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Jack Smith

Susie's Loss of Liberty Is for the Dogs

September 21, 1987|JACK SMITH

I have won Round 2 in my battle to keep Susie from digging out from under the chain-link fence around her dog run.

Susie won Round 1, overcoming all the crude measures I took to keep her in. When I put broken cinder blocks in the holes she was digging under the fence she simply pushed them aside.

We finally solved the problem by letting her stay inside the house almost 24 hours a day. That's all she wanted.

But finally I had the fence extended one foot underground at a cost of $287. When the job was finished I put her back inside the fenced run. She immediately took off on an inspection tour, sniffing along the bottom of the fence. She was puzzled and frustrated.

I continue this story not because I imagine everyone is interested in it, but because I have learned so much I feel obliged to pass it on to others with the same problem.

I have received too many suggestions to print them all. But a few might be helpful.

I have already noted here the suggestion that I place a strip of chicken wire along the bottom of the fence and cover it with dirt; that might have been cheaper than the solution I chose, but my wife didn't want to do the work.

I have also noted the suggestion that I electrify the fence, which came from many readers. But I was horrified by the very thought of having a hot fence, especially as my wife is always out watering the yard, and I didn't want to electrocute her.

A reader whose letter I have unfortunately misplaced suggested that I lay telephone poles around the bottom of the fence. He didn't say how I was to acquire the telephone poles.

George Saturensky of Costa Mesa said he contained his boxer by attaching a 15-foot leash to a suspended wire that gave the dog the run of the yard without letting him out. Our dog yard has no two points from which to string such a wire. Besides, Susie wouldn't like being leashed.

For a time, before I had the fence deepened, I resorted to putting her on a long leash. She quickly wound this around the deodar tree, making it impossible for her to reach her water or her house. When I tried to leash her she fought me, and when I succeeded, she sulked.

Olive G. Johnson of Pacific Palisades was one of several readers who suggested putting some of the dog's droppings into the holes she had dug, a tactic that succeeded with her dog.

"It worked," she said. "After one visit to each dig he has not returned to either area, nor has he dug in another place."

Perhaps I should have tried that, but the suggestion came too late. Besides, it seems undignified.

Lillian Koslover suggested that I sprinkle moth flakes along the bottom of the fence, renewing them every week or two to keep the smell strong. That sounds easy, but I think I've heard that moth flakes are poisonous. I don't want to kill the dog, just keep her in.

Someone sent me a coupon with which I could save $50 on something called "invisible fencing.' Obviously, though, if the coupon would save me $50, the price must be quite high. Besides, it sounds as if it has something to do with electricity, which I don't want to get into.

Several readers have suggested that I get the dog a companion. Some have even offered to give me a dog for that purpose. I do not think that having another dog will solve the problem. Phyllis I. Lewis suggests that I simply give up. "Don't you know an irresistible force when you see one? Don't waste any money on fences. Let the dog into the house and simply run the sweeper more often to pick up her hair as it sheds. Is that so awful? Having a devoted, sweet, big, strong dog at your side can be touching and comforting."

The unkindest cut comes from my friend and correspondent Duke Russell.

"Maybe your dog doesn't like you. Maybe that's why she's always trying to escape. Maybe she senses she's an outsider. When was the last time you invited her in to have dinner with you and Denny? You know the song. 'Try a Little Tenderness.' "

Alas, a man whose dog doesn't love him is no man at all.

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