I have no idea from what sort of mental hospital for dogs Liza got Tiger or Smudge, but they're nuts. As dogs go, they're, as our own Queen of Crazy, Aunt Laurel, would say, out of their gourd.

Their insanity manifested itself early in what I originally thought were “unique characteristics”. You know, personality traits you think are cute when there are only one or two of them. Firstly, Tiger loves the swimming pool. But only the steps. He'll immerse himself until only his head sticks out but I tried once, and only once, to coax him a little further. Never again. Smudge has developed a tentative relationship with the pool but she enjoys an occasional dip when it's hot, too.

Exhibit B: The love to run around ON the pool house. Seriously, I have pictures and when I figure out which of the cryptically named images on my (or Liza's) computer prove this, I'll post them. Again, this is kind of cool. Was definitely a conversation piece at our neighbour's birthday party when they were barking at us from atop their perch. But recently, we've been sleeping in the pool house and YOU try explaining to a five-year-old girl right after Halloween that the “trot-trot-trot” sound she's hearing over her head isn't a herd of ghosts trying to steal her soul (“I need my soul, daddy! We're doing S words at school tomorrow!”).

Next (and this hypothesis is still undergoing testing): They're scared of the dark. Both of them. We bought an underground fence for them a few weeks ago and I think I've explained its virtues elsewhere. It works great during the day. When they get restless, they wander in the confines of their boundary (for the most part, more on that later). But when the sun goes down, they both sit at the bottom of the patio stairs pacing and barking until finally they get so worked up, they brave the shock and come up on the patio. I've been tying them to our outside lamps at night but they would bark and bark until I turned the outside lights on. Then…silence.

Finally, and this is more a complaint about their nature rather than a swipe against their sanity, there is absolutely no way to keep them in our yard. I swear they are not of this earth. The only way they can escape at the places they do is if they are able to physically walk through solid matter. Tiger is capable of leaping five feet into the air and Smudge can crawl through openings I can't even get my foot into. Our fence has razor wire at the top as a “deterrent” but somehow, they both managed to find the exact spot with enough space to jump through unscathed. We have a fence-in run for them that has morphed into the cage that Frankenstein built. Concrete poured along the bottom to stop digging under it. A chain link ledge along the top to deter leaping over it. Various rocks and branches in strategic places where they've managed to bite holes through it. And yet, even now, I can put Tiger in it and he'll come trotting up behind me before I've walked four paces from the entrance.

The underground fence isn't helping. Initially, I had the boundary set fairly low so as to maximize their space. That is, until I watched them carefully approach the boundary, give a little hop, then run off into the darkness with the canine equivalent of mocking laughter aimed in my direction. No problem, increase the size of the boundary. They counter with outright speed. They hit the fence running, giving them a little jolt but not enough to stop them apparently.

You say I could train them. Work with them on leashes to teach them it's not “polite” to cross the boundary. That is not giving enough credit to alien intelligence. When I'm walking them on their leash around the yard, they are the most well-behaved dogs you've ever met. Best in Show, as they say. They don't bark. They don't try to run off and chase passers-by. They don't even fart. Which is to say, they make no attempt at even approaching the boundary, let alone showing me where they cross.

Even now, as I type this, they are sleeping in the yard. Dead centre in the middle of their boundary. They like to do that, you know. Give me the illusion that I can control them once in a while. When I look out at them, they stare at me with big, stupid dog-grins on their face as if to say, “We'll obey your rules while your watching but make no mistake: we stay here because WE want to.”