Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Invisible Fence -- Day One

We got the Invisible Fence installed today. Yes, it's a registered trademark or something proprietary, but as we actually bought that company's product and installation, I think I can use their mark without risking dilution.

Kind of a cool system: a delightfully chatty woman named Dorie came around last week to walk the metes & bounds of the area to be wired and calculate from that distance the price. She then stayed for a couple extra hours just chatting; that's the kind of woman she is, and the kind of job she has. We said yes, please, and got today as The Day.

Now, I had rather naively assumed that we'd just need to walk Mimi around the white flags ("Back, back. Good dog!" about a zillion times) for three days, then let her go figure out for herself why we kept tugging her back from those oh-so-enticing fluttering flags. Nope -- this actually has a 30-day training system. And we're just the sort of people who'll try hard to stick to that system. One obnoxious aspect is that we're really supposed not to let her out of the fenced area -- even with the electric collar off her -- for thirty days. That means no more walks along the air strip. Eventually, that will be okay, but for now it sucks. She wasn't getting enough exercise before when I would walk her for 45 minutes (and do 10 minutes of obedience training) and then later in the day, Starman would exercise her for another full hour. Now we have to keep her on leash for a week (!!) and get her exercised inside the fenced area. It's a big area, but there's not an easy walk on the property. I so long to let her off leash! Oh well, this too shall pass.

The installation was a hoot -- and quick, too. Shawn arrived at 9:00 a.m., timed perfectly to coincide with the end of one phone call, a mad dash to pull on some clothes (Starman having driven off to collect Mimi from the kennel), answer a call of nature, and then take another phone call. The poor woman (a client, no less) who called that time was nearly enough hung up on. (I did call her back...) Finally, I ran downstairs to let Shawn in.

He was big & burly, and sported tattoos on each shoulder/arm: A shark's mouth wide open with little fish swimming into range on his right bicep, and an elaborate cross with "Only God Can Judge Me" on the other. As we were walking around trying to figure out the layout of the wiring and so forth, I asked him if it was a one-person job. "Yup," he replied. "Must get lonely," I commiserated. "No," he stated baldly, then offered as how he didn't like people. Oh-kay . . . Nonetheless, I rather liked him. If he seemed surprised when I leapt on the tractor to mow an additional bit of the meadow, he didn't show it. He was great with Mimi, too.

The whole system was in within two hours -- there's a trench-digging tool that also unspools the wire (a "Ditch Witch"), so all he had to do was go back a second time tamping the earth back in place. Some simple wiring, and we were in. Then he demonstrated the training with Mimi, who was fresh from two days at the kennel, and full of beans -- back flips, standing leaps, etc. He had her well in hand, and clearly likes dogs even if people leave him cold.

We then took turns with the training. The "back" command is easy enough -- let Mimi wander near the fence until her collar beeps, then tug her back with the verbal "back" command followed by lavish praise. What's harder is to allow her to play with toys still on the leash. I managed, but I'm glad I only have to do that a few more times.

And that's that for now. In a week, she will be allowed off the leash for good -- she can play and gambol and frolic and get the occasional shock. It sounds like nirvana crossed with The Prisoner.

1 comment:

  1. Just curious, after about a month how is the system working out for you? I am considering surrounding my 10 acres with the same out of necessity for both my dogs' safety and my sanity. Long story short, I recently had an Australian Shepherd puppy shot and killed by the new landowner of adjoining property, a classic Bubba (unthinking, lawless redneck jerk - and I am being all too kind) and I am concerned of possible additional retribution once the courts and I are through with him. I am doing a good bit of research into invisible fence systems, given that my land is mountainous and rocky forest (located in western Virginia), and would appreciate your opinion of the system, and your dog's adaptation to it.

    By the way - I picked up on your blog via search for invisible fencing, and find to my delight that we have much in common (all the way down to Sitka, my destination next summer for 8 days of sea kayaking).

    Feel free to email any replies to jcunwired@gmail if you like.