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Crying the New Puppy Blues

Posted Wednesday, April 15, 2009, at 8:41 AM

Competition begins in the Tillman Dog Soccer Games at the DeJournett farm. Sassy the border collie (left) defends her territory against newcomer upstart Bucky (right). Though Bucky has youth on his side, his untrained playing style results in his rarely getting possession of the ball. A goal is out of the question! Sassy, being the Alpha Dog, has many calls against her for unnecessary roughness.
Life has been a little dreary out here on the Funny Farm since I got rid of my goats, so when my friend Marilyn sent me a new Bollinger County Stray Project puppy photo to put in the paper, I took one look at that sweet little face and decided I needed another dog to protect me out here in the Tillman wilderness.

I figured he would be right at home, since I had to drive out to the Arab Outback to get him, where he was being fostered by a sweet, kind-hearted lady named "Ruthie." Tillman looks like downtown L.A., compared to the hills of Arab.

Fact is, I was down to only two dogs, since my faithful coyote dog Wuz had a stroke and had to be put down, and my sister-in-law "re-homed" Tilley, a rescued rat terrier, who (by the way) offered little in the way of predator protection.

Bucky is black with white socks, a blocky head and big feet. Because of the markings, I thought he might be part border collie (my favorite), but he's growing by leaps and bounds, and I suspect he might have some enormous breed lying somewhere in his DNA. I may have a lab/Great Pyranees/St. Bernard cross on my hands.

Fine with me. If he's big enough to eat a coyote, he'll work out just peachy keen.

So far, he hasn't shown any coyote-eating tendancies, but it's early yet. Last night, when my other two dogs went roaring out into the darkness to patrol the perimeter, Bucky whined and scratched at the front door. He'd better get over that; I don't need a lap dog - I have two lap cats.

Adjusting to a new puppy has its own set of frustrations. I hope I'm up to it. Last night he and Chigger, my daughter's blue-eyed hound, had dragged one of my cushions off onto the porch and were lying in comfort, when I opened the front door for firewood this morning.

It's not as if there's no place around here for dogs to sleep. Years ago, my husband built a fine 5-dog doghouse on the back porch. It has straw in it and faces the kitchen window, so they could look right up at us, as we sat at the kitchen table. (That was back when we actually had meals there.)

As if that's not enough, I cleaned up two of the big plastic doghouses that I had used for the goats, filled them with straw, and put them on the front porch! (It looks a lot better than the old futon I used to have out there.) I have doghouses all over this farm, and there they go, pulling the nice new floral cushions off my porch furniture! At least I caught them before they chewed out the stuffing and distributed it artfully all over the front yard.

I laughed once at one of my student's stories, when he mentioned that their farm dogs destroyed all his mother's Christmas decorations every year! Yeah, that's the way it goes on the funny farms across the nation.

One year we tried those cute lights lining the walk. That was an exercise in futility, I'll tell you. Dogs simply have no appreciation for exterior lighting. I have no doubt that they'd drag the baby Jesus right out of his nativity scene, if I tried to put one out.

I've also discovered that this is a bad year to plant flowers. Bucky bites off the blooms and digs them out of their pots. Last Wednesday, before winter came back, I planned to work on my flowers. Bucky was up before daylight, getting ready. He chewed a hole in the bottom of my big bag of potting soil, scattering it on the porch.

Though I appreciate his enthusiasm for gardening, I now have all my flowers huddled together in pots on the patio table. Hopefully, he won't learn to climb like a goat and get those, too.

Actually, the flowers were the final straw in my decision to get rid of the goats last year. For Mother's Day 08, my son and daughter-in-law re-planted my pathetic flower bed in front of the house. The hostas were especially beautiful. I came home from work one day to find goats all over my front yard and the hostas demolished. That was the last straw! No more goats.

Now, here I go, getting another puppy. I need to have my head examined!

I've tried giving him chew toys, so he won't chew on my air conditioner cover, my outside furniture, my plants, the hose nozzle, and anything else he can get his teeth on. The other dogs make sure there are plenty of cow and deer bones in the yard to chew on.

My two older dogs think I got the puppy especially for them to play with. I have to walk them on the lane twice a day, no matter what the weather, so I can divert their attention from their various "construction projects."

