Sunday, May 6, 2007

Operation Dodger Lockdown

Operation began two Fridays ago when pretty much I dreaded happening during a Dodger Escape occurred. Dodger got out when I was preparing his leash for our daily jaunt to the kidlets' school. Right out the front door and off into the woods.

If one flings oneself at a screen door often enough, it opens. *sigh*

He was gone from 2:30 until 11:00 p.m. During that time, he was sighted by numerous acquaintances.

"I saw your dog chasing deer across the highway headed South."
"Your dog is down below such and such's farm headed North."
"If such and such a farmer spots him doing such and such a thing...."
"Your dog is in the middles of Something Street, stopping traffic."
"Isn't that our neighbour's dog over there?"

Our tracking skills were employed and several lengthy hikes occurred as we humans strove to recapture the furry bastard. Alas, we were always too far behind to actually sight his spotted hide. Met some lovely folks, though.

Around 9, he started circling back through the subdivision. Steadfastly ignoring our pleas for him to "Come" "Have a TREAT!" "Sit!" and "Drop dead, you miserable animal."

At 11, exhausted from tromping across half the county, we had to go to bed. One last call for Dodge out the door and voila- one muddy, exhausted, wreck of a middle-aged weekend warrior dog wandered home. He was too tired to eat or drink or pee. Had to wet his parched gums with water.

Again, the last insult is the praising. We go out of our mind with glee when he returns. Mixed feelings on that.

So, we haven't really used our front door since the incident. It CANNOT happen again. If the dog was hurt or caused an accident, we would all be devastated. Not to mention, financially wiped out.

Fencing options are on the table. As are further obedience lessons.

And yet, we love the furry wretch.

Thursday, April 19, 2007

Wednesdays are for Wandering

Oh Dodger. So good for a whole week. Sleepy from long walks, solid playing on rainy days and then a day of stressing out his humans. On Sunday, a two hour run off leash followed up with a good walk even seemed to tire him out.

As for the escapes, tightening the screen door helped quite a bit and the gate does slow him down a tad. He can jump it, but we can hear him jump it. Plus, it is another opportunity for indoor exercise. :-P

Tuesday was very rainy and his laziness slept for 9 hours. Reassuring to know that he doesn't *need* to go out for a pee, should I be out for the day. We played hard with him in the evening, as did Pablo. Good wrestles and leaps around the living room.

Wednesday, after his daily long morning nap, I walked Dodger down to meet the kidlets after school. This dog *loves* the schoolyard. His butt starts to wiggle when we're in sight of the playground. Posing as the most perfect dog of all time, he sits on the sidewalk lapping up love from the children. If he's lucky, some of his favourite dogs will be there for mutual a*s sniffing. Then a brisk walk home, usually with one of the 'his' kids running with him through the woodland trails. It's a dog's life.

Squirrels with attitude are a problem in a dog's life. Kidlet 2 was yanked into a muddy creek while Dodger was pursuing a squirrel. While she indignantly brushed herself off and asked me what to do next time it happened [he's usually an angel on the leash] Dodger yanked his leash right out of her hand as he chased the offending squirrel up the tree. Then he scampered down the ravine, leaping up *every* tree. *sigh*

The kidlets were sent home to change etc, while I tried to find the escapee. From the barking of neighborhood dogs, I could track him for a bit but there was no catching the wretch. Since he was dragging a long leash through brush, I couldn't just leave him to his own devices. Headed home to check on the kids. Found a message from a sweet little old lady. Within 15 minutes of his squirrel chase, he had been found tangled up in a tree. Boy, was he happy to see me! Somehow he had gotten soaked and was an excited, whiny, shivery wretch. Of course he had charmed all of the occupants of a seniors' residence in the ten minute visit.

Home again for a nap. Then, out the door when Kidlet 1 went out to a friend's at 5:30. Stealthy like. We didn't know he was gone until his faithful jingle was silent when one cat or another went out. Treating our subdivision like his own yard, as per usual, he swept around the house around 6:30, treeing Fortuna as he went.

When it started to rain at 7, we thought he would be back. He *hates* the rain. He won't even go out to pee if it's raining hard. Just as it was getting dark, the phone rang. Mr. Dodger was visiting his friend Emma on the other side of town. One of Emma's kid's saw him going through the yard and called him in.

I arrived to find him hangin' with Emma, after eating up her supper and any stray kibble he could find. He was black with muck and very, very wet. Very happy to see me, desperate to get in the car and home again. Suck up.
Even with the cross town jaunt, the only really shocking part of this incident is that he *came* when called. Granted, he loves the kid who called him in, but he must have been eager to get out of the rain.

Are there web cams or gps trackers we could put on his collar?

Thursday, April 12, 2007

This dog belongs on a farm.

Dodger was not meant for town life. In a town, running away through other people's yards, streets, drives and parks ALL NIGHT is not considered acceptable behaviour. Well, some of the university students try, but they usually wear out by dawn.

Dodge may have been worn out. We were still hearing him make the occasional pass around the house at midnight. At 7 a.m. the phone rang, announcing that His Canine Majesty was resting on the deck of a neighbour.

Now he's grumpy, grouchy, stiff and slow. Looking at me like it's *MY* fault that he ran his middle aged self ragged all night. Doesn't help his mood that a snotty kitten keeps trying to snuggle him.

How did he get out? Following one of the kidlets, who was attempting to catch said snotty kitten, through the poorly latched screen door. The screen door has been adjusted, again, and a baby gate added to the obstacle course of an entryway. It *might* slow him down.

