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31 July 2015

Chewing On Red: De-Constructing A Relationship

Chewing On Red

Chewing On Red

Fate seems to adore Red, she chews on  him continuously, he doesn't seem to mind.  I was watching the two of them today and thinking about their relationship.

Since dogs are a blank slate and can't speak for themselves, we tend to project our own stories onto them. People look at the photos of Fate and Red and talk often about how much they seem to love one another. But is this love? And do dogs love one another in the way we do?

I think Fate has attached very powerfully to Red. I think Red has fully accepted her. I'm not sure how to describe it. Red is very independent dog, he is not needy in any way. He needs to work, and he needs to be near me. Those are the two things I see in him. When Fate is not with Red, she is often looking for him, and when they are reunited, she is excited.

When Red is apart from Fate, I never get the sense he is looking for her, he is content to be with me in my study, in the pasture, in the car, at the gym, doing therapy work. He is, in fact, a very self-contained animal, he is focused on his work, and then on me.

I have to be careful that Fate doesn't attach to Red more than the sheep so I make sure she gets time along with them. There is definitely something of the big brother/little sister thing going on, I can see it, although I wouldn't take it too far. But Red is not overly protective of Fate, if the sheep charge at her or butt her, Red stays out of it, he does not intervene.

I do believe he teaches her, you can almost see his willingness to share his movements and posturing with her. The teaching is indirect, passive, not active. He lets her in, she is free to take what she wants. I think I have to be careful about projection, we always put our stories and our emotions into the heads of animals, who have their own stories and their own emotions.

Clearly, these two have attached. He is very patient with her, as long as she stays away from his food. Yet I think Red lives in his own time and his own space, he has what he needs, he does not seem to be looking for more.

Posted in General
27 July 2015

Heat Wave: Bringing Out The Red In Us

Heat Wave: Bringing Out The Red In Us

Heat Wave: Bringing Out The Red In Us 

We are in a heat wave, and I had this idea that the heat brings out the red in us, so I went outside to find a flower and try to prove it in the late afternoon, the hottest part of the day.

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Red, Walk Up. Maestro Of The Pasture

Walking Up

Walking Up

Red is a maestro in the pasture, he is smooth and polished and instantly responsive, I think Fate will be a great working farm dog but she is much more impulsive and distractable than Red, at least for now. She is a good time girl, she loves to have fun. Red is all business, I yelled up at him to move the sheep down, walk them up to the pasture down the hill, and I take it for granted now that he understands me, because he does. He is a wonderful dog.

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24 July 2015

Red At Work. Tale Of Two Dogs

Tale Of Two Dogs

Tale Of Two Dogs

Red and Fate are both border collies, but they are on opposite ends of the canine biological and behavioral spectrum. Red is intense while working, completely at ease while not working. He is instantly responsive to commands, and focuses only on me and his work, and the other human beings he has come to know and love.

He is a perfect companion, as well as a perfect therapy dog. He is still in the car, can be trusted off the leash, never chases a squirrel or a chipmunk, does not go hear the road.  He goes everywhere with me, content to sit by my side in radio studios, book stores, the dentist's office. Fate is the yin to his yang. She is intensely curiously, interested in every moving thing, wants to rush to every strange person and greet them, chases every leaf, mouse, chipmunk or squirrel, eats animal droppings and chicken poop continuously and obsessively, raids the wastebaskets in the house for things to chew, pulls things off of the tables and hides them around the house, digs up the yards and hides her treats and balls.

She is a perpetual motion machine. After two months of intense training, I can get her to sleep in the house if I make her lie down three times and give the command "chill." She roams the house constantly looking for trouble to get into, and she finds it. She is good in the crate, and we are grateful to have it.

Both are great dogs, they ask different things of us, require different things from us. I think we have six more months of hard and  intense training with Fate, she is very bright, extremely affectionate and highly responsive when she is not distracted, which is much of the time. It is kind of exciting to have two such remarkable but different dogs. I always say you get the dogs you need, and this is so.

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16 July 2015

Look Back, Red

Look Back, Red

Look Back, Red

Red is a master herding dog, I sent  him out to bring the sheep out of the pole barn and across Lulu's Crossing and into the back pasture and he got them there quickly and efficiently, but you might notice that he forgot something – Liam the wether  was hiding near the Pole Barn in the upper right corner of the photograph. "Look back," Red, I said and he turned and circled and Liam came flying down to join the others.

It is a joy to work with Red, he is a pro, and he is strong but also kind in his herding. He will defend himself, but only if seriously provoked and then  only with the force that is absolutely necessary.

Posted in General