I live in a heavily wooded area where I see more deer than people on any given day.
In addition to the deer, there are also chipmunks, fox, groundhogs, raccoons, skunk, squirrels (both the garden variety and flying squirrels) and bats living in my neighborhood. As well as sparrows, chickadees, woodpeckers, robins, cardinals, hawks and owls.
We humans have encroached on their territory. We inhabit houses in their neighborhood. They were here first.
I respect that. It’s one of the reasons I love where we live, surrounded by nature. That said, we did install special fencing to keep Bambi and his friends (and his poop) out of our yard. They can’t jump over the tall netting, but the rest of the animal kingdom believes fences are merely a minor obstacle as they fly, crawl, dig, climb and tunnel their ways into our yard.
Since I don’t always know if one of my non-human neighbors has stopped by for a visit, I never open my back door and simply let my dogs run out into the backyard. Instead, before anyone leaves the house, I walk outside by myself, clapping my hands like a deranged child in an attempt to scare away any visitors.
Then I put the dogs on their leashes and walk them outside, in case there were any animals who were not scared off by my bizarre performance.
Still leashed, the dogs and I walk around until I am convinced we’re the only ones in the yard.
Sometimes there is extra inhalage on the deck; some serious sniffing going on. Or all the dogs suddenly show a tremendous desire to investigate the rhododendron bushes. Or Jasper starts emitting whines and moans that roughly translate to “I want that,” — whatever the “that” is.
This means there’s a groundhog hiding under the deck, a chipmunk scurried in the hydrangeas, or a squirrel stayed too long stuffing his face with seeds from our birdfeeders before hightailing it up a tree.
I have found out the hard way that Jasper and Tucker are excellent hunters. So, to protect the wildlife in my yard, we’ve worked on the Come command. We’ve worked on Leave It and Drop It. But the dogs’ brains short-circuit when there’s a chaseable critter involved. And while eventually Drop It works, sometimes it’s too late.
So when I think we still have a guest, all dogs stay leashed and are brought into our pool area, which has it’s own fence. Inside there is plenty of grass so the pups can get down to business.
There they will stay until our yard is clear, or until I hook them back up and walk them on their leashes into the house. We’ll go back outside later.
The dogs wear the most pitiful faces when they’re in dog jail.
They proclaim their innocence and swear they don’t mean to hurt the squirrels / chipmunks / groundhogs. They just want to play with them.
I’m not buying their story, no matter how innocent they look.
Do you restrict your pet’s movements for their safety, or for the safety of other animals?
You may also like:
- Keeping Wildlife Safe From Your Dogs
- Finding Goodness in a Pool: A Frog (and Cat) Story
- Want to Save Your Dog’s Life? Train Him or Her to Come When Called
- Dogs vs. Groundhog
- Free Bird
- Haiku by Dog: Duty
- Haiku by Dog: Ground
- Photo: The scent of frustration