Home Defense Tip: Get a Dog

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A few years back, a coworker awoke to a guy climbing through his bathroom window. Not surprising, considering that he lived on the ground floor of a building in an area of town that was in the process of “urban revitalization.” He came to work the next day and asked me if I thought he should get a gun. To which I replied, “Maybe?” with a shrug of my shoulders.

We chatted a bit about how much fun I have shooting guns, but we also touched on the ethical and legal implications of assuming responsibility for your own safety. We both decided that gun ownership was certainly in his future, but wasn’t right for him now for a variety of reasons.

As an interim solution, he took two pieces of advice…he bought a canister of pepper spray and a baseball bat. He declined to take action on the third piece of advice I gave, getting a security system or a dog. He mayor not have taken me seriously because I didn’t have a dog at the time.

My wife and I are both pretty granola when it comes to animals. I grew up in a house filled with strays including several abused/neglected rescue horses. At the time of my friend’s break-in, Mrs. Kee and I had two cats, one an actual rescue and the other a somewhat informal rescue.

My wife’s work as a hospice nurse sometimes introduces her to animals whose owners have shuffled off this mortal coil leaving their pets behind. Our cat Matilda is one such animal. We’d talked about getting a dog and even visited some local rescues, but we never really found “our” dog.
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All that changed when this pitiful beast found his way into our home. He’d been found by a friend working on an oil rig in a remote part of East Texas. Said friend had started bringing food and water until he gained the dog’s trust. Once he was able to inspect our future dog-child, he couldn’t find evidence of tags or a collar. What the pup did have in abundance were ticks, fleas, and some wounds on his head that turned out to be the work of someone with a shotgun. 

The local foster home that our friend volunteered with was all full up so he asked us if we could foster him. Several weeks later, we resigned ourselves to our fate as total “foster failures” and officially accepted him into our home.

We christened him Bill Murray, got some tags made, chipped him, and once he’d gained enough weight, put him under the knife to ensure we didn’t have any future child support payments to worry about.

All that food and love went right to his head because he’s now about the most loyal dog you could ever ask for. He sleeps on my wife’s side of the bed (that’s where the memory foam dog bed is), and spends most of his days snoozing and turning expensive food into fertilizer. As any keen-eyed reader will notice, he’s also got a head the size of a cinder block and a pretty large skeleton. At his fighting weight, he weighs about seventy five pounds.

But his real value to me is his natural instinct for sounding the alarm. Any time someone knocks on the door, he sets off a serious bark that rattles the house. At several points over the last few months, he’s risen from a dead slumber to look out the window of our bedroom and cautiously stare at a car that’s making a U turn in our cul-de-sac. My wife tells me that when I travel for work, he’s even more vigilant.

He recently got upgraded from “good boy” to “WarDog™” a few weeks back while I was making my nightly rounds. As you should, I check all the door locks on the first floor before heading upstairs for the evening. After scarfing down a pricey bowl of duck and potato food, Bill made himself comfortable on his memory foam bed upstairs while my wife brushed her teeth.

I rattled the front door knob to check it…which resulted in seventy-five pounds of barking fury sprinting down the stairs at full speed about three seconds later. Thankfully, he pulled up short when he realized it was just me. I patted him on the head and assured him that we were all good and then headed upstairs, dog following closely behind. My wife said she watched him rise from what appeared to be a coma and make a beeline for the front door when he heard the rattle.

I don’t expect him to be a true “guard dog” as he’s never been formally trained for such things. He’s obviously got the strength, the speed, and the mindset to run towards trouble so he might be a good fit. But for right now, I’ll settle for his obedience, sloth, and flappy jowels.

He raises the alarm and allows me time to tool up and put our home defense plan into place. For those who think a gun is the first step in a good home defense plan, I’d strongly encourage you to also look at strong locks, a good security system, and/or a dog. The bonus is that nobody will think you’re weird for cuddling your dog. Your GLOCK…not so much.

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68 COMMENTS

  1. Mom! This horse followed me home, can we keep him? Mom said you gotta clean up after it. After two months of shovelling manure out of the living room we decided it was best it lived in the backyard! Is that how your thing went?

