Bringing out the big guns; or, my dog’s REALLY gonna hate me in the morning…

I’ve talked about my “escape artist retriever mix” before. He’s broken his collar three times in the past year and I finally buckled down after the last time and got him fitted for a harness. He’s gotten used to it, but I can tell lately he’s gotten more annoyed and perturbed.

Mostly because he can’t break the harness yet. So now, he’s gone after the steel cable that attaches him to the yard stake. It’s wrapped in a plastic sheath to protect it, but that won’t make much difference. I learned that when he wants to chase squirrels that have come close, and barking doesn’t make them react because he’s so far away, he’ll run as much as he can to get close, grab the line with his teeth and yank on it, pull it back a few feet, and then run until he’s out of line again.

After the second time he broke his collar, I realized that’s exactly what he was trying to do: break the line. He did that on his first line. I didn’t realize how easy it would be for the metal inside to rust once the sheath had gone, and then time and tugging would make it give.

I would get a new line about every two or three months lately. When the line was discolored through rust and teeth marks for a good two feet, it was time to swap it out. I knew I was right and he was trying to break the line so he could go run his heart out after all the squirrels and explore after the last time I changed out the line. He was doing his normal thing and when he went to go after a squirrel, the line went taut easier. He went to drag the line back and noticed it wasn’t the same.

I swear, he sniffed it and gave me a look like “dammit, mom, why did you have to do that?”

I’m sick of changing out that steel cable line, between $20 and $30 a pop for a good line. He’s only about 42 pounds and could break a line meant for a hundred pound dog. Maybe even a 150 (can’t remember when I tried that one). It was frustrating, and I decided the next one I got would be a chain.

I browsed for info on chains at the home improvement spots, and told someone that i needed longevity and the ability to stand up to some pulling and the elements. They recommended me stainless steel for the size and price I needed, but they didn’t have any. Luckily, I went to get an orange bell pepper plant and on a whim, took a look last night and found a reel of 40 feet of stainless steel chain. I got the connectors, a whole reel , and went to check out.

I had to take care of an important drop off tonight at the post office (something important fell out of my purse and is in danger of being overdue pretty soon) and since I was too wired to sleep (and too worried about the dogs), I went ahead, took the reel and parts out, and proceeded to change the cable line out with the chain.

I just hope it isn’t too heavy. I want him to be able to run around and all, but yikes–he needs to not hurt himself needlessly by jerking to a stop all the time. I’d worry before when he just had the collar that he might break his neck by running til he ran out of line and jerking to a stop. I just wonder how he’ll do. In a bundle, it’s pretty heavy. Doesn’t feel quite so much when all laid out.

I just hope he doesn’t do like my heeler does when she is in trouble and I put her on the far-less strong leash line (she doesn’t try to break the darn thing):

Dug Cone Of Shame GIF - Find & Share on GIPHY

Her body language, precisely.

I’d feel REALLY bad if he couldn’t run or anything.

Many a time I’ve been asked why I don’t just fence in my yard and let them run around so I don’t have to worry about them. I live on several acres and can only imagine the insane expense that would entail, regardless of the materials used. One thing I learned about retrievers and mixes is they are exceptional diggers when they like that sort of thing, and are powerful jumpers and runners. When he spies a squirrel in the tree above him, he’ll get a short burst of speed, run up the tree trunk about 6-8 feet, ninja kick off the thing, land, and do it again.

Any dog who can run up a trunk like that can clear a fence in no time. He acts dumb much of the time, but the more I get to know him, the more I think he’s an engineer in his noggin just like his older sister. She’s good at disabling squeakers and systematically peeling toys apart. He’s more about testing strength tolerances.

It’s gonna be an interesting morning with those two. But that’s in the daylight. Now that I’ve got the chain hooked up (and the partially worn-line on top of the garbage can), I can rest easy that he won’t be snapping that old line too soon. Time to sleep on it and enjoy them in the morning.

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