Story and photos by Marissa Jensen
I think my neighbors hate me. I’ve lived here eleven years, but I’m quite sure my neighbors hate me.
It started before bird dogs. A four-foot fence surrounded the yard and I’ve always been drawn to energetic, highly intelligent breeds, dogs that were socialized, exercised, and adored but couldn’t ignore the tempting allure of what might lie beyond the fence.
On early mornings before normal people rise as well as late evenings when little ones are tucked into bed, the neighborhood would occasionally hear names yelled throughout the otherwise still air as I searched for whichever dog had left home to explore.
Those four-foot fences turned slowly into six, and that worked… for a while.
That’s when the bird dogs arrived.
What obstacle was a fence when there was landscaping that allowed them to climb and scale the fence in search of a tweety bird down the road? When the landscaping was blocked, of course, those energetic, highly intelligent dogs decided to simply remove individual boards of the fence.
Crawling, stretching, and straining through tiny slots just to reach that stick that lie so closely on the other side, the dogs would escape again. More nails, more boards, and more patience lost had me at my wit's end.
It was during such a day that a close friend recommended an electric fence. Chuckling, I thought to myself, "why would an electric fence stop my smart, determined… no, stubborn dogs?"
Regardless, it was worth a shot, if only to delay the quizzical and judging looks from the once-again new neighbor to the north.
SportDOG is a brand that I have trusted for many years in the uplands, so it made sense to trust them in our backyard as well. We received our SportDOG In-Ground Fence System promptly and I quickly put it to work.
With 1,000 feet of wire, there was more than enough to cover the entirety of our yard. Boundary flags were included for training purposes and the included instructions were extremely intuitive.
The black collar is sleek and stylish and neither dog seemed to even acknowledge wearing it around the house.
Collar tones are certainly nothing new for either dog and they took to training and correction of the fence swiftly, leading to my utter surprise and slight embarrassment… the in-ground system worked.
It worked so immediately that my mind originally filled with apprehension as I ran through memories of the past eleven years of yelling, running, driving, searching for dogs. I remembered the embarrassment which promptly followed a doorbell ring from a neighbor I hadn’t met yet asking, “is this your dog?”
It seemed that finally, I could let my dogs out to enjoy the wonders of our backyard without worrying how long it would take them to find a new route. We could play fetch in the back and if a squirrel ran outside the fence line, forty pounds of fur and bones wouldn’t scream up and over pursuing its prey.
Knowing that my dogs are now able to enjoy the backyard without worry is a relief, but admittedly the notion that I might be able to look my neighbor in the eye a month from now is a feeling I can’t put down into words.
For the first time in eleven years, it’s finally possible that my neighbors might actually not hate me.
Marissa Jensen is PF & QF's Education and Outreach Program Manager