Where we live is pretty far off the beaten path, which means it is either very safe or not so safe depending on how you look at the situation. There either aren’t going to be many people wandering around looking for mischief or when that one does show up, there will not be many people around to witness said mischief or call for help.
One of our neighbors on the other side of our neighborhood has a sign in their front yard for a well known alarm company, those of use who live out here have to laugh, the closest police presence is at least an hour away, more like 2 hours in most cases, so it is pretty much up to each of us to protect ourselves and our properties, I don’t have a problem with that.
With that in mind, we just “installed” our new alarm system, the alarm was given to us (free), but there are maintenance costs, this alarm needs to be fed, watered, cleaned up after, walked and played with. Meet our new alarm, Zoe, no batteries or phone lines necessary.
She is a young, Westie mix, not sure what she is mixed with, but I’m fairly sure she has Westie in her based on her appearance. When we first moved to our off grid home, we came out with a seemingly inappropriate dog, she was a long hair chihuahua, not the first choice for most off gridders. Well, even a tiny non-threatening dog like a chihuahua, is in fact, a great alarm system, and even though she was old, she never failed to alert me when someone came up to the sky castle, 2 legged or 4 legged. Last summer my little girl passed away from old age, she is buried next to the garden, I still grieve for her.
So all winter long we were without our furry alarm, I really missed having that extra sensitive set of ears and nose. I can’t tell you how many nights I heard noises outside and wondered if they were just “noises” or if it was a critter, if I had had a dog, I know the dog would alert me if some critter or person were messing around outside…Call me sentimental, (or just mental), I really miss having a cute, sweet little lap dog, I had planned on looking for another long hair chihuahua this spring, but apparently there were other plans for us. A friend of ours had rescued 2 half grown puppies and needed to find homes for them. We chose the calmer of the two sisters. The other dog found a good home too, just with someone else. :)
I have to say, I am so happy to have our 4 legged alarm system, of course there is a breaking in period. She is having to learn the “normal” sounds and what isn’t right, she has barked at night when I was pretty sure there was nothing going on outside, of course, with her keen ears she just might have heard something I didn’t.
I am working with her, being a terrier, she needs a lot of focused training, I purchased a clicker and have been training her with it. I will say that she is really picking up on what I want. The hardest thing for now is going to be “come here” and “stop”. Those two commands are so important, my chihuahua knew those two commands intimately, in fact it saved her life on one occasion when she getting old and was losing her eyesight, she almost took a nosedive off the porch that is 6 feet in the air, I loudly said “Pekoe, stop!” and she instantly stopped, just one step away from going off the edge, the side without steps.
If nothing else, Zoe is going to have to learn those two commands. It’s really a matter of her life or possibly death, or getting hurt badly, and we can’t afford a major vet bill. I think she will learn though, she seems to be pretty smart, of course all new mommies think their babies are smart and cute. :)
Now you can call me prejudiced, but I believe that every off grid home (and probably all homes) needs a dog, one that will alert you when something is not right, whether it be a critter nosing around, or more dangerously, an unwelcome human, or even a welcome but unexpected one. You don’t have to get a large, aggressive dog either, having an aggressive dog can be a liability, especially if said dog doesn’t have some sort of training, you can find yourself on the wrong end of a legal battle, and even if you are in the right and can win, it can cost you dearly, being right and losing everything isn’t always best.
But getting a smaller, less lethal version of the canine type can be a real asset. Besides, the smaller dogs eat less and take up less space and do better inside the house than a larger dog IMHO. Just remember, they are family too and need attention, training, good food and proper health care.
Tell me about your dog, off grid or not, in the comments section below. :)
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