Dog Whisperer

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Scout 1

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Somehow, Scout has a marshmellow on his ear.

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The markings, the color, it should have been obvious…Scout is a Norwegian Elkhound.

The DNA results are in. Scout is MOSTLY a Norwegian Elkhound . His DNA also shows Scout is part Staffordshire Bull Terrior.

I was so sure Scout was mostly  German Shepherd. Nope. There is not a trace of German Shepherd in our boy. Despite Scout’s size and mean bark, Scout has to be the worst guard dog ever. We have to pull Scout off of guests the same way the officers on “Cops” pull their dogs off of felons. But, it is to protect people from muddy paws and kisses, not bites.

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Handsome Buster loves DH and going after cats, deer, racoons and rabbits.

“Buster doesn’t chase,” says DH, “he’s part Australian Shepherd. He herds.”

DH talks about the time he saw Buster “herd” 23 deer. According to DH, Buster  flat-out ran after them yipping his deer yip and drove them into our woods.

“I wish I had a camera,” DH says. “Buster was so proud.”

Unfortunately, Buster could someday pay a price for his happiest moments.

Neither Buster, or our other dog, Abby always come when called. Deer, rabbits and squirrels are too enticing. Interesting trails are also irresistable.

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Temptation…notice the deer tracks on the trail in our woods.

Sometimes it’s a long time before the dogs come back.  We worry. There are nearby roads and neighbors protecting livestock.  In the fall there is hunting season and hunters.

Oh, and the smell. Our dogs roll in deer poop. They eat horse poop. Smelly marsh muck clings to feet, legs and bellies. Which makes their indiscretion all the better. The dogs practically smile as they pant.

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Buster and Abby run through the willows.

Buster is not only a hunter, he is also a natural herder. Part lab, with a little border collie and a lot of Australian shepherd, Buster often does the snaking neck and goes into a herding crouch. His  “stare down” is intimidating. As jealous as the most suspicious wife Buster guards DH. His “look” effectively keeps rivals out of the same room.

“Buster…noooooo,” I say, gathering up a cowering Abby or cat wanting to be with us.  Buster retreats still sneaking in his glares.

“Mom, why does Buster act so nervous around you?” my daughter asked on her last visit.

“Because, I’m training him. He’s learning to walk on a leash,” I told her. Which didn’t adequately describe the experience of a gagging, gasping and squealing Buster trying to escape.

“Awwwwww, poor Buster, you’re choking him,” said DH.

“Don’t say awwwwww in front of him. We need to act like this is no big deal. Maybe if he can’t see you…”

Miraculously, that worked.

 Soon after DH went into the house Buster  was walking at my side in a way that if it wouldn’t make Cesar proud, was at least respectable. 

Our other dog, Abby, took to the leash as if  she had gone through obedience school as a pup. Even when visiting the vet, she prances and her tail wags. 

Sadly, more often than not, snap on a leash and Buster’s head goes down, along with his ears and tail. His eyes are mournful and sad. He looks at DH pleadingly.

“What have I done to deserve this abuse?”

I have had to compromise on leashes.

The dogs are tethered by our voices during the day on walks. After dusk, when the deer and rabbits are out, DH says we will use leashes. He also agreed to leashes during hunting season.

Admittedly, my insistance that we  use leashes in the veterinary office makes them more horrendous for Buster. He hates the vet. Before leash training, Buster once got away from DH and crawled under our jeep in the veterinary parking lot.

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DH, Abby, Buster, our woods and our trails.

Today, on our walk, temptation again won out over training. We hadn’t gone far before the dogs smelled something and took off.

Fortunately, Abby wasn’t gone long. And DH had an idea.

Instead of calling and calling for Buster, and then going into the woods trying to find him,  DH turned the other way and headed toward the house.

As he walked, he praised Abby, “Good girl, Abby. Good dog, Abby.” he said loudly, ” What a good Abby…I like Abby best.”

Guess who came running?

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“Beautiful Buster”

Other posts including Buster are:

http://jolynna.wordpress.com/2007/07/09/the-cat-ladder/

http://jolynna.wordpress.com/2007/06/10/the-cat-box/

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Work in progress …

DH has been working on a solution to our “cat box” problem. He’s been at it most of the day.

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It’s almost finished.

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Biggs braves the heat to lend support from the sidelines.

The “cat box” is gone.

Biggs goes to the door and asks to be let out. And sits in front of the door and waits for someone to come along to let her in.

But, if Biggs used the dog door, she could go in and out without our help. DH thinks that’s what Biggs should be doing. Only using the dog door means going into our fenced-in backyard. Which is dog territory.

Our other cats DO use the dog door. Then they race up the fence posts to escape from Buster chasing at their heels. Most of the time. Sometimes, when Simba, the orange tom, isn’t in the mood to be chased Simba just lies down. Buster  gives him a disappointed sniff. And that’s the end of it.

DH is right. Buster IS just playing. And, DH HAS been trying to train Buster.

Only DH’s “Buster…no”, in my opinion, is said in too nice of a voice. I think our pack needs meaner  more assertive leadership. Because Buster only stops sometimes. Other times, he pretends not to hear.

To make up for DH’s over-niceness, my no is extra stern and usually followed by a psstt hiss, dog whisperer style. I point my finger, like Cesar, for emphasis. Only, as I am in cat protection mode, I end up doing assertive without the calm part. Which  sends Buster slinking up against DH’s legs like he’s been whipped.

The looks Buster gives me are reproachful and accusing.

Biggs stays as far from the situation and dog door as she can.

Today DH worked on resolving things and built a “cat ladder” for the cats. Now they won’t have to climb the fence and can instead zip up the ladder before Buster has a chance to get outside. Using a ladder won’t be new. Our cats are up and down the ladder to the hayloft all the time.

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Kitty inspects the “cat ladder”.

UPDATE: The cats were suspicious of the “cat ladder” at first. Only kitty would sit on it long enough to have his picture taken. BUT, today, only one day afterwards, every cat has successfully gone up and over, come in, been fed and gone back out to the barn. Without being chased.

DH’s “cat ladder” is a success.

dsc00196.jpg Biggs contendedly gives herself a bath after using the dog door  to go outside.

Bigg’s story and everything you ever wanted to know about the “cat box war” between my husband and I is here: http://www.turkeycreeklane.com/?p=48