Thursday, June 23, 2011

Dogs

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I received several comments yesterday about our stance on no dogs at the ranch. By no means did I intend for this policy to offend or exclude guests of the ranch. Nathan and I have since discussed this issue and do believe that a revised policy is in order.

I meant no offense to dog owners and 99% of the time there is not an issue but there will come a day when something big happens. The vast majority of our guests have very well behaved and closely supervised dogs. What I worry about is those moments when the pup slips out of sight and gets into trouble - finding and eating poison, getting caught in a trap, cornering a rattlesnake or taking off after an animal only to get lost. The ranch can be a dangerous place for city dogs.

On the other hand, pets have the potential to be a liability out here. I have seen dogs of all levels of manners and training chase after chickens, kill wildlife and terrorize my pets. It is my job as a good animal steward to protect my stock from danger. What happens when someone's dog gets into one of the chicken pens? A whole pen of chickens has a market value of over $1,000. Do I strain the friendship, recoup my losses and hope our CSA members understand? (The members own the chickens not us). Or do I strain the business and the livelihood of our families? I can't help not thinking about these things, it is part of running a business - being able to pencil out and mitigate against potential liabilities. It is nothing personal against pets or their owners.

Now that all of my cards are on the table and hopefully folks understand my perspective, here is what Nathan and I came up with for a revised dog policy:

- Supervised pets are welcome at the ranch. We know many dogs have just as much fun as their owners here at the ranch and go home just exhausted from all the fun and adventures.

- Pets are permitted off-leash in the backyard only when actively supervised. In the front yard, barnyard or around the long house pets must be leashed. This is where the chickens range and where the majority of chicken chasing occurs. If you want to take the dog for a walk, once out of the main canyon where the house is located, dogs can roam free.

- Scoop the poop! Please don't just fling it over the bank or into the garden, we are happy to show you where to put such "deposits".

- Our pets are outside pets. Please do not let Zoe or the cat inside the house, they know they are not welcome. We do ask that guest pets stay off the furniture and beds (especially the ones with antique quilts).

- Pets must be actively supervised at all times - inside or outside. Messes happen but please clean them up. We had one poor couple with a dog that was sick many, many times throughout the night and they dutifully cleaned every spot so well I couldn't even tell where she was sick when they departed.

- Most importantly - we still love you and your pets so please don't let this policy scare you away. I will do everything I can to keep pets away from areas with known dangers and if dog owners keep a close watch on their pets at all times then everyone, Fido included, should have a great time at the ranch. Cheers!

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