Archive for Thursday, April 16, 2009

Dogs enjoy lending masters a helping paw

April 16, 2009

On a recent evening, I was reminded of two things: what real working dogs are and that if you live in the country expect the unexpected because it will eventually happen.

I have written before of our two pet dogs, Suzie the spayed border collie and Minnie the spayed rat terrier. Like many pet owners, we view the dogs as part of the family. And as part of a farm family, certain chores are expected of all to keep the integrity of the farm intact. This is where the value of a real working dog comes into play, let me illustrate why.

On a recent evening, my wife was “choring” out in the garage. The last chore of the night before turning in was to feed both dogs and bed them down in their respective kennels. They stay in kennels because they are known to piddle and poop behind the car while we’re snoozing, a habit that really upsets my wife. Both the dogs and I tuck tail and hide when she gets in a contrary disposition. At any rate, just as my wife lifted the lid of the dog food barrel, I heard a shriek accompanied by “Matt, there’s mice in the dog food. Three of them. Come here.”

I yell back, “Send in Minnie to do her stuff.” I got up from my novel and went to the garage to oversee the massacre. My wife lifted Minnie into the barrel half full of food and the mice. Within seconds, there were three dead mice.

Now that’s a fine working dog. Minnie was rewarded with a few extra kibbles of food than she would usually get for supper, and we deposited the dead intruders in the trash. Minnie is better than any cat I’ve seen at dispatching mice so quickly.

Because of the cold mornings of March going to fetch the paper at the entry of the drive has be delegated to Suzie. She might just put some Labrador retrievers to shame with her fetching skills. “Get the paper” is all you need to say and off she goes. Some mornings, she needs a little coaxing, but she saves us a lot of effort. Suzie will even fetch the large Sunday newspaper and will harass sheep and cattle, too, in her spare time.

Besides retrieving the paper, she entertains us in the evening after work by chasing the Frisbee, which is a great way to exercise a pet.

A third chore I like to get both dogs to do is chasing off unwanted intruding dogs, sometimes those of neighbors, who in the case of some male dogs tend to mark all the flowers and plants with the end result of killing the plant. All I need to say is “get ‘em” and the chase is on. Both dogs nip at the intruder’s heals and legs and growl a lot. But rarely is there any damaged flesh. They know to chase the intruders just to the boundary line. It’s amazing how they know these outlaws don’t belong and take care of business in a jiffy.

Besides being the residence’s official greeters, Suzie and Minnie bring us constant love and affection as they were created by God to do. Through these extra acts of duty, they bring us a lot of joy and pleasure and earn their keep many times over. There are many tasks and chores dogs can do for us, further exemplifying the great bond we have with “man’s best friend,” the dog. Put your dog to work around the house or farm today. You may be missing out on a potential valuable asset. It may be just fetching the newspaper or guarding the house while you’re gone or just being company. They so much want our attention and affection

Unconditional love is the priceless return.

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