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Don’t fence me in

by Marshall Mayer last modified Jan 04, 2012 04:15 AM
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by Brandy last modified Jun 21, 2011

It’s a beautiful morning… I think I’ll go outside for a while…and just smile. At least, that’s what Baker and Molly are always wanting to do. I know I’ve mentioned them in these posts before, but for the uninitiated Baker and Molly are our four-legged furry children. They are just as challenging as the two-legged [...]



It’s a beautiful morning…

I think I’ll go outside for a while…and just smile. At least, that’s what Baker and Molly are always wanting to do. I know I’ve mentioned them in these posts before, but for the uninitiated Baker and Molly are our four-legged furry children. They are just as challenging as the two-legged ones and often cuter. And sometimes, they even smell better.

Molly is a full-bred beagle, and Baker is a mix of a Brittany spaniel and…get this mouthful…Nova Scotia duck trolling retriever. Both are rescue dogs, as was our previous English cocker, Roark. (See what an architecture buff I am?) We love rescue dogs. Not only will we not support puppy mills, but rescue dogs are SO grateful to be in a good and loving home, they shower you will kisses and love and cuddles until you just can’t take it anymore. (This is, of course, after they adjust and realize that they don’t have to run and hide when someone removes their belt.) If you are ever looking for a rescue animal, check out Pet Finder.  Warning: Do not go to this website unless you have some serious time to kill, a heart to melt and possibly a spare dog bed lying about.


We have had Molly for over four years, but we just got Baker in December. Molly had been getting a bit lazy and chubby and we decided she needed a playmate. She, however, failed to see the wisdom in this choice and seems to relish in baying at her brother and protecting anything that remotely looks like food. Despite this behavior, she will often not leave his side and does not like him playing with any other dogs at the dog park but her.

In our previous home, Baker and Molly had a yard to run around. A very small yard, but a fenced yard nonetheless, where we knew they would be safe and not escape. With this house, all we have are wide-open spaces for them to run and run they will. Both bred as hunters, Molly and Baker will catch a scent and be off. We have contemplated how to deal with this but can’t bear the idea of fencing the yard and blocking out all the beautiful land around the house.  If you do end up fencing the land around your mid-century home, there are a multitude of options beyond traditional fencing.  I particularly like the options shown here on the Eichler for Sale site.  We may put up something like the cinder block retaining wall in the backyard.  Other great fences are shown on the Eichler Network with helpful thoughts on installation and care.

Since we have moved into this new home, the dogs have made a few escapes, usually to the neighbor’s yard to visit their golden retriever Bentley.  Once we found them both trotting down West Mercer Way like they were off to town for the day. However last week when I was overseas, Brett called me at two in the morning to tell me they were gone.  As in like gone GONE. They had never been gone for more than 30 minutes or so and it became hours.  He put up signs, he called friends, he drove for hours.  He walked up and down WMW with the leashes until someone stopped and told him that she had the dogs.  Apparently her kids were loathe to part with them and Brett said they could visit them anytime.  My deepest gratitude goes out to that woman for helping our errant pooches.  Just another reason why I love living on this island.

But now it was time to get serious, not just for our own sanity but for the safety of the dogs.  Clearly, they are not (nor will they ever be) well-trained enough to be trusted to stay on the property.  They are who they are, hunting dogs for centuries. The previous owner had rigged up a temporary ‘dog-run’ in the side yard and that has been our solution for now.  With numerous trips to the Luther Burbank dog park, they have stayed relatively happy. (So have the girls who love to run in the water at the park with the dogs at the end of a sunny day.  Last night, they taught Baker to fetch a ball in the lake with lots of coercing.) But the laundry-line dog run is temporary.  They need more room to roam.  Invisible Fence is the logical option. There is even an office here on the island. I had bought a house years ago that already had one installed and it worked great for Roark.  All we had to do was buy the collars. We thought we’d check it out.

But, cha-ching! Those things are expensive! We estimate our property would have been upwards of $2000 for installation and we could think of way better uses for two-kay, you know? We (ahem or Brett rather) started looking at other DIY electric dog fence options.  There are loads to consider:  Radio Fence, Pet Superstore and even one at Lowes.  At the end of the day, we were still sold on the Invisible Fence brand because of the collar options.  Invisible Fence collars emit a stronger or weaker shock (I prefer ‘buzz’) depending on the individual dog’s age, weight and temperament. What to do?

Once again, my super-in-laws come to the rescue. They just happened to have a spare Invisible Fence transmitter and two collars. All we Brett needed to do was purchase and run the wire, hook it up to the electric box thingy (a technical term) and train the pups. (Training them is a delicate matter and you should investigate the best methods or talk to a professional if you have never done it before.) How lucky is that! And it got me thinking that there are may be other people with that kind of equipment lying about for the cheap industrious DIY-er.  And there is!  Ebay is full of transmitters, collars and wire at prices way lower than an installed fence.  Many are the Invisible Fence brand too.  When Brett struggled with connecting the wires to the transmitter, he discovered that the Invisible Fence people on the island are more than happy to help with second-hand equipment.

We are in the midst of the training process and the pups are responding well.  But if you ever see them hitching down WMW, please give them a ride.  Home.

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