Tuesday, August 30, 2011

They come and they go

Yes, we've used this picture before. Deal with it.

We've thought ever since we moved here that we ought to have a dog. Dogs can fight off the hawks and owls and foxes and things that come to assault the chickens. Dogs can herd animals. Dogs can play. Dogs are neat. The other day a neighbor texted me to ask if we still wanted a dog. It turns out the latest in his long series of Blue Heelers had proven himself a miserable cattle dog, and needed a home where cattle management would no longer be part of his duties. Thus we adopted Blue (ok, so the name isn't all that creative -- we didn't have much time to prepare for this dog).

When he arrived, Blue was exhausted after about 20 miles of running around after cows, and for the first couple days he mostly sat around listlessly. He wouldn't eat, he didn't do much... but eventually he got his strength back and warmed up to us. Since then he's been a very nice dog. Energetic, playful, quiet. And the other day he found for us the stray cat that promised to terrorize the chickens when winter set in. Blue isn't much of a fan of cats. Including the ones whose territory he moved into -- our Eeny, Meeny, Miney, and Moe.

We rid ourselves of the stray cat (Blue isn't much for shotguns either, as it turns out), and were grateful for Blue's services. But the next day, Blue got into the chicken coop. He'd done it before, several times, and thoroughly frightened the poultry, but after strengthening the door and adding stakes to the chicken wire, we thought we were safe. This time, Blue used his formidable strength simply to break through the door, and caught and killed one chicken and one guinea. So we had to keep him tied up until we figured out what to do.

This morning, Blue helped us make that decision. We've been keeping him tied whenever we weren't around to watch him, and training him to ignore the chickens and cats, but to little avail. During one off-leash session, he managed to push his way into the chicken coop again. No dead chickens this time, but he had to be dragged out by the collar after ignoring all our commands. So Blue has to go. He's always been great with the kids -- like most heelers, he nips at people occasionally, but hasn't ever actually bitten or hurt anyone. He's an energetic dog, and a strong one, which some of our more timid children have found intimidating, but once they've learned to assert themselves he's been gentle and relatively obedient. He's probably fairly cowardly -- early one morning when we were tracking down a noisy coyote in the brush, he would follow me willingly, but always hid behind my legs. He understands some basic commands, and barks only when strangers appear (and even then, very little). But, although he never caused a problem his original owner's cats or chickens, he's been a terror to ours, and needs a home where that won't be a problem. Although I will if I need to, I don't particularly want to put him down; after the cat and two chickens, I'm already tired of burying animals. So anyone want a dog?

1 comment:

  1. Update : we found someone to take Blue. I hope he's happy there.