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Sunday, May 1, 2016

Dog whisperer wanted

Thursday, January 12, 2012

So since Hubby threatened to ship off our dogs last summer, the girls and I have been trying to help out more with the two backyard beasts. They're still here only due to our begging and promise to help more. The dogs' main problem earlier was running off, with an occasional digging here and there. Hubby was certain those bitter canines had it out for us for moving them into town, confining them to a yard rather than the 10 acres they had before. I never really agreed with that. There is no way our farm-raised dogs were smart enough to ponder their feelings of resentment and then act upon them. I always thought they probably just needed more attention and perhaps a fence, rather than a pen.

Well, the girls and I took on more pooper scooper shifts, tried to fit in more dog walks, and added more horse around time. I was certain our problems were over, but as with everything, when threatened to lose something, it becomes priority but once the threat lessens, so does the interest. The doo doo duty became a fight every time we asked the girls and the walks were actually more of a dog vs kid WWF match, so no one was volunteering for either. The running off and occasional digging returned.

So I thought if we could just get a fence installed, THAT would finally solve our dog issues. Then they could run around the yard till their hearts were content. Burn off that energy. At least they'd finally be contained and not roaming the neighborhood, visually scaring joggers and small children. I was so glad I wouldn't have to stand out in the backyard hollering their names at the top of my lungs for all the world to hear anymore. I wouldn't have to make a fool of myself trotting around the block in my pj's and slippers looking for the escaped pooches, or drive around the neighborhood with my head hanging out of the window trying to whistle while the wind whipped me in the face.

There was nothing more annoying than trying to work around the house, but having to constantly check to make sure the dogs were still in the backyard. I couldn't bear to leave them in the pen all day, and we tried long leashes but then they'd just dig a big hole, so that meant I had to babysit them all day. And just like kids, they'd be outside where you could see them one second and the next second, they'd be nowhere in sight! It was even better when they'd pull this vanishing act 5 minutes before I was supposed to leave to pick up the girls from school. Very frustrating!

Anyway, I was SURE the fence would solve all canine dilemmas. However, not even a month after installing the fence, the dogs found a new fun way to irritate us. Their occasionally digging, now became an every day occurrence, sometimes several times a day. I was so disappointed that my fence idea wasn't the solution to their problems and Hubby's gasket was about to blow plumb off each day after work when he came home to find another crater in the yard. I knew he was ready to take off their collars, drive them to some random farmer's house hundreds of miles from here and drop 'em off.

So, I quickly sat down one day and googled "dogs keep digging" and prayed for some answer, some hope, something to save our dog's lives and save our yard. I read everything from a dog whisperer to homeopathic solutions. I finally stumbled upon the reasons WHY they were digging and it didn't mention "anger" like Hubby assumed. It wasn't rocket science either.

Well, for one, they're dogs ... big ones and they need to run. They have a lot of energy and shuffling around a small yard all day doesn't cut it. Secondly, dogs dig holes. Gotta expect that, and thirdly, they need walked. Duh, I know that, but I learned my type of dogs need walked at least twice a day. Now that may not be a big deal to some families but to our family, that was nearly impossible. Twice a week for sure, but not twice a day. Maybe if they were small Chihuahuas, a walk around the block twice a day would do it, but mine are big ol' labs and their walks take 30-45 minutes to wear them down.

My girls are barely strong enough to walk one dog for more than a block, and never both of the dogs at the same time. Even I need a day to recuperate after taking them on a walk. My hands ache, my clothes are covered in dog hair and my shoulder needs put back into place. Remember, they're originally farm dogs, not use to leashes and not trained. But, I've been giving it all I got and even ordered a new leash and collar system to hopefully help lessen the damage to my skeletal structure.

I think this whole walking thing might be the answer to our digging problem though. I've noticed the days they don't get a walk, a new whole fresh crater awaits us in the backyard. Our poor back yard is starting to resemble the surface of the moon. I'm trying my very best to fit in at least one walk a day, but, geesh, some days I just can't do it. I'm not walking when my face freezes off or I have to walk on sidewalks full of ice. Don't those dogs understand that?

I don't know, maybe I should just find that number for the dog whisperer?

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Jennifer Morgan
Motherhood Moments
-- Jennifer Morgan is the mother of three girls and lives in McCook.