Monday, November 7, 2016

Three Legs, Ninety-Five Pounds, and Zero Limitations

You may remember if you’ve been around for a while that our dog, Duke, “only” has three legs (or as some like to say, is a tripaw).

You might think that a three-legged dog might have some difficulty getting around.  Or that at least you wouldn’t have to worry about a three-legged dog going over a fence.  You would be wrong, however.

You might also think that a ninety-five pound dog certainly wouldn’t be able to go under a fence.  Again, you’d be wrong.

On a side note (and if you’re looking for something to be right about) you might think that ninety-five pounds is more than Duke should weigh.  In that case, you would be absolutely right. We’re working on it.

Anyway, when we first moved into our house, and we adopted Duke, we didn’t have a fence.  We were finally able to get the backyard fenced in a couple of years ago.  (If you’re still keeping score, and you think that fences are expensive, you’d be right.)  We had a choice between the traditional (and slightly cheaper) four foot fence, or going with a five foot fence.
The first escape area, fixed

We opted for the five foot fence.  My parents’ yard had the traditional four foot fence, and we had all seen Duke stand up and drape his one front leg over the fence.  He never jumped my parents’ fence, but also never had any real incentive to.  Their backyard is easily four times the size of ours, and they don’t live close enough to restaurants for Duke to smell them.  We do.  We live just behind a main road.  On a windy day, it smells like Burger King is grilling in our backyard.  Duke adores food, so we thought he might jump a four foot fence in pursuit of fast food.

We never leave Duke in the backyard for very long, and we never leave him outside when we’re not at home.  He loves playing outside.  He rolls in the grass, chases (and sometimes catches) birds and rodents, steals the occasional vegetable from the garden, and generally seems to have a great time in the backyard.  There’s no real reason for him to want to leave.

During the summer he added digging to his repertoire of backyard activities.  He dug near the back porch, he dug near the raised beds, and a few weeks ago he started digging at the fence.  We weren’t thrilled about the digging, especially not the digging near the fence, but we really didn’t think he’d be able to dig a hole large enough to squeeze himself out of.  Especially not with one front leg!  We were wrong.

Duke’s first escape was a few weeks ago.  He dug, and used brute force to mangle the bottom of the fence enough to squeeze himself out of.  He just ran around to the front of the house, and met Nick on the front porch.

That night we went to Lowe’s and bought some wrought iron fencing (the kind that gets buried on the bottom).  Nick put that up over the hole, and zip-tied it to the fence to secure it.  We thought the problem was solved.  Surely a three-legged, ninety-five pound dog wouldn’t dig out of the fence twice.  We were wrong.  Again.

Duke’s second escape was scarier.  He ran off into some woods near our house.  We both walked the neighborhood looking for him.  When we came back to the house to get the car to go drive and look for him, he was just sitting in the carport waiting for us.

We found the new hole the next day.  It was in a different section of the fence, but he had done basically the same thing; dug a hole and mangled the bottom of the fence enough to squeeze himself out.  The second one had to have been a really tight squeeze, but he managed it somehow.

We fixed the second hole with the same wrought iron fencing and zip ties.  It seems to hold, but it’s not a viable solution for the entire fence.  We walked the fence and stacked bricks in any areas that looked like they might be conducive to Duke’s digging/mangling escape plan.  It’s a temporary fix at best, though.

The second escape area, fixed
We’re not letting Duke play in the backyard unsupervised until we come up with a better solution to keep him from digging out.  We haven’t decided for sure what we’re going to do.  We really thought a five foot chain length fence would be enough to keep a three-legged dog in.

We’ve thrown around the idea of some kind of electric fence on the bottom, but that’s likely to be cost prohibitive.  We’re considering planting roses along the fence line, but aren’t sure that would be enough of a deterrent.  We’re also throwing around the idea of putting concrete along the bottom of the fence, so he can’t dig out.  Doesn’t that sound like a fun project?

So what about you?  Do you have any brilliant ideas to keep a dog from digging out from under a fence?  Is there an obvious solution we’re just missing?  And, if you meet a three-legged dog, don’t pity them, as long as they seem happy and well cared for.  S/he probably gets around better than you think!


  1. Wow, he is one determined dog! I can't come up with anything other than just monitoring him when he is outside. I wouldn't go too extreme like pouring concrete because sadly he won't always be with you and then what will you have to refix? Keep it as simple as possible.


  2. I'll bet there are some good ideas on Mr. Google, but that is surprising. Do you take him on nice walks, maybe he just gets bored and a walk would cure his urge to explore. I had some wandering dogs, but never a prodigious digger.

  3. I've been lucky in that I've never had an issue with a dog digging under a fence. Jumping over fences that we thought were high enough but apparently weren't, finding gaps big enough to squeeze through where weather has caused damage and we didn't notice it in time, or taking advantage of suitable jumping off areas to leap over higher fences... Yep! But no digging underneath.

    If it was me, I'd try the concrete. It'll be a lot of work to do, and will require money too. But it's the best option I can think of, and will be worth it if it keeps him in the yard, and keeps him safe.

  4. You can buy a mesh that goes over the grass but lets the grass grow through and dogs can't dig because of it. That's normal dogs though not superdogs with only three legs.

  5. Perhaps he needs to be on a leash in the backyard. If you can get one of those really, really long ones, so he has the full run of the yard, but couldn't go any farther than the fence. Just a thought.

  6. Your dog is very determined.... have to praise him for that. The idea Liz had sounds like the only way to go.

  7. Where there's a will, there's a way, I guess. Duke sure is a creative and resourceful guy!

  8. LOL they can be determined. We tried the electric fence a long while back (they've probably improved) but ours were smart enough to figure out how to short the wire (they'd drop things on it until it knocked out) so wasted time and money. Determined! Good luck with your boy!


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