Dodger's grand escapade coincided with Threepio's stay at the vet for a badly injured paw. Yes, the cat with only three paws to begin with managed to snare a rear leg in wire in the scant hour I was away from home yesterday. Several hundred dollars and a scarred vet later, he sports a snazzy blue cast and an impatient What-Do-You-Mean-I-Can't-Go-Out-For-Three-Days???? expression on his furry, fat snout.

No sleep and a sizable vet bill. Good thing I love the furry bastards.

Thursday, March 22, 2007


He came back! Except for bothering some horses (trying to- they didn't care, thank goodness) and the fact that I was only able to catch him at the end of the walk because he was too tired to run anymore (and there was manure to sniff) it was grand. He even stayed much closer than has been the norm.

Dodger waded into the canal more than once and forded the river twice. I guess he doesn't mind water, after all, Sue. Both dogs enjoyed running around getting filthy and were well mannered with the only other dog we met. Pleasantly, Dodger and his buddy, Emma, also got on well in the car. Luckily, Emma is very good at coming when called, so we only had one dog to be worried about.

Excursion was uber stressful for me, but I'm hoping that the huge fuss that we made over him with love and treats when he came anywhere near us will condition his furry self to stay closer next time. Next time, he isn't going off leash until we are much further form the horse pasture. :-P

Poor guy was so sleepy after the hike and his usual afternoon walk that he spent today conked out. Didn't even go out to pee for 7 hours.

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

taking chances

Dodger and I are going hiking with his doggy playmate. We may attempt some off leash time, but I am apprehensive. Will he be any better at sticking close by and/or coming when I call if he's with his obedient buddy?

Given how excited he is by bird song on the radio, I doubt he'll be at all calm out in the late-winter woods where things are all a twitter.

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Tuesdays Are For Trespassing

Dodger and I have had a grand time over the past month with our wanderings. Tuesdays may be our best days for outings. Mondays are pretty much a write off for anything resembling productivity and every other day seems to fill up with busy. Most days involve only a circuit of the town trails and/or a jog around the block. On Tuesdays, we go further afield.

As Dodger doesn't chat much on our excursions (he considers his humans to be mild hindrances outside of the house, even if he adores them inside) I have time to think. Topic of late-- trespassing.

What counts as trespassing, I wonder? If there is a "No Trespassing" sign, it's rather obvious that it's a no-go zone. But, what if you are 99% sure that you are venturing onto private property but you are following the tracks of cross country skiers, snowmobilers, dog walkers, deer, and so on? Is it still trespassing or is it acceptable, given the fact that you are not causing harm? If there is a "Private Property" sign, does that mean "no trespassing" or "use at your own risk" or just "don't tell anyone you were here" ?

On the first Tuesday, Dodger and I explored orchards. This was a case of following the tracks of dozens of other explorers. This was also where I learned that Dodger is *not* to be trusted off leash. In a blink of an eye, an orange and white blur spiraled off to the East. He really loves to run in circles. Big circles. Pheasant Flushing Circles. Circles through ravines, frozen ponds, orchards, ditches, woods and not-so-frozen creeks.

On the second Tuesday, Dodger and I explored a river side trail that had a Private Property sign. Hesitant to step any closer to breaking the law than downloading BSG, I attempted to turn back to town when I saw the sign. This is where I learned that when Dodger is eager to move along over an icy trail, turning back may not be physically possible.

Yesterday was the fifth Tuesday. After almost two weeks of icy weather, flu-ish humans providing half-hearted walks and one day with No Walk At All, Dodger took the Tuesday ritual more firmly into his own paws.

Basking in sunny weather on the back deck, Dodger may have thought of a plan. Or he may have been lucky. Or he may have schemed telepathically with Pablo. Whatever the case, he came in through the back door, dodging an escaping Pablo, and ran right out through the front screen door.

Three hours of happy, muddy circles around the neighborhood later, I nabbed him behind a shed. No gray area here. Running through dozens of yards, repeatedly, going over, under and around fences is definitely trespassing.

Luckily, only one neighbour hates us, so far. The others are rather fond of the clown: at least until garden season.

Remind me not to miss another Tuesday.

Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Introducing Dodger

When Dodger was just a wee orange and white pup, he left his birth mother and joined a human family. This is, I hear, quite common amongst his species.

His human family had a busy mother, an IT geek father, cats, kidlets and a rabbit. Thus, there were walks to be had, things to chase, food dropped on the floor and a furry, if cantankerous, long eared companion in the back porch. Dodger was happy.

Tomorrow, Dodger's human family is relocating across the Atlantic. Not wanting Dodger to suffer the indignities of extra vet visits, quarantines, loneliness and British weather, his family found Dodger a new home. Friends had a new home and, in many ways, a new family where pets and people were still getting used to cohabitation.

A new family with cats, kidlets and rabbits, but no dog? Obviously, this second family was lacking the most essential thing -- Dodger.

(Dodger was allowed to bring his very own rabbit with him. Just in case he was lonely. The rabbit was resigned to the upheaval and swiftly resumed his cantankerous ways.)

After a few weeks with his new family, Dodger raised his sad puppy dog eyes his new human mother and stared intently. Skilled in communicating with non-verbal beings, she knew just what he was trying to tell her. Obviously, Dodger had noticed how much his first and second families used computers and decided that there should be furious typing, even a blog, dedicated to him and his adjustment to this new family.

This way, his first and second human families could discuss his charms and antics. The kidlets of both families could look at pictures of his dignified profile. The cats could turn up their whiskered noses in disgust. And, perhaps, the human mothers could rant about how much mischief one middle aged Brittany Spaniel could get into.