By Stacy E. Smith
Our regular readers know that we lost our 7 year old, St. Bernard mix, Clyde, in June to hemangiosarcoma. It was devastating since he wasn’t an old dog and was in good health. One would hardly have noticed he was ill.
In any case, we found ourselves with an empty dog bed, as will happen from time to time when you own dogs. If only they lived forever, right?
On July 3rd, I happened to see a photo online for a dog that was available for adoption at our city’s municipal shelter. We went to see him and brought him home… that all took place within just a couple of hours. Hey, when you know, you know. The shelter has him listed as a Newfoundland mix. We don’t disagree, but kind of think he may be a Newfie/ Border Collie mix, we’ll have him DNA tested soon to find out for sure.
In the three weeks Sawyer has lived with us so far, we have discovered a few things about him (it took us almost 2 weeks to decide on his new name). His personality is starting to come out and we’ve discovered that he may just be the most laid back dog we have ever had. He’s about one year old and change and even as a young dog, he really doesn’t get too excited about much of anything. There are spurts of playing with our other 1+ year old dog, Drover and he gets really happy to see the cats (he has a thing about nibbling on them), and an occasional “demand” for a petting session, but that’s about it so far.
We were a tiny bit concerned that it took him two and a half weeks to figure out how to use the dog door both ways. We thought he may have been a little “slow” if you know what I mean. We also now know that he hates the camera. Getting a good picture of him is going to be a challenge. He’s so beautiful, it is sort of frustrating. We’ll make sure he realizes it’s a good experience… eventually.
The other thing we discovered is that he is a “climber.” A climber of fences to be exact. After being here a couple of weeks we were all in the backyard and we noticed that Sawyer slowly walked to a low spot in our 48 inch chain link fence, and without hesitation or fanfare, he simply started climbing over the fence, one step at a time. Meanwhile, he’s pretty tall, so his first step was at least half way up. Frantically, we ran over and stopped him as he was about half way over. Dale put some plywood against the fence so he could not get traction anymore and that weekend we added some 48 inch, 14 gauge garden fencing to the top of the chain link in that area, in hopes of deterring him from wanting to go back over.
We’ve never had a dog that had any desire to escape our yard by finding ways out on their own. We’ve certainly heard of this “escape artistry” and known people that had dogs that fell int this category, but for us, long time, multiple dog owners, we were in brand new territory here.
Luckily, the additional fencing we added was a success. It worked. He stayed in the yard. We were very excited. We now could open the dog door back up as usual and let the dogs go in and out as they pleased without fear of Sawyer leaving the yard.
That lasted about a week, until last Friday. Stacy and I had to run an errand
and were about twelve miles from the house. On our way home Stacy’s phone rang. It was a neighbor that asked, “Is your black dog missing?” Ummmm…. if you called the number on his collar, it must be our black dog. In shock, we sped home during rush hour.
Sure enough, as we drove to our house, there was sawyer in the neighbor’s front yard, hanging out with her and her little Shih Tzu… he was standing right by them, with no leash attached. After exchanging many thank you’s and pleasantries we walked Sawyer to the house. We could not believe he had escaped again… sort of… we thought we had it handled. (On a side note; that phone call is why we tell everyone that there is NO substitute for a collar and i.d. tags on your dog. Sawyer is micro chipped but my neighbor doesn’t have a microchip scanner, and neither does yours. What the neighbor does have is a phone.)
After dinner I went outside and Stacy and I decided to take the leftover garden fencing we had and put it up on the gate area of the fence. We finished the task and it was still light out. We sat down in the comfort of our air conditioned home, certain we had now solved the problem. About thirty minutes later, Drover, the pup we got last year, came bolting through the dog door and he raced across the living room jumping on the love seat whining and looking out the front window. I looked around and there was Drover, Keegan and Seamus, but no Sawyer. I looked out back and Stacy looked out front. Sure enough, there was Sawyer walking down the street. This time he stopped by another neighbor’s house to stand at their fence and say “shmooz” with their dog that was barking at the top of his lungs. We rushed outside, ran down the street and once again walked sawyer back to the house. Dog door was off limits once again.
Dale walked the fence and found where Sawyer had gone over. It was obvious because his fur was stuck to the top of the fence. We knew this weekend was going to be fun.
We had a choice, put in a taller chain link that he would probably still climb over, spend thousands on a tall, wood privacy fence or add more 48 inch 14 gauge garden fencing around the entire yard. With Saturday’s high temperature predicted to be 108 degrees, we were off to the hardware store early Saturday morning. We opted for the garden fencing. It seemed to be a pretty good deterrent in the areas we had already retrofitted with the same fencing.
So one hundred dollars later, we were headed home with one hundred feet of fencing and two fifty foot spools of wire with which to attach it. For the next eight hours, Dale and I and Dale’s Leatherman Juice XE6 were cutting wire, stretching and holding up the fence, tying the fence to the chain link and hoping after all the sweat we put into this project Sawyer would figure out he needed to stay in our backyard.
We now feel like our backyard is a prison yard, but here it is Monday morning and so far, no escapes.