An invisible fence keeps Lily in the backyard. She has about an acre that she knows is hers. The goats and the chickens are in her domain. I’d prefer a solid fence, but Lily can jump over just about anything. I want her to be able to patrol the entire back property, and due to the nature of the rocks, trees and wet areas, the only way to keep her in (that I could afford and wasn’t an eyesore) was to use the invisible fence (a buried wire). I trained her well. She’s never gone through it, but she has no fear of the edges of the fence line (which is a sign that it’s training, not pain and fear, that keeps her in).
In any event, the back acre is hers, but she’s well aware of what’s happening on the street. When she’s indoors, she watches from my office window. Outside, she uses her hearing to keep tabs up the street and around the bend. (Have you seen her bat-ears? She’s got amazing hearing.) There’s a bit of lawn at the end of the driveway, in her acre, where she likes to lie down, that allows her to see a patch of the road. I’ve got a decorative split rail fence there, not for Lily, but to let passer-bys know that the backyard is off-limits (amazing how people will see the coop and just come right on over as if this is a petting zoo). There’s a “beware of dog” sign hanging on the fence. Lily is not always friendly to people or other dogs.
It sounds secure. Right? But today was one of those days when I wish I’d put in a solid fence. This afternoon Good Farm Dog Lily let me know that something was wrong. I was outside, too, watering some plants. I looked up and saw two huge dogs, lumbering in a stiff-legged old dog way, directly up the drive. There was no owner in sight, but I assumed someone was there, so I yelled, “please call your dogs.” I hurried over to the driveway and said, “come, come.” I have a happy dog voice, that is usually irresistible to dogs. I was ignored. One of the dogs managed to get his bulk through the split rail fence and into the yard. Lily could see that this was not a dangerous dog, but it still wasn’t supposed to be there. She barked and sniffed, but didn’t show teeth. Meanwhile, the dog is heading straight for the coop. Thank goodness the hens weren’t out free-ranging. I don’t care how old and un-athletic a dog is, they can still kill chickens.
By this time a woman holding two rope leashes walked up the drive. She looked like she wanted to stop and chat with me, but I kept insisting, “get your dogs!” She seemed totally unperturbed. She called them, in stern voice, which is just what you shouldn’t do. If you were a dog and faced with an interesting yard of chickens, or an angry owner, where would you go? He ignored her and heads over to the goats. Goats scare easily. They’re especially wary of strange dogs. A scared goat can bolt and injure themselves. Luckily, this was an old dog (the even slower one was still making it’s way across the lawn) and so the goats stayed sane.
Finally the dogs shambled over to us, but still don’t go up to the woman. In fact, they keep evading her. One of them lifts his leg on my raspberries. The berries are few in this hot summer, and there went my dessert. I was holding a tub of water and I tossed it on him. It had no effect. He peed again. At last she got the leashes on the dogs (while I’m saying, “my raspberries, get the dogs out of my backyard!”) Instead of hurrying, or apologizing, the woman starts to chat. AGHH! And she’s STILL in my backyard. I start walking away from her, down the driveway. It works, she follows. She says, “These aren’t my dogs, but they’re usually so well-behaved. They go to work with the owner.” I say, “That’s a totally different experience that being outside and going after chickens. Even old dogs can do damage. Please keep the dogs on leash.”
Not a bit of this exchange was satisfactory. It takes longer to type it, than the actual event. I wish I’d ignored her, grabbed the dogs and hauled them off the property. (At the time, I didn’t because I didn’t want Lily to decide that this was a SITUATION that she had to take care of. I didn’t want to see mauled old dogs.) I wish I’d been able to say something clear that would have gotten through to her that this was serious. That letting dogs wander, willy-nilly up and down driveways as you’re taking a stroll is not a good idea, and that even these placid-seeming dogs could have harmed my animals.
After she left, I hosed off the berry bushes. I gave Lily a very big cookie. If she hadn’t been alert, those dogs would have had plenty of time to do damage. Right now, Lily is resting under my desk, satisfied by a job well done. I might stop fuming by tomorrow.