A lot of people do more than just lock their doors these days. Having some form of prevention against intruders gives people peace of mind.

A popular way to ward off prowlers at night is to light up the place. Modern yard lights automatically come on at night and motion lights come on when movement is detected within a certain radius of the home.

There are also certain thorny plants and bushes recommended for planting below windows for the same purpose. Some homeowners are going high-tech with state-of-the-art security systems that require codes to get in, will speak to you when certain doors are opened, and sound an alarm if an attempted break-in occurs. A growing number of people in our area estabalish home security by chaining and locking gates and posting “No Trespassing,” “Keep Out” or “Violators Will Be Shot” signs at the entrance of their purchased property before their house is even built. Those who prefer safety on the cheap keep a can of pepper spray by the bed.  Still others consider a full gun cabinet their idea of a security system.

In reality, my husband and I are probably just too tight to spend money on any commercial security system but we’ve been completely satisfied with our all-natural, economical, and efficient property protection. It’s our very territorial and protective female Border Collie-Blue Heeler cross named Pepper.

We know someone’s coming into the yard if Pepper alarms us with her barking and tears off in the direction of the approaching vehicle. Pepper heads straight for the driver’s side door, looking more like an alpha male wolf ready to attack than a good-natured companion dog. Visitors lucky enough to catch our ranch security down (AKA deep napping mode on the porch) may manage to get out of their vehicle without her noticing, but it’s seldom they’ll make it as far as the yard gate once their vehicle door shuts.

Pepper does her job to the point of overkill sometimes and she can be embarrassing when the same friends, neighbors and family visit regularly. It doesn’t matter to her how many times somebody’s showed up here, she greets them the same way every time. I tell people who have never met our dog before, that Pepper won’t bite but they don’t believe me. She needs to investigate all visitors before she lets them through the yard gate. I try explaining that she’s just curious and wants to sniff them in order to find out if there are other dogs in the vehicle, but my words aren’t as convincing as Pepper’s appearance, especially with newcomers. Nonbelievers are hesitant to get out of their car until the kids or I distract our dog away from them. They don’t believe she’s just curious when all they see is a growling, barking dog with her hackles standing straight up and waiting for them to get out. Sometimes Pepper looks as though she could thrash limbs off.

The way she handles people coming in is what I call our “securiosity” system. She’s curious but cautious and protective, and our place is her domain. If she feels it’s being threatened, she’ll guard it accordingly. People who come to our house may not like it, but I love our “securiosity” home protection system.

column originally published August 10-16, 2008

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