    • I have 2 Ridgebacks (brothers 80# & 90+#) and have put in a steel security door at the front of my house. I tell people that you can’t get in and they can’t get to you! They sit there and watch the world go by. RR prefer to be with people than other dogs. Mine sleep inside but spend most of their days out in the yard. They hear the crinkle of a popcorn bag or the doorbell and their reactions are the same!! Best dogs I’ve ever had. Most of thirty years now.

  2. Have had ridgebacks for almost thirty years years. Nobody comes through my gate uninvited or unannounced.

    • Had a Ridgeback as a kid with the mailbox on the side of the garage. That dog would run full gate at the garage door (from the back yard) and hit the door with all four when the postman approached (scared the living @#$ out of em).

      • I have a tiny lazy sleepy dachshund terrier mixed mutt. He will bark and wake me up so I can grab a gun. That’s good enough.

        • Dachshunds make very good watch dogs. They bark above their weight class. If you’ve earned their loyalty they are fiercely protective of their people and place.

          Dachshunds were bred to hunt badgers, in their own burrow, and badgers also have sharp teeth and claws in addition to being twice the weight of the standard dachshund. No wonder “wiener dogs” don’t care about the size of their opponent.

        • you’re gonna need three badger hounds to flank one, anything that can claw through concrete doesn’t have much to worry about. i think the burrows would take out the horses by breaking their legs, so wieners for eradication. and maybe dalmatians as coach dogs to guide the horses around the burrow openings?

      • We had a cross between a black lab and a black and tan coon hound back in the day. Weighed about #120. he had a habit of coming up behind someone and taking their hand in his mouth. Not a bite, just hold your hand. He did that to the new tax assessor and scared the living crap out of him. That man would go the neighbors house and call ours to be sure Ol’Blackie was tied up before he came over.

        • Black mouthed curs, also known as mountain curs, are the most loyal and protective breeds there are. At about 100 lbs they can back it up, too. I miss Gilmore. He was a great dog. If he knew you were a part of the family he was a pussycat. Even the grandkids could yank and pull on him and the look on his face was like, “Seriously”? Then, he’d just wander off. If he couldn’t determine that you belonged it was Katy bar the door.

  3. past weekend a red tailed hawk tried to grab my pal’s chichiwhawah. the other one (bros) objected succesfully. close call. they are old, shivvery and near blind.

  4. our dogs, with the exception of one (Bozo, but hes got the heart of a warrior even if not the size) are 70’ish pounds of teeth, claws, and pure meat shredding and destruction when it comes to protecting the house and us. If you break in, you will never get out and the dogs will make sure of it.

  5. Dogs, yep.
    Dogs and humans have coexisted for millions of years. I’m of the notion that had it not been for dogs humans may have become extinct.
    I’m sure that back in the day we and them hunted in packs together.

      • The loyal hunter/noble beast meme cracks me up.

        Dog like to eat human poop. Their original function was keeping the camp area clean, and a regular supply of fresh poop was the reason they started hanging around in the first place.. All the very cool and noble beast stuff came later, probably much later.

        Cave art in Europe shows numerous prey animals, even pictures of hunting equipment and probable traps. Petroglyphs in the Great Basin show dudes with giant peckers chasing deer with bows and spears – zero dog pics.

        Sorry.

        • “Dog like to eat human poop. Their original function was keeping the camp area clean, and a regular supply of fresh poop was the reason they started hanging around in the first place..”

          Whoa…

          Does that mean someone could train their dog to ‘clean’ their backside after their ‘daily constitutional’?

          Man’s best friend indeed!

          {Here, Fido!} 😉

        • painted pottery found in south east iran dated over 8000 years old. and the pups are on leashes.
          you’re not the only cat lover on this site.

        • haha “nothin’ but the best for my dog. little paws stickin up, little curly head. the poodle bites (come on frenchy) the poodle chews it.”

        • “you’re not the only cat lover on this site.”

          I *love* cats. I just don’t understand why people feed them. BTW, if you leave your bobcats alone, you won’t have any feral housecat problems. Just saying.

