We live in the woods near the end of gravel road. And if that isn’t isolated enough you can’t see our place from the road because we’ve got about a quarter-mile meandering driveway going up a hill and through the trees to actually get to our place. (I hang a lot of my art banners along that driveway just to keep you entertained as you approach.)
As a result, we’re irresistible to those kinds of folks who drive around in the country and say, “I wonder what’s up that road?”
I remember when a sheriff’s deputy stopped by for a courtesy call once and I commented about the traffic. He said, “don’t worry, people from around these parts knows that anyone this far out in the country with a long driveway has a shotgun waiting at the other end.”
Not saying I do, and not saying I don’t, but the possibility that I might have a shotgun waiting didn’t really seem to deter traffic. Some folks were just curiosity seekers, some were sportsmen looking for a good hunting spot or fishing hole, others were miscreants scouting isolated locations for the commission of various misdemeanors.
Historically they all ignored the “No Trespassing / Private Drive” sign at the bottom of the hill and headed up toward our place. Well before we could see them or they could see us the dogs would start barking. Chigger and Woody, two of the sweetest dogs in history, could sound like a pack of blood-thirsty werewolves to an approaching stranger, and their successors, Gerret and Maggie, aren’t to be ignored either.
But that didn’t stop folks from driving up the hill, going slowly around our circle drive and staring at us like it was a drive-through wildlife park. All in all it was a bit creepy.
So I went out and bought a “Beware of the Dog” sign. I put it about halfway up the drive. It was right where folks would just be coming into sight of our place and after they’d had enough time for the loud barking to introduce a sliver of doubt to their explorer enthusiasm. It worked instantly. Strangers stopped immediately, did about a six-point turn to get faced the other way and headed back down the hill. That sign served as my first and most effective line of defense for years.
Then last fall I had a new friend visit. She advised us that we might want to think about taking that sign down, since legal precedents has established that “Beware of the Dog” signs indicated that the dog owner knew their dog or dogs were potentially vicious, and therefore they could be considered negligent if their dog did hurt someone. (Insert nasty lawyer joke here.)
She recommended that we replace it with a “Dog on the Premises” sign. I said where the heck do you get a “Dog on the Premises” sign? And she said, any pet store. That these signs were ubiquitous even though I’d never heard of them before (some times you get a little out of touch when you live at the end of a long driveway at the end of a long gravel road) led me to believe that the real world was probably taking this legal threat seriously and that the company that made “Dog on the Premises” signs was probably owned by a lawyer.
Apparently they don’t have PetSmart and Petco in Nepal, so instead there are artists who specialize in painting custom “Beware of the Dog” (or cat) signs with the dog’s image on the sign. Too cool. The web site is by a woman named Michelle Page who started the Danger Dog project as way to facilitate “Micro-finance through Art Patronage.” You send ‘em a picture of your dog with some bucks, you get a customized “Beware of Dog” sign by one of the artists in return.
Visit the site for details and lots more images. As for me, the first time some carload of manners-challenged fools ignores my “Dogs on the Premises” sign and cruises past our front yard, I’ve a mind to say “damn the liability, I’m getting us a Nepalese dog sign.” Or maybe I’ll just encourage them to start painting “Dog on Premises” signs.
So I procrastinated throughout the long dreary winter, but I’ve finally installed our “Dog on the Premises” sign. To my synapses it doesn’t have quite the same sense of urgency as “Beware of the Dog” but at least I don’t have to worry about some litigating fool taking the fun out of my life just because Maggie bowled ‘em over with a bit of her patented dog lovin’. I do tell Gerret and Maggie they have to work just a little bit harder to inspire the fear of dog. We’ll see how it works.
Here’s another good thing.