September 2019
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Gracie’s Big Adventure: Part Who-Can-Keep-Track-At-This-Point

Gracie got out of our yard last week. I’d tell you how many times she’s done this, but I have honestly lost track. She doesn’t need a rock hammer, or a pinup poster. She doesn’t even need to spit the extra dirt out of her mouth on walks. She always finds a way to dig herself out of the yard Shawshank-style.

This time? She upped the ante. She dug her way into our neighbor’s yard. But, it’s fenced in. So, she dug a tunnel from his yard to the yard next to his. According to him, the second hole appeared about a week earlier and slowly got bigger over time. Which means that Gracie was planning this escape long-term.

Lord help us if this dog ever decides that she doesn’t like us anymore. She is way too smart for her own good.

I am embarrassed to admit, I didn’t even realize she was gone. I remember letting her out back for one last evening constitutional. I remember realizing that the back door was open. I remember yelling out to her that it was time to come in. But she wasn’t out back, so I assumed I’d let her back in already and that I simply forgot to close the door.

Except, you know, I hadn’t let her back in. She was already running around the neighborhood by then. I was just too sleep-deprived to notice.

Have I mentioned that this all happened the night before Kristian got back from a week-long business trip? Because that partially explains why I was so zonked I didn’t realize that the dog had run off. Kristian got home around midnight and immediately noticed that she was gone. Because, unlike me, he’s not an asshole. Which is why he set out to try and find her. While I held down the fort. AKA went back to sleep.

What? Someone had to stay home with the sleeping baby. Nobody said that someone had to be awake.

Did I mention that she lost her tags a week earlier and we were still waiting for the replacements to arrive? Because that definitely happened. And they totally showed up the day after we got her back. Because, timing.

Long story short, Kristian didn’t find Gracie that night. She ran a couple of miles away, and (after a few hours) a nice lady found her and brought her inside. The nice lady put a picture on Facebook asking if anyone knew the nice doggie. The picture made the rounds locally, and a woman who used to dog-sit for us saw it. She put Kristian in touch with Gracie’s rescuer and we were all reunited later that day.


So, now we have to do some extra husky-proofing of the backyard. Which, clearly, is going to be no small feat. Any suggestions? One of the women at our vet’s office suggested burying some sheet metal just below the fence to keep Gracie from digging (she also mentioned that electric collars don’t usually work on huskies because their coats are too thick).

Gracie got 4+ miles worth of walks that day (3.5 miles around a local lake plus another mile around our neighborhood). So, I don’t think it’s a burning need to stretch her legs. She probably just wants to go exploring.


2 comments to Gracie’s Big Adventure: Part Who-Can-Keep-Track-At-This-Point

  • You have three options to keep her from going under the fence (and then you will need to renovate the top of the fence too, so we’ll cover that below).

    (1) Trench the bottom of the fence approximately 12-18 inches into the ground. Hard labor, expensive.
    (2) Hot wire at the bottom and the top of the fence. Not a great idea with growing kids. Bzzzt! Plus, you know, shocking your dog.
    (3) Install fence skirting. Cheap and easy, and once the grass grows in, invisible.

    What do I mean by fence skirting? You can use welded wire fence or what they call hardware cloth. Welded wire looks like this:

    This is hardware cloth:

    Buy the two-feet tall version, bend it into an L shape, about 6-8 inches along the short arm, and then just staple or zip tie to the bottom of your existing fence, making a “skirt” that goes all the way around the yard. The long leg of the L should lie flat on the ground, and be held down by garden staples. The grass will grow up and over it, but if Gracie tries to dig, the metal fencing will be uncovered and it’s uncomfortable for the dogs, so they usually desist.

    I had to do this for Clover in our yard, because her MO is also to go under, rather than over. Here’s a “during installation” photo although I don’t apparently have one of it all done.

    We only needed our skirt to be 9-12 inches wide — Clover isn’t much of a tunneler. With Gracie, make your short arm at least 6 inches tall, maybe 8 (the part that you attach to the fence), and the long arm as close to 18 inches as possible (the part that lies on the ground).

    This is the same idea, but with chain link:

    In general, if you want to keep a dog contained, look to the wolfdog people. They know what it’s about. 😉

    Now that you have the bottom of the fence secure, time to put lean ins along the top, so Gracie can’t go over.

    The only thing these have to do is be visible (so she perceives a barrier and won’t try to clear the fence entirely), and prevent her from getting her paws over the top of the fence to try and scramble over. Very few dogs are determined enough to really test the lean-ins. I like the idea of using plant hooks, with fence draped along the top, and hanging baskets from the hooks. Makes it prettier, at least. 😉

    Fence skirting can be installed in a day. Mine is just zip-tied to the bottom of our welded wire fence; if you have privacy fence, you can staple it into place pretty easily.

  • I recently learned that huskies and malamutes have this urge to explore and they’re escape artists. Is Gracie microchipped? If not, then please have the vet do so asap and register the chip. That way if she gets lost again, a shelter or vet office will scan for a chip and you’ll be reunited.

    What kind of fence do you have? I don’t think I noticed when I visited last summer.

    If she gets out by digging under the fence, then you’ll need to patrol the perimeter every day to see if she’s working on a few spots. You can then fill them in before they get big enough for her to go through.

    I also don’t remember how big a yard you have. Is it too big to plant a row of shrubs along the entire inside of your fence with, perhaps, a decorative border. If Gracie can’t actually reach the fence because of the landscaping blockade, she won’t be able to dig under it.

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