      • I’ve found if you pay attention to your cats they are just as good if not better tip offs on “something’s different ” then dogs are. Cats just ain’t vocal, 8 seconds before someone knocks on my door the cat was looking at it.
        Animals will teach us things if we have the chance to watch or listen to them, our ancestors did, but we are to busy.
        My question is still awaiting some verification. If one of you kill a snake and it dies on it’s back does it rain within the next two days. I’m wondering if that fact is topographical. My grandpa taught me a lot of ‘old’ injun sht. Grandma too, I can hypnotize a chicken, snapping turtle and probably an alligator, thanx to her and a mean laying hen.
        I’ve never tried to hypnotize a snake because most snakes I’ve encountered are hypnotized and vote theBiden

  6. Dogs are good alarm systems but don’t rely on them to actually attack or protect you unless they’re trained. I did a lot of residential construction work for about 15 years. I’ve been to thousands of houses to do quotes while the owner was away. In 15 years I’ve never had a dog do anything more than bark, run and hide, or being overwhelmingly friendly. Its all about your demeanor towards the dog. I never ran from them or turned my back if they charged. I just stood there or walked towards them while acting like they weren’t there. You have to realize that dogs are selectively bred to be passive and gentle towards humans so any behavior that expresses to them that you aren’t afraid usually backs them down. They aren’t attack dogs unless bred and trained to be so and most people cannot handle a dog like that in a family setting so encountering one is very rare.

    There was one trained GSD at a house that I worked on where I had to go there and meet the dog because I would be working there while the owner was away. That’s the only time I ever encountered a dog that would actually attack you. After we got comfortable with each other he was like any other dog.

    • Similar experiences here. There were only 2 dogs over the years that did not quickly become enthusiastic friends. I did several projects over several years in two different houses for the local K9 cop and his family. His first K9 was a Rottweiler, and the dog tolerated me but was never very friendly. I had to check in with him in the morning (the dog), and he would sorta issue to me a day pass, and I was pretty much good for the day. He always knew exactly where I was in that big, old farmhouse, and now and then I would catch him peeking at me, you know, trust but verify stuff. Next day, I had to get a new pass. He’s one who would have spent his dying seconds chewing on a trespasser.

      The other dog was in the same family. The wife had a brace of wiener dogs, and one of them was a real grouch. He was grouchy with the wife, and double grouchy with everybody else. Even the Rottweiler left him be. After the Rottweiler was retired, they had a run of Belgian Malinois, and those were cool dogs. One of them wasn’t buffaloed by the grouch, and that was fun to watch.

      • malinois sniff my work truck for gameday clearance.
        guy across the alley has one. always heeled.

    • My pit hound dawg Heinz47’s were well trained.
      Female ripped the screen window out and jumped from the second story to tear the door handle off somebody’s car door that disregarded the No Tresspassing sign.
      I’ve had a lot of dogs, if I had the money I’d get a German Shepherd without the line breeding. One of them big German Shepard’s like the military has. Two of those bastards can rip a person in half and at the same time take never ending torment from your toddler. Some may like Doberman Pinschers but to me they are more like a Throughbred Race horse, just a little to hot blooded for the average pony rider.
      Dogs for the alarm system.
      I’ve watched the bangers go by my old gf’s house, Bark Bark Bark, we peek out the windows, just trucking by, just trucking by, Bark Bark Bark. Pretty soon after a month or two we quit peeking out the windows Bark BArk Bark and the garage got robbed.
      Them Dindu’s ain’t as dumb as you think.

  7. A goose is an outstanding early warning system. The Roman’s used them to great effect. And they don’t need to be walked.
    But I don’t like my dogs. Most are a great early alarm.

  8. leftist ‘fact checks’ destroyed…hamas in Gaza using weapons given to Taliban by Biden….

  9. The best thing about getting a dog for home defense is that, even if they never do anything to defend your home, you still have a dog.

  10. My Yorkie is small but very loud and sounds the alarm whenever anyone approaches.
    She is now 11 and still barks when the mailman walks to the box on the house or even when
    the mailman walks through our yard to the next house. She is small but is an excellent alarm
    system.

