Joined: 10 Sep 2014
Wed Mar 21, 2018 10:59 am
Hi all, Hope I won't bore you or ramble on for too long but it so happens that after a long spell, about six months, Brion died a year ago and it took Di about 6 months to get her confidence after that, of a really settled happy, delightful dog, she completely took me by surprise a few days ago. I'd got too relaxed with her! We live in beautiful, real country (even in Surrey!), with a field at the end of our garden in which I walk Dinah every day, partly off lead, playing with her and throwing tuggy balls at the top, fenced end, and on a long lead down near to our neighbour's garden, where the fencing is not secure. This is our normal happy morning routine. The views from there are amazing and buzzards soar above, Dinah snuffs around the badger sett, pheasants strutt and - this is the key - most recently a most magnificent fox has been joining us. He (I think he must be a he because he is huge) kept appearing from our neighbour's bushes, seeing Di and me and melting away. Our neighbour's Cocker spaniel also once emerged from the bushes but fortunately I saw it first and took Dinah quickly away althnough I could see that the dear little dog was approaching us hopefully.
Foxes are not good news for us because we keep hens, who we keep in a fenced enclosure but we can't bear to use an electric fence because we did try it once and Di got stung and completely terrified for ages (she has recovered now). So they are vulnerable to Mr Fox. The fox got bolder and bgolder and one day appeared at the fence at the end of our garden, just peering in. I couldn't bear that, called Dinah, opened the gate into the field and said ,'Go chase!' She did. She can really accelerate and got very close to the fox, who shot into our neighbour's garden, and I of course realised that this was a mistake to have let Di go. Fortunately she re-emerged very soon in the field, without the fox, and came back to me. Next day that cheeky fox was back peering through our fence again. This time I didn't let her into the field, and just said, 'Fox!!!'. Di rushed to the end of the garden with much bounding and barking and foxy vanished. I haven't seen him at all since though our neighbour's gardener tells me that he is living in the laurel bushes just 50 yards from us and very much still there. I also tracked him, rather relieved, in the snow, and discovered all his tracks across the field, which do go within 3 feet of the fence where he had been peering in but so far, miraculously, have not actually come into our garden.
The hens go out, but not at dawn or dusk or when we go out, and we just have to hope that foxy has plenty of alternative food which given the number of pheasants around he probably does. I also like Dinah to mooch around a lot in our lower garden, near the hens.
I write all this long detail about fox and spaniel because I think - maybe wrong - that that explains what was to happen the other day. I had been out for quite a long time and the hens were therefore safely shut up. I let Dinah out to mooch around near to them while I checked on their food and water, finished with that, and realised I couldn't find Dinah anywhere. Worse I fairly soon heard her barking - in our neighbour's garden.
Dinah HAS NEVER ESCAPED FROM THE GARDEN BEFORE. It is pretty well fenced (the previous owners put in a rabbit proof fence which is buried deep in the hedge and we have put in very secure new fencing elsewhere) but there is a corner where I had noticed the fencing had disintegrated and the hedge is thin and so I had blocked that but, as it turned out, my new fencing had got rickety and of course since n o Briard had ever attempted an escape we had forgotten about it.
What had happened, as I now realise, is that the Cocker Spaniel and another dog our neighbours have was on his way into the house from the outside run in which they keep their dogs during the day (yes, I wish they didn't). This spaniel is very barky and Dinah and he have many a loud conversation if I let her. I hadn't noticed, busy with the hens, but of course Dinah heard the barking coming closer (the run is right at the other end of their large garden and the house is in between run and us) and having been encouraged by me to chase oppo into the next-door garden, took her opportunity, having suddenly found the gap in the hedge. (I had praised her extensively for chasing the fox. Oh dear!!)
I rushed round through the field into the garden, and saw Dinah standing in the middle of the lawn, barking and barking and facing towards the house. I called her, she looked back at me, and turned away and charged towards what - to my utter horror - I realised was the spaniel loose. The awful thing was that soon after Brion had died Dinah had upped her aggressive behaviour towards strangers (she seized a totally innocent bird watcher's arm in her mouth when he stopped to talk to me, and she was just standing beside me on a lead, so I had muzzled her, still so wanting her to be able to enjoy her gallops in the lovely dog-free woods at 'my' time, agreed with all the neighbours, 8.00 - 9.00 am, but just not wanting to risk anything. We had had to come across a strange lady who didn't knokw about Dinah and who had two little Schnauzers, one blind, yes, and honestly done her best to murder them, at least muzzled - but that was the end of our walking her in those woods, and indeed off lead anywhere other than in the field behind our house or safely fenced pastures around here) and so although I do walk her on lead with calm dogs belonging to friends I have to assume that she would attack any strange dog. And she was heading straight towards the spaniel and ignoring me! Horrendous visions whizzed through my mind, but only for a second because I then saw that our very sensible neighbour had her dogs on leads and was rapidly removing them and taking them indoors. Dinah then came back to me, and I had to praise her for that, but didn't feel like praising her at all, and was pretty shaken.
Later that day I took her out litter picking (it is totally disgusting on the verges around here), which she is very helpful over, picking up plastic bottles, and sitting well over on the verge whenever a car or lorry comes by, adn came back after into our garden and kept her on her lead, not wanting a repeat escape. I took her to the door, opened it, and took her lead off for her to go in. She ducked her shoulder and ran straight back to the gap in the fence. I wouldn't be surprised if you in the north of England heard me shriek, uselessly of course. . . I ran back into the field and prepared to return to our neighbour's garden, heart sinking, when I saw her, dinah was just bouncing around on the edge of the field near to the fox-inhabited laurel bushes. This time I did the right thing, and am still thanking Moina for all her training of me and Dinah. Due to Moina, Dinah now never gallops freely in the field (apart from when her stupid mistress tells he to 'Go get' foxes) and we do fun games there, so fortunately Dinah looked up as I called, I swung my arm as if to throw a toy and called in my best fun voice, 'Dinah!' and threw some treats on the ground. It worked!!! Praise God. She came.
Since then we have spent a fortune on stronger fencing, and have reblocked but at present Dinah is not allowed in the lower garden at all off lead, until the weekend when we will have a major check of the defences.
Got to go now - to my training with Moina, who has to be the most patient lady on earth. Hope tghis hasn't gone on for too long.