A Real-Life Drama

Creative Commons license.
Creative Commons license.

A Real-Life Drama
Michael Collier

This dog standing in the middle of the street,
tail stiff, fur bushy with fear, and a pedigree rabbit,
its neck broken and bleeding beneath his paws,
might have been forgiven or simply taken away

and shot under different circumstances
and no one would have said much, except his owner
who’d gone out into the yard at the start
of the commotion, having been involved

at other times with the dog’s truancies, and yelled,
“Bosco, Bosco, goddamnit!” but unavailing,
and everyone understanding that once more Bosco
had been taken over by the dark corner of his nature.

But this other sentiment we shared as well: the man
Who’d raised the rabbit shouldn’t husband something
so rare and beautiful he couldn’t keep it
from the likes of Bosco.

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

How we are still startled and shocked when our dogs actually act like what they are… dogs.
Have you seen an example of this in your dog life lately? Hope you all have charming weekends!

Breed love: English setter

English Setter
English setter at a show. Source: Flickr, user ChocolateLuvr

I’ve always found setters extremely pretty. They’re like the bigger versions of spaniels. The English setter is especially attractive to me because he is rumored to have a more laidback temperament than his more well-known and fiery redheaded cousin, the Irish setter. Unlike the Irish, English setters come in a wide range of exciting coat colors.

English Setters in the park...
A happy English setter. Source: Flickr, user pixeljoy

Like most sporting dogs, English setter puppies have tons of energy. This should not come as a surprise. They were bred, after all, to run in the field all day long. Setter puppies are also known for being happily destructive with their mouths, like retrievers and other gun dogs. English setters tend to be friendlier, more outgoing, and less flighty than their regrettably over-bred Irish cousins. For this reason, if I ever opted for a setter, I think I’d go with an English one. Just look how handsome they are!

We have friends in town who have a Llewellin setter named Finn and he’s a beautiful dog; looks quite similar to a young, speckled English setter. I definitely need to hang out with him more…

English setter links:

Pup links!

The Amazing Shepherd Balancing Act! Source: Lovinmansbestfriend

Hennessy Grape Harvest in Cognac. I love the images of the winery owner with his pack of spaniels and setters. All the images are just beautiful. (The Selby)

Do Dog Shelters Make it Too Difficult to Adopt? Dog walker and trainer Lindsey Stordahl raises an interesting question about the adoption regimens for shelters. I don’t think my local SPCA has a very difficult standard for potential adoptees, but I do feel like many of the breed-specific rescue agencies may go a bit overboard with their requirements. Regardless of what you think, it’s an interesting perspective. (That Mutt)

5 Ways You Can Train Like a “Pro.” Basic but great points to remember while training. I always have to work so hard at not repeating cues over and over again. (Success Just Clicks)

How to React When Your Dog Begins Resource Guarding Against Other Dogs. A very thorough article about how to prevent and train away from resource guarding. This is a behavior that I’ve always imagined would be difficult to train a dog out of; I think I may appreciate re-reading this article in the future. (The Whole Dog Journal)

Toronto Council Bans Pet Shop Sale of Dogs, Cats Unless They’re from the Shelter. This is great progress in putting puppy mills out of business. If only it would spread to the States! (The Hydrant)

Fetch. This place looks like my idea of a really good time: A pack of happy, eager dogs, ready to play. (Paws on the Run)

Breed love: Irish setter

So glossy. So pretty and she knows it. Click for source.

My dad, who grew up with dozens of different dogs, had an Irish setter for a short period of time. The beautiful setter, however, did not last very long in his family. The dog had so much unchanneled energy that no one could keep it in a fence. The setter ran away countless times and finally escaped one day and was never found again. It’s a sad story for a such a beautiful dog, but it is perhaps a sage warning for anyone seriously considering an Irish setter.

Irish setters are famous for their hyperactivity and nervous natures. They are gorgeous and loyal dogs when their energies are properly utilized, but they do require plenty of attention and training.

Gazing into your eyes. Click for source.

Irish setters reached the height of their popularity in the 1950s and 1960s. President Richard Nixon, for instance, had a gregarious Irish setter named King Timahoe. It’s impossible to deny that these dogs are utterly beautiful. However, these sleek redheads come with fiery personalities. For that reason, I don’t think I’d ever get an Irish setter, but I’m very happy to admire them from afar.

