Ohiofarmgirl's Adventures in The Good Land is largely a fish out of water tale about how I eventually found my footing on a small farm in an Amish town. We are a mostly organic, somewhat self sufficient, sustainable farm in Ohio. There's action and adventure and I'll always tell you the truth about farming.

Monday, April 2, 2012

Good Fences Make Good Dogs

There's a couple things we don't understand about this part of the world - one of them is why people move out to the country and let their dogs run loose. Guess what we are doing this week?

If you get dogs, get this too. I'm tired of fencing out your dog.

I think that folks see these wide opens spaces and they imagine their Mr. Woofy running free with the wind in his hair...not imagining for a minute that Mr. Woofy is in my damn yard and chasing my chickens. Friends, I tell you the truth, the biggest threat to your flocks isn't slinking coyotes, foxy vixens, or terror from the sky - its your neighbor's damn dog. Or your damn neighbor's dog, depending on how you look at it.

Many a sad owner has shown up to find their dog, newly expired by GSW, in their neighbor's chicken yard and there is always the same whine, "But he'd never DO that." Might want to take a look at the feather's in his mouth, son. Just sayin'.

Nothing makes you as hat throwing mad as coming home to find someone's dog ripping your best laying hen to pieces. Standing there over her broken body, thinking about how it will take months to raise up new chicks to replace her, you kinda loose all that softheartedness that you might have once had.

The fact is - its not just a chicken. Its your life. Its your food. Its how you make your way in the world. I'm pretty sure you wouldn't think it was very funny if I barged into your home and grabbed then ruined a bunch of your food from your refrigerator or pantry. In fact, you'd call the cops.

What about animal control? Friend, the only animal control out here is "SSS."   Do you new folks know what this is?

Shoot. Shovel. Shut up.

I'm not even kidding. Personally I like the old trick of taking the dog to the pound two counties over.  If the owner is smart enough to find their dog they'll have to pay to get him out of the hoosegow.  But not everyone is as tender hearted as we are.

I had a new-to-the-country person tell me that shooting a livestock killing dog couldn't possibly be allowed by law. Well, in many rural areas it is. And yes people do this. But even where it isn't allowed by law, folks just grab the shovel and dig a shallow grave and shrug when asked if they've seen a dog around. That's what folks mean when they say "SSS."

The best line I've heard was from one ol' boy who's bad neighbor finally came looking for his chicken killing dog. The guy meets the dog's owner at the property line and says, "Sure I've seen your dog. The last time I saw him he was headed for the woods chasing my chickens. I sure hope he's alright."

You can imagine how that ended. So if you move to the country, let your dog run loose, and he doesn't come home one night, well you only really have yourself to blame.

We don't let our dogs run loose. If we did - and you were our neighbor - you'd pee your pants. And when I saw "pee your pants" I mean that some other kind of excrement would be soiling your trousers, if you take my meaning. So we don't understand folks who think this is OK. In fact it makes us kinda cross. I can't even tell how many hundreds of dollars we've spent on fencing someone else's dog out of our yard. Actually I could tell you I'm just too mad to think about it.

We know someone who moved to the country and lets their unaltered male dog run loose. Sure, all they think they are doing is 'letting him out for a while' but their yard isn't fenced and sometimes that dog comes back....and sometimes it takes a while before he shows back up. I can't imagine a more stupid idea. You just gotta know that somewhere nearby someone's show dog, Grand Champion Dame Schmutyz Von Vienerschnitzel, is having an unintended litter of short legged, curly headed doodlehunds.

This weekend we bought the last roll of field fence we needed for the dog moat on the north side of our property. Sunday we installed the railroad tie that stands as our monument to "Keep your stupid dog out of our yard" at the extreme front edge by the road.

The new fence is also there to keep people from driving their freakin' 4wheelers across our yard. Lets just say we had an incident with the same folks who couldn't control their beagle and leave it at that.  My attorney, actually her assistant, has the full written record of the events. And I have pictures. For once I'd like to say that I was not the name-caller in the hubbub, I'm kind proud of that.  

