A true gentleman

Saturday, March 8, 2008

First Day on the Job

I still shudder when I remember my first day on the job. I'd hurried home from class and let my two Curly-Coated Retrievers and my pound puppy of the Husky persuasion out the back door. We had a lovely little privacy fenced yard where they could run and play. In the meantime, I put on my best suit, and psyched myself up for my new job.

Just as I was putting on the finishing touches I heard an "explosion" of dog out back which sounded like they were killing each other. I ran out on the deck looking for the dogs - they were, they were . . . where were they?

Finally, I spotted the back half of young Deacon, sticking out of the dog house and wagging like crazy. This was really strange as the dog house was left over from a prior tenant and probably housed a Chihuahua. The door was only 12 inches tall. Still no sign of the other two.

I crossed the yard and grabbed Deacon and backed him out of the dog house. Ah, there are the other two, in the dog house. This was even stranger as the dog house was tiny, and the 120 pounds of dog still in there were packed in like Sardines.

As the best strategy I could muster was 'divide and conquer' I took young Deacon and tossed him in the kitchen, then went back for Hunter. I ordered Hunter out of the dog house. He came, but was ready to dart back in so I took his collar and led him away, then locked him on the deck.

Finally, I went back for Niki. He kept his tail towards me and wouldn't turn around so I got down on my knees, stuck both hands in the dog house (that's all of me that would fit through the tiny opening), grabbed a hold and pulled. Strangely, he didn't fight to stay in the doghouse and he slid right out . . . with the source of the problem. He had a choke hold on a racoon. A now, asphyxiated racoon. It took a great deal of effort to convince Niki to give up his prize. And the instant his grip loosened, I put distance between the two and took him inside.

After securing the dogs I decided to leave the racoon where he lay. I wasn't a hundred percent sure he was dead and I didn't want to risk being attacked. Plus I had used up all of the spare time I had allowed myself before I had to leave for work.

I was hot, sweaty, and dirty. The best I could do was knock off the dirt, wash my face, put on a forced smile and go. Luckily, my first day on the new job was totally uneventful compared to the excitement that led up to it. And if anyone thought I looked a mess, they kindly didn't say so to my face.

The racoon did, in fact, meet his maker that day. The best I can figure is that he was surprised by the dogs and tried to escape by running into the dog house - not a very good plan. Nobody was bitten or scratched and the racoon didn't have a mark on him. The vet assured me that everyone was current on their shots so they were safe. The dog house was removed a couple of days later. And after awhile, I calmed down too.

Q & A for the day:

How can you make your dog leave wild critters alone?

Acutally this is a trick question. Always remember, a dog is what he is, a dog. If there is a critter that invokes the dog's prey drive, the dog will most likely give chase. A high degree of training may allow you to call your dog off, but that will not prevent him from going after wildlife if left unattened. The best way to make your dog leave critters alone is to deter them from coming into his space. Remove food, water and hiding places and make the area inhospitable for wild life. But note, when the dog is in the area, water must be available for him, just take it up when he comes inside. There will be some instances where you can't remove those things that attract wildlife (a pond comes to mind) and you may always have critters. In that case, just be sure to maintain the dog's protective immunities (vaccines) to those ills most likely to affect him.