Irish setter links:

What I learned this week

Fernando. I'm kind of in love with him.

This was my weekend at the shelter. The weather was very pleasant for walking and the dogs were especially eager to get outside and stay outside.

I fell in love with Fernando, pictured above. Of all the dogs I’ve met at the SPCA so far, he’s the first one that I would unquestionably have taken home if I had been able to. The picture does not do him justice. He’s tall and graceful and absolutely beautiful in person. I don’t even know where I’d start in guessing what he’s mixed with. The shelter description says he’s an Irish wolfhound mix, but I find that highly unlikely. It’s not like there are a ton of Irish wolfhounds running loose around here impregnating strays. I would guess he has some setter in him, from the freckling on his back and legs, but he looks like he has some shepherd, too. What would you guess?

He’s quite young and was dropped off at the shelter a couple of weeks ago with his brother, Alejandro. Alejandro was adopted a few days ago, and I can only imagine that Fernando will be picked up soon himself. I should be happy for him. Instead, I’m just extremely jealous of his future owners.

From my half hour with him, I’ve decided that he might be the perfect dog. All of the other shelter staff also commented on how wonderful he was and how they too wanted to take him home. His temperament is absolutely golden. He’s lively and sweet and so attentive to people. Even though he is still very young, he walks beautifully on the leash and doesn’t tug at all. He’s also very smart and communicative. If I paused for just a second when we were passing through a door, he’d wait and then paw at it and look up at me, as if to say, “Um, you need to open this now, please.” Killed me.

I wish I could adopt him today. If I could, I would seriously leave work right now and go over there and get him. He’s just the kind of dog I want one day. I’m trying not to be bitter about this. See how hard I am trying?

All the best to you, Fernando. I hope you will find a home with people who are worthy of you.

Meeting Fernando gives me a lot of hope of finding an exceptional dog at the shelter. I’d been waffling a lot in the purebred camp lately, but now I’m feeling like I will probably adopt a dog instead. Even though it feels like betrayal, I’m wondering if an Australian shepherd would be a bad choice for us right now. I know first-hand what high maintenance dogs they are. And after all, I’m realizing that breed doesn’t matter. The only thing that counts is temperament. And I want a dog with a temperament just like Fernando’s. Sigh.

Here are some other sweet, adoptable boys I spent time with this weekend:

Phantom.

Phantom, like most of the shelter dogs, is highly reactive. He jumps and barks up a storm as soon as you pass by his kennel. When I walked in to his kennel to take him out on Saturday morning, he excitedly mauled me and left me with very painful red welts down my left arm. Even though it hurt terribly and started to bleed, I had to remind myself not to be angry at him–even though that’s your first human reaction when a dog hurts you. Phantom wasn’t intentionally trying to hurt me; he was trying to show me how THRILLED he was that I’d decided to walk him.

Once we did get outside, he was great and not as bad as I thought he’d be on the leash. I could tell he had a lot of pent-up energy, so I took him to the fenced enclosure with the agility jumps and tunnels. He wasn’t interested in retrieving or jumping, so I walked around with him and had him sit for a treat. He delicately took it out of my hand and then walked over to a far corner of the lot, placed the treat on the ground, and began to bury it. While funny, this action also broke my heart a little bit. Phantom was clearly anxious that he might not get a treat again and so he would bury this one for safekeeping in case he was to return. Heart warmed, when he returned to me, I gave him another treat, which he happily ate right there.

Max.

I think it takes a dog of an exceptionally noble nature to remain calm while living in the stressful shelter environment. Max is one of those noble natures. He looks like an older dog because of his graying muzzle, but his mobility and temperament seem to fit a young adult. He walks very well on the leash–a gift to the tired shelter volunteer whose arm has been repeatedly yanked out of its socket. Max has a spring in his step and wisdom in his eyes. He will make a wonderful dog for someone very soon, I hope.

I will be volunteering again with the SPCA on Friday. There will be an adoption event on the downtown mall and I’m looking forward to seeing some of these deserving dogs find homes.