Sunday, February 7, 2010

A Puppy and His Boy

So after Farmer Hub crunched the numbers and valued a laying hen at about $80 a bird, we decided a dog would quickly earn its keep in a year. And thus began the adventure. We started reading about Border Collies and Australian Shepherds and decided to go with a Border Collie. We didn't go with a more protective dog for several reasons... we didn't want a MASSIVE dog. 50 lbs is about my limit, let alone that big dogs flat out eat more. Secondly, we haven't heard of a good guard dog that can really handle our heat. I don't think I'll mind it coming into the air conditioning on a REALLY hot afternoon, but I don't want it to need that to thrive. Thirdly, we're not dealing with coyotes, wolves or anything really nasty. We need something to chase off racoons, possums, jagarudis, a fox and very rarely a bobcat.

So, why a BC? The "care bear stare" as I've called it, began looking more desirable versus nipping the more I got considering that it will want to herd our children as well. I've also read that Aussies tend to be a bit more hyper on the watch dog end... meaning it could bark at every little thing that moves. BC's are supposed to be a touch smaller than Aussies also.

The hunt began... and quickly ended. I checked an "Ocala 4 Sale" and found 2- 7 month old border collies being given away. I called and other than them not being fixed, they sounded great. The owner wanted the 2 to go together. Her hours had changed and the dogs were stuck in a crate for 10 hours a day. Knowing we wanted only 1 dog, we still took both thinking we could at least give it a better temporary home while we found a permanent home. We also thought they would help each other through the adjustment from being total inside pampered dogs to total outside working dogs.

I was wrong.

We headed out Friday afternoon, crossing almost the entire state, to retrieve these 2 dogs and some sheep (for another post). The adventure began. Little Farmer Boy #1 happens to LOVE puppies. His birthday followed a few days later. I was so busy with the acquired animals that I had no time to neither bake his birthday cake nor construct his tire swing gift. I made a quick batch of cookies and we decided the puppies would be his "gift" (though the tire swing will hopefully be constructed tomorrow). The pictures are of him interacting with said puppies. The top picture is Angel. The darker faced dog is Saint.

We've decided to keep the female (whom we re-named Angel)... who just seems a touch more intelligent. She's also a bit more wiley, but does her job with MUCH less barking. Saint (the male) is a joyful, affectionate handful. He's WAY too into his new job. When we first let them into the pasture, they immediately herded the goats to about a 50 square foot area. Then I was able to keep them separated by a poorly constructed dividing fence for a couple days. They soon found a way over the fence and continued to torment the poor little goats. Angel alone allows the goats space. Saint, alone or with Angel, now insists on the goats being ALL the way in the BACK of their little shed and then proceeds to BARK CONSTANTLY. We end up just putting him back into a chain link kennel (which has been graciously lent to us by some neighbors). I read bits in a dog training book where it advises ignoring the dog for bad behavior. Right. That's like giving public high school students "the eye" to get them to obey. Its gotten me a big fat nowhere. Besides, the dogs are so distracted by one another that I can't work with them at all anyway. We're really hoping to find a new home for Saint as soon as possible, but honestly, would rather see him put to sleep than used as bait for dog fighters (the fate of many dogs listed for adoption).

But as for Angel, we're making headway. She's been tested for heartworms (negative), has had her rabies shot, has an appointment to be spayed in several weeks and has a proper dog house and training collar on order.

And what to feed them? Well, we can't do anything by the book... or at least not conventional books. We didn't quite believe all we were reading about commercial dog food being the best food for a dog. That they can't digest and will get horribly sick from raw meat and bones. So we read what Weston A. Price had to say on the subject: Feed them raw meat and bones. A vast many health problems stem from them NOT eating what God designed them to eat. So... I fed them a couple big raw beef bones I had for broth. They LOVED them! And this from dogs that have shown almost no interest in food at all, including these prized "doggie treats" that dogs are supposed to love. Then, yesterday as we were slaughtering chickens, we fed them each a chicken neck. Angel was enjoying it so much she was thoroughly PLAYING with her food! They ate them quickly and were begging for more! Now, I'm sure any dog owners will freak here and say that chicken bones are too splintery and will puncture their intestines. Please, read the article linked above. It was QUITE convincing that this is a lie that almost everyone has come to believe. My midwife doggie-sits for a family who feeds their dogs an entirely raw diet comprised of mostly chicken parts. So... we saved the wingtips and necks of the chickens and have them in the freezer for future meals. We'll be making their change slowly so as to not totally disrupt their system. We also may not be able to make ALL of their food, but hopefully commercially processed food will be only a small fraction of Angel's standard diet (given that Saint will be gone before we are fully into a raw food regime).

And there's the start of yet another adventure... and hopefully the end to loosing chickens to predators!

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