CORAL SPRINGS, FL - This is not about the little pooch who was found and whose family has hopefully found it in the shelter. This is about how not to let this happen by someone whose cocker spaniel loves to sneak out behind someone coming in or going out of the house.
I know that sinking feeling when you suddenly say to yourself: “Where’s the dog?!?”
The first tip is to keep an eye on the dog when it is near the door. The second tip is never to open the door too widely. This creates five obstacles for the dog to navigate in order to get out. Two pairs of legs plus the door itself. If the dog is going to get out it will have to push through someone’s legs and will be felt. It also lets you see if your visitor is wearing a mask before you’re full-frontal with him or her.
Something that one’s dog should be taught is where it lives.
Over the past few years, I’ve taught my rapscallion to learn the term “home” and learn that’s where one goes when he is off the leash. It started in the driveway at the end of the walk. I’d unleash him and say “home” and naturally he’d run into the garage. I lengthened this distance gradually so that now at the corner of our street, I unleash him and yell, “Home!” He takes off like a bat out of well, you know, rounds the curving stones of the neighbor’s house, flies across our grass, jumps a bush if the car in the driveway leaves him too tight a space and runs into the garage. I do live on a cul-de-sac so there is little danger of cars.
I cannot tell a lie. He has ended up once or twice in neighbor’s yards. The same two houses. He knows them because they have children, and he loves to play with children. Everyone knows him and where he belongs, so they bring him home.
One day that didn’t happen. I was busy and involved in something. I didn’t realize he wasn’t around because he has various favorite napping places in the house and is often not in my line of sight. As I walked down the hall past the front door, out of the corner of my eye, I saw him. He was sitting straight-up and smart looking in the glass waiting with supreme confidence for someone to let him in. He knew where he lived.
Of course, your dog should always be wearing a collar and that collar should have a name tag, along, of course, with a license and rabies tag. If your dog doesn’t have a microchip when you bring it home, your first vet visit should include that procedure. It is simple, quick, and can be lifesaving. Your ID should include the word microchip in it so a shelter or vet can scan his back, find it, and then you.
Now a challenge faces me. We are moving. He is going to have to learn he lives in a different place.
For the first two weeks or so he’ll be on his leash as we head home from our walks and I’ll be telling him: “Let’s go home. Home, Jax, home!” I will also put a dab of peanut butter, nose-height, on the garage door. He will associate this door as the only one worth licking. He loves peanut butter. It won’t take long for him to figure out that home is where the peanut butter is. He’s six years old. I wouldn’t trust that he’s got it down pat until six months passes. During that time, he’ll have a new ID and I’ll have changed the information on his microchip. With any luck, you can teach old dogs new tricks.
Next week we’ll go back to some broader topics and every-so-often I’ll keep you updated about the dog who is constantly in search of playmates. But the wrap on this is: “Isn’t unconditional love worth being returned?”
Read William A. Gralnick’s recent columns for TAPinto Coral Springs:
A resident of South Florida for more than 30 years, Bill Gralnick has written more than 900 op-eds and columns for newspapers around the country, including columns for the Brooklyn Eagle.
His latest book, found on Amazon.com, Kindle or paperback, is the coming-of-age memoir, “The War of the Itchy Balls and Other Tales from Brooklyn.”
His writings can be found on his website: williamgralnickauthor.com
Know a story we should share with our readers? Email editor Leon Fooksman (firstname.lastname@example.org) and tell him about it.