Posts tagged ‘English Shepherd’
Yesterday was Meet Your Meat day.
Chucky, Mark and I visited the farm where most of the meat we’ll eat next year is being raised. When your food is raised by close friends on a small farm, socializing with the creatures that will go into your freezer is considered proper etiquette.
The chickens were only vaguely interesting to the boys. Chuck runs loose with our little flock every day and after two years of living with chickens in his back yard my husband takes them for granted now too. Chuck did get a small chance to show off his chicken herding skills because it was time to move the tractor the rangers were in and considering the fact that these chickens had never seen a dog before, he did a pretty good job.
The pigs were a much more interesting experience. Chuck’s initial reaction to them was a very practical and deliberate cautiousness. The boy’s come a long way from the dog who went bug-eyed and pancaked himself into the ground every time he encountered something new. Because these Berkshire hogs are omnivores who are at least eight times his size, I thought that his reaction to them demonstrated an excellent degree of common sense.
Chuck at left, is sitting quietly and politely avoiding direct eye contact. The pig, on the other hand, was whoring for attention. (Pet me! Brush me! Feed me! MAKE MORE MUD FOR ME TO WALLOW IN!) And really, since there is a one in three chance that I will eat this specific pig, I kinda felt obliged to give it up for him.
After pigs and chickens we went on to meet the steers. Chip and Dale are British White cattle, a beautiful, docile, ancient breed that fattens up well on pasture. The boys stood calmly and politely as we walked up to greet them.
I kept Chuck on a leash at first, he’d never met any cattle and I wasn’t sure how the steers would react.
As you can see, the first meeting went well.
And so did the second. Still on leash, but with his handler at a distance. Note the relaxed, happy smile.
It wasn’t long ’till we progressed to dropping the leash and letting everybody hang out together.
From the cow pasture we moved on to the creek. Chuck’s never been swimming. He loves playing in a spray of water and he’s been very good about baths, but between his orthopedic problems and mine, I haven’t had a chance to take the boy to a swimming hole.
Deep water can be intimidating to a dog, but as it turned it, Chuck didn’t need much encouragement to go in. I walked across the creek and called him. After a bit of hesitation the boy launched himself across. And once he figured out that it was wonderfully wet and it wasn’t going to kill him — the boy absolutely adored being in the water.
He had an excellent day off.
The first post in a new category: Words in pictures
weed·y (wd); adjective
1. Full of or consisting of weeds: like my yard
2. Resembling or characteristic of a weed: like many of the plants I tolerate or even encourage in the garden.
3. Of a scrawny build, spindly or gawky: like my dog.
From Thursday’s Telegraph we learn that in the United Kingdom:
It is legal to kill grey squirrels and most people do it by trapping and shooting. But it must be done in a humane manner or you will be fined under animal welfare laws.
However the Royal Society for the Protection of Animals argue that most people will be incapable of killing a squirrel without causing “unnecessary suffering” and will therefore be in breach of the law. They recommend taking the animal to the vet to be put down for around £30 or calling in pest control experts who will shoot the animal or kill it with a blow to the head.
So we have a law that does much to discourage residents from killing grey squirrels. This, despite the fact that:
The grey squirrel is having such a profound impact on British wildlife that the IUCN have now listed it on their list of the 100 worst invasive species globally and several other conservation groups are calling for radical steps to be taken to prevent irreversible damage being done (Lowe et al., 2000).
In the spirit of diplomacy, Audie would like to know what he needs to do to be licensed as a pest control expert in the UK.
