Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Criminal Minds

Another one of Titan's challenging behaviors has been an obsession with escaping from confined areas. In his few successful attempts we have found him still on the Farcical Farm premises, just not where we left him.

The steel gates on the horse paddock are about four feet tall with three feet of mesh and a one foot gap between the upper tubes (similar to the one shown). A couple of months ago Titan started pacing the perimeter of the horse paddock with purpose (alliteration!) -- nose in the air and eyes scanning for possibilities. When he got out the second time I started pacing the perimeter for evidence, and eventually found tell-tale white hairs in mesh of the gates. Our neighbors confirmed that he had been launching himself through the gaps, so I cut three panels from a 48" exercise pen in half and zip-tied them on such that the spikes (left from cutting the grid down the middle) poked up over the top of the upper tube. Designed to provide a nasty shock to any paws coming over the top of the gate while being no threat to the horses. Titan has not escaped from the horse paddock since.

Yesterday I noticed him doing the same perimeter check around the goat paddock, and ten minutes before I was due to leave (for my first hair cut in 8 months) I watched him try to launch himself over the gate (twice) and over the rail by the garage (once) where the top line of barbed wire has sagged. Before leaving I spiked the top of the gate with a row of thin, half-sunk nails and I draped a roll of barbed wire over the unprotected rail. I stressed the whole time I was out, and when David and I got home we drove a line of half-sunk nails all the way around the top rail. No threat to the goats because they are so short, and no threat to us because they sit directly under the barbed wire. They are only a threat to paws that should not be on the rail in the first place. A hot wire would have accomplished the same thing, but nails are cheaper, easier and fail safe.

I'm aware of how Draconian this solution sounds, but keeping Titan safe is our responsibility and our priority. Maremmas are notorious escape artists at this age (that is not him in the picture, but he is almost that tall compared to our 5 foot fence), and given his current penchant for chasing cars we have to assume that he will be a goner if he gets loose. What will his criminal mind think of next, and how will mine counter it?


Anonymous said...

My first Aussie was an escape artist. If she couldn't go over, she'd go under. I hope Titan doesn't learn that trick!

Luckily, Copper isn't interested in escaping and Freya is loathe to leave my side.

I'm with you on dealing with teenage puppydom. Copper's at that age too and giving me grief! Demand barking is not so easy stop.

allhorsestuff said...

There ya go!
Double dog dare him to scale those points!The Zip tie line made me chuckle for I know they are as my love for duct tape, to you!

How did the hair cut go? Same stylist?

Grey Horse Matters said...

They're so good at escaping. I always wonder what goes through their minds, after they get out, where do they need to be other than back home where the love and food is! Good luck with him he sounds like a riot.

dp said...

OS: Titan is an accomplished digger, but so far he has been too lazy to dig anything big enough to get all 120lbs of himself through. We're keeping our fingers crossed on this one.

AHS: Hair cut was pretty good, thanks. Second one with the same stylist. My stylist for several years stopped cutting a couple of years ago and I had been on the hunt for someone new ever since. Aaron is definitely fitting the bill. When I get a hair cut I want it to look decent with minimal input from me, and I want it to grow out looking decent (my hair is super thick). The last one lasted for 8 months, so that might be a record!

GHM: Like I said, when he does manage to escape he doesn't go anywhere. Crazy animals.

Anonymous said...

dp- I sure hope he doesn't for your sake! My 90lb Freya dug a spot under the garden shed a couple years ago. Enough dirt shifted when she crawled her big self in there that she got trapped under it and I was outside at 1 am digging her out, without a shovel as it was still in storage! Not fun!! She didn't enjoy the bath later, nor did I as the dirt was all the way down to her skin!

Carole said...

It's nice to know that my animals aren't the only ones who get into situations needing urgent and immediate attention when I'm trying to leave the house.

(A friend of mine used to say, "life is full of challenges and tribulations, but eventually you find a hairstylist you like.")

Jean said...

Oh Titan, do not stress out your family like that!
I once lived next to a dog that literaly scaled the six foot chain link fence by putting each of his four paws in the wire squares and "waking" (moving one paw at a time to a new, higher square) up to the top and over - it was hilarious to watch but not so funny when crazy dog celebrated his freedom by trying to catch cars. His humans finally resorted to an electric fence.