Posts tagged ‘English Shepherd’

Charlie’s Angels

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 —

Next winter Charlie will be leaping through the snow - at his forever home


December 21, 2009 at 9:20 pm 19 comments

Hannibal Chuckter

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.

November 19, 2009 at 11:17 pm 5 comments

End of the Rainbow

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.

November 3, 2009 at 4:11 am 11 comments

Dorsey the Mail Dog

We *heart* working dogs

Quirky travel site Legends of America brings us the story of the most famous resident of Calico, California – Dorsey the Mail Dog:

Dorsey was found in 1883 by Postmaster Jim Stacy, when the hungry and footsore black and white shepherd was lying on his porch. Stacy quickly adopted him and Dorsey became his faithful friend. In addition to his postmaster duties, Stacy also had an interest in a mine in nearby Bismarck. On one occasion, when Stacy needed to get an urgent message to his partner at the mine, he tied a note to Dorsey’s neck and sent him up there. Before long, Dorsey returned with a reply. Dorsey was soon carrying messages back and forth to the mine frequently, when Stacy had the idea to make the dog a regular mail carrier. Soon, the dog was carrying all the mail from Calico to Bismarck, bearing his load in little pouches strapped to his back. For three years, Dorsey covered the mail route between the two camps and became so valuable that Stacy was offered $500 for the dog, to which Stacy replied: “I’d rather sell a grandson.”

Dorsey’s legend was revived in a 1972 album entitled “The Ballad of Calico” by Kenny Rogers. The song was called “Dorsey, the Mail Carrying Dog.” And, of course, in haunted Calico, he has been revived in another way – the “spectral dog.” On several occasions, Dorsey has been seen as a shadow-like apparition at the cemetery and near the Print Shop that stands near the original location of the post office.


Some say Dorsey was a Scotch Collie.  He looks like he could also have been an English Shepherd or a Border Collie.  Since he was a stray and most dogs of the time were bred for purpose rather than pedigree – he could have been just about anything.  Regardless of his pedigree (or lack thereof) Dorsey was a fit, bright, hard-working dog.  The trek from Calico to Bismarck consisted of a very steep, rugged mile-long trail that the miners prefered to avoid.  Dorsey faithfully carried the mail three times a week for two years and only retired when the mine closed and his services were no longer needed.  And he performed his duties nearly flawlessly:

There is only one instance of possible misuse of his office on record. One Christmas Herman Mellen was living in a cave near Bismarck and his mother sent him a box of candy and sweets. Stacy had tied this box under Dorsey’s neck, and when he arrived at Bismarck the bottom was out and the contents missing. Whether temptation had proven too strong, the goodies had been hijacked or whether the package had broken open, allowing the contents to spill out was never determined.

When the Stacys left Calico they gave Dorsey to San Francisco financier John S. Doe, who owned interest in the mine. I hope Dorsey enjoyed a long, happy and – most of all – interesting retirement.

September 12, 2009 at 1:52 am 7 comments

New Kid on the Block

Young Charlie, (aka DickHead, alias Johnny Mac) arrived here yesterday.  Charlie’s here for an extended vacation attitude adjustment after spending seven months of his young life at Operation New Beginnings in Billings, Montana. 

Charlie and his littermates were born a month or so before the dogs were seized. Their mother was either already dead or got separated from them when he and his littermates were rescued from the Kapsa property, so they grew up as a small, motherless pack.  In a perfect world they’d have been put in with an experienced, older female dog who would have whipped them into shape showed them the ropes, but as Charlie knows – we don’t live in a perfect world.

So, Charlie has a few issues. He’s snarky with other dogs and pushy and rude with people. He’s not the least bit house-trained. He’s seen very little of the world and he has a tendency to flight. He’s a poster pup for the abused, neglected dogs you read about in humane society pleas for money.

But the thing is – Charlie doesn’t know this.  He’s not aware that he probably wouldn’t have survived his first winter on this earth if he hadn’t been seized as a “feces-covered” piece of evidence.  He doesn’t have a clue that he’s the least bit different from any other dog. All he knows is that, after spending an annoyingly long, crappy day in a crate he ended up in a clean, roomy place where really interesting things happen.