National English Shepherd Rescue is an all-volunteer, non profit, breed rescue group working to place English Shepherds in need of new homes. We are currently collecting recipes for our second edition cookbook. We’re looking for everything from appetizers, soups and salads, to main dishes, side dishes, desserts, canning and preserves, crockpot ideas, and special treats for dogs. Basically, if your family likes it, we want it! Please include your name, city, state/province/country, and the name(s) or your dog(s) so that we can give you proper credit for your submission. We’ve already started work on the layout, so please don’t wait until the September 30 deadline to send your recipes in! Submissions should be emailed to: firstname.lastname@example.org. (We will begin taking pre-orders at the end of September!) For more information about NESR, please visit our website: www.nesr.info
NESR Charlie loves eggs too
The past two weeks have been exciting for young Charlie. We threw a lot of new things at the boy, in this short period of time he:
- Behaved calmly while surrounded by strange dogs and people during the Minnesota mini-gathering
- Met a diverse crew of men who refinished our deck, and looked on with calm interest while they worked right outside the windows
- Politely allowed himself to be approached and checked out by several strange off leash dogs at a sheepdog trial
- Accepted my assurance that a pack of strange dogs staying as guests in our house was not a valid reason for a meltdown (I’ll add that he handled the situation with more grace than Audie did)
- Developed a crush on our human visitor
- Threw one brief tantrum when a strange person strode up very quickly then bent over inches away him at the trial (she was picking something up off the ground, and paid little attention to the little snot)
- Then recovered his wits sufficiently to allow her to pet him just a few minutes later
- Maintained good off leash manners while four different human guests were here
- Did his first stint as a demo-dog (albeit allowing me to demonstrate how to apply a pressure-release technique to defuse a reactive dog)
- Let my client pet him immediately after said demonstration
Charlie has come a long way. It was obvious from the start that a good dog was lurking inside the smart, resilient, obnoxious little jerk who arrived here last fall — but in the beginning, only hints of that good dog showed through.
Today Charlie is a good dog who only occasionally shows hints of the horrid little beast he never wanted to be.
Charlie watches D make dinner
(I love a man who cooks for me!)
On Sunday a small group of people and dogs gathered at our place. This is not an unusual thing, many dozens of similar groups have met at our place in the five short years we’ve been here.
This may look like a typical group of happy dogs and dog owners - but it’s not. All the dogs in this picture are alumni or current fosters with National English Shepherd Rescue and all but two of them are members of the infamous Montana English Shepherds.
Less than a year ago, these dogs were still be held as evidence in an animal cruelty case. Today they’re all living in homes in and around the Twin Cities area. And while most of them still have a few issues to work on (don’t we all!), these dogs and their owners have accomplished incredible things.
I had a marvelous time meeting and working with everyone, but the part of the experience that will stick with me will be Stanley (the handsome blond boy on the far left). Stanley crawled in flat on his belly and shaking like a leaf – but based, I’m sure, on months of patient loving help from his foster mom Nancy – he recovered and found the courage to not just to sit up tall and straight in a room full of strange people and dogs, but to smile for the camera.
We worked a bit. We talked a lot. We made new friends and we plan to do it again.
Of course I couldn’t resist the chance to fit in a bit of training. Here I am trying to get Louie to work for a treat:
Louie is being very polite, but (like nearly all the Montana dogs) he’s telling me he just simply can’t take treats from a stranger. That’s okay. There are a lot of tools in my training bag.
Here I am introducing Louie to the e-collar. Note how even with my assistant’s nose up his butt, Louie’s more engaged with me in this picture. I’m using very soft pressure with the collar combined with subtle body language and verbal encouragement to communicate with Louie. I was able to show his owner how to accomplish this in just a matter of minutes.
Louie lives on a farm near us and his owner would like to be comfortable giving him more off leash freedom. I suspect that more e-collar training will be in his future.
Chuckie, who earned a reputation as a Horrid Little Dog in Montana shows he’s not so horrid any more. Chuckie *hearts* his e-collar.
Many thanks to Miare Connolly for the wonderful pictures. And thanks to every one (two- and four-legged) who joined us. We had a wonderful time!
Charlie and I took a field trip last week. We went to see a veterinarian whose specialty is orthopedic surgery.
