Friday, September 23, 2011

Bad dog… Bad Dog!

It’s been a couple of months now since my old dog Stan died of heart failure, kind of strange since I wasn’t real sure he had a heart.
He was given to me 14 years ago by a friend who had a pure breed Kelpie bitch, his father, it was claimed was another pure Kelpie, it turned out that his father was in fact able to jump a 5 foot iron fence and that is all that is known of him.
Stan was your average nondescript medium black dog with tan bits here and there, his claims to fame would be that he could bite a tennis ball in half at will (he really could) and that he shed like a Buffalo. The winter coat would melt off him 2 inches thick and if you rubbed him vigorously it would fill the air like a hairy black cloud.
Even as a puppy he could chew a misplaced shoe in half before you realized it was missing and his favorite game was ‘Pull the washing off the line…and kill it.’ He cost me thousands of dollars in wrecked clothing before I gave up and fenced off the clothes line.
I should say right here that he was foremost a guard dog, though his idea of guarding was something that seemed to vary somewhat. I watched one day as a neighborhood cat jumped the fence and headed to his food bowl just a couple of feet from where he was laying in the sunshine. At first I thought the cat may have made a big mistake… but he didn’t even look up as the cat helped itself to his dinner then wandered across the yard to jump the fence into the next yard. Speechless!
I saw him another day with Sparrows perched on his sleeping carcass as they to helped themselves to his dry biscuits, hopping about and breaking up their spoils with not a care in the world. It occurred to me then that he got way less of his food than the rest of the hangers on.
People however got the wrath of his aggression and it’s been many years since I’ve trusted him to be around kids,* his ferocious bark and hackles up stance left no one in any doubt that they should stay well clear of him. A brave friend assured me it was all bluff and he proceeded to prove it by walking straight up to him with an outstretched hand to pat him… he was bitten on the hand and face.
With me though he was always the playful puppy he once was and despite his zillion drawbacks I still got along with him very well, he only bit me a few times… accidentally (so he claimed) while playing, but even that was enough to draw blood and hurt like hell.

His worst problem was his mastery of the yard, here was I thinking it was my yard…but I was wrong. Everything that came into his yard had to be pee’d on immediately, and frequently, and if he wanted (and he did want) to crap right in the middle of the path.. who was going to stop him?
He turned the once beautiful garden beds into wallowing pits and chewed trees off to the base, in fact it became a real battle between us to see who could win. Over a few years I planted well over 100 trees and shrubs, I currently have just 36 survivors. (nearly half of which are in the front yard where he couldn’t get at them) His ingenuity knew no bounds, he chewed, he dug and when I caged the trees he pee’d through the mesh until they shriveled and died.
Imagine my yard then, with high mesh fencing around the trees and vegetable garden, around the washing line and compost bins**. With urine stains all along the sheds, the fence and on my park bench, large holes dug here and there, strategically placed to catch you unawares and turn an ankle.
It’s been a couple of months now and the plants have never been more lush and green, the bottom 2 feet of every tree is now growing again and I’m on the lookout for another guard dog…a small guard dog…one I can master.

* Only this week my grand kids have explored my yard for the first time ever..
**He didn’t care much for his dog food but when it came to compost he would eat his fill then come to you for a cuddle…just him and his breath of death.

I am reminded of the first rule of dog training.
Rule one: You must be smarter than the dog.



Pearl said...

I know people who have a miniature Pinscher. Damn thing thinks she's much, MUCH bigger than she actually is, and warns of all approachers. Perhaps something that size?

Otherwise, no real help over here, I'm afraid, although my next cats will be a pair of Abyssinians, which also warn -- loudly and repeatedly -- of people coming up to the door, up the steps, or in the house.


The Jules said...

I've heard geese make good guard critters, and they have brains little bigger than a grape, so that might be an idea.

Also, goose eggs are a hell of a lot tastier than dog eggs.

magsx2 said...

Hi Tempo,
Some breeds will never change. We have a cattle dog, and know very well all about the shedding in handfuls, and the fencing of plants, never had to worry about the clothes (a small blessing). :)

Argentum Vulgaris said...

Tempo, for all that, they are our best friends. A great post. Sorry, been AWOL getting my new blog location sorted. Slowly getting round to all the blogs I used to read.


Windsmoke. said...

Sounds like a loveable pooch who got bored very quickly hence the destruction and demolition of your back yard :-).

Tempo said...

@Pearl, I have a friend whose mother breads Mini Pincers (400km away) so one of those may well suit me, but with two Fox Terriers a cat would not suit at all. My Foxies bother all the neighborhood cats already but one thing for sure is that I'm well over having a big dog.
@Jules,Having been bitten by Geese I can vouch for their tenacity and there's an off chance that I might be smarter though possibly not enough to actually train them.
Hi Mags, Obviously his breeding was the problem but nothing I did ever changed him. I walked and ran him, gave him chew toys and refrained from throttling him daily but nothing helped.. (sigh)
Hi AV and welcome back, there will be a lot of bloggers happy to see your return...and yes! he was still well loved and wanted.

Tempo said...

@Windsmoke, This dog went bad real other two have done all their obedience training and are about as good as a dog can get but Stan was so badly behaved they asked me not to bring him back to obedience. Yep, he was bored but when he growls at people in the street it was not possible to walk him in public places, I had to take him to deserted beaches to run. Thats where he's buried, a local deserted beach where he loved to go.

starzyia said...

I'm sorry, as much difficulties as this dog has caused, you had him for so long and he was such a part of your life. And I can already detect the sort of pride you have in his strange and bewitching personality.
I have an 18 year old cat, he is on his last legs, and is a lot of work at the moment, and in one way, the end will be a relief, but, I can't help loving him.
I can even laugh now at some of the most embarrassing moments he has given me. One day, my neighbour and I returned from an outing, we pulled into her driveway, to find my cat spraying on her child's car booster seat, which she had left sitting under the carport. Shame! Smothering Redness, the world turned red for a moment, but I realised even my eyeballs were blushing. But now I am giggling. Bloody pets!

Tempo said...

Hi Starzyia, of course he has been a great big pain in the ass but I would never have got rid of him any sooner than I would a member of my family. For the past three years he's been on heart pills to keep him going and keeping the weight on him to get him through winter each year has become harder and harder, I knew there was not much hope of him surviving this last winter but we love our pets and care for them as well as ourselves. I can see you love your must do to have kept him alive for so very long. You must be a very caring owner.

Argentum Vulgaris said...

Tempo, don't know if I passed on the url for my blog:
The other blogs can be accessed from there. I haven't so many now.


Tempo said...

Hi AV, I got it mate and have already subscribed. I guess many others will follow you from here. I could never work out how you managed to keep so many blogs..