One of my co-workers wanted an Australian Shepherd. She is employed by the same dog daycare that employs me and works part-time for an obedience trainer, running the puppy training classes. She already has a Boxer who attends daycare with her and occasionally demos in the classes.
She was turned down by two different kennels. The reason: she didn’t have a fenced yard.
Another co-worker has finally moved into a place where she can have a dog. She had been searching for the past few months for the right type of dog and was applying to adopt from some of the shelters in town. She also works for the dog daycare and is hoping to find a medium-sized companion.
She was also turned down for not having a fenced yard.
I’ll tell you right now that stories like that make me rage. You would think someone this obsessed with a breed that views front-door-bolting as an Olympic sport would be a stickler for secure fenced yards.
The truth is that I’ve never had a secure fenced yard and 2015 marks my 22nd year with Shibas.
Not actually a fully fenced yard. At this point, the wood has rotted enough that it barely qualifies as ‘fenced’.
I realize that not all breeders and rescues use this as a deal-breaker, but I’ve heard enough stories about people being turned down for adoption solely due to their lack of a yard to make me pissed off. Yes, of course, if there are other factors, certainly think twice about selling or adopting out a dog to someone. But if there are no other factors, why is a fenced yard so damn important?
A fenced yard doesn’t make someone a responsible owner.
In fact, I think that it’s easier to be lazy with your dog if you can toss him in the yard instead of walking him. I know that a lot of people do it. Hell, if we lived in a medium-security prison, I might be okay with letting Tierce just wander out in the yard and do whatever he has to do.
Not having a secure yard means I actually have to get off my ass and interact with the damn dog, escorting him outside, preventing him from scarfing down cat shit and stopping him from aiming for the rotten fence boards that lead straight to the road. Or, horrors, I or Mischa actually have to walk him.
Would I care if someone has a yard if I was adopting out a Shiba? Well, yeah, I’m interested in the dog’s environment. I’d want to know how the dog was going to get exercise and where. However, I’d be looking for something like “I want to walk my dog.” “I want to do a sport with my dog.” “I want to teach my dog to bark in Pig Latin while it runs with me.” Something that indicates that you don’t think that one-on-one exercise with the dog is something you do only if you feel like it, when you have time because, you know, you have a yard. The dog can just run around in there every day instead of getting regular interaction with you and the outside environment.
What people who place dogs with people want is a good home where the dog will be loved and responsibly cared for. A fenced yard just isn’t something that is going to ensure that a dog gets adequate exercise, appropriate and on-going interaction with society, or training. Sure, it’s a perk, but it’s certainly not something that a dog must have to live a full life.
In fact, the number of dogs I hear barking in their yards and never see out with their owners would directly contradict that notion. We walk in our neighbourhood at all hours; we know who walks their dog and who just opens the back door.
Now, according to the criteria of some breeders, rescues, SPCAs and shelters, I would not be approved for ownership of Tierce, due to the fenced yard thing. Let’s take a look at Tierce’s experiences with not having a secure fenced yard:
Society for Creative Anachronism event (our medieval nerd club).
Trestle on the Galloping Goose Trail, Saanich BC.
At Dogs in the Bakery in downtown Victoria BC.
In Fan Tan Alley, Chinatown, Victoria.
On Government St, downtown Victoria.
At Saxe Point Park Off Leash Area, Esquimalt BC.
Hammond Bay Road area, Nanaimo.
Sugar Loaf Mountain Park, Nanaimo, overlooking Departure Bay.
Paddleboarding in Departure Bay, Nanaimo.
Exploring the rock formations on Newcastle Island while paddleboarding.
At Paws for a Cause walk, Nanaimo.
Paddleboarding in Departure Bay, next to Jesse Island, Nanaimo.
At the beach with his Shiba fan club, Nanaimo.
Diana Krall Plaza, downtown Nanaimo.
On the BC Ferry, watching the coast slide by.
In Horseshoe Bay, near Vancouver, BC.
Kayaking Nanaimo Estuary.
Neck Point Park, Nanaimo.
Pipers Lagoon Park.
Petroglyph Provincial Park, Nanaimo.
Tierce in his bicycle trailer. I’m not even gonna tell you how much that thing cost. North Nanaimo.
Top of Mount Benson, overlooking Nanaimo
That dog has a fuller life than a lot of humans I know. He gets plenty of regular activity that stimulates his mind and body. How many dogs have this kind of life? How would a fenced yard improve his quality of life? I’m kind of leaning towards the opinion that it wouldn’t. Sure, it would be a convenience, but it wouldn’t make his life any better than it is now.
My first co-worker finally got her Australian Shepherd puppy from a kennel in New Mexico. Puppy is already clicker-trained on basic manners, is starting trick training, is housebroken, crate-trained and regularly comes to daycare to play with the other puppies. She is also the demo puppy for the puppy classes. She is laid-back, eager to please and well-adjusted to people, other dogs, loud noises, etc.
I kind of hope her person emails the breeders that turned her down with pictures when her dog gets her first obedience and agility titles.
My second co-worker just got a puppy. After being turned down by rescues and rehomers six times because she didn’t have a fenced yard, she bought a dog from a breeder.