Monday, December 5, 2011

A story about a dog ... or three

This is the dog explanation.
I've wanted a dog approximately forever.
But being the mature person I am and having the stubborn but supportive husband that I do ... we agreed to wait until we were on the farm to get a dog.
A couple of years ago I started researching breed, training, and everything else dog-related.
The search began (prematurely, it's true) even before we moved.
When we were really ready to commit to having a dog we were being turned down - we had young children, we didn't have a fenced in yard, etc. Talk about feeling judged ridiculously (our children are used to being around animals and we're choosing breeds specifically for their patience with children; our immediate yard may not have been fenced in but we are living on a 300 acre farm!) So the alternative - living in a foster situation or a kennel for a dogs life is better?
Then a friend of my sister's recommended the shelter they used. As the dog is transported out of state, where the need is greater, the shelters are more reasonable. We found Cannon who seemed perfect.


He was gentle and loved to chase a ball. He also loved to chase chickens and pigs. His description specifically said he wasn't interested in chickens. We wondered if our chickens were more appealing because there wasn't a strong fence between them and him - so he knew he had a chance at catching them! So we made changes in our lifestyle to accommodate the birding instinct in our newfie/lab cross. We discovered he had a gentle mouth and was generally a laid back dog - unless a bird/cat/ball crossed his path (which lead to quite a few burn marks on my fingers!).
I was nervous about letting him off leash but after consulting with the adoption shelter we were encouraged to try it. Within a week he was dragging his leash with no problems at all. Overall a great animal.
When we'd had Cannon for three weeks we had a chicken processing day. We tied Cannon to the kid's playset and got to work. Cannon was quite excited the first couple times we got birds out to put in the cones but soon calmed. Two birds got loose. We knew Cannon was a birding dog and we knew he had a soft mouth. We decided to send him after a bird to see if he could do what he was bred to do.
He cornered the bird (chickens are a bit bigger than ducks so it was not so easy for him to catch the bird in his mouth).
About half an hour later we were ready for him to catch the other bird.
To our surprise and horror this bird ran for the busy road.
Cannon followed.
He was hit by a truck and died within a minute of being hit.
I have never been so devastated.
Cannon was the closest thing to me ever to die.
I was so incredibly sad for the memories we had (we'd brought him everywhere so most of our friends - even RI/MA friends had met him) and for the memories we'd never have with him (he would have loved to run in the snow).
Ren Man took a couple of hours before realizing that he was also incredibly grieved.
The children, thankfully, weren't at all bothered.
I said I couldn't imagine getting another animal, having another child, making another friend ... this hurt was too much, the risk too great.

A couple of months later I stumbled across a craigslist post describing a Great Pyrenees that was less than a year and trained as a livestock guard dog for goats. We were interested in a LGD for our chickens and also knew we were not oppose to a house dog. We went and met Eden. She was beautiful. We didn't think she could work as an LGD for us given our inexperience (do you just leave the dog up with the flock?). Our plan was to put her in with the birds during the winter when they are more confined so she's bonded by spring.
Now our plan might not include bonding with chickens as she's been in our house for 2 or 3 months. She's nine months old and we've worked through the bathrooming in the house and we're working on chewing on toys. I know she needs better training so we're working on that too.


Around the same time my brother moved out of my parents house and with my dad working 11 hour days and my mom living in Plattsburgh until their house sells ... they felt that it wasn't fair that Molly, their dog, be in their house for hours on end alone. So they asked us to foster. So then Molly came to our house too.


So now we have the generally easy going Eden (who is still a puppy so also has her dashing-around-the-house-like-a-crazy-dog moments) and timid Molly.

I finally have a dog - actually two! In that, I feel quite fortunate - especially after the drama of trying to acquire an animal. Who knew getting a dog could be such a challenge - especially when all you hear is that shelters are full, spay and neuter because overpopulation is a big issue, etc. I'm not saying these aren't issues - just saying the solution seems full of issues too!

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