Wednesday, April 01, 2009

Stupid Pet Tricks -or- Why I Recently Added a Snare Pole To My Truck

This past Saturday I woke up early because a neighbor was knocking on my door. He needed to use my phone - you see, he and his girlfriend have no phone, land line or cell. They frequently knock on my door looking for something, usually money or dog food. I grabbed my cell and handed it to him and he said he'd be right back. By the time he'd returned I was awake enough to ask him what was going on, and he said the neighbor next door's dog had gotten out again and he was trying to reach them.

This is bad news. My next door neighbors have four ill-behaved dogs, but one of them is a large lab mix who is very aggressive towards strangers and has quite the bite record. We rarely see him as they almost never take him out of the house, but they'd put him in a backyard pen in the morning and then gone to work, and he'd jumped the fence and escaped the pen. Bad.

For the moment, he was on the other side of the chain-link fence that divides the two properties. I grabbed my treat pouch off of the wall where my leashes hang and went out to try to make friends, which he wasn't too interested in. What he was interested in, mostly, was chewing through the fence to tear my face off. I quickly ran through the treats in my pouch - I was going to need reinforcements. I headed back inside to grab something higher-value, and in a moment of optimism also threw a leash over my shoulder.

When I came back outside he'd gone to the unfenced front of his property and was growling at some kids riding bikes down the street. I've seen him charge people walking by before, and it's not pretty, particularly when he's feeling bitey. No one had been able to reach his owners on the phone, so I called the cops and then tried to get the dog's attention. I was successful and he headed down my driveway towards me as I hopped into the bed of my pickup truck and distracted him by tossing him some delicious treats.

I ran through quite a few treats keeping him occupied and I was concerned about running out, so I used my leash as a makeshift slip-lead and threw a lasso over his head - got him! He was on the ground, I was safe in the bed of the truck, so now all we needed was for animal control to show up. He wasn't too happy about being leashed, but I still had some food and could keep him distracted. I'm accustomed to dealing with difficult dogs, but at work we have people to help, protective clothing, and muzzles - I'd dressed so quickly when I heard the knock on the door that the most protection I had was my sweatpants.

As it turns out, the town's animal control officer was busy on a call, so another cop showed up - who knew the owners and the dog, as he'd been bit by this dog during a similar previous incident. He wanted nothing to do with the situation and didn't have any equipment with him that would be remotely helpful, so he said he would go across town to where the dog's owners worked and get them. Uh, OK. I'll just stay here with the bitey beast and a rapidly-dwindling food supply.

A minute or two after he pulled away, I had an idea - I asked my neighbor to go to their front door and see if it was unlocked, which it was. I tossed a couple of treats on the ground and climbed down from the bed of the truck, stiff-arming the leash so the dog, hopefully, couldn't bite me. Everything was going pretty well until we crossed from my property to his, at which point he decided he was no longer interested in the distracting treats and was going to focus his full attention on biting me. Fortunately, it was only a few more steps to the front door, and I managed to keep his head away from my body and throw him through the front door into his house.

The cop turned up again a few minutes later with the frantic neighbor in tow. Verbal warning. Bleah. Did I mention this is not the first time this has happened?

The second incident of the week was a little less frustrating and a little more amusing. As I was turning off the main road through town to get to a friend's house, a goat wandered across the road and through the corner gas station. Surprisingly, I realized that I had a pretty good idea where the goat had come from - my friend's next door neighbor has a few farm animals in the backyard. I pulled my truck into the gas station, dug in my glove compartment for a spare leash, and took off in pursuit of the goat who was now running up the sidewalk alongside the town's main road. I called my friend and asked her to go next door and tell her neighbor that their goat was loose and get them over where I was, as I know nothing about goats except that it probably hurts to be bit by one and if a car hit him, it wouldn't be pretty.

She went next door and found that only two kids were home, somewhere around 6 and 8 years old. One of them, who had the assignment of taking care of the animals, had forgot to latch a gate behind him. She also found a pig wandering their front yard. She and the kids corralled the pig and led him back to the pen, but as for the goat - I was on my own.

I was following him from a bit of a distance so he wouldn't flip out and run, and he eventually turned into a hotel parking lot, where he gave a heck of a surprise to three college age guys sitting outside their room drinking beer. He came out from behind a car, stared at them, then took off. I quickly explained what was going on and they joined the chase. The goat wandered over to a corner of the parking lot where he had walls on two sides of him and we closed in, surrounding him. One of the boys bear-hugged his neck, two passers-by took him by the horns, and I wrestled a leash over his head.

I thanked all the participants for their help and walked the goat the two blocks back to his home. It was easier than I thought, not unlike walking a stubborn dog - though I still kept a good grip on the leash near his head so he wouldn't be able to bite me. As I got to the driveway, the kids' mom pulled up in her car and led me to the pen, where the goat could rejoin the pig and his other buddies.

Just another day in Utah.

Enough with the leashes: I have two new items that will now live in my truck full-time, a snare pole and bite gloves.


Blogger Kate said...

You lead a fascinating life, Sibley. Although I must say, I HAVE led many a goat before on a leash... bit of a farm girl myself. ;-)

10:47 PM  
Blogger Frosty said...

Dude. There are so many things wrong with your town I don't even know where to begin. Leaving a six and eight year old home alone? Let's just leave it at that. I know, I am being really judgy. Not trying to judge. But dude. DUDE.

8:09 AM  
Blogger Julie said...

I have to agree with what Frosty said. DUDE! What the hell?

6:23 PM  
Blogger -J. said...

It's OK, the 8 year old was taking care of the 6 year old and they both were taking care of farm animals that outweigh them by 4 times or more without supervision. What's the problem? :)

9:44 AM  

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