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Doggie door, fence may calm pet

| Sunday, Dec. 18, 2005

Dear Dog Talk: My mother reads your column all the time and thought that maybe you could help us with our dog trouble.

I have a yellow Labrador retriever named Jake that I got from Animal Friends when he was 2 1/2 years old. The records from the shelter said that his first family gave him up because they had a newborn baby with severe allergies. His second owner had a Rottweiler that picked on Jake. After months of being bitten and dominated by this dog, Jake fought back. The owner said that he probably should have kept Jake and not his first dog, but he paid too much for the purebred Rottweiler.

When I first took Jake home I bought a large metal crate and put him in it a little at a time. After a while, I left Jake crated when I went to work for the day. When I came home he had broken out of the crate. After escaping the crate, he chewed and scratched the door trying to get out of the house.

I then purchased a plastic crate that was very large. Jake must have spent all of his first day in this crate trying to get out, because when I got home from work his mouth and paws were bloody. I put him in the crate and watched him from a window. He proceeded to push the bottom of the crate. He popped the pin and squeezed the lock with his mouth and got out. He immediately went to the door and started scratching to get out of the house.

I decided to try leaving Jake loose on one floor of the house. He did not destroy anything in the house nor did he go to the bathroom in the house. However, he did scratch the door trying to get out of the house.

The end result was we made a large doghouse for him and put him on a run outside during the day. He goes willingly on the run and crawls right into his doghouse when I leave in the morning. He doesn't bark or do anything destructive in the yard.

Jake is now 11 years old. We have moved to another house where we can't put him outside due to neighbor dogs being close. The neighbor's dogs bark and howl quite a bit, which in turn will cause Jake to bark.

The owner of our old house is a good friend, and my boyfriend is remodeling the house next door. Because of this we were able to place Jake's doghouse five feet from his old place. We still chain him on his run during the day or any time we leave the house. However, any time we leave the house we have to make this extra drive. I have to tell you that this is getting old, especially since winter set in. Most of the time I take Jake with me on errands rather than driving the 20 minutes to the old house to drop him off and then pick him up again. He is extremely well behaved in the car.

Jake has a gentle temperament. He is wonderful with children and other dogs. He listens and does not leave your side unless you tell him it is OK to go. He is very active and swims and walks almost daily. He has never chewed or damaged anything in the house (except for the door when trying to get out).

Jake will sit in a crate and sleep there, but he will not stay in it if we leave the house. He follows us everywhere. He won't stay in a room alone. If we leave he follows us! Once he was left at a friend's house with their dog for 15 minutes. Before we returned he had broken out of a second-floor window and was sitting on the outside roof.

We are at our wits' end. I kind of resolved myself that there isn't anything we can do until my mother gave me your information. So I'm hoping for a miracle.

Dear Hopeful: Back when I hosted a radio program in Fairfield County, Conn., called "Dog Talk," I also answered owner's questions about their dogs. During one phone segment, an overly infatuated listener dubbed me "the god of all dogs." We all laughed, and the name sort of stuck. Whenever my inner circle of doggie friends wanted to mock me, this moniker would come out.

Sadly, there is no truth to the title. I am not infallible, and miracles are in short supply. Nevertheless, I do have a suggestion that might help you and Jake. How about a doggie door• You know, the kind that would allow Jake to come in and out at will. Your boyfriend sounds handy with tools. Have him install a doggie door, fence in some of your backyard, and everyone should be happy. But a miracle• I think not.

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