Radar: My Escape Artist Dog

Radar is a Belgian Malinois mix from the shelter. We got her when she was five months old. We had recently lost our ten year old dog, Toto, and were still in the grieving process, so having a new dog around felt a little foreign.

Radar’s a beautiful fawn colored dog with a Shepherd mask on her face and huge ears that stand straight up. She has a beautiful smile, which I believe has saved her from our wrath more than once. As a puppy, she wasn’t very well behaved. She liked to jump (or climb) the fence and run around the neighborhood like a wild dog. She was out of control. Granted, our fence was chain link and only 4 feet tall, but we had a german Shepherd live there for years and not escape, and our dog Toto lived his whole life back there (cocker spaniel-Dalmatian mix). Neither one were escape artists like Radar. We have a dry creek that runs behind our house between us and the neighbors. She would climb the fence, run around in the creek (sometimes for hours); she ignored us completely when called, and eventually she would find her way home. Then as she got braver, I would drive home from work to find her lying in the middle of the street, and started hearing neighbor complaints that my dog was going to get run over, or that she had been in their backyard, etc.

So first we tried a shock collar. We even shaved her neck so it would get a better connection. She jumped the fence anyway and it didn’t seem to phase her a bit. I thought maybe it didn’t work, so I put it on my finger. It sure worked all right. It shocked me from my finger down to the tip of my big toe. Next I tried this harness that went around her and was supposed to keep her from jumping. She jumped right out of that. Then an electric wire around the fence, which unfortunately shocked my stepson’s dog and scared him half to death, thus we took it down before it ever got Radar. We tried locking her in our sun room, to no avail. She could find her way out. We tried using cattle guard to fence off just part of the yard, and she dug out.

Next was training. We hired a dog trainer. This guy was an expert. He had actually been in Iraq training Malinois’ to sniff bombs. He taught her to come when called (for him). We had three sessions with him before we decided he wasn’t going to teach her not to jump the fence. I could stand right in the backyard and tell her NO, COME, and she would look right at me and jump right over and take off running. I’m telling you, this dog was stubborn.

So after months and months of this, we had to do something. It was either fix the problem or get rid of Radar, who had already worked her way into our hearts. As I said earlier, she had a very sweet smile, and she could melt your heart by looking at you. Good thing, or we might not have put up with her insane behavior.

The funny thing is that over the years, people have tried to bring us dogs, and my husband never liked them. We picked out Radar from the shelter right away. I saw her first, and thought she looked somewhat like our old Shepherd (J.D.), who we had until she was 15. I took my husband over to take a look at her, and he brought her outside her pen, and played with her for a few minutes, then told me to go adopt her. This was quite a statement coming from him.

So, back to the escape problem. My neighbors were getting aggravated. The problem had been going on for months. We had to do something. So we put up an entire new fence. It’s six feet high, and my husband and stepson spent several weekends digging holes, cementing in posts and putting the fence together and up. The two front gates are made of corrugated metal inside a frame of cedar. The back of the fence is cattle panels framed in wood, and the two sides are cedar pickets.

Radar was not a happy camper, let me tell you. She would sit at the back fence and look out longingly at the creek, wishing for an escape. But she has gotten used to being in the backyard or sun room. We are currently watching our stepson’s dog indefinitely, so she has companionship. She has also grown older, and calmed down. She is almost two years old now, and seems very content to hang out with us or in the backyard. When she was younger, if we took her to an off leash park, we could not let her go, or she would be gone. Now, she sticks around. She’ll still run amok in the field, but she will come back and see where we are and if we call her, she reluctantly comes. Still a bit wild at heart, but she has a great life, and I like to think she has figured that out.

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