Dog Tales and More Tails
I am an advocate that when I go to Heaven my pets will be there with me. We people of this persuader refer it to “Meeting at the Rainbow Bridge.” Best Friends magazine in their classified section offers 47 comforting stories. Diane and I are pet people. Even the farm stock of chickens, rabbits and goats we have had were pets. Although for necessities sake some were regulated to the cooking pot, I no longer have the heart to kill a chicken. This creates a dilemma for me when I should start to raise my next batch of Silver Dorkings. In the meantime…
Dogs have been a mainstay companion, alert dog (woof- woof) meet the children at the school bus stop, (Like Lassie did in the movies.) Guarding us from the barn cats, raccoons and Opossums. Oh yes, bed buddies too! We remember all of our dogs and miss all of them that passed on to the Rainbow Bridge.
I tend to favor large protective breeds of dogs and Diane shares her smaller Terriers and such with me when we watch a DVD our ritual at night. Some close friends have wanted me to comment on farm dogs-from my perspective- so I though to make some commentaries at this Holiday time to dissuade you from Xmas puppies. Especially to the busy undergraduate student away from home who is not lonely-you are.
All purebred dogs to type have consistent patterns of expected behavior, which may be good or bad depending upon your ability to train the dog within those parameters. A case in point-I love German Shepherds and they are well known for their trainability to be watch dogs, war dogs, rescue dogs, cadaver dogs, helper dogs, blind care givers, and the list goes on how versatile this developed breed can be-if trained. Otherwise the dog will revert in the family home, to home-expected behaviors, which means they may not be the perfect dogs you or your Insurance Policy wants.
Lassie and Rin Tin Tin were actually several look a like dogs trained for specific acts. But we all loved them, especially Lassie when only she knew where the dummy Timmy was- in the well, captured by bandits, trapped in a mine shaft… Pulling another apple pie from the oven, Mom would ask Grandpa where was Timmy. While stuffing his face he looked to Lassie and “She Knew.” “Darn, its raining and snowing and I have to take these people back to the well…haven’t they figured out he is always in the well?”
Unfortunately I am not a good dog trainer- Diane is. I am good and obedient for the dogs that quickly maneuver me and give me sad, guilty looks if I do not always have a piece of cheese in my hand.
So my vote for the most trainable is a German Shepherd. My current love ball is a hundred pound plus white Great Pyrenees. Originally bred in the Border Mountains between France and Spain to guard and manage sheep. They killed wolves and bears and do not tolerate strangers. Their herding instincts are very strong and this breed “Thinks.” He makes decisions based on these instincts and does not want your control. He is in control and you are the sheep.
KIXX, my current 4 year old is a sheep dog- Great Pyrenees, and likes to roam over the mountains-his heritage. Subsequently this breed requires a five or six-foot high fence to keep him in a super big yard area. They are hearty exercise dogs and not inclined to dig holes and burrow under fences like Shepherds and Collies. Of course these other wonderful pets liked to guard against moles and mice and digging meant a trip hole for the unwary non-lawn fanatic like me.
With all dogs it is super best to start one as an 8-week-old puppy and be consistent in training. Dogs imprint very early and it becomes difficult for people like me to re-train them. We had a wonderful white German Shepherd that would pee only in the house. It seems as if the former student owner had to keep her locked in a bathroom while he was away. This is what she learned to do. It was virtually impossible to break this habit. When I was in France I witnessed an older man had a baby puppy at his heel, and encouraged him to toddle along at his heel. This old man knew what he was doing, as this dog will always be a heeler- a close companion who keeps your hand exercised rubbing ears.
We have had dogs shot back in the woods. We found a boxer cross puppy in a Fast Food bag along the highway, took him home and he was a charm. Smarter than me of course. Anyway deer season came about in the middle of a training exercise “to come”, and off he went. Some jerk shot him with an arrow and my collie brought back the skull later that year. Fence time!
So we dug in the coffee can and put up a five-foot high schedule 40-chain link fence with bottom poles that spans about half an acre. Diane has commented on the fence many times that it is a good small child barrier, and as I get older I will be less inclined to wander off in the woods as she says she keeps the key. I am just a prisoner of love.
Although I would love to breed dogs, and in fact “accidentally” bred a big cross dog and she, in protection of her puppies killed our little Cairn Terrier. So if I were to breed a dog I would have a separate fenced in area.
Following this vein of thought, My male intact Collie-German Shepherd cross when he sniffed the two new baby Shepherds- both females, he proceeded to build a nest under the house and was digging away making a nice tunnel set up for future puppies of his own. Males do think ahead girls. Alas, they were neutered and he lost interest. Later on I found out that German Shepherd females will squabble (big fights) all the time, and it is best, even if they are neutered, not to have two females in the same yard.
Both Shepherds were real European dogs of good character and must have been border dogs as they were super protective as witnessed by the holes and moles. One, Fuzzy by name was a long hair and she suffered in the summer heat so I learned to put up a kiddy wading pool and she would submerge. Shorthaired dogs are best, otherwise they like air conditioning, and they still they shed hair.
We have learned to be tolerant of shed hair. I have gathered up enough to weave blankets. Currently KIXX is a longhaired double-coated mountain cold weather dog that sheds. So I comb and brush him every day. He still sheds. Diane says she is going to have to take the hair clippers and shave her sweaters and coats. She is a hair magnet. This dog loves to lie on a block of frozen ice. He breaks the ice in the wading pool so he can cool his feet. I remember when I was about 9 we had a tramp Old English Sheep dog that would stick his feet in the water pan to cool off. The stories about long haired dogs being cooler as their hair insulates them from the heat is horse hockey.
KIXX, like the German Shepherds fixate on one person as their love object, tolerating other members of the family (herd). Although Diane can get KIXX to come when I cannot, she is not allowed (by KIXX) into my bedroom. That is OUR domain. Our cave. This could be a problem with the rescue squad when it is time to haul me out and KIXX does not understand but to guard.
A small dog makes a nice bed buddy, and Shep, an Australian Shepherd used to get a cold back and would snuggle up in the winter. The small dogs are best for bed buddies as a hundred pound dog, or two, or three will put you on the floor. Fortunately KIXX is so insulated he will only visit me once in a while when he feels lovey. The heated waterbed is too hot for him.
Some dogs snore. Most big hairy dogs get hot and pant which still wakes me up at night. Probably the most interesting thing is that many dogs sleep with their eyes open. I noticed that some dogs have false coloring eye spots above their eyes so that they can sleep with their eyes closed and still look alert to the fox.
All dogs require good nutrition and I have found out from years of trying big name labels that the current “A Taste of the Wild.” is just about pure meat in a dried form. I mix that at 4 cans of dry with a big varied can of dog meat or cat fish food. KIXX is picky and likes variety. He also gets a squirt of Salmon oil and two Brewers Yeast tablets. I feed him in the evening when I am going to bed. Although he is not a chowhound, he is more inclined to grace me with his presence as he gets hungry by nightfall and he is inside, not yodeling outside at the wild life and neighbor dogs.
KIXX is 4, and will live about 5 or 6 more years. What will I replace him with? I just do not know at this time but it will be a baby puppy; maybe I will start my goats up again. You do not want to train them as puppies to be lap dogs. In their mind they are still baby puppies to be loved and scratched – that’s 100 lbs. plus.
You can find Great Pyrenees puppies at www.goldstrikeboergoats.com. Once you click on their site you will see more of these incredible dogs plus goat friends.
God Bless us all and may we all meet at the Rainbow Bridge.
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