My son's outside cat takes a dim view of all these proceedings, slinking around and waiting for a chance to sink her claws into puppy flesh. Ah, best Bucky learn the facts of life early. Just when you're having the most fun, here comes some spoil-sport to burst your balloon...

Time will tell whether this venture will end in success or failure, but one thing for sure - It's certainly not dull out here anymore!

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We used to have two border collie females, mother and daughter, who tag-teamed the snakes. It was a wonder to behold! I never saw them tackle a rattler or a copperhead (had more sense, I would hope), but they were murder on black snakes that came up around the house!

-- Posted by goat lady on Sat, Apr 18, 2009, at 6:16 PM

MD, All, Looks like he's gonna be a good one!! If that tail curl is up over his back, look for Chow/Akita crossed with a Border, and what a dog that would be, look out coyotes!! He looks slick coated so the postulate of his mix could be Lab/Border, with a background on one side or the other giving him what appears to be a good tail curl, either way grow him safe, shots, heartworming, parvo and all...We lost our big collie boy to heartworms back in '66, he's buried in the woods behind the new house, and he was one bright animal, very family centered, and a great snake getter, we can still miss him......best to all, kk

-- Posted by kkcaver47 on Fri, Apr 17, 2009, at 3:01 PM
Madeline DeJournett's response:
Oh, dear, I hope he doesn't have any Chow in him! I don't know much about Akitas, other than they're beautiful dogs. Lab would be okay, and it's quite possible - we have a LOT of labs in this region - too many, in fact. People dump them all over the place, and they're very hard to get adopted.

Bucky got his second round of shots Thursday, and the vet put him on Sentinel for heartworms, all other parasites, and fleas. Then I put him on Frontline for ticks. At 6 months or 50 pounds, whichever comes first, he'll be neutered. I will not tolerate a roaming breeder!

I have my other two dogs on Interceptor and Frontline. It's all pricey, but they're worth it. I also cannot tolerate people who have dogs if they can't afford to take care of them!

What?? Don't you keep your Great Pyrenees in your house?? Haha! You SURE don't want both a Great Pyr and a border collie in one house!! You wouldn't have a stick of furniture left -- not because they would chew it up but because they would knock it over!

One of the things I really dislike about some of the animal rights groups is their insistence that EVERY dog should be kept indoors. It's preposterous to even suggest that border collies should be kept indoors. A farm or ranch is the only place for that breed. My dogs LOVE it out here on the goat farm! As I look out this morning, I see that my pile of raked leaves has been scattered all over the yard. Shoulda burned them while I had the chance!

-- Posted by goat lady on Fri, Apr 17, 2009, at 6:38 AM

I am in no way a poodle fan. I can tolerate cats, but I'm not crazy about their disposition either, and poodles remind me of the K-9 epitomy of cats!

I have a ton of dog stories. One of the cutest is how my bassett hound has to be on the couch to play with my Great Pyrenees. She's too short to stay on the floor and play!

And then I have a ton about the Border Collie I used to have. I ended up burying her with a tennis ball. She could play 23 hours a day with that thing! I REALLY want another Border...but I don't think I have the room in my house for another dog that big.

-- Posted by mrsdolphin on Thu, Apr 16, 2009, at 11:57 PM

GOOD SITE, FJ! Haha! I knew it!

The spelling on that site is atrocious, but their information is good. I don't think they overlooked a single breed.

I had heard that poodles were intelligent, but I can't imagine having one out here on the farm... I wonder how they'd react to a coyote??

-- Posted by goat lady on Thu, Apr 16, 2009, at 10:00 PM

GL, according to intelligence studies the Border Collie is the "smartest" dog at learning a new command and obeying after one command. Here is a webpage of dog intelligence rankings, http://www.geocities.com/Heartland/Meado... You'll notice the "dumbest" dog breed is the Afghan Hound, and the Blood Hound is in the bottom 10. The second smartest dog is the Poodle, so apparently their little heads are completely filled up by their brain.

-- Posted by FJGuy on Thu, Apr 16, 2009, at 6:29 PM

They're probably too busy arguing with "he-whose-name-must-not-be-spoken" on the other topics...

