Wednesday, September 13, 2006

The Digging-est Dog

Back when I was a little kid, one of my favorite books was The Digging-est Dog, about a family who was at the end of their rope because the family dog did nothing but dig 24-7. I'm pretty sure that if I were to read that book now, I would not be nearly as amused. And not just because I'm now in my 30s and so books aimed at 4-5 year olds don’t quite hold the same impact they once did; no, it's also because I am currently living the book, with The Anti-Cap'n's puppy, Jake, in the lead role.

It all started a few days after we moved into the new place and I noticed Jake pawing furiously at the ground next to the fence separating our yard from our neighbors' yard and their (rather large) dog. Right now the fence doesn't reach all the way down to the ground all the way around the yard; there's a good stretch where the gap between the fence posts and the ground is blocked only by a series of stakes. I didn't think too much of it at the time, since Jake is a pretty big dog already, and I didn't think there was anyway he'd be able to squeeze through. However, the next day I glance out and noticed that he had been able to pull up stakes and dig in the rain-softened ground enough that he was poked through to the other side up to his neck. I hollered at him to get his attention, and then The A.C. wedged a large chunk of wood into the hole, and we figured that was that.

The next day, there was a knock at the front door from our neighbor. He introduced himself and then asked if we had a German Shepherd puppy. I said yes, my roommate did, and he responded "Well, he's over in our yard playing with our dog Zander." Sure enough, a quick glance in our backyard showed that Jake had discovered another section of fence where the stakes were easily uprooted and had industriously burrowed his way through to his new playmate's territory. We retrieved Jake, and PigPen barricaded the second hole, saying that he would call our landlord and ask him about doing something about the fence issue.

The following Sunday morning I was actually running on time for church for once and was reviewing my Sunday School lesson when I heard Jake whining outside. Now, Jake whining is not an unusual occurrence, but this was a bit louder than usual, so I looked out back, scanning the yard for a minute before finally locating Jake's head poking out from under the fence. It seems he had found yet another weak spot in the defenses, had escaped into Zander's yard, but then got himself stuck trying to come back through. Since neither PigPen nor The A.C. were home, it fell to me to extricate him from his predicament, which resulted in me receiving minor nips, scratches, and lots of mud on my clothes.

Oh, and I stepped in dog crap.

By this point I was running late for church, so I hastily cobbled together a makeshift barrier from the uprooted stakes, hoping that it would slow him down long enough for us to make a more permanent solution, then rushed inside, cleaned off my shoe, changed my muddy clothes, and raced to church. Later when I returned home, I found the following note taped to our front door:

"Hi! Jake decided to come over and play with Zander again. We let them play together for a while, and then let Jake back in to your yard through the gate. We knocked and rang the doorbell, but nobody answered."

Shaking my head, I first went to the back door and confirmed that my makeshift barrier had been a bit too much "shift" and not nearly enough "make." However, Jake had apparently worn himself out playing and was taking a nap on our porch. I then took the note upstairs and taped it on The A.C.'s door. After he saw it, he headed out back and used the posts which had formed the border of the backyard flower bed to block off a lengthy section of the fence. The A.C. then headed out to Cap'n Bumper's place to watch the Cowboys' game and made sure I knew that he was taking Jake over there with him, so I wouldn't think that the hound Houdini had performed another disappearing act. His assurance seemed unnecessary, since a quick survey of the area seemed to indicate that we had finally blocked off all possible areas of egress.

We, of course, were wrong.

Once again, I was the lucky one who discovered our pooch trying to make a break for it. This time it was early yesterday morning, right before I headed to work. Up until this time, Jake had been systematically moving to the right of the initial hole, but with that particular stretch stymied, he had moved to the left, plowing through the plant cover which had made that section seem more solid than it was. When I saw him he had not yet managed to squeeze through, but it was only a matter of time. I wearily proceeded outside and looked around the yard for an effective means of stopping up the latest breach. Over in the opposite corner of the yard I found a big blue metal . . . well, I don't know what it is exactly, all I know is that it was big enough and heavy enough that Jake wasn't going to be able to move it, so I plugged up the latest in a long line of holes and hoped against hope that this would be the end of it.

Of course, when I got him last night, I saw that Jake had found yet another gap to attack; however, I think we might be okay for now, since this gap was between the big metal blockade and the original hunk of wood blockade, and doesn't look anywhere near wide enough for him to squeeze his body through.

Then again, I have been wrong before


Steve said...

We feel your pain. Not sure if Cathy told you about our dog, Max, or not, but he's a digger, too.

We've tried a series of small pens in various places in the yard as temporary solutions for him, but he always manages to dig out in short order.

We are having a chain link fence installed around much of the back yard this week in hopes that this will give him enough room to romp and play without his having to be tied to something yet still confine him to our property, but we're a little nervous about whether or not he'll try (and succeed) in digging his way out.

Good luck.

cedric_the_destroyer said...

I've found that a tiny chunk of lead will effectively fill those gaps, when fired from the end of a rifle. Just my 2 cents.

Cap'n Neurotic said...

Intriguing solution, Cedric; you think outside the box, I like not.

Not sure The Anti-Cap'n would feel the same, though . . .