These are my neighbor's dogs. The male on the left is Fritz. The female on the right is Sparkle. We refer to them as the Bark Brothers, regardless of gender. They are Miniature Pinschers, pretty good barkers, excellent hoppers (the bouncing on back legs, front paws in the air, "Gimme cookie!" dance). I keep treats for them so they won't bark at me. I'm not above bribery.
They have also become expert escape artists. Being so small, they can slide under the fence at any area where the chain link doesn't meet the ground. Their escape spot was on the other side of the house, but recently, they have burrowed under this corner into the neighbor's yard. The property line for these two yards is in the middle of my back fence, so my yard abuts both properties and they share my back fence line.
Several Christmases ago, the Bark Brothers broke into my yard under the fence. I had to block an area with bricks to keep them out. Now, they're doing the same thing to my other neighbor, who added bricks there too. The owner had used some scrap wood to temporarily blockade the area, but these are practiced little sneakers and they defeated the barriers enough to slide under the fence and explore around in that back yard. I'm sure the poor little things are bored. My neighbor's husband passed away last summer, and he was always the one to give them attention.
Today, my husband walked outside to see them and found Sparkle in the neighbor's yard, acting pretty pleased with herself. Those neighbors weren't home either, and their back yard is fenced and locked, so she had the run of a whole new area where no one could reach her. He couldn't get her to go back home, and told me about it. Armed with a box of dog biscuits and a long-handled hoe, I went to do battle with the sneaky dogs.
I feel a little protective of them because their owner isn't home during the day, and since they're not the best examples of canine intelligence I have ever seen, I worry they'll get hit by a car. I have caught Sparkle on the loose several times and taken her into my back yard until her owner got home in order to keep her safe. She comes to me without a problem. Fritz doesn't quite trust me as much, and has the characteristics of a possible ankle-biter. I like them both, but I don't turn my back on him.
As I approached the fence I could see that both were in the neighbor's yard. Fritz, the more straightforward of the pair, was easy. "Cookie, Fritzie, cookie," I cooed, waving the biscuit in the air. His little brown eyes locked on the treat. "Go get it," I said and tossed it into his yard. He scooted under the fence like a streak of lightening and grabbed the treat. Sparkle was up by the other house, nosing around the bushes. I called, waved cookies and cajoled until she came trotting down to the fence. During this I employed another biscuit to keep Fritz on his side of the line.
Sparkle was up on her hind feet, doing the Happy Cookie Dance, so I waved the cookie in front of her nose and tossed it over the fence. Fritz was on it like a shark, while she looked at me, puzzled. She's a sweet little dog, but like I said, not the smartest thing. I picked up the hoe, took out another biscuit and got her attention, and dropped the treat right next to the fence opening. With the hoe handle, I pushed it under the fence, while she darted and snapped and tried to get the cookie before I pushed it away. She was starting to follow the cookie, when Fritz grabbed it.
Fritz 3, Sparkle 0.
I got out two more biscuits, tossed one far from the fence to keep Fritz occupied, and tried the same maneuver with the hoe handle. Sparkle squeezed by and grabbed the treat before I could push it under the fence.
OK, let's try that again, using the head of the hoe, so I can block her access to the biscuit until it was under the fence. Fritz got his cookie, Sparkle waited too long to try for hers, and Fritz got it too. I tried again, with the same result.
Fritz 8, Sparkle 1. Me - defeated by a couple of pocket dogs with the combined intelligence of a gray squirrel.
I closed the biscuit box and picked up the hoe. "Well, brat dogs, you're just going to have to wait until they get home, I guess," I said and started to walk away from the fence. Deprived of her source of entertainment and treats, Sparkle watched me dejectedly, and then, probably jealous of all the food Fritz was getting, scooted back under the fence to check for crumbs. Hallelujah. I dropped the cookie box and used the hoe to maneuver the bricks back in place at the opening. For good measure, I added a brick of my own. Now they're home and safe. I managed to sneak Sparkle another cookie for a reward. Reward for what, I'm not sure. Not driving me crazy?