Dogs are truly amazing. My favorites have always been collies, although it must be admitted that they’re no good when it comes to chasing deer away. I was incredibly frustrated several years back, because I had not one, but two border collies, and I couldn’t keep the deer out of my vegetables. Then I read this terrific book, called Why Does My Dog Act That Way? and it really cleared a lot of things up. I had the wrong dog for chasing deer. Collies were bred to be nomadic herders. They protect their person, their pack, and if socialized at the right age, their herd animal.
Our only herd animal is a horse. And collies are smart enough to look at a deer and think, “Nope. Not a danger to the people, pack, or horse.” They don’t care at all about the patch of ground. That’s not what they defend. Coyotes are another story. Coyotes are viewed as threat that must be driven off.
So we got a German Shepherd. What a difference! She was bred to defend not only her people and pack, but her territory as well. Deer were not allowed. She’s not too happy even when the horse gets close to the house. She thinks he should stay near the paddock.
Unfortunately for her, the horse is big enough not to care what she thinks.
But whatever size dog you have, most of them were bred to be good companions. I’ve never had small dogs, but I got to know a friend’s schnauzer and rat terrier rather well. And you know, all the same dedication and loyalty were there. Travel-sized, for your convenience.
I live in the Sierra Nevada foothills, and it’s truly lovely here, so I take my dogs for a lot of walks. It’s good for them and good for me, because typing my novel is hardly going to make anybody’s list of aerobic exercises.
I was taking them for a walk along the river, and I was really struck the scenery. The trail cuts through a forest that’s mostly mixed oak and pine–differing shades of green and quite a nice display of color in the fall. We’ve got hawks, quail, bunnies, foxes, butterflies, and several kinds of songbirds which I can’t identify, but enjoy watching nonetheless. The river made a pleasant chattering noise over the granite rocks, the weather was fine, and we had the trail to ourselves so I could take the dogs off their leashes.
But my adorable, loyal companions couldn’t have cared less about the scenery. As far as they were concerned, it was nothing but an olfactory bulletin board of Those Who Have Crapped Before. No leaving lacked interest; all were considered carefully, although I’m not entirely certain what information there was to be gained. Okay, a horse was here. The horse is no longer here. I have no idea why I needed to call them twice to get them to leave such a riveting spot.
Although I’m sure some of my actions must puzzle them just as much.
Do you have any dog anecdotes you’d like to share? I’d love to read them. 🙂