swimming and the stockdogs

We have a series of 5 camps in 5 weeks, so our attention must be constantly on “what needs done now versus what can wait.”

I’ve chosen this time of year to make sure all the dogs get their wellness checks, get their teeth cleaned, and that the old dogs’ pain meds for arthritis are adequate.

Bud’s focus is on camps, facility maintenance, and Kory the wonder puppy. My focus is on camp meals, continuing business, facility maintenance, cleaning, and the remaining 9 dogs.

The hardest elements for me:  to keep focused, to keep proper perspective, and to hold the line between what parts of our place are public and what parts are private. All while maintaining my resolutions to be less judgemental, to think before I speak, and to get more fit.

Yesterday I awoke at 6am, prepped for swimming, fed 9 dogs, then took the two old Sheltie boys to the vet’s office by 7:30 for their teeth cleaning appointment. I left the vet’s office for the YMCA, arriving about 10 minutes before I usually do, and started swimming.

Instead of worrying about “can I swim for an additional 10 minutes? that would be an hour and 25 minutes!” I just calmed myself and swam, and swam, and swam. It was lovely. Then an hour of water aerobics with my Mom. Then dash home to prep for dinner.

Last night was make-your-own-taco night, so I prepared 3 meats and got them into oven-proof dishes before going to the training building to watch some agility. Kory is having some problems being over-stimulated while other dogs are running with Bud, so I worked with him a little and then brought him into the house.

At 3:15pm I headed back into Marietta to pick the boys up and to make appointments for the remaining 4 dogs for Monday. Bogie was a little groggy but could walk, while Birdie (who must have been the second in line for cleaning) was barely awake and had to be carried.

We got home by 4:30 and I started prepping the cold elements to dinner, started the oven to warm the meats, and made rice. Dinner was set by 5:50pm and campers were hungry.

I spent 30 minutes while other campers were eating, talking with Mary Ellen from Texas about the issues she’s having with her stock-dog BC. No dog is perfect and sometimes a stock-dog needs to be a stock-dog.

Dear breeders — You breed a litter of border collies and have a bossy, pushy bitch puppy who dominates the entire litter and is a bully. That does NOT make her a prime candidate for agility training, where dogs spend 90% of their training time either standing in line, walking around to potty, or confined to a crate. It actually takes more than muscle and bone to make an agility dog. They have to be able to self-calm, to accept a good bit of space invasion, and to spend endless hours bored to sleep. Please stop breeding high-drive stockdogs and selling them to dog trainers who don’t spend 12 hours a day moving stock.

In my experience with my dear Red-dog I realized too late that a dog was incapable of functioning in the presence of other dogs, that she’d never be able to focus her formidable physical skills on the sports I enjoy, and that she’d not be anyone’s companion (other than mine). Red is now my chambermaid’s companion, is my guardian, is my lifelong adoring observer. She’ll probably never be a performance dog, and that’s fine with me because I’m able to accommodate a number of dogs here.

Others aren’t so fortunate. They have room for only 1 or 2 dogs in their house. If they choose the wrong puppy, if they’re convinced to take the wrong dog, they have 2 options — give up on dog agility or get rid of the dog. Society tells us that re-homing the dog means we’re giving up on them.

I learned years ago that my home is not the best home for all dogs. Some dogs need more one-on-one time, some need more attention in general, some need more work, some need more structure.

When your home isn’t right for a dog, find a home that IS right. And don’t wait until you’ve had the dog 4 years and you feel like a failure — like you’re getting rid of a problem. Do what’s best for the dog and what is best for you.

By the way, finding a home that is right for the dog is a hard task. I’m not talking about dumping the dog at the local shelter, or passing the job onto a rescue group already burdened with hundreds of unwanted dogs. I’m talking about searches, interviews, home visits, and the real work of finding the proper home for a special dog.

The sort of work breeders should be doing, in my opinion.

Oh! Yesterday, during water aerobics, a lady swam over to me and said, “you’re into dogs, right?” I always hesitate to answer yes, because 99% of the questions that follow have to do with breeding dogs or getting rid of puppies. This question was no different, “how long does it take for puppies to be born?” I felt my blood pressure rising and said, “I’m a spay/neuter advocate and have never bred a litter of pups, so I don’t know.”

She went on to describe her son’s female dog who, when she came in heat, was allowed to stay out in the yard as before. One day a beagle arrived to service her and the son said, “well, he’s too small to breed her.” However, next morning, the bitch had been bred (how can anyone be that dumb?). Now, having done little or no health care for the female, they’re curious as to when the puppies will arrive.

“He should get her spayed when possible, if he’s not going to pay attention and be more careful with her,” I said, with a bit of an edge to my voice, “and he’s going to get an opportunity to find out how difficult it is to find homes for 10-12 puppies.” Another nearby swimmer said, “they’ll probably end up with you, Marsha, out at the shelter.”

The lady who asked the question, finding us an uncomfortable spot on which to land, returned to her place in the pool. No problem. No great loss. Last month this same lady said, “Oh, I brought a bunch of letters in for you folks to help me stuff and address — they’re letters demanding that our legislators become pro-life!” “Sorry,” I responded, “I believe in a woman’s choice and I believe that legislators should support that right to choose.”

So we already weren’t friends. <g>

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One Response to “swimming and the stockdogs”

  1. sligo Says:

    “Oh, I brought a bunch of letters in for you folks to help me stuff and address — they’re letters demanding that our legislators become pro-life!”

    wow…what a huge assumption on her part!! I’m trying to imagine being that presumptutious about anything.

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