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I grew it up in a gorgeous wooded neighborhood. It was a protected area where homeowners could only expand their homes vertically and not horizontally so they wouldn’t disturb the forest. Because of this, the houses were generally small with large, untouched yards wrapped around them. Fun fact: One was built by Andrew Lloyd Wright and remained in his family!

I know it sounds like I grew up in a quiet rural environment but actually I lived in the suburbs of Washington DC! The city and it’s neighboring counties took their environment seriously.

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The surrounding streets connected through loops and general roundabouts with multiple outlets to the “main road”. This kind of made us one big happy neighboorhood, even if we didn’t know everyone who lived in the gorgeous 50 and 60 style houses.

Mine was not small but it was one story with a basement. It looked it, though, because of the vast garden. I was lucky that we had such an expansive yard. I had a lot of room to play and the dogs had plenty of space to run.

When we got Affie (our first dog) we decided to take advantage of this great big space and put in an invisible fence. I know it is a controversial topic but we thought it was a great idea because the dog had unblocked access to the entire property.

It was perfect for the Affie and Saachi (our second dog). They ran around all day (hours upon hours) as if they were farm animals and especially loved to trot next to other people walking their pets.

A in her Pillow Hat - 2007

In retrospect, this is probably why our pets are so aloof and self reliant. They preferred the outdoors and were not interested in playing fetch or Frisbee.

We liked to keep Affie’s fur short. It matted easily and I couldn’t keep up with the grooming. But, during late Fall, early winter we grew her hair out so she could stay outside and not freeze her little doggie butt.

The problem with this, we found out, was she would disregard her fence collar. We didn’t keep the shock too high but it was high enough that we thought she could feel it through inches of fur. Even now, we’re not convinced that she didn’t feel it.

Affie Chain - 2006

One weekday while I was at school a neighbor from three “neighborhoods” away rang our doorbell and handed Affie over to my father.

“We found her marching along the road!” she explained. My father was flabbergasted. He didn’t know the woman but thankfully she recognized Affie from when she walked her own dogs.

I don’t know how this lady caught this nutty dog but I have the upmost respect for her. Affie never came when she was called and played chase with anyone who looked at her.

Now, this is probably a good time to mention we checked on the dogs when they were outside but since they had full use of the property (front and back of the house) we never worried too much if we couldn’t see them. They explored every inch of the yard (and remember I mentioned it was very wooded) so we just assumed they were in some cranny inaccessible to us.

The woman was kind enough to remove Affie’s collar and it was still buzzing when she handed it over. She laughed “I can’t believe she didn’t feel it!”

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We couldn’t believe it either.

After that, we checked on Affie more frequently and I did catch her making a break for freedom a couple of times. I think she chose to ignore the zap to continue her carefree exploratory existence outside of her usual four corners.

 

Hi, my name is Monica and I have RA.

 

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