Keeping a Step Ahead of an Escape-Artist Dog in the Sticks

I’m just glad I wasn’t yawning so much today (dunno why I can’t stop and am so tired) that I couldn’t see what was going on. My retriever-mix is an opportunist of epic proportions, especially when it comes to getting outside the door and into the wider world.

There’s a reason I have to bathe him more than my heeler.

I’m just glad he’s got plenty to chase around here instead of flying across the main drag, only to become a blonde splatter on the road.

That said, the squirrels. The “precious” to my two beings, their loves and their hates. And with all these trees and my planting going on, let’s just say, that poor retriever has to remain on a tether-line, otherwise he’ll chase every squirrel in the neighborhood and end up in fights with other dogs.

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I love how freaking accurate that is…

Living out county has its perks and it’s cons, the biggest con being that people will shoot other unknown dogs to protect their property. That’s my biggest worry.

I had to buy another tether-stake today because I saw my longer spiral stake, which I attached 40 feet of coated line to (meant for a 100 pound dog), was all bent up. I had a feeling there would be a trade-off between a longer shaft and spiral stake to drive in, and it was that the shaft was skinnier than my shorter stake.

Well, I noticed that stake moving around way too much in a circle…and then the squirrels came. I’m amazed the collar hasn’t broken yet from all the pulling and straining he’s done, hoping to get at the squirrels. But that stake was coming out of the yard damned quick. When he calmed down enough (and wasn’t about to pull my arm out of it’s socket), I brought them both back in.

So, after work, I went and got a straight stake that goes down two good feet and has a dome protecting the connector, which is a great idea because the clip won’t rust. It’s barely budged even with all the pulling…and I love that because though he weighs a little less than my heeler, he’s far more hyper and determined to get out and about. She has free reign most of the time because she knows how to come back home… he’ll run forever.

I’ve learned that if he gets out the door and gets loose, I either need to get him in the first 5 seconds, or wait about 10 minutes before I get in the car and go get him. By then, he’s been running so much so fast, going full throttle hyper, that he’ll be tired enough and slow enough for me to get close to him to clip a leash on him and get him in the car.

The last time he got loose was Saturday morning, a half-asleep moment of stupidity on my part. He took off after a squirrel I hadn’t seen at first. My heeler wasn’t sure what to do, because she saw I was upset and wanted to know what to do. The whole reason I opened the door was to get them to go potty, but I didn’t clip him right. He took off into the neighbor’s yard, and then I figured “oh crap” and went looking for my keys.

The problem is, my heeler thought I was going to the vet without her or something, so I had to wait for her to finish peeing and put her back in the house while I went to find her little brother. Well, I drove up and down a couple of streets because I couldn’t see him anymore and hoped like hell he hadn’t gone across the main drag, because then I’d have to walk through yards and I had to go to work that morning.

Well, when I turned to come back on my street, I saw this blonde thing dash into the ditch pretty close to the main drag, big ol’ fluffy tail just bouncing along. I knew it was him and he was chasing a squirrel onto an overgrown vacant lot. There were a ton of brambles and undergrowth so close to the ditch, and thankfully the tree was close, too. I still opened the passenger door and grabbed the leash and went to get him through the ditch. I called and he kept on trying to climb this knotted tree (he can get about five feet up before he slides right back down). I made it sound like I was sorry he couldn’t get the squirrel and asked if he could do it, all while trying to get close.

Then he did something I hadn’t seen before. He was panting hard, looked at me, and I said “let’s go home.” He actually went through the ditch, jumped into my car through the open door, and then sat in my driver’s seat, looking at me as if to say “hey mom, ready when you are.”

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Yeah, that’s the look…

Sheesh, ten minutes of concern and panic, muddy as hell shoes, and he was just ready like that.

I went through the ditch fast (had my windows down so I could call him and hear him), closed the passenger door, clipped the leash on him through the driver’s window, and then opened the door to drive us home (about a hundred feet away by then). I told him to shove over because he wasn’t driving, and he just moved and sat there like nothing had happened…panting a little more, but that was it.

So I’ve had to be extra careful with this one. I wish like hell I could trust him like my other one, but even she gets the wanderlust occasionally. They both get target fixation the most with squirrels and rabbits. My heeler will actually spy neighbors, freeze, and then take off running full. I’ve learned to yell out “incoming!” to give them some warning and they see her and put their hand out to stop her from running into them.

It’s a good thing she knows what that hand means and doesn’t collide into people, and that they think she’s so sweet (she’s pretty popular), otherwise I’d be facing lawsuits if we weren’t careful.

Between these two, I’ve got my days damned full.

At least, being outside for a good chunk of the afternoon led to something really really good…they’re nicely worn out and happily snoring next to me.

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Yeah, it’s moments like this, and the kisses, that make it fun.

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