Okay -- I think border collies are quite obviously the most intelligent breed of dog. There! That ought to start a controversy!

And, have you seen those dogs in the agility trials?? Absolutely phenominal!

OR, we could discuss the issue of why there is no place to take stray dogs in Stoddard County! Notice that the little dog in the photo is a BOLLINGER COUNTY STRAY PROJECT dog? Why doesn't Stoddard County have such a organization of rescue volunteers???

-- Posted by goat lady on Thu, Apr 16, 2009, at 2:03 PM

Where are the dog-lovers who have stories to share? This is a cool topic!

-- Posted by GONENOW on Thu, Apr 16, 2009, at 12:18 PM

GL--I'm quite sure there will be dogs in heaven, or I'd be like Will Rogers, and I'd want to go where they went. I have a few furry friends there already, even one who dispersed cushion foam with abandon.

-- Posted by GONENOW on Wed, Apr 15, 2009, at 8:18 AM

MD, you said "construction projects," but didn't you mean "DEstruction projects?" When we first got my Great Pyr, she loved to chew, just like any other puppy. Well, I got a new job, and since I'd be on my feet 10 hours a day, I also acquired a new pair of Adidas'. I wore them the 1st day, came home, put them on the shoe rack, and the next morning, POOF! They were gone! As magical as this trick seemed, I knew there was a catch. I found one of my "new" shoes looking not-so-new under my son's bed, and guess who had a hand (or shall I say paw...and teeth) in that one? Yep, you guessed it!

-- Posted by mrsdolphin on Tue, Apr 14, 2009, at 11:12 PM

Me,either, GN! Your story reminds me of one featuring our little mixed beagle several years ago, when I was in the hospital having our first child. I had an especially difficult labor, and my husband was at the hospital a long time. He didn't tell me what happened at home, but when I got back, I found a trash bag full of teeny, tiny pieces of the big zebra floor pillow that my mother had given me.

He said that the pillow was ripped into postage stamp-sized pieces and scattered from the back of the house to the front of the house, as if our dog had run with it, tossing it into the air, down the hall, into the living room and back.

I can see her in my mind's eye, running with wild abandon, leaping into the air with pieces of pillow flying above and behind her.

She was the best dog we ever had, and I feel sure that she was waiting for my husband when he got to "the other side."

-- Posted by goat lady on Tue, Apr 14, 2009, at 9:24 PM

You were quite fortunate that the cushions were simply dragged onto the porch. Years ago, we had a black lab who could tear up anything--from a wooden fence to an outdoor pump. I'll tell one Buddy story today. We took a summer day-trip once, leaving him in our large, fenced backyard. When we got home that evening, it looked like a snowstorm had struck in our absence. He had removed the cushions from a new 3-piece furniture set. Chewing holes was not enough, so he then proceeded to drag them all over the yard. (I'm sure he fairly frolicked!) The entire yard was covered in foam puffs. How that many pieces were stuffed in three cushions is beyond me! We had to vacuum the yard with a shop vac! The pool was also covered--what fun we had cleaning that mess. We loved Buddy, except for that day--ha! If considering adopting a labrador, my advice is to be ready to say goodbye to your possessions. You should also be ready to share the loyalty and companionship of one fine dog! (after the first two years of puppyhood are past)

Your puppy has beautiful markings. I'd bet he finds a way to become that lap dog you don't really need. (or do you?) If he gets as big as you're expecting, he might best be an "at your feet" kind of pooch. I love those puppies! Life without a dog would be...hmmm, I just can't imagine that!

-- Posted by GONENOW on Tue, Apr 14, 2009, at 3:27 PM

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Madeline DeJournett
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Madeline (Giles) DeJournett is the Advance writer for the North Stoddard Countian. A retired high school English/history teacher, she spent 32 years teaching in 5 schools in Missouri and Alaska. These days, she lives quietly with a menagerie of wild and domestic animals on 52 secluded acres in the remote Tillman hills south of Advance. She graduated from Dexter High School in 1960 and Southeast Missouri State in 1964. She can be contacted at advancensc@sbcglobal.net.
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