Anyway. That's the long and short of it. I'll be headed to TSC the first thing to get more tposts. You know what we'll be doing all week.

Anybody else have someone else's dog in their yard and mad about it? For heavens sakes you'd think that people would at least like their dog enough to keep it safe, even if they don't understand that responsible owners should keep their dog out of their neighbor's yard.


Heavens Door Acres said...

Wow, I SO know what you are going through. We have an "unclaimed" coon hound terrorizing our place here. He has been here several times, and each time I have missed my aim. THAT makes me even madder! I wasted MY gas, driving a 5 mile radius, asking all of the neighbors if the knew or owned said dog, none claim it....so now I know..none will miss it when I DO get it in my sights. I know I miss the 12 or so chickens he has killed thus far.

freemotion said...

Wow. I wonder if you can use the pictures of the damage done to get the fence paid for.

I had a strange twist happen a few years ago before our property fence was completed. I was walking the back with my very well-behaved and heeling dog when the neighbor's goats showed up and one ran over to my dog and knocked him down right at my feet. Only because he was being obedient and remaining at heel and she was too quick for me to react.

I know that wouldn't happen with your dogs....no goat on this planet could knock that beast Zander over!

Tracy P said...

We have some neighbors who walk their 2 german shepherds up and down the road with no leashes, and let them run and do their business in peoples front yards. Drives me crazy! I got into a little altercation when one of them came into my yard to stare-down my dog, who was in our fenced in yard, and wouldn't leave until the owner dragged him away. Our county's leash laws are a gray-area, but I do have every right to defend myself and my property! It really makes me nervous because I have 2 little boys who play in the yard, and we have chickens and 2 dogs. It drives me crazy how, like you said, people say "Oh, he'd never hurt anyone", because it seems these people all have some telepathic link to their animals, so surely they can read their dogs' minds! They are animals, and there is a first time for everything! Thankfully they have been very careful about keeping the dogs out of my yard since our "incident", but I'm always watching, and I will not hesitate to make sure they don't EVER run onto our property again! Arrgg...

AZdesertFarmer said...

Had a neighbor move in who failed to keep his dogs on his property. First time they were in my yard, I put them in my kennel and left a note at his place to come get them. When he came to get them I told him very plainly, "Next time you'll be picking up their bodies" he got the message.

Diane said...

Oh, yeah! We have huge problems with neighbor dogs. Holy crap, it gets us to steaming. They run through our garden and harrass our chickens. The only reason they've not yet killed any chickens is because we wised up quickly and only let the birds out of the pen when we're outside to keep an eye on things.

Our dogs may not be perfectly trained ones but at least we keep them penned and/or leashed. We're working on getting everything fenced as quickly as we can but the budget is a stingy ol' broad so it's slow going.

csndyrn said...

We also had this problem with people moving out of the city and letting their dogs run loose. The neighbors dog was continually attacking our dogs and eventually me. The last time, our dogs were on leash and "they" called the dog warden to complain when it clearly happened in our yard AND our dogs were on leash. Cost us thousands of dollars to fence in the yard not only to protect our dogs but us also. The other dogs in the neighborhood thought we were the local potty place. The fence also alleviated that problem.

Tracy P said...

I should clarify that only a small portion of our yard is fenced - so my boys are often playing out in the yard with no fencing.

Rae said...

Oooh.... This one gets me riled. We live at the very end of a half-mile drive. The neighbors at the head of the road have somewhere between 4 and 6 assorted herding type dogs. And, of course, those dogs are not fenced in. They used to like coming all the way down the drive to our house, until I beaned one REALLY hard in the head with a well flung rock (as I was holding back my dog so he wouldn't attack the mongrel that dared to come onto his property). Don't think those dogs would last long if we caught them attacking any of our critters. Nope. Not long at all.

My guy's barber told him that there is a pack of local dogs that will go after joggers, and that she had to carry mace when she went running. Ain't that swell?

