says Sue. ''A resident of Homeland found him this time.''
It's been two months or more now since the escape artist has performed and, in the meantime, according to Sue, he has bonded completely with Diane and is her shadow.
''He goes to work with me,'' says Diane. She and Sue own an antique shop called Keepers at Read and Tyson streets where Diane works and a refinishing shop called the Baltimore County Stripper on York Road in Cockeysville where Sue works. In the shop, Emmett loves visitors but barks at and seems fearful of men.
Diane is confident he won't run away. ''He sleeps with me, we take walks and go shopping. Plus he and Murphy, the female greyhound, have become fast friends. And, even though his face is so sad, I believe he is completely content,'' says Diane, who remains convinced he was once abused. Because of this they have stopped trying to find his owner. ''Emmett will stay with us,'' says Diane, who still keeps a close eye on him just in case his Houdini personality reappears.