Charlie isn’t a victim, he’s freakin’ brilliant. He’s a natural retriever and in a stunningly short period of time he learned to sit before I threw his toy.  In twenty-four hours he’s gone from pulling like a freight train while orbiting rapidly around me to walking comfortably on a leash.  In ten minutes he learned to wait until I released him with an “OK” to take bits of food I set on my shoe.

But it hasn’t all been sunshine and roses.  This morning he decided to try to muzzle punch and intimidate me when I went in to feed him.  Note to dog: do not, under any circumstances, try to fuck with a tired, crabby, sleep-deprived, pre-menstrual, caffiene-deficient alpha bitch in a hurry.  I took Charlie’s pushy, crappy, annoying energy – multiplied it by ten and tossed it back at him with nothing more than a vile look and threatening posture.  The little poser jumped back three feet and stared open-mouthed at me in WTF wonder.
Since then, a raised eyebrow makes him salute.
I think Charlie and I are gonna have a great time.

NESR still needs foster homes and funds to transport dogs.

August 28, 2009 at 3:35 am 5 comments

Because Sometimes…

A dog’s just gotta do what he’s gotta do


From British Pathe. Click for video.

Note that this farm collie, filmed in 1946, looks (and works) more like an English Shepherd than a modern show collie.

July 20, 2009 at 9:20 pm 2 comments

Penning the Peeps

It’s hot here.  According to husband who grew up there – it’s “Florida in the summer hot”.  Much too hot to leave the peeps closed up in Fort Peepage.

Since they’re still small enough to be cat bait they need to be penned for their own safety and I’ve been transferring them from coop to pen by hand.  Three of them (Clover and friends) are so tame they just hop on my arm for the ride over, peeping in cheerful anticipation of the bugs and forage to come.  Most of the rest are gentle and easy to catch. I scoop up a couple at at time, tuck them under one arm and carry them over.  The last two are convinced I’m going to kill them – and, if they continue to be as flighty and annoying as they’ve been this week – they may just be right.

I slept late today so it was already hot by the time I got around to moving them out to the pen.  I was tired and crabby, and after a few failed attempts to catch those who will be eaten first, I decided a new plan of attack was required.  And as I stood there, pondering the fate of my fractious fowl, the coop door fell open.  The peeps perked up and moved toward it.

I stepped back and they moved closer to the door.  I decided that if I was going to risk losing any of my pullets – these were the obvious choice. So I stepped out and held the coop door wide open.  The peeps scrambled out the door and made a beeline for the pen.

Because I had, of course (slaps forehead and rolls eyes), set the pen up so that it faced away from the coop door, they ran straight into the wire.  And stayed there, peeping in pointless panic.  Seeing that any efforts to grab the little bastards birds would just result in a wild peep chase and having had some small experience in herding sheep, I decided that Audie and I were going to have to try our luck at penning.

When penning sheep at a trial, the handler’s job is to hold the gate rope until the dog works the sheep into the pen.  Since my experience in penning consists entirely of either watching other people do it or in moving tame, dog-broke sheep with Zip the Kelpie I decided that gracefully flanking Audie around the pen while I stood back and held the gate was completely out of our league out of the question.  However; being an experienced outside the box thinker and having a biddable, well-trained dog, I had an idea.

Audie and I switched roles.  I flanked quietly around the pen while Audie stood at the gate.  I put enough pressure on the peeps to move them around the pen, but not so much that they were tempted to flee away into the yard.  Audie stood by the gate, yielding enough space back and away from it to encourage the pullets to hop in as they circled around.  Lacking opposable thumbs, Audie then stepped in to block the opening until I could close the gate.


Guarding the Gate

It worked like a charm.  With the peeps safely ensconced in their pen Audie and I can relax and enjoy a break in the shade.  Hand feeding the birds while we listen to the creek.


June 26, 2009 at 3:01 pm 3 comments

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