by Kassandra Lamb
I haven’t been on social media much lately. I haven’t gotten much writing done either. We’ve had quite a bit of drama at our house the last few weeks, related to dogs.
First, our totally lovable, ten-year-old Alaskan Husky/Shepherd mix died. Rather suddenly–she was only sick for three days. I’ve never had a dog go that quickly. It was a shock, as well as very sad.
And the timing couldn’t have been worse. My husband was leaving the next day for Paris–just five days after the terrorist attacks there–to present at a conference.
I’m thinking, “Oh goody, I get to stay home, all alone, and grieve and worry.”
So even though I knew it was too soon, I went to the animal shelter to check out the adoptable dogs. It was definitely too soon. I was too heart-sore to feel anything for even the cutest of them.
The adoption coordinator suggested I foster a young dog who was waiting for heartworm treatment. Perfect solution! I’d have a dog companion while hubs was away, but I hadn’t committed to loving the little guy until death do us part.
Well, he turned out to be a handful and a half. He definitely kept me too busy to worry for the two weeks hubs was overseas.
Wednesday I took him back to the shelter for his treatment to begin, and while I was there I made the mistake of popping over to the kennels to see the new arrivals. Guess what, not too heart-sore anymore! (Although I’m still grieving my sweet Amelia).
This guy seemed perfect. He was two years old–so not such a rambunctious puppy–and absolutely gorgeous, with a shiny, copper-colored coat. The right size (medium), with short hair (not so many hair balls gathering in the corners–Yay!), and a calm, friendly disposition.
He’s got just one teensy, weensy flaw.
He’s an escape artist!
We now have two pet gates, one above the other, blocking him from going into the rooms with the antiques (until we’re sure he won’t chew or pee on them). The first gate we put up, just one layer deep, he jumped repeatedly.
But he didn’t quite clear it, so things would go flying on the other side as he landed all skiddleywampus.
The first morning after we brought him home, hubs put him out to do his business in our big backyard, with its six-foot high, solid wood privacy fence. When hubs went out ten minutes later to bring him back in, the dog was gone!
The mutt was two doors down, checking out a neighbor’s garage. Turns out he’d dug a hole under the fence, in less than ten minutes!!
So now he’s on a tether to do his business, while I strive to make the fence dig-proof. I have now spent three days of my life and several hundred dollars on this effort, and I’m not done yet. I had to cut all our bushes back away from the fence first, so I could work in there to lay down wire mesh two feet out from the bottom of the fence, then cover it with heavy, paving stones. As an added deterrent, I’m sprinkling everything with cayenne pepper.
My vet suggested I just try the cayenne pepper around the fence line first. Ha! She does not know this dog.
While I was outside working today, I had him on his tether so he could watch me. He has separation anxiety from being abandoned, so he’s not happy unless I’m in sight. (What he doesn’t get is that his owners didn’t abandon him. I suspect they just stopped tracking him down when he got out of their fence for the umpteenth time and ran off!)
So while we’re out there, he figured out how to get out of his harness. He goes to the end of the tether, faces the post it’s tied to, ducks his head and pulls back as hard as he can. The strap around his middle (that hooks snugly BEHIND his legs) pulls forward over his head, and he steps out of it.
I watched him do it–TWICE, with two different harnesses.
I came in tonight, when it was finally too dark to work any longer, and hubs said, “Why are you doing this? Is it worth it?”
My immediate answer was “Good question!” (BTW, hubs would be helping, but he’s in the end of semester crunch with his classes.)
But then my inquisitive little psychologist’s brain got to chewing on that question. Why was I going to such great lengths for this dog?
The answer, for me at least, is that dogs are the world’s best companions. They will hang out with you, offering total unconditional love, asking only that you feed them, pet them and play with them occasionally. They are the definition of “loyal friend.” (They’re actually pretty loyal even if you don’t pet or play that often, say when you are in the throes of a writing jag because your muse has gone into overdrive. 😀 )
The bottom line is if I send this loving, otherwise great dog back to the shelter, he will end up dead. If we can’t contain him with a six-foot fence (did I mention he’s also a jumper?) then who can? He’ll either end up euthanized as unadoptable or he’ll be road kill.
Not acceptable for such a wonderful fur baby.
So say a little prayer that wire plus stones plus cayenne pepper keeps him contained. I’ll keep you posted.
BTW, I had named him Cody, but he really doesn’t answer to it yet. I’m considering changing his name to Houdini.
How about you?
Are you an animal person? Do you have fur babies you’d go out of the way to keep safe?
Oh, one of our authors, Vinnie Hansen, has a giveaway going on for her book, Death with Dessert, that is about to be re-released under the misterio press imprint. I’ve read this book and it is GREAT!! So hop on over to Goodreads and check it out. Hope you win a copy!
Posted by Kassandra Lamb. Kassandra is a retired psychotherapist turned mystery writer. She is the author of the Kate Huntington mystery series, set in her native Maryland, and a new series, the Marcia Banks and Buddy mysteries, set in Central Florida.
We blog here at misterio press once (sometimes twice) a week, usually on Tuesdays. Sometimes we talk about serious topics, and sometimes we just have some fun.
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shannon espositoDecember 8, 2015 at 10:32 am
OH no!!! I’m trying not to laugh… I can’t imagine all the time, energy and sore muscles going into trying to secure this guy right now. But, he looks so innocent! lol. I really do hope all the rocks and wire and effort will work…crossing my fingers and toes that this guy will soon realize how good he has it and how the grass is not greener roaming around the streets.
