|Canine Learning Center, Inc.|
|Keeping Pinky Home|
<![if !vml]><![endif]>Yes, that really is a six -foot privacy fence this little girl is scaling. Her name is Pinky. Pinky met me at the mailbox earlier this year and followed me into my home. For three days, she ate, slept and tried to make friends with my pack, but mostly, she slept. I named her Pinky since she arrived with a pink collar. It was to be a temporary name until her owners could claim her. But when she started answering to it on the second day, it stuck. I tried everything to find her owners. We checked for a microchip (none) and she wore no tags. I was baffled. Surely someone was missing this wonderful little dog! I put up posters, placed ads in the paper and sent out fliers to vets and to the animal shelter. Nothing. It was time to sponsor her as a foster dog through the Gwinnett Humane Society.
My dogs befriended her and it was obvious they were developing quite a bond with her; but I just didn't need another dog. Besides, she was a wonderful, perfect little dog with good doggie social skills, a desire to cuddle and housebroken to boot! We all thought she would be easy to adopt. She was small (30 pounds), calm and well mannered.
And then it happened. I opened the back door one day to call my dogs in for breakfast and no Pinky! How did this little thing get out of my yard and how long had she been gone? It took some time, but eventually, I found her at a neighbor's house. Later that same day, she showed me her fence climbing skills, or she tried. I now had Pinky on a long leash and was able to catch her before she went over.
At the next opportunity, I enrolled her in my classes! I trained her at home as my assistant, Rita, took her through the class. Meanwhile, I continued to take her to adoption days and continued to look for a solution to contain Pinky. I wasn't about to spend all my time supervising her in the yard forever. That's what fences were for! There were options and I would find them.
<![if !vml]><![endif]>It was time to get it on camera so I could analyze her amazing skills more carefully. I set up my video camera on a tripod and turned it on. I also wanted a still shot and hoped she would try it in front of me. As you can see from the photo on the first page, she had no shame and I got my shot as she ignored the pvc poultry netting (look closely, it's there).
Fortunately, she had completed Bare Basics training by now and all I had to do was step out of the gate and call her. Of course, being a graduate of Canine Learning Center, she came back immediately!
I then took an extra 2x4 I had leftover from some construction and nailed it across the top posts in such a way that it stuck out about 6 inches. The video camera caught her attempts and she almost made it. I kept the video camera up for several more days as I tried various "Pinky stoppers". Her perseverance to escape was unbelievable. I began to consider an electronic fence, but I am simply not comfortable using electricity to solve a problem. I would, if I had to, but I was resolved to avoid it if at all possible. Electric fences bring their own problems (see next article, Keeping Your Dog Home) and besides, I had watched her determination and multiple attempts. That video camera had caught everything - every attempt, every, single, determined effort at escape. I knew in my heart that she would be one of those dogs that would ignore the shock and continue onward; especially if there was a squirrel waiting on the other side!
<![if !vml]><![endif]>It took some experimenting, a lot of trial and error and a good bit of video tape, but finally, we have it. I built a shelf of chicken wire that Pinky cannot climb around (although she certainly tried!) It was easy to build, but time consuming. I screwed 10"x12" shelf brackets to the fence and attached the chicken wire using plastic connectors and a staple gun (see above Solution). Pinky has made multiple attempts, and will probably continue to do so for awhile, but I am reasonably sure she will not succeed. Of course, I have learned never to underestimate this little dog.
As for Pinky's future, I finally succumbed to the realization that Pinky was not "easily adoptable." After an unsolicited vote from my pack, we officially welcomed her into my home for good.
*Author's note and update: As of August, 2009, Pinky has successfully escaped only two more times. Both times were MY fault! Make sure you maintain maintenance on this system and make sure the chicken wire is secure. Yup. She located a loose piece of chicken wire, jumped up and under the wire and over the fence! Fortunately, as always, she came when she was called.
copyright 2006 Leah Spitzer Reprint only with permission of author