  11. I have two dogs, have had as many as five. Neither will attack but will make a good show of it. The labradoodle is up like a shot when she hears the smallest noise. No one is getting in without me knowing about it. I had a half boxer for a while. Great dog, and no, no one was getting in if we were not home, not even people she knew. But the ret of the time she was sweet and gentle.

  12. “My wife tells me that when I travel for work, he’s even more vigilant.”

    He recognizes his place in the Kee family pack… 🙂

  13. Having a barking dog is a distraction for the alphabet agencies. Giving you more time to defend yourself. They always shoot the dog first.

  14. i agree that insane yapping is a great early warning system. the dog barks, the mailman leaves, every day. dog thinks he left because of his barking.
    just to tell y’all, no matter how bad ass you think your monster beast is, postman only goes to front door. i entered the backyard to get my reads… the canines turf. in nine years, over 14,000 reads per month, there were maybe three that wouldn’t let me enter. might not have been pretty, and complaining all the way, but their all good bois at heart.
    i was just workin’ that bonus; i didn’t have to trouble myself. hungry raisin’ kids was my motivation.
    a drug habit? don’t kid yourself.

  15. I had a yellow lab. She had been in out of the shelter for the first year of her life. Some people don’t understand lab puppies and their habits, so they always took her back. She was the only dog in the shelter that acknowledged us when we went. House 6 wanted a small puppy and when she locked eyes with her she did not realize her size. She was with us for two weeks before House 6 realized she wasn’t a small pup. A very loving, especially when she realized we were not abandoning her.

    On a night I was not home, her and House 6 were in the bedroom and there was a loud noise. 6 grabbed her gun and started to the door but the dog wouldn’t let her go anywhere. 6 opened the door and the dog barreled down the hall sounding like a demon beast. Fortunately no one was in the house. Figured out later it was a branch that broke of the tree and bounced off the siding. I am sure had there been someone in the house she would have dealt some serious pain.

    We had her about 10 years. She ended up extremely sick from Lyme disease and had to be put down. The vet tried to treat her the best they could, but nothing helped. She passed in my lap. Best dog I ever had, squirrel slayer, comedian, and loyal companion.

  16. My only addition to this article and the comments: note that dogs will sometimes fail to sound the alarm for whatever reason. I have two dogs in my home and they will sound the alarm about 75% of the time. The other 25% of the time, they remain quiet and calm.

    Note that your dog’s propensity to sound the alarm is somewhat a function of you and your family’s disposition. In my family’s case, everyone is very calm and very confident and we ensure that our dogs know their place underneath us in the pack order. Thus our dogs are often very calm and relaxed and not as keyed-up as many other dogs. And because of that, they don’t always sound the alarm because they know that my family and I will handle things if necessary.

    • My dogs knocked the ice box over chasing a rat and then tore it all to hell when the rat ran in the works trying to get away.

  17. I notice no one recommended a pug dog for security. I must be the only ttag reader with such a vicious canine killer. Pugitude!!

    • Regardless of size, they are dogs. More than a few times in the dog park I’ve seen Alsatians in full flight fleeing from a pursuing chihuahua.

    • My uncle once told me a part of him died every time one of his died… 🙁

    • i am working up the constitution to go through it again. kids gone, ol’ lady would benefit. she had a dobe, i had a belgian and then five sheps. 13yrs too short, and them last years ain’t pretty.

  18. I adopt pits that I find on the street as puppies. They are fanatically loyal. The toughest and most aggressive one that I ever had wasn’t even a pit. She was an American Bulldog chocolate lab mix that weighed in close to 90 pounds. She was smart and disproportionately strong even for her size. She also had prey drive like no other dog I’ve encountered and caught and ate a rabbit or squirrel nearly every day of her entire. I had to put her down almost 3 years to the day.

  19. I have a multi-tier alarm system. There are the guinea chickens. Nothing moves without setting them off. Then, there are the ducks. They squack and carry on when disturbed. Finally, the dog. She may alert at any time, before or after the chickens and the ducks, but when she alerts, there is something worth investigating.

    No electronic gadgets here, but I feel that I will always be forewarned before anyone gets to the house.

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