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The Danger of Leaving Your Dog Alone Outside Even in the Suburbs

A few months ago I wrote a warning article on my Make Time For Happy blog, a fun blog inspired by my little pup, about the dangers of letting your dogs outside without keeping a close watch after a hawk or an owl came within feet of my back door. If it had happened when we first moved in 14 years ago, I could have understood. As very few of the lots in our neighborhood had been built and it felt like we were in the middle of the country. But now ever lot has been built on, and areas that were once nothing but trees have been cleared and transformed into neighborhoods and more and more it feels like we have been swallowed up by the city. So you would think that it would be safe to open the door and let our little dog spend some time roam his fenced in backyard.

For the first few years we had Happy, we often did that. But every once and a while we would notice the shadow of a hawk passing over heard and heard the birds madly screaming as the mocking bird or black birds gave vigorous chase. Oddly, as the houses sprang up around us, we were surprised one day to look out our window and see a hawk sitting on our fence. For a few days after we decided that it was better to be safe than sorry, and accompany Happy as he ran and played. When, after a few days, there was no sign of the hawk, we figured all was safe and we let Happy out as normal.

On and off for a few years, there would be a pattern of the occasional visit by the hawk for a few days each year, and then an all clear for the rest of the year. At first it seemed like there was nothing to worry about as the hawk would only relax on our fence for a few minutes here and there for a few days, and take off at the slightest peep. For those few minutes we were able to enjoy the priviliage of beholding this breathtaking predator from our family room window.

Then one year, there was a somewhat worrisome change, yet it took time for us to recognize how unnerving it was. After years of making the occasional visit and taking off, we noticed that instead of taking off the moment that we opened the sliding glass door, it would linger and let us admire it from the safety of the porch. Our hearts thrilled with amazement as we stood on the porch and enjoyed this rare view. As soon as I had the chance I got out my camera and snapped a couple of pictures, thinking how lucky I was to be granted this rare priviliage.

Then one day I tried opening my porch door and take a few steps outside so I could get a better picture. And to my surprise, the hawk stayed and let me take a few picture.

And after a couple of days take a few steps in its direction and take an even better picture.

It would seem that alarm bells should be going off at this point that this wild bird felt comfortable enough to let us open the screen door and get within 50 feet of it and then calmly turn its head and let us take its picture. Overcome with the excitement at being so close, it never occurred to us that this wild bird was slowly losing its fear of us, and that this could put our dog in danger.

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