The Cottage Smallholder

stumbling self sufficiency in a small space


smug Inca“Fiona, I have a problem.”
It was Tessa. She had let the dogs into the back garden for their midday run.
“I am minus a dog – the black and tan one. I’ve called and called and she hasn’t come back.”
My heart sank. We thought that all the fences were secure.
It was just after midday and I was in Saffron Walden, half an hour away.
“OK, I will come home now. Go home, don’t wait.”
Tessa works nights and needs her rest.

Having been happy to play for hours in her own kingdom, Inca has discovered that the world beyond the fence is a vibrant beckoning green of faraway hills. She loves her morning walks and, even though we venture further each day, the Min Pin airbrakes are applied when we head for home. She has twice managed to escape from her harness and collar and raced around with exuberant joy. Eventually returning to sample a proffered treat, thankfully. She is a foodie, just like her human pets.

On the drive back from Saffron Walden I ran through possible outcomes of the miniature Houdini escape. Hopefully she had not ventured into the bank manager’s garden and been eaten by the dog that doesn’t bark.

I reckoned that she had escaped through the bottom fence that belongs to some friendly neighbours. This is a ramshackle affair that I check regularly but often blows down if the wind is in the wrong direction. From their garden she’d have access to the lane and might have strayed onto the big road outside the cottage. She wouldn’t have much of a chance there. I mentally prepared for a stranger at the door, holding a small red collar.

I reversed in through our gate. There was no limp body on the doorstep. I rushed into the garden and called her name. I could have sworn that I heard her bark from the direction of Anne Mary’s garden that runs alongside the length of our garden.

Suddenly my call was answered with a human call. I accelerated out of the cottage and ran to Anne Mary’s house. My cries had been answered by Nicky who tends AM’s garden. She opened the back gate.
“She’s here but she is hiding in the bushes and won’t come out. She was sniffed out and chased by the Labradors.”

I could have surfed on the waves of relief.

After more than 10 minutes of coaxing, the trembling dog leapt into my arms. She had experienced a big scare and that was a good thing. Perhaps she would never run away from home again.

I found two escape routes into Anne Mary’s garden and repaired them. The next night, high winds had forced the garden parasol through our fence, opening up a Min Pin path to heaven. Inca alerted us, we called her back and repaired the damage.

Inca and I were working in the garden late this afternoon. I turned my back and within 15 seconds I heard a fuzzy yap from the other side of the fence. I called and Inca shot back through an undiscovered gap. Her expression suggesting that we could escape together. I forced myself into the shrubbery and found a long stretch of holes in the rotting fencing, deep in the darkness.

She stood beside me as I worked, clearly bemused that I was filling in the gaps when I should be enlarging them to accommodate my portly figure so that we could both wriggle through to freedom. She dropped a few hints, showing me gaps that I had missed. In the end she lost all interest and rushed off for a teeny yap at her favourite place (don’t ask!) before being ushered indoors.

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  1. Fiona Nevile

    Hi Moonroot

    Yes it was a relief. Inca is so wilful!

    Hi Tim

    I love our stag red Min Pins too. I think I need the services of your Queensland Healer… Thanks for dropping by.

    Hi Sara

    Inca is much younger and naughtier than the others. We are thinking of breeding with her this year so she can have a companion closer to her age or will we be doubling our problems?

  2. farmingfriends

    What a relief. It is terrible when an animal you love is missing. Glad Inca is safe.
    Sara from farmingfriends

  3. Tim Taylor

    I have a beautiful 5 month old Red Stag Min Pin who is the joy of my life. She is my companion dog for my Queensland Healer. They are great buddies. When ever my Min Pin escapes which is about ever other day, I send my Cattle dof to round my Min PIN up.Glad you got you Min Pin back Tim Taylor USA

  4. moonroot

    So glad this had a happy ending. My heart was in my mouth as I was reading!!

  5. Fiona Nevile

    Hi Pat

    She can squeeze through a tiny gap and she has loads of bottle. A perfect combination for an escapologist.

    Hi Sarron J

    How awful to loose your dog for a week. You were so lucky to find her again.

    Inca was stressed on the first escape but was enjoying the challenge by Sunday!

    Hi Cat

    How scary for you. So pleased that your beagle was OK.

    We need to replace some of our fencing and have been putting off the evil hour.

    Hi Sally,

    Not stopping when you hit an animal is heartless. So pleased that he was OK and is now wary of cars.

    Inca, like most black and tan Min Pins, is wilful and brave. Luckily she tags along with me all the time when I am at home so I can keep an eye on her.

    She clearly needs a longer walk if I am going out.

  6. One of our two dogs found himslef on the wrong side of the fence. He had an ‘experience’ with a car. (The driver didn’t even stop, I was later told.) Luckily, although there was blood, he was absolutely fine. The good news is that now, when I take him out for a walk, he freezes if a car goes by.

    I was hoping that Inca’s big scare with the labradors would have the same effect, but when I read on I wasn’t so sure.

  7. There is nothing worse than that phonecall. Some plumbers recently let our Beagle out, who loves to run wild and free, hence the life behins a 6 ft fence, safe in our garden. Luckily as I went home I found her wandering down a main road, on the pavement, without a care in the world. I rammed my brakes on and ran across the road, and her face said “Oh, mummy…what are you doing here?” The relief! And no phonecalls with only the lead returned.

    So glad that yours too has a happy ending!! Welcome to the world of ‘fence checking’.

  8. Sharon J

    I know how it feels when a dog goes missing. Our lady was once missing for almost a week after being scared by some kids throwing rocks at her during a run by the canal in Manchester. She eventually turned up at a local gypsy site where they’d taken care of her. Boy was I relieved to get her back home.

    I’m glad Inca wasn’t gone longer as I’m sure it’s just as stressful for them as it is for us.

  9. Glad she is safe and back home where she belongs. If she is like my cats they can find the smallest of places to get through.

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