Kassandra LambDecember 8, 2015 at 11:10 am
Thanks for the crossed toes and fingers, Shannon, although I’m having trouble figuring out how you will walk that way. 😉 The vet seems to think he’ll outgrow his wanderlust. I am skeptical.
Jennette Marie PowellDecember 8, 2015 at 1:08 pm
So sorry about your last fur-baby… this new one is a cutie, though! We have done similar things to contain our rotties, including a digger like yours! Fortunately the current one isn’t too interested in roaming, but the last one not only dug under the fence, he would’ve jumped over except he only jumped straight up–no forward motion. It was hilarious to watch! And yes, my husband put lots of pavers under the fence before our boy gave up digging.
Kassandra LambDecember 8, 2015 at 3:56 pm
I think my backyard may end up as asphalt before this is done, Jennette. Hey, maybe I should suggest that–paving the backyard over, that is. Hubs is getting frustrated, but maybe if it meant he didn’t have to mow grass anymore, he’d see it as a win-win! 😀
Vinnie HansenDecember 8, 2015 at 1:31 pm
Love him. What a smart dog! I especially love the harness escape.
When Lolie was little, we actually tried to limit her outdoor action to our back yard. If you think a dog is hard, try a cat!!!!!
Kassandra LambDecember 8, 2015 at 3:57 pm
I can only begin to imagine, Vinnie. Tom keeps suggesting we get a cat. I keep pointing out that he would then have cat hairs in his morning coffee. He shuts up at that point. 😉
K.B. OwenDecember 8, 2015 at 8:27 pm
Oh my, you have your hands full, Kass! A friend of mine had a dog run built in her backyard; that might be an option. I hear ya on the harness; we have a rescue cat who is an indoor kitty, but we got her a harness and leash so we could let her into the backyard, and she does the EXACT SAME THING. As soon as we see her reverse direction and start backing out of her harness, we have to scoop her up and put her back inside. Have to watch her EVERY minute.
Kassandra LambDecember 8, 2015 at 9:48 pm
Thanks, I think I’m going to need it! A dog run has crossed my mind. But I’d hate to confine him that much. He really needs the space to run off energy.
I can just visualize your kitty doing that back-up routine. Some critters are just too smart!
Gillian DoyleDecember 9, 2015 at 2:11 pm
My heart goes out to you over losing Amelia. I’ve lost one of my beloved dogs suddenly so I know how much harder it is when it is so unexpected.
And bless you for your patience with Cody. Been there, too. BTW, a cure for digging — bury small inflated balloons. When he is attracted to the soft dirt & starts digging…POP!
I had a digging “Houdini” too. I adopted Baxter as a thin 2-3-yr old German shepherd who turned out to be younger–probably 11 months– hyperactive Belgian shepherd breed called Turveran (later DNA tested). We bought an extra-tall baby gate but we caught him crawling through the tiny cat door in the baby gate to get the cat food! He loved everyone, including all dogs and cats. On our walks he would spin in circles when he saw another dog & bark like crazy because he wanted to play with them. I hired a professional trainer to work with us from the start. I even taught him to walk/jog on the treadmill for 15-20 minutes to work off some energy before our daily 3 mile walks. When it rained, he walked beside me on the treadmill, learning how to hop off when he got tired & hop back on after he had a short rest! Yeah, he was pretty amazing.
After nearly two years, he was finally calming down when we had the worst windstorm in ages. He was so excited, happily dashing in and out of the house through the doggie door. Unknown to me, he left the yard through a gate blown open by the wind but returned a little while later to lay under my desk as I was writing. A moment later, someone came to our door to tell us a our dog had been hit by a car on the boulevard and had been followed back to our house. I didn’t believe it. But I checked on him & realized he was breathing oddly. X-rays showed a collapsed lung and internal bruising but NO broken bones! We couldn’t touch him inside the oxygen chamber to soothe him, and were advised to go home for the night. He passed away at 2 AM. I still cry over him….and it has been over four years!
Like you, I started looking at other dogs too soon–within two weeks. On a pet adoption site,I came across a senior German Shepherd who had been in shelters and foster care for seven months. Still grieving, I could not bring myself to pursue adoption so I sponsored him, donating money for his medical expenses from severe ear infections. Within a week, I had to meet him. Of course, I fell in love immediately & brought him home. Gentle Ben turned out to be completely opposite of Baxter, although he also loves cats & dogs. Ben needed a lot of TLC to overcome obvious abuse and coax him out of his shell.
I believe Baxter led me to Ben when I needed to heal my broken heart. I hope Cody does the same for you.
(If there are typos and grammar mistakes, I’m apologize. My eyes are too blurry from tears to re-read/edit.)
Kassandra LambDecember 9, 2015 at 11:31 pm
Oh, my, Gillian, that is so sad about Baxter! That is my great fear about this escape artist we have. There are major roads just a couple of blocks from our house, in either direction. So glad you found Ben though. He sounds like a sweetie.
Btw, Cody pulled down the big pet gate (the white one in the picture above) today, by chewing off the tape I had used to close the bottom of the door more securely (it’s one humans can open, but dogs theoretically can’t). Then he pushed his head through and shoved the whole gate over. Oh, and this was after he figured out how to get out of a metal wire crate. Yes, he escaped from his crate!