Our dogs run loose when we are outside with them, and only then. Helps that we're waaaay far away from any neighbors, and our dogs stick close. When we're not with them, they're kenneled or crated. I happen to like my dogs, and knowing the sss country rule, would like to keep them around for many years yet.

Anonymous said...

SSS is the ONLY way to go. There's a 'shoot on sight' rule here. Period. It goes for cats too. Maybe especially cats... It's the same at all the other neighbors too - so everyone is careful of their dogs.


Sara said...

Way back when I was young (teen years) I was raising sheep. We had 10 acres and I kept the sheep in a pen near the house, not out in the barn, so I could keep an eye on them. Despite our dogs, the fence and being lit up from the flood lights on the porch, the neighbors German Shepherd killed my sheep. Oh, that is a sight that still gives me heartache and the smell. Oh the smell. Anyway, it happened several times and finally my mom stood on the back porch waiting for that dog to come back. When he did, she shot him with the .22. The owner came a few hours later, pissing mad and yelling about us trying to kill his dog. The man yelled and yelled and yelled. Then the next day the woman came by, took me to a local farm and bought me another sheep. We never said another word about it and the dog never came back. He lived, but they didn't let him out anymore.

I love the SSS policy.

Dreaming of Chickens said...

I don't understand it either. My MIL grew up in the city and when she moved out to the country a few years ago she walked her dogs on leash until the fence went up. I don't think it occurred to her that he might go after a neighbors livestock, but she certainly didn't want him getting hit by a car. It seems no one up there has fencing unless they have cattle. We see dogs running loose up there all the time. I don't know if they belong to "new to the country" people or not, but we'd never let our dogs run loose. Besides the dogs' safety, I know mine would eat a chicken in a second! Maybe even a small goat given the chance. I'd be sick if they did that. I'd never forgive myself. Oh, and in my opinion it's "the damn neighbor's dog", not the other way around. The dog is just being a dog and doing what dogs do.

mitsy said...

If you have a problem with shooting a troublesome dog, throw a slab of meat on a plate in the back of your SUV (with a divider) or truck with a canopy, then relocate the dog elsewhere. The animal might find its way back depending on how far out you go, but at the least the owner will get a scare (if he/she cares at all) and hopefully reconsider their roam-free thinking.

small farm girl said...

We had a "neighbor that lived a mile down the road. He would come up to see his dad who lived next door to us. His dog would run with his truck the whole mile. The dog would fight every dog on the way. Well, let's just say, the dog didn't make it back home one day.

We also have a neighbor that has three dogs that will come into our yard and fight our dogs. They might disappear soon too.

Chai Chai said...

You know, I was surprised that I wasn't surprised that you had an attorney on retainer.....

David said...

Fence - Check
Rifle - Check
Shovel - Check
You got me making all kinds of lists!

NancyDe said...

Unfortunately for me, it was my own damn dogs that did for the sheep. The animals have a schedule - when the sheep are locked up, the dogs get to be in our (fenced) yard. When the dogs are locked up, the sheep get to be in our (fenced) pasture. They leave the chickens alone, but that's because I beat the heck out of them with the dead chicken the did get - the chickens can walk on top of the dogs now. Hmmm....I wonder if that would work with a dead sheep?

Ohiofarmgirl said...

HDA, what a shame.. a good coon hound is worth his weight in gold...but a chicken killer is just a terrible shame.

Free, the only thing we want from them folks is to leave us alone. And ha! nope, no goat will knock Z over.. he's as big as a truck right now.

Its it terrible, Tracy? I just dont get it. I don't get the "take dog for walk to crap in other people's yard" thing.

AZ - great work! I like giving everyone ONE chance.

Diane, we've done our fencing little by little but its soo frustrating that we have to do it for other people's dogs.

csndyrn, I'm so sorry - they went after YOU? Zoikes! At least you know you are safe now. but wow!

