Fix your fence

Don’t fence me in Dogs will find a way over, under or through a fence if it’s not designed with them in mind. Photo by Lori Fusaro

I had a dog named Tia when I was growing up. She was a husky and as beautiful as they come. She was also smart, a fantastic cuddler and the best escape artist west of the Mississippi. What I didn’t know until much later is that most huskies are good at jumping a fence or digging a hole and squeezing themselves under just about any fence.

I remember my dad tried everything to keep her contained. There was the zip line-type leash. It let her run the length of the yard – except that Tia found a way to jump the fence, nearly hanging herself in the process. To this day, my dad feels horrible about that incident. Next, he tried some cockamamie idea he thought up. He took a piece of wood, screwed a hook to it and fastened it on her collar. I guess he hoped the wood would knock her paws and deter her from jumping. No chance. She still jumped and ran. Poor dad. Eventually, he just decided to take her to work with him – crazy dog man. I guess that’s where I get it.

I’m jumping on BADRAP’s bandwagon and also declaring March as Fix Your Fence month. Donna Reynolds, founder of BADRAP says, “We’d sure love to get fewer panicked calls and emails from dog owners who come home to find their dogs missing and a notice from animal control tacked on their door. If you are thinking of getting a dog, husky or otherwise, you want your pup to be safe. First step, secure the grounds.”

So what do you look for when checking your fence? Reynolds says, “Wiggle those gates to see if they’re still sturdy enough to withstand a pushy head. Replace those broken, rotting fence boards and remove anything that can be used as a doggy ladder, up and over the fence. Reinforce the space between the fence and the ground and toss some lattice up on top to add height while you’re at it. If you just aren’t sure how secure your yard needs to be, pretend you’re a bored terrier with Tarzan fantasies, and the weak links in your fortress will probably jump right out at you.”

Jon Usle, founder of Husky Camp, a Siberian husky rescue group, has had to deal with escape artists in one way or another for years. “Siberian huskies can disappear like magic,” Usle says. “I have often said if you can see over the top of it, plant grass under it or pour water through it, a husky can get out of it.”

I love his rolling pin method. I wish my dad had thought of this way back when. It’s so simple. Usle explains this straightforward idea: “Stop and think about how a rolling pin works. While you hold the handles, the outside turns around and around. By taking this same concept and mounting a cable parallel with the top of your fence line, with support eye hooks at 10-foot (or less) intervals. Around the cable, you would place one-inch PVC pipe. Around the one-inch PVC pipe, you would place three-inch PVC pipe. Tighten up your cable and then your project is complete. Every time your husky tries to climb over your fence, they end up rolling back off the fence into your backyard. Imagine trying to do a pull-up on a bar that keeps turning back toward you, you would find something else to do quickly. So will your husky.”

I must also add that a fence does not substitute for training or responsible ownership. Many dogs escape when left alone for too long. The problems of leaving dogs unsupervised in yards range from barking complaints to tussles with wild animals to pet theft. Remember, you are their family and their security, and sometimes your dog is just escaping to try to find you when you’re not around.