Thursday, March 6, 2014

Confused Dogs

The outdoor dog kennel parts arrived yesterday, and the cowboy who brought them was one of probably a dozen people so far who told me bitterly that he used to be able to ride his horse through my property.  He told me that he grew up in my neighborhood and knew the area before my house was built.  He said he used to drive cows through my land, but then that job got taken over by men on ATVs.  Fortunately, he was just reminiscing and not angry with me for being another newcomer who is fueling this frenzy to build more houses.  My house is about 12 years old, but it feels like a fresh wound to the natives of this area.  I understand.

I was relieved to find out from the horse trainer that the land in front of my house will never be built upon, because it was designated as a historic livestock trail.  So, I guess the building stops with the row of houses on my street.  But I do feel bad for people who lived in the houses behind mine who used to have much more land to ride on, and now have to contend with traffic on streets, houses, and private property signs to get to the bridle trails, which have shrunk considerably in the past 20 years.  I've noticed that many of them now trailer their horses to the gate across the street from my house, which I know is a hassle.  I'd rather ride right off my property any day than to have to drive a horse in a trailer to the trail head.  But, the horseback riders have found a new trail through the back roads along the edges of property lines, so they no longer have to cut across private land.

I was telling my farrier my latest horror stories about our horse accidents and me having to dismount because of other horseback riders and bicyclists acting like idiots on the trails and freaking out my horses.  I expected him to advise me to ride it out until the horses get used to stupid human behaviors, but instead he said, "And that is precisely why I always ride my horses alone in locations where I know no other people go, away from the city out in the wilderness."

When you consider that this man has probably spent half his lifetime on horseback, that he was a champion mounted shooter, the he was a trail guide for many outfits, that he worked horses on ranches driving cattle, and that he was a jouster, I find it amazing that he still thinks like me and tries to avoid other people to prevent horse accidents while trail riding.  He even said that he won't ride his horses along streets because he's had too many drivers try to unseat him by honking and yelling at the horse as they passed.  Let's face it.  Us humans are a pain in our own asses.

Anyway, I built the dog kennel by myself last night, using twine from hay bales to temporarily connect the corners and free up my hands to install the metal clamps.  Once all four walls were up, I anchored down a tarp over the top to keep the prey birds out.  We've got two hawks now, along with the two ravens.  Some of the birds around here are so large that they remind me of dinosaurs.

Fortunately, all three dogs immediately peed as soon as I put them in the kennel.  I caught Stewie lifting his leg in this picture...

Good boy!  You can see how Stewie has grown.  He's catching up to Scrappy.  I liked how the tarp was just the right size to come down the sides to provide more shade, but to also leave an opening at the bottom where the dogs can see out.

The dogs were a bit confused about what to do.  They watched my every move, worried that I might abandon them there.

I walked around the property to look at the kennel from different angles to try to anticipate potential problems with its location.  I noticed that the dogs could see what is going on up in the front yard and street, so I hope they won't start barking every time someone walks or drives by.

Our property is built on tiers of land.  The flattest part was the unpaved driveway behind our house.  We rarely drive back there, so it seemed like the best place to put the kennel.

But it is harder than I thought it would be to see the dogs from inside the house through windows at this location, mainly because of the drop off.  Also, it turns out that the kennel is not close enough to the porch to provide some privacy.  We like to occasionally sit on our porch and read, but if our neighbors are out, they look up at us and sometimes try to get our attention to chat.  It would be nice to be able to enjoy the view without other people seeing us and feeling the need to interact with us.  I need an outdoor hiding spot where I can read and enjoy nature without interruptions.

I had this problem at my old house.  If I sat in my back yard and tried to read and write, the retired neighbor on that side would spot me through her window and come out to chat.  If I sat on the patio on the psycho neighbor's side of the house, they'd come out and stare at me from their porch or drive their car to the end of my driveway and sit in their car staring at me.  If I sat in the front yard, tourists driving past would spot me and pull over to ask for directions.  There was nowhere I could go to be alone outdoors.  At least here I have the desert in front of my house and the arroyo behind my house, but a lot of times when I go down into the arroyo to be alone, the neighbors' dogs spot me and announce my presence to everyone.  Then the neighbors start wondering why I'm going into the arroyo, and next thing I know I'm being investigated.

I'm the type of person who always has undercover security guards following her around in stores, because I intentionally choose locations where I can be alone and have my space without having to constantly be moving out of someone else's way.  That makes me look suspicious, because shoplifters are always looking for remote corners of the store where others can't see them stealing.

Anyway, I sat down on the porch to supervise the dogs and make sure that putting them in the outdoor kennel wasn't going to cause any new problems.  Sure enough, I only got into reading half a page of my book before Stewie started digging his way out.

We'll have to engineer a fix for that, but first I want to make sure that this is the location where we want to keep the kennel.  The real test will be this weekend when the neighbors are home.  The dogs didn't let out a single bark today, but I'm interested in seeing how they behave when the neighbors' dogs are running around in their yard.  Our dogs are good about not barking back at their dogs when their dogs bark are me when I am walking the dogs outside on leashes, but it may be different if I'm not hovering over them.

The kennel came just in time, because Stewie is starting to show signs of separation anxiety, and I need to head that off at the pass.  His latest puppy behavior has been to jump up on the table, drag down the mail, and shred it on the floor when I go outside to feed the horses.  Thank God all I get is junk mail.  But now I have to lock Stewie up somewhere, either in the outdoor kennel or the indoor hutch, any time I go outside for anything, even for a few minutes.

Oh, and for anyone who thinks I'm being paranoid about the birds around here, I just took the dogs out to the kennel, and right when I walked them through the gate, a large bird swooped down and crashed into the side of the kennel.  It scared Stewie so bad that he jumped sideways and then ran between my legs.  It happened so fast that I didn't see what kind of bird it was.

Now that the sun is peeking out from behind the clouds, I can see that I will have to turn the angle of the kennel at the very least to get the tarped sides pointed at the sun better.  Right now the covered sides are on the east and west, but in the winter the sun stays in the southern sky.


Cindy D. said...

Hot wire.

Quickest easiest way to keep them from digging. Just a mild zap and generally you won't even have to leave it up very long. Once or twice and they will be done.

fernvalley01 said...

looks like a nice kennel, and when you find the right spot it will be dandy. I was thinking just line it with bricks or rocks ,but the hot wire would probably work better

4RRanch said...

I can see 2 houses from my house with binoculars. I don't think I could ever live with close neighbors again. Love the rock walls.

achieve1dream said...

If being able to see the front yard is a problem you could shift the tarp to hide the view hehe. I'm glad you finally have a yard for them.