Rae, I dont think folks know that dogs who run as a pack can be very very dangerous. And good aim, baby.. nice rock work.

You said it, BR. I still laugh at that person saying "oh no one would shoot someone's dog!" um.. yeah they would.

Sara, what a terrible find. And that's just right - its the heartbreak. But good on that guy's wife for making it right. You can't really replace a good farm animal but at least they took responsibility.

DOC, yep its the damn neighbors dog. You'd think that people would like their dogs enough to keep them safe.

Hi Mitsy - good thinking.. hum....

SFG, don't you just think that is so weird? Who would do that - let their dog run along with them?

CC - aint that right...

Dave, yep that about sums it up. And a cool work truck - be sure to put that on the list.

Nancy - oh no! Sorry a terrible loss for sure. Keep working with your dogs hopefully they will get better.

Provender Place said...

Dog problems aren't just out in the country. I can't tell you how many times we have had dogs come flying at us out of nowhere when I'm walking my two on leashes on the sidewalk through a subdivision. Usually the owner starts yelling "Git back here, bad dog, you get in the house..." and apologizing like crazy.

The ones that really scare me the most are the little ones under a foot tall. You know if I sent it back to it's owner like a football, it's probably some zillion dollar dezigner dog and I'd be the one being sued.

Unknown said...

We also had to construct a fence along one boundary to keep out a neighbour's dog. And then the same neighbour has let her horse lean all over it. Some people have no appreciation.... I love you descriptions of what can happen to stray dogs, can't wait to get my gun licence...

Ohiofarmgirl said...

hey FF! great to see you! and yeah - i always love the surprised look on the bad owners faces... like that stupid dog hasnt done that a dozen times already. sheesh!

Farmer Liz - don't you just hate that those their new dog is costing US money? I get all riled up because I can keep my dogs in - and now I'm stuck with keeping their dogs out. grrr

Anonymous said...

Sandy says, After buying our 2 1/2 acres we spent over 15k on fencing with boards and 2x4 wire to the ground. The neighbours dogs kills some ducks in the pond last year attacks my leashed Scottie while I'm talking to them on the street relentlessly chases our horse up and down the fence and just last week jumps the fence and kills and returns home with my first baby goat.After admitting the dog did it they still think the dog should be allowed to run loose on there property if they supervise it .I am totally peed off because I now have 18 baby goats and am terrified to let them outside with out standing guard over them.They seem to think this is acceptable.They don't get that there dog is wrecking my life and quiet enjoyment of my property.It is even worse that he is a retired teacher and is this daft. I would not be as mad if it was some crack smoking idiot.I have a gun license and you can be sure that if this dog sets one foot on my property now and chases my livestock I will shoot it in a heartbeat. I've had it with these stupid self centered people.

Ohiofarmgirl said...

does it just make you mad? and yep you have to do what you have to do. i think folks move out to the country and have no idea that they have even MORE responsibilities for their dogs. good luck and hope all your baby goats stay safe!

Prairie Cat said...

Whenever I let our chickens out to free-range, I am always keeping an eye out for neighbors' dogs. Until recently, we did not have any near by. The closest pack of dogs were well trained and would only go to the edge of their driveway. A few weeks ago, though, some new people moved in across the gravel road, and their dogs are everywhere! We were taking our goat into the barn to milk her, and out of nowhere this collie showed up and started trying to nip at our poor goats' heels. Bah!

I took an Agricultural Law class in college, and for three weeks, the topic was over shooting dogs on your property. In Missouri, you can only shoot them if you have proof that they were injuring livestock at the time the shot was fired. All of the 100+ country boys in that class did not agree with that particular statute, and most of them had admitted to shooting dogs that were just hanging out on their property.

What did I take away from that class? It doesn't matter if it against the law; if you live in the country, they are going to do it anyway. ;)

Ohiofarmgirl said...

Wow, PC, hope that your neighbors put up a fence. And yeah I've heard that a lot. You'd think that people would keep their dogs close just to protect them.

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