Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Honey the Flying Dog: Grounded Once More

It’s official: my dog won’t be running away again--at least not from home.

At 8½ years old, Honey is as excitable today as she was the day we got her. At the time, of course, she weighed slightly more than the Vancouver phone book and waddled with baby fat. Now, at just over 30 kilos, she is lean and can run like the wind. Add to that her intense sociability, her insatiable appetite, and an unfenced yard and you can appreciate our dilemma.

When we moved here three years ago, our good Swiss landlord frowned at the suggestion that the garden be fenced. We appreciated his reluctance. The property borders a farmer’s field that is alternately planted with wheat and canola; beyond, the Salève rises in the distance. But for the safety of our precious pooch, something had to be done. Unwilling to keep her tethered to the cherry tree for all eternity, we went the direction of the ‘fence-less’ yard.

The system was no small task to install. It took at least five hours for me, my husband, and my father-in-law to bury 50+meters of wire before connecting it to the control panel. The easiest part was to hook up the dog—in theory. Despite knowing full well that it was the only real alternative, I was reluctant. I didn’t want to hurt her. The only way to allay my fears was to try it myself.

I placed the two-pronged receiver collar in the center of my palm and, with baby steps, approached the embedded wire. The collar beeped. I stopped.

“Go on!” my husband prodded, grinning.

Three baby steps later, ZAP! Not pain, but certainly nothing I wished to repeat, a sentiment I hoped Honey would soon share.

It took two full weeks, but Honey finally got the hang of it. We pulled out the white training flags and, aside from the odd battery failure, the system was a success. Then the wire got cut.

We don’t know how. We don’t know where. Until Honey appeared in the farmer’s field chasing rabbits, we didn't know it had happened. But two years had improved little upon the memory of burying the wire the first time. We examined our options and came to a decision: Honey would go wireless.

The transmitter is the size of a small toaster. We plugged it in behind a chair in the living room, setting the range to include the garden and the front door, her prefered escape routes. We set the collar intensity to that recommended for high energy dogs. (Sorry, Honey!) I didn’t test it this time. Within an hour of going ‘live’ Honey had mastered her terrain, or rather, her terrain had mastered her. The beauty of the new system is that it’s portable. Now, if only she was…but that’s another story.

No comments:

Post a Comment