They’re just a free-roamin’ pair of hounds

Emmitt B. Feldner • forThe Review

We’re a couple of weeks into our experiment with free-range dogs and so far it seems to be going well.

Or at least it hasn’t turned into a disaster thus far, although the potential is certainly still there.

I’m not saying that we have a couple of dogs roaming at large through the neighborhood.

And it doesn’t mean we’re letting them graze as they please in the back 40 – or how ever many we’ve got out back – although that would certainly save us a lot on dog food.

All it means is that we’re leaving the dogs out to wander the house when we’re not home and at night.

Our canine population stands as two, as we seem to have somehow gained custody of one of Ethan’s dogs, a mixed breed – aren’t they all – named Maggie.

She has joined our almostthree year-old Plott Hound, Gracie, in the four-legged population of our household.

Gracie was just over a year old when Maggie moved in, but the two of them soon accepted each other.

Gracie was still young and rambunctious enough that we kept her kenneled at night and any time she was home alone during the day – given how much mischief she could get into even when we were around, we didn’t want to see what harm she could cause when there was nobody around or awake to keep her in line.

Maggie, meanwhile, was used to being kenneled under similar circumstances before she moved in with us, so we just kept that practice in place.

In the interim, Gracie seemed to be calming down just a little bit as she got older – although calm can be something of a relative term.

This summer we decided to experiment with leaving the two of them un-kenneled during the day while we were both at work.

I must admit that Terry had more faith in the two of them than I did – I made sure that anything of value was out of grabbing or chewing range of the two of them before I left the house.

It did go well, although we did quickly discover that the range of their grabbing and chewing was a little greater than we had originally estimated.

We also made certain to close off what rooms we could and put up baby gates to keep them out of the basement and from going up the stairs to the second floor.

It meant they were confined to four rooms on the first floor, but they still found that preferable to the limits of their kennels, I’m guessing.

Last month, with the considerable help of Ethan and Alex, we managed to clear more than a few years worth of collected junk and detritus from several rooms in our basement.

With the newly-found room, we decided to put the dog’s kennels down there so they could overnight two floors away from us instead of just one.

It’s not that they ever made a lot of noise at night – they’re both pretty quiet sleepers – but there are enough times that they bark or howl at each other in the early morning that I figured it was worth increasing the distance between us and them at night.

Who am I kidding – even one night of howling or barking is beyond my tolerance level.

Besides, on those rare occasions when one or both of the two-legged residents of the household got a chance to sleep in late, we didn’t need two hungry dogs on the first floor serving as alarm clocks.

Pretty soon though, Terry decided that the basement wasn’t really a fit place for the dogs to spend the night, especially with winter coming on.

Now I’ll admit that the basement can get a little cool at night compared to the rest of the house, but I just figured that the dogs came with their own fur coats so they should be able to keep warm.

As is usually the case, however, I was overruled and their bedtime banishment to the basement only lasted a few nights.

It was with a little fear and trepidation that I went downstairs the first morning after, not knowing what kind of disaster might await me or what kind of mischief Gracie and Maggie might have gotten into overnight.

But lo and behold, the two of them were asleep on their blankets and nothing was disturbed – or chewed.

Things have remained that way since then and the two of them are still free to roam at night – but we still have the gate up on the stairs leading to the second floor.

There’s no way I want to give either one of them the chance to jump into bed with us during the night.

I’m afraid Terry will decide she likes their company better than mine and I’ll be the one sleeping down in the cold basement.

Most recent cover pages:

POLL: Do you think Elkhart Lake made the right decision in not allowing Strawberry the pot-bellied pig?:

Copyright 2009-2018 The Plymouth Review, All Rights Reserved

Contact Information

113 E. Mill St., Plymouth WI 53073
Local: 920-893-6411 Toll Free: 1-877-467-6591
Fax: 920-893-5505