My blonde Houdini was at it again, but I got the scare of my life to go with it… legally, that is.

My two dogs were out this morning while I chopped veggies and tried to handle feeding and swapping food for 22 parakeets. Well, I was about a minute away from going to get my dogs back in the house when I got a helluva scare. Apparently, my retriever-mix (aka, Blonde Houdini) busted the swivel catch I had attached to the chain that attached to his harness and took off running… dragging the chain. Found out when my neighbor came by with the chain and the dog trotting alongside just fine. He told me that as of January having him on a chain was illegal because of county rules and I could get fined.

I only have them outside 2 hours max in the morning and maybe 2 hours (usually 30 minutes to an hour b/c it’s too damned hot) in the evening with plenty of water and shade, so I went inside in a panic to research.

3 phone calls to the county later and I find that the little snippet of law I found makes me compliant. Mostly. EDIT: Just double-checked this a minute ago; The neighbor was part right: I can still have it tethered, but it looks like I can’t have a chain anymore. They don’t make ’em strong enough or long enough at the moment, so I’ll have to get tough shorter ones and combine them, it seems (sigh). It seems the chain law in Texas came about in January indicates if there is a tether, then it has to be at least 5x longer than the dog (it’s easily 12x longer) and the dog has to have access to water and shelter. Well, I’ll add a few more feet to make shelter access easier (as in the carport, because he does wrap around the trees too easily and it shortens his run) and get my girl the longest replacement cable I can find, but they’re inside dogs otherwise.

I used to trust my heeler more until she got sick, but as I’m going to be out with them more often I’ll be able to give her more freedom. My retriever, though, is a multi-rescue and was never properly trained to listen and I’m trying to find the time to teach this old dog new tricks. He loves to run, and I’d love to let him, but he won’t listen once he gets out that door and into nature. It takes over him and there’s nothing else. I would just put them outside on a chain and a sheethed cable respectively an hour or two at most, and I walk them on short leashes whenever I can (on days off, they’re outside for short bursts up to 5 times a day–feeding birds is just taking longer these days, so why I didn’t notice his flight earlier).

In a perfect world, I’d have the money for a fenced-in yard. The trouble is the boy will actually run a good 8 or 10 feet up the side of the tree, ninja kick off the side, and go again a few more times to chase a squirrel. Any dog who could do that can climb a fence. And of course, don’t forget the digging. He’s a helluva powerful boy, and would easily dig holes faster than I could fill them. Now I’m looking online and some ideas are out there, but I’d have to make a helluva lot more money to make them happen, that’s for sure.

Dog Climb GIF - Dog Climb Jump GIFs

He’s a lot faster than that, would probably barely cling to the edge before scrambling over.

He’s so into squirrels and saying hi to other dogs that he’d run into traffic on the main road. I did the sheathed cable thing, but he was smart and would gnaw on the sheath around the cable. Once rainwater got in and started to rust it, when it got discolored about a foot or two, a few mighty tugs and the line would snap. After replacing 3 of those in 1 year, I resorted to a full spool of chain (ensuring he could drag it around just fine without being weighted down much to give him some freedom without him snapping the chain). Now I just gotta get a better swivel catch and change it out every 6 months or so to prevent it from happening again. Last time he got loose was the Texas freeze when the D-clamp I used snapped from being out in the cold.

Still, glad I finally found that law, and that I’m in compliance. I like them to enjoy the morning, and I’ll eventually be out with them a lot longer now that I’m writing again and use a bench for journaling (it’s got rust spots so I’ve gotta paint it and protect it from that chain rubbing the legs). We hang out indoors a lot, but they need the exercise. If anything, though, this has me doubling down on my desire to find a job much closer to home (or at home full time) so that we can go out and exercise a LOT more often. I love letting them explore and walking with them. Wish I could trust my boy off the line, but as fast as he is, I can’t. And he’s so hyper that other dogs get nervous around him if they’re not used to him.

At least they’re both fixed so I don’t have to worry about “accidents”. And I also worry because he is a beautiful dog and so friendly, and even though this time of year folks drop strays off on the road and haul ass (and that would create it’s own problems, with him following them or they fighting him), other people will come along and flat out steal a good looking dog. That freaks me out, and thanks to his many previous owners, I can’t find the accurate chip information to protect him or retrieve him if he is stolen.

So, yeah… some worry and concern that once I learned I was good, I swear I felt 10 pounds come off my shoulders. And now that the adrenaline’s subsided (because I was trying to figure out how to logistically let them be dogs without fences and chain or tether lines and keep them safe and coming up with nothing), I’m just sitting here with a pleasant little caffeine-deprived headache and getting sleepy.

Time to do something about that. And another visit to the pet store is in order. I need to see about a different tether spike that won’t bind up like the current one, and a longer cable line and separate spike if at all possible. Or get the thickest cable I can and hope it’s on sale–seriously, dog’s only 43 pounds but can snap a line meant for a 150 lb dog pretty easily if he does that gnawing and gets a running start. Still, would like him to have a lighter line. Maybe I could get some more of that “Bitter Apple spray and use it on the line every day.

Might work.

(sigh) The things I think up after the fact…

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