Daily Independent (Ashland, KY)

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June 9, 2014

CATHIE SHAFFER: Living a dog's life

ASHLAND — So I pull into my driveway a little earlier than usual on a workday and realize there’s a police officer looking at me from my daughter’s porch. In an attempt at humor, I said, “It wasn’t my fault” as I got out of the car.

My daughter’s friend, who had been speaking to the officer, came back with “Oh, yes it is.”

It turns out that the officer had been dispatched in response to a complaint about a chain wrapped around a tree with a dog on the end of it. He’d performed with due diligence, walking the limited space of my property and seeing nothing.

He heard something, though — my daughter’s little dog barking in her house and big old Carmyn, the young yellow lab, barking in mine. And since those are the only two dogs we own, he left still mystified.

I found out via those who had been home that someone had pulled into my drive a half hour or so earlier, stayed a couple of minutes and then backed out. I am assuming that was the person who called.

You see, Carmyn is a hard dog to keep contained. I bought the biggest, sturdiest yard stake I caught, put a 20-foot dog cable on it and placed it behind the house. That gave her lots of room to move around but kept her from dashing into the busy street.

She managed to pull out the stake and wander to the front yard.

We began constructing a  play area in the backyard with wire fencing and then realized she can jump over its four foot height so we’re working on Plan B.

In the meantime, we put her on a long leash, let her out the side door and then close the door. That keeps her from taking off, although she managed to dig holes and kill the grass  in short order.

I’m attempting to teach her boundaries by letting her out front, on the chain my dear Maggie used for porch sitting, so that Carmyn eventually realizes she can go no further than the sidewalk front.

She’s starting to learn. She knows the directional commands “porch” or “back door” when I’m about to let her out, responds to “house” when it’s time to go in and is pretty good at “wait” unless a motorcycle or passing animal catches her attention.

So here’s what I think happened.

My grandgirl, who was cleaning the kitchen, put Carmyn out the side door while she mopped the floor. A kind-hearted passerby probably saw the dog standing against the solid wood door, pawing and maybe barking to get in, and jumped to the conclusion that Carmyn was left out there all day without food or water.

I do appreciate the concern. But I’d like to assure the concerned passerby that we do indeed worry about Carmyn, feed her well and keep her safe.

In fact, the only big problem we have right now is this one:

Although she’s a good-sized, outdoors kind of dog, she firmly believes she’s tiny enough to fit on my lap and needs to live the life of a pampered princess — indoors on the couch.

CATHIE SHAFFER, executive editor of the Greenup News, can be reached at cathieshaffer@zoominternet.net or (606) 473-9851.

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