Enjoying the mild spring weather, I was working with all the doors and windows in my house open. So when my dogs, who had free run of the house and backyard, started to bark at something, I looked out the window and saw a stray dog wandering around the front yard. He’s about 50 pounds, some sort of Kelpie/Cattle Dog-mix. I got up and went out the front door, and he ran off down the street. I almost started to look for a leash and treats, but I was busy, on deadline, so I went back to work. Ten minutes later, the barking started again, and there is the dog again.
I went outside again, this time with a leash and treats and Otto, my ambassador for loose dogs. Otto is big enough to handle himself with almost any dog, dog-savvy enough to not get into a fight with even a very rude dog, smart enough to run if the other dog is downright aggressive, and obedient enough that I can call him away from even a very intense greet-and-pee session. Nine times out of 10, I can open my side gate and the stray dog will follow Otto into my backyard. And then I can read the dog’s tag (if he has one) or call animal control.
The dog started to run again when I open my front door, but as soon as he saw Otto, he reversed direction and headed straight toward us, head and tail high. Oh good, there is a tag on his collar. I patted my leg and said, “Hey pup!” brightly, but he completely ignored me and fixated on Otto, leaning in to sniff Otto in a very forward fashion. Apparently Otto smelled GOOD, because two seconds later, the dog leaped onto Otto’s back, trying to hump him. Otto whirled around with a big, bear-like roaring growl and bark – “No WAY, buddy!” But the dog was like a laser-guided missile – completely ignoring me, and fixating on Otto’s nether end. He kept trying to jump up on Otto, who kept growl/snapping and whirling. Somehow, I managed to drop a slip-lead over his head and pulled him away from Otto. Whew!
Relieved to have the dog under control, Otto trotted a few yards away and peed on a tree. Seeing this, the dog immediately went into plow-horse mode, pulling with all his might to go pee on the tree, too.
This is not my favorite kind of dog: stray, intact, and so charged with testosterone and bad manners that he’s about to cause a fight, so eager is he to hump a neutered male dog 20 pounds bigger than he is.
I tied the dog to the tree, and put Otto in the house. Then I went back out and read the dog’s ID tag. Great! It had an address and a phone number; the address is just around the corner and up the block from me. I untied the leash and started walking that way, while using my cell phone to call the number on the tag.
The dog’s owner answered and seemed unsurprised to hear that the dog was out. He asked if I could put the dog back in his yard. Sure, no problem. I got to the house and approached the side gate, noting that there are “coyote rollers” on top of the six-foot fence – lengths of PVC pipe threaded onto a strand of wire fencing; the pipe rolls when a dog tries to jump/climb over the fence. It’s a smart solution that foils the escape plans of many dogs, but this dog obviously found some other way out. I had a feeling this wasn’t going to work, but I put the dog behind the fence and closed the gate.
By the time I reached my front porch, the dog was right behind me, eager for another encounter with Otto. Okay, plan B.
I opened my door, let Otto out, and when the dog started trying, again, to hump my increasingly annoyed dog, I got the lead slipped over the dog’s head again, and put Otto in the house. Thanks and sorry again, Otto!
I called the owner again. He told me that he called his young adult son and asked him to come home from work and and chain the dog up in the backyard. Ah! I said, I could have done that for you. He tells me, no problem, the son is on his way, should be home any minute.
I took the dog back to his house, and tied the leash to a post on the front porch. Another dog comes running to the side gate, a young Australian Cattle Dog-mix, female, maybe five or six months old. Cute! I waited for a few minutes, to see if the dog can handle being tied up. He laiddown on the shady porch, so I felt fine about walking away.
Five minutes later, the dog is on my porch again. Gah! He has his collar on still, and there is no stub of leash, so he didn’t slip the collar or chew his way free. I let Otto out of my house – bait dog! – and walk back toward the dog’s house, him trying to hump Otto the whole way. I am really not liking this dog!
Halfway there, I saw a young man who was obviously looking for the dog. He yelled the dog’s name, to no effect. “It’s okay,” I called to him, “we’re on the way!”
When we reached his front yard, the young man said the obvious: “I unsnapped the leash and he just took off!” He started grabbing at the dog, trying to get ahold of the dog’s collar and yelling the dog’s name. The dog ignored him like he ignored me; all he can think about is humping Otto. I managed to lasso the dog again. “Your dad told me you were going to chain him up? Where is the chain? I can take him there.”
The young man opened the gate and we all went into the very large backyard. There is a small chain-link pen back there, just four feet high, and the puppy was now in there. The young man led the way to a spot where a long cable is fastened to a tree. I clipped it onto the dog’s collar and then Otto and I backed out of the dog’s range. The guy was thanking me, rushing around; he had to get back to work.
I looked around. Lots of stuff for the cable to get wrapped around. Lots of holes where the dog has dug. No water. I said, “Is there a bucket or something for water?” The guy looked around and grabbed a five-gallon bucket, and started to run some water into it. He was grumbling about the dog, and how he’s annoyed because the dog is going to teach his dog, the puppy, some bad habits. I said, “Well, first thing, get the darn dog neutered! He will be less likely to be so obsessed with escaping – and he won’t get your little female pregnant!”
The guys says, “Well, we were going to breed them!”
I was incredulous, but kept my tone teasing and playful. “Why the heck would you do that? Neither one is a purebred, and he’s an a**hole!”
He responded with something about them both being working stock dogs. Uh huh. Here in town. Okay, good luck, and have a nice day.
FIRST THING this morning, the dog was on my front porch, whining for Otto. I got a leash on him and walked him back to his house, and knocked on the door. No one home. Little dogs barking inside. Then I took him back to my house, tied him to the tree out front again, and called animal control. An officer came right over to pick up the dog.
I feel a little bad for not calling the owner again; his number is still in my cell phone. But maybe a ticket or two will inspire him to take more serious measures to contain the dog. And neuter him!