Ben got out of his electric fence again last week (at the same time I was about to leave on a two-hour drive for a very important doctor’s appointment)! My chase and rescue ritual has been so perfected over the past month, that this most recent “great escape” wouldn’t have phased me except for my high heels and good clothes and the timing of his exit. I raced up the hill in my car to my neighbor’s house again with the windows open screaming his name, again, like a crazy person. He has always parked himself outside my neighbor’s fence where his fellow comrade lives, but on this particular day a group of work men were working on some wires in front of her house. They all looked up, startled as I raced towards them with my Ford, slammed on my breaks, jumped out of my car and blurted “has anyone seen a large puppy golden-retriever?” They all pointed in unison towards the open fields behind my neighbor’s house. One work man told me he tried to grab him but his efforts only made Ben run further.
So there I was, in high heels running with an entourage of men in orange hard hats, through high grass, mud and a pond complete with bugs, ticks, snakes and who knows what else. I was glad not to be alone. When I reached the open field, I felt panic rise in my throat as I didn’t immediately see my dog. But then, to my great relief, I saw Ben, perched in the shadows, next to another neighbors fence, panting and looking all innocent.
I slowly walked towards him, hoping he wouldn’t bolt again but he just sat there and let me approach him. As I got closer I saw he was shaking and his eyes were wide with fear. Something had scared the bejesus out of him! Good I thought. Maybe it was the scent of the coyote who lived back there. Maybe he won’t do it again. Anyway, I took off my belt and made a make-shift leash, slipping it through his collars and walked my “bad dog” back to my car. I thanked the work men profusely (they really are the salt of the earth), handed one of them back his cell phone that fell during the chase (so glad I happened to notice it) and took Ben home for a big time out.
I called my electric fence guy again, from “Freedom Fence”,who was very concerned and came out the next day. “Let me check the circuitry and the control box” he said. He had suggested during a phone call the previous week, that I turn up the volume. That all looked fine. We then went outside, me, the fence guy, Tucker and Ben. Then, just as he was checking the perimeter of my property, Ben gave us both (pardon the expression) a Cheshire cat smile, turned towards the road and took off up the hill-again! I swear I thought I was going to die!
After the two of us raced up the hill (on foot this time, and did I mention I’ve lost quite a bit of weight running after Ben? Well, I guess that’s the up side from all of this).” Anyway, after we caught him I was glad the Freedom Fence guy saw it with his own eyes. Once back on the property and while I maintained an iron grip on Ben, he asked to see Ben’s collar. Nothing. It seemed fine. Then he said, “Hmm, let me check Tucker’s collar.” Well sure enough, Tucker had a “tough dog training” collar while Ben had a weaker, calmer version. I had inadvertently switched their collars. “He needs a tough dog collar” he told me. “In fact, he needs two.” In the end he put the weaker version back on Tucker because Tucker was already trained, while Ben was still training and testing his boundaries, literally.
He put Ben through some training exercises, walking him on a leash near the audio warning zone and then tugged him away from it. He told me to get a very long leash, just the right length so Ben could reach the edge of the street and let him train himself for the next week. He said I should hide and watch Ben without him seeing me. That week I tied four leashes together, anchored one end to a raised tree root and (per my fence guy’s instructions) left Ben alone to ultimately train himself. (I hid but watched from my garage because I didn’t want him to get tangled up with such a long leash). I watched as he tested the boundaries. It worked!
So now, I am happy to report, I have been letting Ben and Tucker use the doggie door independently again with zero escapes. I did panic the other day though, when I couldn’t find Ben for about two minutes. I kept hearing him but couldn’t see him until I realized he had gotten trapped under the deck! He had wiggled his way in under my steps but couldn’t get out. I guess it’s time to fix the lattice work..oh dear…until next time.