dose of cruelty
Wednesday, April 25 2007
Yesterday an "invisible dog fence" system that I'd ordered finally arrived and it only took me about a half hour to install it. Such systems use a base station to send out a weak beacon signal or tone over a low-frequency radio carrier (typically 7.5 or 10.8 kilohertz). The signal is broadcast from a large antenna that defines the barrier. Because of the low-frequency nature of the signal, it can easily penetrate a few inches of soil, and the antenna can be buried, rendering the system fully invisible. My kit was a quasi-generic Chinese-made system called Humane Contain (with no little "TM") that had been manufactured by a company called High Tech Pet Products. With it had come a 500 foot spool of antenna wire, nearly all of which I'd used to make a narrow loop along the south side of Dug Hill Road in our front yard, beyond the places the dogs normally go (except when Eleanor is chasing a cyclist or we're taking them somewhere in a car). I didn't bother burying the antenna wire, since I consider this just a temporary setup for training Eleanor.
In addition to the antenna, the invisible fence required a base station, which I'd installed in the shop area of the garage, amd a shock collar, which I'd put around Eleanor's neck. The collar features a little box with two shocker probes protruding dogward from it. When a radio receiver inside the box detects the carrier signal being broadcast from the antenna, it sends a pulse of electricity through a step-up transformer, generating a 4000 volt spark that penalizes the dog for venturing too close to the antenna. "Too close" can be adjusted to be anywhere from a few inches to about fifteen feet. I'd set it at the fifteen foot setting.
Yesterday had been sunny and Eleanor had spent most of the day indoors, missing the few cyclists who came through. So she'd yet to experience her shock collar's wrath.
Today clouds blew in and rain started falling. Eleanor hates such weather; if the rain is falling hard enough she would sooner crap on the carpet than go outside. What's more, one rarely sees cyclists out pedaling in the rain, particularly in remote hilly areas such as where we live. So I thought it would be safe to take Eleanor's collar off for the day.
Later Kathy from the Catskill Animal Sanctuary dropped in to drop off a couple signed copies of the book she'd just written. During the ensuing fuss of doggy greetings at the door, Eleanor spotted a freakish cyclist huffing and puffing his way up the hill past our driveway despite the rain. Also despite the rain, Eleanor tore off after him, as of to say, "Two can play 'let's do things in the rain we don't normally enjoy doing there'!" I hollered for her to come back, but of course this did no good. And since she wasn't wearing her collar, she missed out on a perfect educational opportunity. As for Kathy, animal rights nut that she is, I don't know what she thought of either the shock collar or the enraged hollering I did demanding Eleanor's return. But sometimes survival depends on a dose of cruelty.
At some point this evening a bear came wandering through the yard. He did so with so little fuss that the dogs slept through it completely, but Gretchen, Clarence the Cat, and I watched in delight and amazement through the window. During his visit, the woman across the street ("Mrs. Fussy") called to tell us to look out our window in case we weren't already. Then she said something about how her husband had been talking about building a deck off the back of the house but that if he did, she'd never go out there for fear of "the bear." We have no idea why she's living here instead of behind an iron gate in the Hamptons.
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