Over the last week, my Facebook feed has been full of lost dogs, found dogs and debates about fences, secure yards, crate training and hot wires. First there was the New Year's Eve rash of dogs who got spooked by fireworks and other shenanigans. Then there seems to have been an on-going flow - is it the weather, or the holidays, or the full moon? One friend suggested it was people going away on holiday, and I'm sure that contributes, when dogs decide they don't want to stay home alone, or where dogs are taken to a new location without the same secure fencing. But in the last 24 hours, two friends with Sibes have had escapes, despite being home with their dogs, despite knowing about Houdini Huskies and working to keep their yards secure. Maybe it's coincidence? I don't know.
In terms of NYE and fireworks stress, it is incredible to see the number of advice posts being shared in the lead up to celebrations, and yet there are still masses of animals turning up in shelters and pounds that night and the next day. Our local dog club group doesn't wait til NYE - we get announcements of fireworks at every fete and celebration. The advice is simple - keep your pets safe and secure when there are fireworks going off around them.
I know some people feel dubious about crate training, but if you want to go out and party on NYE, surely this is the time to do it? Sigh! Or at least ensure your dog or cat is comfy in a laundry or other room inside the house, just in case the next door neighbours have an impromptu celebration right over your backyard.
J and I stayed home on NYE, just to be on the safe side. None of our dogs are fireworks reactive, but as they get older - Frankie and Ishka both turn 10 this year - there's a possibility that it'll develop. And so we sat on the couch, watched the various city fireworks displays on TV, wished each other happy New Year, and the dogs did... Nothing. Snoozing dogs all around the lounge room.
A couple of days later, a neighbour knocked on the door to ask if we'd lost a dog. My answer was an immediate no, since I had just wrestled all four into their crates to open the front door. The neighbour looked puzzled - he could see my dogs all lined up in their crates - but he had a husky in his backyard. Not being a dog person, he was a bit unsure of where to go from here. I came and looked at the dog - a beautiful silver bi-eyed young male. He was your classic happy Sibe, well cared for, desexed and presumably microchipped, but no collar or tag. Looking around the neighbour's yard (shady, some small ponds, well fenced) we were a bit at a loss as to where he'd come from or how he'd gotten in. I had heard a new bark over the back fence, but I'd assumed it was a non-husky, because it was a bark, not a woo woo. I fetched a collar and lead and took the little guy around the block to see if we could work out where he might have come from. Most people weren't home, but one family suggested they'd seen him at the dog park. We trudged to the dog park, which was naturally almost deserted in the heat. The only two guys there also thought they knew him, and described an older bloke with two huskies and another dog. But noone had seen him today. Hot and discouraged, we walked home and I pondered the options.
J was away and not expected home for a couple of hours, so my ability to transport this dog to a local vet to get the microchip read was limited, my car not having puppy bars. I was reluctant to ring the local council, given the chance that his family were still out looking. I put a notice up on FB, and decided we both needed to get out of the heat for a little while.
Introducing dogs is best done in neutral territory, but on my own, I was limited in options to manage this. Coming into the house, my four immediately started howling at the newcomer, who was excited and not at all intimidated. I took him out to the backyard and started the introductions with Frankie, then Czar, both pretty social and well behaved to other dogs. All ok, the new guy was happy to sniff and be humped and everyone was happy. Bolo was equally fine. Ishka did growl at him, but she did it within my reach and got a sharp smack for her troubles, after which she was ok too. I took everyone back inside and decided crates were safest. The new guy paced a lot, until I fetched the playpen and put a dog bed in it. He whimpered but settled quickly when I ignored him. I sat down to await events.
After a little while, I saw a car cruise very slowly up the street. By the time I got out there, they'd left again. I kept watch and saw them come up the street a second time. I raced out, and as soon as I approached the car, the lady asked me if I'd seen a white husky. I reassured her that he was ok and invited her in to collect him.
Turns out, that young Hector had come with his family on holidays to visit his grandma, who lived over our/our neighbour's back fence. He'd been very excited about the huskies in our yard, and had spent a couple of days trying to get to them, before working out how to get over the fence, but luckily, into the dog-free yard next door. (I'm not sure how territorial our guys would have been to someone coming in over the fence, or how he might have coped with the hotwire.) He has a history of cheeky Sibe behaviour, including chewing collars off, hence his lack of tags. In my heat wave stupor, I didn't offer any support to this poor lady, despite having SHCV details to hand - several folks have pointed out that the collar thing is easily fixed with the right fit, but I just made sympathetic noises and helped her take Hector out to the car.
Hector is one of the most beautiful Sibes I've ever seen, and walked on a lead far more politely than our guys, but obviously his family was not quite coping with some of his behaviour, especially on holidays in a different house and yard. I think they've since taken him home, and I hope he stays safe and doesn't come looking for playmates again.