Forty Years with Birds and Dogs - Care and Respect
Long ago we didn't imagine that we would have to keep dogs on a leash, especially in farm country.
By Cary Neeper for the LADP week Nov. 21, 2014
Skates, our blond border collie, was missing. I must have gone downstairs and called, then whistled. No Skates. I walked down the front stairs, up the driveway to the backyard and called and whistled again. Still no Skates.
What is remarkable, now that I think of it, is that I felt no angst, just a little irritation: “Oh dear. Skates and Sammy are probably off somewhere on campus.”
Those were our graduate school years 1959-1963 in Madison, Wisconsin. Sammy was a small dog who lived somewhere nearby and often came to visit Skates. I had no idea who owned Sammy.
He was friendly to us humans and a playful, unassuming companion for our much larger golden girl. When Skates was outside, he would often show up, and they would peruse the neighborhood doing what dogs do—mostly sniffing every bush to see who or what had been around lately.
Some years earlier on Pa’s Hayward California victory farm, a similar friendship had blossomed between our first pup Boots and Browny, a dark brown German shepherd whose territory included our entire forty acres and old man Madeiros’s acres across the gravel road.
The road ran down the hill of fruit trees, including fig trees with their smooth horizontal branches for hanging by one’s knees.
The dogs hunted gophers and moles, and I think Mr. Madeiros fed Browny occasionally, but no one ever claimed to “own” the dog. Browny belonged to no one. He simply occupied the neighborhood. No one worried about it. Now, in most US communities, such acceptance—an attitude of laissez faire toward “strays” is unthinkable—for good reasons like rabies and pack behavior.
Later, in Madison Wisconsin, I had no thought of not letting a dog run free. Now, allowing such freedom to one’s pet is unthinkable. It’s analogous to the idea of letting your five-year-old walk across the neighborhood to kindergarten.
Los Alamos Daily Post
During the last few weeks in the Los Alamos Daily Post I have explored the Human Factor in our "verbal" relationship with the geese, ducks and chicken of the Hen House. How much can we rely on our love of animals to carry on a meaningful relationship with them?
I've stressed the importance of repeating the same verbal phrases with body language, while doing the routine chores, like "Time for sleeping," with an open palm scooping toward the nest box. It convinces the ducks Puddles and Ms. Khaki that it's too dark to go hunting worms in dense mud with the trowel, and they should head for the sleeping area, which is their nest box (until it gets too cold in winter.)
Today the Post published my blog reviewing the related history of Boots the shepherd and her best pal, Oscar the alley cat. Check the link above, if you haven't already, and take a look at the earlier suggestions. You can get all the stories by searching on "Hen House" in the Los Alamos Daily Post.
Poncho was a "Santa Fe" shepherd who looked me straight in the eyes while sitting quietly in his shelter cage. One wag of the tail and I was hooked. True to that first impression, he was always very sensitive to what us humans were about. Here's the story of one conversation I will never forget. Read it in the Los Alamos Daily Post