Monday, March 16, 2015

Winter Is A Female Dog!

Winter Is A Female Dog!

Recently I did a blog which said we should understand our limitations.  The Michigan winter has brought that idea home to us in spades.  Now I know much of the country has felt winter’s bite this winter and many live where people are ill-prepared to deal with it.  In Michigan winter doesn’t just come for a visit, but actually sets up housekeeping.  Between blowing snow, shoveling snow, putting out birdseed (the deer and turkeys love it!) and changing layers of clothes one gets a bit weary.  Van Dyck used to tell the story of a man with a litter of unwanted puppies who put a sign on the lawn for “bitches and sons of bitches.”  Michigan winters can fit either category.

The TV viewing of the Westminster show provided a bit of interest to break the ugly grip of winter.  We applauded the choice of the beagle for several reasons.  She looked like a really good Beagle, she was a niece of “Uno” who won a few years back, and she was a breed without a lot of mess to groom up for the show ring.  Long ago I decided that men have made a mess of many dog breeds by turning them into dependent freaks.  You lucky folks will now hear how I got this way.

When I was ten two books arrived for Christmas, which molded a lot of my thinking about canines.  They are still part of my library and still good reading.  One was “Lochinvar Luck” by Albert Payson Terhune, which kindled a lifelong interest in Collies.  The other was “White Fang” by Jack London which not only started me thinking about what dogs got from wolves, but also started me on a quest to better understand wolves and why men have so persecuted these creatures.

The story of Lochinvar Luck follows a Collie puppy accidently lost in the woods and how he not only survives, but thrives.  It is based on a true story about a dog from Mrs. Lunt’s Alstead Kennels who was lost in the Canadian wilderness.  While not every Collie might thrive under these conditions just as some might not duplicate Lassie’s historic journey some certainly can.  Years back a very lovely puppy on his way home from the CC of A was lost in the New England winter for several months.  Tim had a tough time and lost some weight but he did survive.  When Les Canavan and Verna Allen got him back he became Ch. Royal Rock Gamblin’ Man who was an excellent dog and the top sire at Royal Rock.

My own experience with a bitch puppy who was out for a stroll with the other dogs and frightened by a truck which backfired.  By the time I got the others kenneled she had disappeared across the street into the woods.  For two weeks I hunted and called alone and with other dogs.  There were ads put in the paper and on radio to ask for info about her.  Tracks in the snow seemed aimless and gave no clue.  After two weeks when sitting down to Thanksgiving dinner after a prayer for our lost puppy, there was a knock at the door.  There was a dear lady with the little lost puppy who had come into her yard to play with the children.  She became Ch. Gingeor’s Love Pat at Wayside.

White Fang is a story of a creature more wolf than dog who after a rough start in life finds a master who shows him the love needed to make him a dog.  Most of you may be more familiar with the work of Albert Payson Terhune than Jack London.  Let me assure you that in White Fang Jack London shows a knowledge of not just wolves, but of their place in the scheme of life in the far north.  The book is beautifully written and much more realistic than the movie of the same name.

Over the years we humans have molded wolves into dogs of many shapes and sizes.  A number of these were modified to do particular tasks which we found beneficial.  That type of man sponsored evolution has some merit.  Terriers that hunt vermin, dogs that hunt birds or other game, herders that help man control his livestock, and dogs which guard and protect men and their possessions all came about with a purpose.  It makes sense that to fill our needs the wolf had to undergo some modification.  What breaks my heart is to see breeds that are so modified that they become completely dependent on very special care. 

The wolf is a magnificent creature in his place in nature.  He kills to live because he doesn’t go to the supermarket.  He lives in extended families called packs and they all care for the young and defend their home.  If you teach him to go to the supermarket he sounds a lot like us.  He doesn’t take to training and housebreaking so we do need dogs.

As you know by now I like dogs that are not only fun to live with, but that can function.  Males who know when to breed and bitches who are capable of breeding normally and raising healthy puppies.  As we continue to raise Collies for show, let’s make sure we never lose sight of what makes a good dog.

Think about it!

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