The Great Escape(s)


Emma Shanahan, Staff Writer

Running as fast as she possibly could, panting, her little legs carried her so quickly down the side of route 101 that she was almost flying. Salsa, the three year old chihuahua-rat terrier mix, had a midday jailbreak from doggy daycare after digging a hole under a fence, and was home free. Her actions, causing her to get kicked out of daycare, were frowned upon owner, Lyle Hamel, though, were not unfamiliar to him.
When looking to forgive Salsa for her poor decisions and reckless behavior, Hamel remembered a specific occasion, May 25th 1990, the day that will live in infamy in young Lyle’s life.
After his aunt, a radiologist at the Elliot, lent her lab coat, which doubled as a dress on the young eight year old, Lyle was ready for career day. With a shiny, new microscope in hand, and about two dozen sea monkeys, the aspiring scientist tackled the day, and amazed his classmates with the brine shrimp he had laid out for their inquisitive minds.
Little LJ had his mind somewhere else that Friday. His best friend Steven St. Cyr was sleeping over, and that was what he had looked forward to all week.
It was approximately 1:30 when Sister Terrance Gallagher had advised Hamel to close down his booth because career day was over. As any rambunctious third grader would, Lyle inadvertently perceived this as meaning he could go home, and boy was he out of there. He packed up his sea monkeys, grabbed young Steven, and managed to escape West Side Catholic Regional School at 1:37, under everyone’s noses, including their own.
The two ran, bolted rather, ecstatic for the fun, from the school, down the street, and to Hamel’s family home. After having just arrived, the two boys found school secretary Angela Nezmith knocking at the door, ready to haul them back, to finish their school day, and receive their punishment for leaving school early, and attempting to skip the end of the day.
At this point, Salsa had interrupted Lyle’s flashback with the sound of her gnawing at a pigs ear in the passenger’s seat. Already upset with little Salsa, Hamel noticed the mess she was making between the pigs ear, and the dirt on her paws from her re-enactment of the escape from Alcatraz, he rolled his eyes and continued to reminisce.
This time Hamel thought about when he adopted Salsa. Out of all the the pups on Lake Ave, Lyle saw something in little Salsa.
He saw himself.
The doggo was not too aggressive, but the perfect amount, just like Hamel. She wasn’t shy, but was consciously reserved, a quality they both shared. Hamel had never had a pet before, besides his pet goldfish, Goldie, which he had won at the fair at age four. Goldie suffered a tragic death the very next day, and Hamel had finally recovered. Though reluctant, Hamel found comfort in Salsa, like his travesty with Goldie the goldfish was nothing, and he could forget about his poor little fish. That is when he knew he wanted to get Salsa.
After dropping $250 on his new friend, because like usual, he has to buy them, Hamel took Salsa home, and cared for the dog, who just like him, lived a hard-knock life in Manchester.
This was the point when Hamel realized he had to renounce his frustration with Salsa. He realized Salsa was exactly like him. Making the same mistakes he made as a third grader.
Hamel always new Salsa shared some of the qualities that make him so great, but it was in this moment that he realized the two were cut from the same cloth, and he could never hold his own mistakes against Salsa.
It became clear that somehow, somewhere, the stars aligned, and allowed Lyle J Hamel to find his mini me, and they’ve been been together ever since 2006.