I’m beginning to think we should have named our Anatolian Shepherd “Sneaky” because, well, she is.
Annie is a pretty big dog. More than 70 pounds, she will probably will top off around 85, but she can squeeze through a tiny hole. Three times in the past four days, she has done exactly that.
Each morning we go on a lengthy walk and then we come back to our property and I do my chores. While I am feeding the chickens, I lock the dog in the fenced garden, which is attached to the chicken run. She’s usually fine with this. She either lies down near the chickens or she chases grasshoppers, which is a fun diversion for us both. (Seeing a big dog pounce on the abundant grasshoppers and then snap at them when the fly off is may sound amusing, but I promise you, it is even more fun in person.)
A few days ago, I lock her in the garden and she sits around while I fed the chickens. Then I work on the electric fence surrounding the garden. Things are going fine until I head back to the house to get a tool. I’m almost to the garage door and I hear feet. I turn around and here comes Annie, heading towards me. She stops to investigate a hole belonging to a chipmunk or other rodent, so I call her to me. She ignores me because she considers chipmunks far more exciting that I am. (This breed of dog is known for being independent thinkers. We’ve learned that we can train her, but she still chooses whether or not to obey us.)
There I am, with no leash and a loose dog who could smell something exciting and run off. Ah! But I’m near the truck. I open the back seat door and Sneaky, I mean Annie, jumps in, ready to go for a ride.
Hey, I can be sneaky too.
I head back to the garden, grab the leash, open the truck, and loop it around her head. She doesn’t seem to mind the leash, but she’d disappointed that we’re not driving somewhere. I compromise and take her on another walk. After all, I say to myself, she could have run off.
It would be nice to let her out to roam, but I am unconvinced she would come back every single time. She is a rescue who was a stray; unless someoene dumper her, she’d run off before.
Sneaky Times Two
The next day, I pay very close attention to the gate as I lock sneaky into the garden with me. Last time, I used only one bungee cord, and my guess is that she forced the gate open and snuck through. I am about to learn that the gate had nothing to do with it.
I start to go through my daily routine with the chickens, letting them out, filling their feeder, and then I step outside the garden to fill up their water dispenser. Annie takes offense at being locked inside alone, so she runs down to the other end of the garden and squeezes under the fence. Yes, there is a place where the land turns downhill faster than the fence does, and I’ve known I need to fix it, but it just wasn’t that big a priority. After all, no way a dog that big could fit under there.
She prances up to me, all excited to be free. I praise her for coming to see me, pet her, and grab the leash. (This time, I had left her on the leash, just in case she got out. See, I’m sneaky too.)
So the dog got to help water the chickens.
Later that afternoon, I wired a new section of fence in and used 6-inch staples to affix it to the ground. Boy, was Annie disappointed the next day when we went to feed the chickens!
Just wait a day or two until I get the electric fence working.
Third Times the Charm
We have learned not to leave the garage door open. We treat the garage like an airlock. You can open the connecting door from the house to the garage only if the garage door is closed. To have them both open at the same times increases the odds that the dog will run through both and escape into the great outdoors. How do we know? Because it has happened. She shot out of there at warp speed, brushing past both my wife and I like a world class wide receiver making an open-field move.
We called our nearest neighbor. “Hey, let us know if you see our dog. She just escaped.”
“I’m looking at her now. She’s out by the pond.”
I drive up there, open the truck door, she jumps in. I’m lucky this dog likes trucks.
Sneaking isn’t Always a Winning Strategy
Yesterday evening, I open the door to the garage to stick some trash into our big trashcan. I close it and go back to my recliner to watch some YouTube. About thirty minutes later, I hear some noise from the garage. Do we have mice again? Nah, that was too big for a mouse. Huh. Hey, I wonder where the dog is? She’s not in any of her normal places, so I open the door to the garage and she rushes in, as happy to see me as when I’m gone for hours.
She had snuck past me and into the garage in the dark when I tossed the trash, and I never noticed. So she got to sit in the boring garage for half an hour. I’m just lucky she hasn’t learned how to use the garage door opener.
Annie has a dog friend that is a Doberman that is a former champion show dog and a therapy dog in hospitals. The first time we visited, the dogs had a ball running around in the fenced yard. Then our friends made the mistake of letting Annie into their garage. She found the big Costco-size box of Milk-Bone dog treats within seconds. The Doberman’s owner laughed because his dog is so well trainer it won’t take a treat without permission.
Yeah, we’re not there yet. Who am I kidding? We may never be there.
Still, life is more fun with a dog. Even a sneaky one.