Friday, September 3, 2010

Dogs as brother and sister

Gracie trying to get Sarge's attention

Gracie grabbing Sarge by his beautiful tail
It is, at times, a tad trying to have two herding dogs. Especially two different breed dogs. An Australian Shepherd herds by running behind or alongside of the animal, not always nipping but definitely barking. The Sheltie circles. As in running around the perimeter of the herd, barking at times, and not always watching where he is going. One of Sarge's nicknames at the dog park is "satellite", due to his constant running in circles. He doesn't cut corners all that well, and often rolls himself over trying to keep up with the other dogs.

When I first brought Sarge home, we had an adjustment period. This is the 11th month he has been with us, and I am now satisfied that I'm seeing the real personality of this dog. The adjustment period had several stages. Stage one was chewing off Gracie's fur. Not pulling it out by the roots, oh no. Sarge was more subtle than that. He would run along with Gracie, either at the dog park or in the yard, and gently chew portions of fur about an inch to two inches wide. She never felt this. The end result of this was I had a year old Aussie last December, who had blown her puppy coat and been chewed on by her "brother". It appeared that I had got drunk one night and decided to give my baby a hair cut with pinking shears. You could see where the chunks of fur had been chewed.

Gracie wasn't the only dog that Sarge groomed in this manner. There is a beautiful Newfoundland named Coal, with long, black hair that has a reddish cast to it in the sunlight. Coal has a great disposition for a dog that weighs in the neighborhood of 130 pounds. He is a gentle giant. One day last fall this gentle dog was standing at the dog park, and my sheltie came up alongside of him. Within minutes, Sarge trotted away with approximately 6 inches of black hair hanging from his mouth. A lot of black hair.

Sarge doesn't do this as much as he used to. I'd love to say he has stopped completely, but no, there are still days when he'll casually walk by and spit out some other dog's fur. The point of this story is that Gracie found a way to get even. And don't let anyone ever tell you that dogs don't take revenge. She figured out that SARGE HAS A TAIL! A big, beautiful bushy tail. And that she, Gracie, can grab that tail to stop him, or get his attention, or hey! just because she feels like it. Can he retaliate? Why, no. Gracie was born without a tail.

Sometimes there is justice. Have a wonderful weekend.

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