What is the best animal-related thing that happened in your life in 2013?
For me, it was adding Wendy to the family. It was a bumpy start dealing with her myriad medical issues and her repeated escapes though. The vet knocked out all her medical problems one at a time and she’s been in good health ever since. Project Runaway was a horse of a different color. It’s not something I’ve dealt with before and at first it was perplexing. She would be out in the yard, seemingly fine and then POOF – she was gone. We added additional fencing but that was just a little exercise for Billy apparently. What ended up working for us was a combination of limiting her outside time to direct supervision in a small portion of the yard and taking her for leashed walks. When she needs to go out for a potty break or wants to have a bone, we put her on a tie-out (only when we are home and can see her out the window if we are indoors). She loves her tie-out and took to it like a duck to water. My vet guessed that perhaps she had been on one previously and it represented something familiar for her. Whatever the explanation for why it works, I am just happy that it does. We haven’t had an escape since we started using this system and she seems very content.
The trigger for Wendy that causes her to run away is gunshots. We did not realize this for quite awhile. We were aware she was afraid of gunshots (and firecrackers and thunderstorms) but had no idea this was what was putting her into a state of panic. Then one day Billy was outside with her in the small portion of the yard where she gets her freedom under direct supervision and she happened to be on the back deck when a gunshot was fired in the area. Being on the back deck, she could have either come to the back door and scratched to be let in or gone down the stairs to get down to the yard. Instead she immediately began attempting to hurl herself over the side of the deck. This would have resulted in a fall down to the back yard and accomplished nothing from a practical point of view. In other words, she still would have been outside and within the small fenced portion of the yard. Billy intervened quickly and brought her inside. But the behavior was revealing. Apparently hearing a gunshot outdoors sends her into such a state that all she can think is to hurl herself over the nearest barrier, without rhyme or reason. I guess this would be described as an extreme fear response and it would explain why and how she escaped several times in her first weeks with us. We live in a rural area where gunshots are common and it’s possible that she exhibited this same extreme response then, which resulted in repeated yard escapes.
Now that we have the routines in place to keep her safe and know that if we hear a gunshot when she is outside we need to run, not walk, to carry her indoors – it’s all good. The only problem now is that Billy has stolen her from me – just like he did with Graham. The man is obviously not to be trusted.