When Maddie, Josie, Faith, and Boone arrived, I tied them up in the dog lot with the rest of my adult Alaskan huskies. The new dogs, a generous gift from a musher friend, were used to being tethered on 6-foot chains with their own houses, straw and bowls. I assumed that the transition to their new home would be smooth.
I often wonder if there is some device under my pillow, alarming the entire 35-dog kennel of the exact moment I drift into that sweet REM sleep.
The chaos began around 1 a.m. The dog lot erupted with barking.
Dogs love to rat on their friends. The kennel goes wild when one of them breaks a chain or a snap and is free to run around and visit with the others.
As usual, I woke up, rolled over in bed, flipped on the lights in the dog yard, opened the curtain and examined the ruckus outside without ever climbing out of the sack. All of the dogs were barking and facing one corner of the lot where a short and stubby white dog bounced around, wagging her tail. Maddie was loose and flirting with Stinky.
I sat up in bed and slipped my Carhartt coveralls over my pajamas, my rubber boots over my bare feet. I felt like some clumsy fireman responding to an alarm in slow motion.
It was pouring down rain. Maddie saw me when I opened the gate to the dog yard. She came bounding over, thrilled that I had decided to join in the late night fun. I couldn't be upset with a dog so happy to see me; I petted her and tied her back up.
Peace and quiet. I climbed back into bed and quickly fell asleep. Until 1:30 a.m.
I carried out my same loose dog drill, discovering that Maddie was once again free and rolling around with Goat in the mud. They were having an excellent time. Upon closer examination of Maddie's brass snap, I saw that it was in fine working order. I assumed the snap opened by catching it on the edge of her doghouse; every now and then this happens.
Maddie greeted me with her same exuberance, painting my pajama top with her muddy paws as she jumped all over me. I petted her and tied her back up.
Peace and quiet. I climbed back into bed and never fell asleep. Maddie was loose 10 minutes later.
This time I grabbed a one-foot strip of duct tape and wrapped her snap so it couldn't accidentally be popped open.
It was quiet until 3 a.m. I was sound asleep when the dogs went ballistic again. Maddie was racing laps around the kennel, dodging in and out of each dog's space, wanting to be chased by her friends. This time I brought the entire roll of duct tape. I petted Maddie, tied her up and used a quarter of a new roll to secure her. And then I went back to bed.
I'm embarrassed to say that I tied Maddie up four times before I realized what was happening. I found a gnarled wad of duct tape on the ground next to her snap and chain. She chewed off the tape and opened the snap herself with her teeth and tongue. This was no accident.
The problem was eventually fixed with a giant, heavy-duty bull snap off of a horse's lead rope. Maddie had finally met her match.
There have been only a handful of late-night escapees since I moved to this kennel nine months ago. I admired Maddie for being a smart girl and figured that was the end of the problem. Not so.
Dogs often learn skills and habits from observing other dogs. Maddie's neighbor, Tillamook, apparently spent some time analyzing Maddie's escape methods. The next morning I went through the same routine with her. Jojo was next and Onion after her. Now a stash of expensive bull snaps are on hand and ready to replace the traditional snaps as each dog figures out the new technique.
Who says you can't teach old dogs annoying new tricks?
( 0 Votes )