2-minute dog trainer, Goodbye to a good old dog

In 2000, Aussie Rescue and Placement Helpline (ARPH) assisted in raiding a Spencer, Ohio, puppy mill where dozens of aussies, shelties, and beagles were being bred irresponsibly.

The dogs had been existing in stacked crates with the steel trays removed to make clean-up easier for the owner. This meant that the dogs in the bottom crates were constantly getting peed and pooped on.

Over 140 dogs were brought out, including many undersized dilute merle aussies due to the puppy-miller’s breeding of merle-to-merle, small-to-small, etc.

ARPH needed foster homes for these poor creatures. Bud and I agreed to provide a foster home for as long as needed, for one of the released dogs.

We met the ARPH representatives near Wadsworth, Ohio, at a lovely farm where temporary pens had been erected to provide homes for dogs being picked up by their foster families.

A dozen or so people showed up to transport dogs to foster homes around Ohio.  Bud and I were the only individuals actually taking a dog into our home, so we got first pick of the available pups.

We walked past pen after pen of dilute merles huddling at the backs of their pens. It was impossible to tell if dogs were deaf or blind as most of them refused to approach people, or even look in our eyes.

However, at the front of one pen, a black tri aussie trotted back and forth, engaging us and begging for attention.

We got him out of his pen and Bud started walking him around the barns to see what his temperament might be. This dog had been in a bottom cage, so — even after 2 baths — reeked of urine and feces.

We had decided to call him “Ringer,” and provided ARPH with all our contact information in case they found Ringer a home.

Back at Dogwood, Ringer immediately made friends with the pack of aussies and shelties, and then began resource guarding the water bowl.

Water bowls became a challenge for this dog who never had unlimited access to fresh water. We made sure everyone had plenty to drink, but the water bowls were spread out so that Ringer didn’t feel he had to hoard all of them.

He had never lived in a house, had never run through grass, or down a hill, so all these had to be learned.

We soon decided to adopt this funny boy, and registered him as Dogwood’s Independent Blue, keeping “Ringer” as his call name.  His nickname, unfortunately, was “Mr. Inappropriate,” as he never really learned how interactions with dogs and people should proceed.

We ILP’d him with AKC and registered him with ASCA, and started training him to do agility.

He was a willing learner of agility, but never managed to be in agility trials due to his overwhelming carsickness and his unwillingness to come when called.  We didn’t think we could keep him safe at outdoor trials, and indoor trials required lots of car travel.

Fortunately for Ringer, he had moved into a dog training center on 10 acres, with an active agility league. He got plenty of play, training, and competition, without ever leaving his back yard.

He discovered the joys of windfall pears and became our fruit-eating dog. If you were eating or cutting up fruit, Ringer would insist on sharing.

We guestimated Ringer as a 1997 pup, though he could possibly have been considerably older or younger.

For the next 10 years Ringer continued to be “Mr. Inappropriate,” continued to stare longingly through the dog yard fence, and continued to love his freedom.  Ringer, unlike most dogs, LOVED getting hugged (the tighter the hug, the better he liked it).  He routinely would finish his meal and come to Bud or me to give us a little thank-you “kiss” on the hand.

His favorite activity was to participate in “family walks” in the 2-acre fenced area near our agility building. He’d strike out alone, walking the fenceline as long as we’d let him stay out there. While the other dogs hung with us or chased each other, Ringer did his solitary march around the property.

This morning we said goodbye to Ringer. He was approaching age 14, probably, and was suffering from arthritis, hip displacia, rotten teeth, and probably a mini stroke or two.

In recent weeks he began having episodes where he would cry in pain. While in pain his bladder and bowels would void. After the initial pain he would carefully lie down and moan for several minutes.

Ringer’s struggle came to an end this morning. He’s buried outside the dog yard, where he always dreamed of being.

When spring arrives we’ll plant a pear tree near his grave. Ringer would have liked that, I think.

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4 Responses to “2-minute dog trainer, Goodbye to a good old dog”

  1. katie Says:

    I’m so sorry to hear about Ringer. He certainly overcame a lot and went on to have a great life with you and Bud.

  2. Marsha Nix Says:

    Marsha & Bud – I’m so sorry for your loss. Your words were a wonderful tribute to Ringer. You gave him a wonderful life – giving him a home where he could be a “real dog”. I’m sure he is romping and playing at the Rainbow Bridge.

  3. Laurie Says:

    I’m so sorry to hear about Ringer, but so glad he had such a good life with you and Bud. Sounds like he was about the same age as Wilbur who decided to finally develop arthritis in his left hip and shoulder a month ago. We’ve started him on Adequan, and he’s back to being a semi-wild man again. At this age, every day, sometimes every hour, is a gift.

  4. Key Challenges in Course Design « Bud Houston’s Blog Says:

    […] down last week. And I just didn’t feel like writing. Marsha wrote about him a bit in her web log: https://2mindogtrainer.wordpress.com/2011/04/19/2-minute-dog-trainer-goodbye-to-a-good-old-dog/. I reckon I’d like to say something about him. He was fond of fruit. He was always inappropriate. […]

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