Thursday, November 08, 2007

Peanut Butter on Trial

Our new dog is really just a big puppy. I specifically wanted an older dog in order to escape certain puppy behaviors. We were told when we brought her home that she was about two years old. We got pretty used to having older dogs in our lives, which is why I thought a two-year-old dog was perfect. But apparently it takes particular dogs more than a couple of years to outgrow some of their puppy issues. Thankfully she is housetrained and does not chew on furniture, which are the two major behaviors I wanted to avoid. Still, she does jump up on people that come into our house, she nips at us playfully (and sometimes painfully), and she just has SO MUCH ENERGY!! We have a retaining wall in the backyard – over four feet tall in some sections – and she can clear it from standing with a seemingly effortless leap. That’s when my husband started worrying about the fence.

When we moved into our house there was a wooden privacy fence on each side of the yard, but it tapered off as the yard went up a hill. There was nothing to keep dogs, or children for that matter, inside of our yard. We needed to extend the fence but decided that we could use a 4-foot rather than a 6-foot fence for the hill to save money. The steepness of the hill made jumping from an angle much more difficult. Besides, our dogs were getting older. After seeing Peanut Butter’s gazelle-like abilities, however, we were wondering if we had made the right call four years ago. But after almost two months with us, she has not attempted such a jump.

Which is why were surprised on Halloween night when our next door neighbor came to tell us that our dog was in his yard. As difficult as it might sound for a 65-pound dog, it turns out that she found a space to go under the fence; a space we had known about but had never thought possible for her to fit through. The next day that space was filled with a couple of leftover retaining wall stones and we figured she was stuck in the yard. But she apparently enjoyed getting out of our yard so much that she was desperate to try it again. She found a section of the original fence where the wood was nice and brittle, and she dismantled it board by board, making a mess of the fence and injuring herself in a few places in the process.

She created a spot just big enough for her to get her paws up and hoist herself over into the neighbor’s yard. They do not have a fence across the back of their yard so she is free to move about the neighborhood once she’s over. It wasn’t terribly difficult to get her back home, but I did have to load Banana and C.B. into the car to find her. My husband re-attached the boards as best he could that evening after work, but the next day she did it again. My husband went on the search this time. He found her much farther away from home, across the major street in our subdivision. He repaired the fence again, this time using stronger wood and better screws, and so far it is still in tact. Yet we find her over in that area pretty much every time she goes out. We are able to reprimand her when we catch her in the act, but I have to make an effort to keep an eye on her when she’s outside. Which truly is an effort because I have enough to keep an eye on inside the house.

With four kids and one on the way it’s foolish to think that I can handle a dog that won’t stay where she belongs, so this is a probationary period for Peanut Butter. I feel bad about it because she is such a sweet dog, and for the most part a good dog, but chasing her around the neighborhood with little ones is something I simply cannot do. We just purchased a training collar and will use it to help deter her from going anywhere near the fence. If that doesn’t work, we may have to reassess our need for a dog. Please say a little prayer for Peanut Butter. The poor thing doesn’t even know she’s on trial.


Lisa said...

Oh Peanut Butter... If you only knew the havoc you were causing your owners.

Hopefully PB will settle down soon.

slackermommy said...

Poor doggy but dang, I can't imagine chasing her and 4 kids and being pregnant! You need the dog whisperer although I find dog yelling much more effective.