Charlie has had a noticeable limp since he arrived here. He avoids putting weight on his right leg, his knees turn out in an odd way, and he can only get up on the furniture if we help him. I waited to take him in to get it looked at for a couple of reasons. First, he was a snarky, stressed-out little snot and I wanted to wait until he’d progressed to a point where the visit would be only moderately stressful for him and the vet; and second because I had a nagging suspicion that the help Charlie needed would be more than either NESR or I could afford right now.
Last week I knew we were both ready to make the trip — and now I have good news, bad news and more good news to report.
Good news: Charlie stayed remarkably calm for more than an hour while he was in a strange place surrounded by strange people who did strange things to him. It was a bit of a hike to the clinic — the kind of drive that would have provoked a frantic, scrabbling, whining, puking reaction in him a couple of months ago — but today Charlie and Audie rode together without incident. The clinic staff didn’t coo or gush over Charlie (he hates that), and he and I both appreciated the professional, matter-of-fact way this clinic operated. I stayed with Charlie and held him during the exam. While I’m sure it was painful, he took it like a trooper and we didn’t need to muzzle him.
Bad news: Charlie has a grade four luxating patella on the right and a grade two on the left. The right knee isn’t just painful, if it isn’t repaired soon the misalignment will damage his knee and hip. The left knee, while not as severely affected as the right, also needs to be repaired. Net cost – about $3,500.
Good news: Not only has the surgeon offered to give us a discount — but in a stroke of wild, wonderful, good fortune — an anonymous benefactor (or benefactors) has volunteered to pay for Charlie’s surgery.
This wonderful, beautiful, unselfish, anonymous gift was given in the true spirit of Christmas. And we will always be grateful.
I’ll call to schedule surgery on Charlie’s right knee this week. The goal is to stagger his surgery and mine by a couple of weeks to reduce the level of inconvenience involved. One armed handler and three-legged dog, Charlie and I will rest, heal and work on physical therapy together this winter. Audie will go back to being my service dog, and Zip will sulk because we’re not focusing on her needs (throw!)
By summer both of Charlie’s knees should be healed. According to the orthopedic vet, when both of a dog’s knees are damaged as badly as Charlie’s are, repairing them has an almost immediate positive effect on behavior problems like shyness, reactivity and aggression. So this surgery should help heal his soul along with his body.
Thanks to Charlie’s Angels a truly wonderful little dog who was once tossed out like a piece of trash gets a chance to move on to the kind of life and home he deserves.
Thank you, from the bottom of our hearts –
Charlie had his first veterinary appointment today. While he will cheerfully allow me to handle him any way I like, being handled by strangers is still a completely different story. So I brought him in by himself (I usually bring the dogs in as a pack, as they’re all very easy to handle). And I brought a muzzle.
The spectre of young Charlie wearing this lovely bit of apparel, along with the blinkless stare and completely even, 60 bpm pulse rate he maintained throughout the examination earned him the charming new nickname.
I’ll admit that the little shit looked astonishingly evil, even to me. When I took him back out to the van I left the muzzle on until I got him into the crate. Once he was safely inside, I slipped the muzzle off and shut the crate door in a single swift move (I may be a gimp, but I can still move pretty darn quickly when I need to). Once the door was closed, I was surprised – and quite pleased – to see a soft, happy, wiggly puppy on the other side. I opened the door back up and the vicious killer my happy puppy greeted me with a wagging tail and a flurry of soft, sloppy kisses.
I am so glad I spent all that time getting him used to wearing the muzzle.
Once we returned home, Charlie released his stress by viciously attacking wrestling with Audie.
If you’re a dog whose had a bit of a rough start in life – what do you search for at the end of the rainbow?
(real rainbow in our real backyard yesterday)
Lots of good, healthy exercise
A best buddy to hang out with
A dog-friendly human (or two) to pester
And a warm place to nap
This looks smells pretty darn good to me!
Charlie’s come a long way from the dog whose most remarkable skills consisted of an unrestrained enthusiasm for creative elimination and the willingness to throw monumental temper tantrums. He’s not ready to find his forever home yet, but every day he demonstrates more of the fine potential he’ll be happy to share with some lucky family.