All of these artificial and ever-changing boundaries must be confusing to our dogs. They seem to figure out their own homes and yards, but they can get befuddled at the edges. My wife was attacked and bitten by someone’s dog as she ran in the street in front of the dog’s house. In fact, we have heard reports of several walkers in our neighborhood being bitten by dogs that ran out into the street after them. I suppose the dogs were protecting their territory, but someone needs to tell them that their authority stops at the curb.
If my wife and I decide to sell our home, it will become someone else’s patch and they can guard it as they see fit. We will move to a new property and set about marking and protecting our new territory. This, it seems to me, is what the American Dream is all about. I can live where I want, and I can protect where I live with any means necessary. Maybe we’ll get a dog that was bred to be a guardian—a dog like the Doberman pinscher, the bullmastiff, or the boxer. Many of the best guard dogs, however, are general purpose farm dogs like the German shepherd. This breed has long been synonymous with “police dog” and should be a good dog to serve me and protect my property. But the two most recent dog bites in my neighborhood have been German shepherds that attacked runners in the street. So, I’ll probably just stick with a barking dog to warn me of danger.
My son’s golden retriever Libby came to stay with us recently. Ian’s Atlanta home was on the market and needed to be free of dog hair for a couple of weeks. Libby has visited us plenty of times but never for an extended stay. For the first day or two she was curious about everything, sniffing around the house and yard, and watching through windows as cars and people passed by our house. But by the end of day two, she was more protective of her new territory. Somehow, she had decided that people walking in the street were a threat, and the cars stopped at the stop-sign and idling across the road needed to move on. The dog whose idea of dealing with a stranger was once a wag of the tail and a gentle “woof” on their approach followed by licking them into submission, has become a serious guard dog.
Libby and I are carrying on that time-honored tradition of protecting our home—a home that could be repossessed by the bank if I don’t pay my mortgage, on the property that could be seized by the county if I stop paying my taxes, on the land where Native Americans roamed before European settlers kicked them out to the Oklahoma Territory. But I still claim it as “mine”, and I have a fence, a shotgun, and a guard dog to prove it.