(def not my dog, from Marley & Me)
Had a helluva scare with my dogs last night.
I was taking them out to go pee and enjoy the last half hour of daylight running around when one just took off. I swear most of the retriever’s power (even a mix) is in the neck, so when I clipped him to the tie-out line and he saw a squirrel, he got enough of a sprinting start that the clasp on his collar just snapped right off and he kept going. I didn’t have a way to get him back (the leash is too thick to run the material through the clip securely) so I went in the house to get a backup collar and he just flew off.
When he discovers he’s free of the collar or tether line, he ain’t coming right back home, not for all the dog treats in the universe. You can practically hear him thinking “Freedom!” when he’s going full throttle out of the yard. And I swear, with that long blonde hair of his flowing out, he looks like a flying Pantene Pro-V commercial going across the yard.
I tracked him to the corner neighbor’s yard, but he knew what I was up to and ran through their yard to the street behind… and who knew where then. I had to stop and explain to the homeowners what I was doing in their yard real quick in case they were wondering (I probably looked like an idiot running around place to place all frantic and then jumping in my car).
I went looking for over an hour, trying to find him (had to put my blue heeler girl back in the house first, or she’d have the damned fool notion to go to the main road and get killed). Thankfully there was a party going on in the street behind mine and somebody asked if I was looking for something. I described my dog and they hadn’t seen him–he probably chased off in between the houses where there’s a yard without fences (most are like that around here).
After driving around a few blocks, calling his name and searching, it was getting too damned dark. I was only gonna see him if he just walked out in the middle of the road in front or behind me, so I called and called all the way back home. Way back when I first got him, he’d taken off and I couldn’t find him for a few hours. Then when I got back home after work, he was right there waiting for me.
No such luck this time.
I had a feeling maybe he’d be heading back when he was thirsty and tired enough, but I was fuming, scared, and upset that he’d end up dead. I was still trying to change his registration under my information (had blurry info the first time), so if anybody looked for him with a chip reader, they were gonna get the old owner’s info and they were probably gonna freak if they got THAT call.
Well, I got the phones and went on the porch. I was waiting for the phone to pick up as I tried to call the chip company to see what I could do about registration and report him missing when a white truck slowly came around. A man stepped out and asked if I was missing a dog, and oh yeah–they had him in the backseat. I was so damned happy to see him, because I was prepared to have a frantic night staying up, determined not to let him stay out there alone and hungry, keeping the lights on to help him find his way.
Turns out, he must’ve made a circle back toward home and noticed the party, because that’s where they got him. The man I talked to told them that I was looking for him (forgot to tell them what my house looked like) and they went looking for my car. By then it was dark, but I was out on the porch and the car was in front (instead of the side for easy access), so they found me through my car.
I’m so glad I decided to stop and ask somebody if they saw him instead of just moving along because I didn’t wanna bother anybody (which is usual). But the way their street’s designed, there’s no real turnaround, a dead end that was full of cars, so I probably looked funny pulling forward to look down the way to see if I saw a blonde blur, and then trying to back up.
No wonder the guy came looking out to see me and met me by the road.
I’m just glad the dog trusts and likes people enough to go to them. Guess he was just sniff-happy the first 10 minutes and then realized he’d better find a way back home. Last time he broke the collar and made it beyond my street, he ended up over half a mile away, being pet by some folks sitting in a swing. They kept his attention while I got a new collar on him.
But boy, I’m sick of him killing the tie-out lines. He bites down on them to drag them out of his way so he can get a running start to go after squirrels when he feels they may be snagged or in the way. Kinda ingenious, really, but it also means the plastic sheath around the steel cables has openings for water to get in, which means the cable inside rusts and will eventually snap. He’s only 43 pounds, and I got tie-out line rated for dogs up to 150 pounds. But that doesn’t mean much when the steel cable gets to rusting and he gets pulling.
He’s usually in between sizes as far as collars go. I like the large collar’s thickness, but it leaves enough room that if he pulls and twists, he can squeeze his head right out of the collar and take off (boy, that was a harsh lesson). The medium fits him better, but I’d rather have a collar that’s wider so I can grip it easier if I gotta snag him real quick, and the clasp would be bigger, and hopefully more durable.
This collar had a metal housing, but plastic teeth for the clasp. Those teeth were still stuck in the metal–he’d ripped the plastic apart down at the stitch line when he was pulling. I’d never seen a rip like that.
He takes his squirrel chasing seriously.
I have a few backups in the drawer, but I’m also getting fed up that I can’t find a collar that he won’t break. Every year or 6 months I have to get another one. I think this one only lasted about three at the most. I think it might be time to try the belt-buckle variety.
I’ve avoided that type because he might bend that tiny pin too easily, but also because when I try to put on his collar, he moves around too freaking much, so I worry about getting in a hurry and putting the pin through the wrong notch.
Still, it’s time to see about a different kind of collar, or maybe I’ll have to bring him with me to get a harness if he’s gonna be pulling and pulling all the time. I am already groaning as far as the nightmare THAT will be trying to get him ready to go out each day, and taking it off each night.
I hope I don’t have to go that route, but I’m sick of cables or collars breaking. And I have to get a new tie-out. I’m thinking of a real chain, not too heavy so he can get exercise, but with the length I have to give him, he’d probably pull and break the links on that!
He’s a good, loving boy, but he sure love making me work hard to keep him. That’s what I get for having explorer dogs, out county, with tons of squirrels and without a fence. People always ask me why I don’t have a fence. The trouble is, this guy can run 8 feet up a tree, ninja-kick off the darn thing, land on his feet and get a running start to go right back up the tree if there’s a squirrel in it. And from previous experience with retrievers or mixes, they’re good diggers, too. So a fence would only be a false sense of security, and a far more expensive one at that. I have neighbors with fences and their dogs get loose far more often than mine do.
So we spent the end of the evening on the couches, curled up in our usual spaces, trying to calm down (and I the most, downing a good sized glass of cherry wine while playing computer pinball). I think we had plenty of adventure for the day, and there’s still today to think of, with the tropical disturbance possibly still heading our way. Got too much to clean up in the yard and secure before that wind and rain get here, if they do. If not, it’ll just be a crazy-hot week to start the summer off right.
Dogs are fun, but boy, they can be draining!