This Side Up

The weakest link

Posted

You’ve heard the expression, “Home is your fortress.”

Well, I strengthened the bulwarks this Sunday. I had to; they were showing real signs of coming apart. It’s not that I fear an attack or looking to keep people away. Rather, it’s to keep a certain member of the family from escaping. And this is the time of year when those defenses are tested. It must be the spring air and the scents it brings, for Ollie would bolt out the kitchen door if we weren’t careful.

We have a routine aimed at providing him limited liberty while ensuring he doesn’t take off, as has happened. We outfit him with his electronic collar that effectively keeps him from running out the drive or leaping off the seawall, and a cow bell that lets us know where he is. The invisible fence is a godsend, and once he knew it was there he stayed clear.

And then there’s the rest of the yard. It’s defined by a combination of chain link and stockade fences. It’s these that Ollie is perpetually testing. He searches for weak points, which I have to believe are just the spots where other critters come and go. It’s simple for Ollie – nose to the ground and he knows precisely where the raccoon slipped under the fence. But Ollie can’t exactly slide under the fence. He goes into digging mode, and the incessant clanging of the cowbell is notice that he’s up to something.

That’s what happened last week, and Carol found his head half way under the prongs of the chain link fence. He gave up on the escape plan as soon as we caught on to him, sauntering away as if he was the idyllic and best mannered pet. We got out rakes and a shovel to fill the excavation and I carried over a concrete block. A string of the blocks fortifies the fencing.

There’s also a routine. Ollie gets his “romp time” before breakfast on the theory his hunger will supersede his proclivity to go on the hunt and help bring him back. I suppose it works, although his passion to pick up and follow a scent is overpowering.

He was on to something Thursday morning, nose to the ground and tail flashing back and forth, when I spotted a bunny sitting in the middle of the lawn. We have a couple of bunnies in addition to the nocturnal visitors including a black cat, opossum, the raccoon and a skunk. Of course, like everyone else in Warwick, we have squirrels, but Ollie has no interest in them, unfortunately. The squirrels are brazen, especially at this time of year when the bird feeder is no longer replenished.

Of the critters, raccoons and cats are on the top of Ollie’s list of offensive invaders. His goal is to tree them.

As for rabbits, I can’t say whether he has an interest. I figured I was going to find out.

The rabbit was cautious, keeping an eye on Ollie. Ollie was oblivious. He just kept sniffing, never raising his head and never seeing the rabbit. Perhaps that explains why he ended up in a kill shelter in the south before being rescued and ending up at the East Greenwich Animal Protection League where we found him.

My survey revealed what could have easily been a major breach in our fortification. Three slats of stockade fencing were barely hanging on. No question, Ollie had been standing on his hind legs to get a view of traffic and now that they were loose it would only be a matter of some gnawing and some yanking and he would be free to scout the neighborhood. The entire section of fencing looked to be worse for wear.

Ollie took interest as I stood back and considered my options. He wasn’t there for long, however. His nose turned on and off he went clanging in pursuit of only what he knew.

I reinforced the wooden fence, stapling a wire one to it. I didn’t hang around for Ollie to check it out.

Undoubtedly, there’s another spot. A chain is only as strong as its weakest link. I just want to find it before our hound.

Comments

No comments on this story | Please log in to comment by clicking here
Please log in or register to add your comment