Fences are supposed to be barriers. They are intended to keep some things in, and some things out. A fence around a garden has little to do with foiling the escape plans of a cabbage, but hopefully will provide a safe haven for it to ripen until you’re ready to harvest. But at best, a fence has its limitations. Rabbits, and even deer can spoil the best intentions of a poorly constructed enclosure, and a fence is no obstacle at all to squirrels and birds. The average backyard fence is not designed for cat management.
Some dawgs will stay inside their fence, but many figure out the weak spots, and use them to open up adventures. We once had a dawg (Ashley Cooper) that could dig under or climb over with the same ease that I might have with just opening the gate. Our current pups in residence are not so inclined. Based on the abandon and joy they show when they do get out suggests that they are not smart enough to outwit the fence on their own. There is some comfort in that.
This is not true of every canine in the hood, as we recently had a visitor. I heard the playful barking, as I often do, and assumed they were just playing a game of “chase the stick”, or some other popular dawg diversion. The barking continued, and seemed to be getting intense, so I decided to have a look. I saw that my puppies were engrossed in a high energy game of three-way tag. Three way? I only have two dogs!
I had never seen the third dawg before. He seemed pleasant enough, and was only mildly curious of my presence. I was curious of his as well, but perhaps more than mildly. How did he get in? While all three followed me around the yard, I checked to make sure all gates were secure, and looked for weak spots along the fence line where a critter might crawl under or through. Nothing seemed obvious. I asked the guest to explain, but all he did was wag his tail. Reason or explanation is something you should never expect from a dawg.
Now many of you would assume the logical thing to do would be to simply put the little vagabond outside the fence, and be done with it. But being a married man, I’ve learned that I should seek advice and council from a higher authority before attempting decisions on my own. Besides, Brenda might recognize the stranger, and know who it belonged to.
“There are three dawgs in the back yard.”
“Are you asking me, or telling me? We only have two.”
“Well, right now, there are three.”
Then began the normal inquiry: “where did it come from; how did it get in, who’s dawg is it, what kind is it, have you seen it before, how old is it, is it a girl or a boy, do you think it will bite you if you try to pick it up…” the answer to to all of which was “I don’t know.” About all I knew was that it was a medium to small brown dawg wearing a red collar, and it was inside the fence in our backyard.
She looked at me as if I was stupid, and finally said:
“Well don’t just stand there, go put it outside the fence. We cannot let it stay here.”
I smiled at her to let her know I thought her conclusion was brilliant, and how happy I was to know what I should do next. I went to the back door and called our dawgs. All three came running, but the new one stopped short. I let our two inside with me leaving the visitor alone in the yard.
Once inside, both of my pets wanted to let me know how excited they were. I thought Lia Bea was going to beat me to death with her wagging tail. Zipper went back to the door as if he thought it rude to leave the guest unattended. Lila ran up the stairs to tell Brenda the news about company, and in a loud voice, said:
“Hey! Hey, hey, hey, hey, hey, hey, hey!
Then, she ran back down to tell me the same thing. She continued as I picked up a leash. Her enthusiasm became greatly amplified. Seeing the leash in my hand got her all flustered thinking I was going to take her for a walk. Zipper thought the same thing, but was preoccupied with scratching at the door. Something outside was on his mind, and he was being bulldog tenacious about getting back out there. It took just a minute or two to get them into another room so they would not follow me when I went out to deal with the intruder. Putting a couple of biscuits in my pocket for insurance, I went out into the yard.
I didn’t see the other pup right away. I looked all around, called and whistled, but detected no movement at first. Out of the corner of my eye, I saw a most entertaining picture. Folks who have dawgs understand that they enjoy having a bone to play with. They love chewing on them, and moving them around to places where you are likely to stumble on them, or hit them with a lawnmower. A nice big femur bone is considered valuable to a dawg, and they can be quite possessive when they find one. We had recently brought home a couple of large beef bones for our hounds’ entertainment. One of those dinosaur legs had been found. The finder laid claim to it.
The visiting canine was not curled up chewing on it, but carrying it between his teeth. The thighbone was half as big as the little dawg, and no doubt fairly heavy. He was halfway up the fence, but struggling with the weight of his new found prize, and couldn’t quite make it to the top. Now I knew. The rascal had climbed the fence to get in, and was attempting to leave by the same method, but weighted down by the booty he’d collected.
Not wanting to let go, he was no longer in a position to out maneuver me, so I managed to get a leash on him. With some cleverness, and the aid of a biscuit, I was able to distract him from the bone long enough to kick it (the bone, not the puppy) out of reach. He offered no resistance to the leash, and playfully jumped about wagging his tail. This behavior let me know he had an owner somewhere, and was probably accustomed to being treated fairly well. We went outside the gate together, and up the street for a block or so.
I stopped and gave him a pat on the head, and a biscuit. Then, I gave him some instruction:
“I’m going to let you off the leash. If you go home, perhaps some child won’t have to go to bed tonight crying, and worrying about you. You can go wherever you want, but I strongly recommend that you go home. If you climb inside other peoples fences, you run the risk of having them make a call to animal control. And that will get you a free ride to the pound. A smart dog would avoid that if possible, and I’m hoping a word to the wise will be sufficient.”
I’ve never had a dawg pay much attention to my spoken words, but somehow I felt he understood some of it. I’m pretty sure he understood me releasing him from the leash, and knew he was free to go, and he did.
It’s been awhile now, and he has not returned, or at least I haven’t caught him at it. I’ve looked often when going up the street to see any sign of him. I figured I might see him in some neighbor’s yard happily playing with children, but have not had so much as a glimpse of him since the day he came calling. I guess it is just as well, but I do miss him. He was, after all, one of the nicest burglars I’ve met in this entire subdivision.