Friday, November 26, 2010

Really giving thanks

The Farmer and I went to my mom's for Thanksgiving yesterday. A good time was had by all. Burp.

We didn't take the Belgians along because Mom was dog-sitting for the weekend for a border collie who belongs to one of the brothers who rents their farm. She said the dog was very shy and we agreed that throwing two strange new people (me and the Farmer) plus Phoenix and Jamie into the mix for the day would probably put it right over the edge.

The dog was pretty much dysfunctional as it was. I felt so sorry for him. Apparently he had zero socialization as a puppy and as a result, had zero coping skills when taken out of his home environment, although I got the impression he wasn't much of a firecracker there, either. "Scottie" spent most of the day laying on his dog bed, about as far away from all of us as he could get.

He wouldn't come to anyone unless coaxed with a treat. If you dropped the treat, he ignored it and fled. He wouldn't follow anyone around the house. He wouldn't go to investigate new smells or sounds. He wouldn't make eye contact. He wouldn't wag his tail.

Wow. I forgot dogs like that existed. Everywhere I go in my happy little universe of performance dogs, I am surrounded by dogs who want to go see people, interact with people, get petted, get cookies, play with toys and just make a general nuisance of themselves. They sleep on our beds. They accompany us to the bathroom. They "help" us with every detail of our daily lives.

Not this one. He had essentially no use for humans. Part of it was fear. Part of it was he didn't think that humans were worth much.

Apparently he is tied up all day at home on the back porch (little to no human interaction). He can go outside through a doggie door to do his business (no need for the human to take him outside). He is free-fed (food always available, ho-hum, don't need a human for that either.) He is "dog aggresive," and barks when other dogs come around his house (hmmm, fear, more likely, since he is confined by a chain and can't escape). He gets to go in the house in the evenings sometimes. And sometimes his owner will throw a ball for him. But the dog tends to take the ball and run off. Because he doesn't know how to play with a human and it's more fun to entertain himself.

It was a classic example of "Why do you have a dog in the first place?"

The sadness of this overwhelmed me. Most BCs I know are perpetual problem solving machines who view life with humans as one large puzzle that needs to be figured out. Not this guy. He just existed. Perhaps with time and tremendous effort on the owner's part, he could truly connect to this dog and they both could experience the mutual joy that comes from sharing your life with a dog. I'm not holding my breath.

As soon as we got home, I sat down on the kitchen floor with the Belgians and we had a big ol' hairy dog party with kisses and pokes and fur everywhere. Phoenix chewed on my arm. Jamie brought me a house slipper. There were wagging tails and bright eyes.

Through the evening, I started counting how many different times one or both dogs initiated interaction with me or the Farmer. I totally lost count.

I am truly so thankful for my dogs and the daily joy they bring.


  1. Having just spent six days with two Tervurens, I know exactly what you are saying!

    Prior to spending time with them, my in the fur experience had been with three separate Malinois transports - one of which I did get to bring 'here' for a time until her next leg passed North of us -

    It was true joy to see the Tervurens with my Siberian! They share some similar play traits but the BT's have functional ears AND hearing!

  2. I'm not sure if there is anything like this in your area, but if there is you might want to suggest <-- this to the owner. It's a nonprofit organization I volunteer for that builds free fences for owners who keep their dogs on chains.

  3. What a sad sorry. Poor guy. That owner really missed out on some wonderful times that can be had with your dog. Diana

  4. wow. what a sad story. i can't imagine having a dog and NOT interacting. I have a dog similar to a BT in temperment. he's a GSD mixed with Taiwan mt. dog and is a serious people pleaser, edgy working dog. a little edgy around big dogs and a little dog-naughty but not always. not to the point that i can't take him in public with other dogs around. still.. he loves people and follows me around all day. i have a siberian as well. sibes are known to be very independent, but my sibe is also my shadow all day long. crazy to play games and work with me. i seriously cannot understand how this could happen with a BC. so sad.

  5. Oh how quickly we forget that our well socialized "butterflies" are not always (and sometimes not usually) the "norm". Many/most of my rescue dogs have proven that sadly. The beauty is that in the right situation they CAN grow and learn that we humans are worthwhile.