Dogs


NightTie

In contrast to the ease in which Quincy Dog has integrated into our household and farm, I submit to you, dear reader, this P.I.T.A. canine. She is coming up on her two-year-old birthday and is still quite juvenile. One day last fall, I was out doing chores, she had escaped again, and I heard a ruckus near the chickens. She’d caught one that had flown outside their pen. I started chasing her with the ATV and she bolted, chicken in mouth. I finally caught up with her in the tree farm next door. She was laying low, and looked like she was burying the victim. She bolted again and ran for home. I looked and looked for the chicken, but couldn’t find it. I retraced our steps, white feathers marking the trail. It wasn’t dropped anywhere. I drove back to the tree farm and walked the row where I saw her lying down. Only to find the chicken, stuffed head-first down an excavated tree hole. The chicken was relatively unharmed and wound up surviving the ordeal. But I had lost my patience. On a day that this crazy dog let me touch her, I nabbed her, and tied her up to a stake in the ground, like a dog in the seventies.  She was quite sad-faced about this new curtailment.Open-mouthed smile 

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imageI’ve been stressing for a couple of years about a succession plan for our two remaining border collies, Maggie and Gene. They just turned thirteen and fourteen. Though they can still help with farm chores, their endurance is short, they aren’t fast enough to catch renegade sheep anymore, and they pay for it later- sore joints for a day or so. They love it and will want to do it til the day they die. But obviously that’s not practical. Yet, facing getting a replacement dog is also facing that they are getting old and we’ll someday lose them. That’s hard too.

I’d mentally waffled between replacement options. Getting a  young pup has the advantage that they usually bond best and make the best pets and companions. You can train them exactly how you want. Plus, you get the longest useful life out of them. But housebreaking a pup when working full time has its challenges. I didn’t think I’d have the time to put into that, plus also training the pup on sheep. Some border collies aren’t ready to even start working sheep until they are yearlings. I thought about whether I could send it out for training, but sending a housepet to a kennel situation for a month is a little cringe-worthy. Bottom line, a pup would be a big investment.

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HappyDogLast spring, I had first noticed that Moses had a mass on his elbow. Fearing another case of osteosarcoma, I took him to the vet right away to diagnose it. My vet said that bone cancer rarely shows up in the elbow, it’s almost always lower on the limb. And sure enough, x-ray and biopsy confirmed it was just a fatty tumor, like a lot of dogs get. Those are benign as far as risk of metastasis goes. But, this was an “infiltrative” lipoma, meaning it was entangling around the joint.

The picture to the left is from last May when we shaved him, it was pretty large at that point. You can see how it was pushing his whole elbow joint out away from his body. It continued to grow over the summer. It altered his gait some, but didn’t seem to be bothering him much. Until all of a sudden, when it did. I think it must have grown such that it started pressing on a nerve, causing significant pain. Within a matter of a couple of weeks, he went from mildly lame to basically refusing to walk. I hustled to make plans for surgery and got him into the barn since he could not walk well enough to shelter and drink in the pasture.

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MosesWithCoat

Having grown up in the dog show world, I’ve always objected to coated breeds being shaved down. It’s kind of a pet peeve of mine. Why buy a coated breed if you are not going to care for the coat, and are just going to brutally buzz-cut it into a miserable-looking hack job? IMO, shaved dogs look terrible, no matter how skilled the groomer. Not to mention, there is a lot of theorizing about whether shaving coated dogs is bad for them. That it’s stressful for them to go from coated to nearly bald and feeling vulnerable. That they are vulnerable to sunburn, and overheating, since coat can actually insulate them from the sun. That the blunted hair coat ends will grow back matted and harder to groom.

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GeneIn December, our thirteen year old border collie, Gene, was diagnosed with cancer. I had noticed an egg-sized lump on the back of her left thigh a while earlier, and decided to ask the vet to look at it. It was almost like a typical fatty lump seen in older dogs, and she already has some fatty lumps. But this one did feel a bit more “rooted” and it had grown faster than I’m used to seeing in benign fatty tumors. A biopsy identified it as a mast cell tumor, which is common in dogs. So, it was removed after Christmas.

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BronteAndHershey

This pup was an emergency procurement. We’d only had sheep for a matter of months, and had started with a llama to protect them. Plan B was going to be to get a dog if the llama didn’t prove effective. Plan B was invoked quicker than anticipated, as we had coyote kills, right as the llama stood in the pasture with the sheep. We needed better protection, stat!

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I have been sorely remiss in blogging; but my excuse is, I’m just busy! Somehow, blogging is falling down, and off, the priority list; but I’ll try to do better!

Still the biggest focus of my farming efforts is growing this silly pup into a good guardian dog. Bronte, sadly, passed already (I’ll save that topic for another post), so this “li’l” pup is needing to grow up fast and fill big shoes. But, growing she is; as you can see, she’s nearly as big as Moses already, and he’s a 100 lb dog. She is now eight months old. I’ve officially named her Brinsa. Though, often I find myself calling her “Woojee Toodle,” and my husband refers to her as “Dum Dum”; so I imagine one of those two dumb names will stick.

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