Wednesday, February 2, 2011

A Working Street Dog's Day

Another day in the life of a working street dog begins when commuters head to jobs. Stormy positions himself to bark, chase or dramatically snap at the cars which he designates as dangerous. When any of the neighbors (human type) are out, Stormy is on duty.

As the sun rises over the ridge, the neighbors rustle around their properties. Stormy checks in on each one before returning to our house for breakfast. My one consistent training is to squeak to let the dogs know when food is served. With a second squeak Stormy hits second gear up the drive.

Again Stormy lets Owl have breakfast first, takes his second. Blondie must like eat on the side of the veranda that faces the lake. No sooner than the third bowl is set down, Storm is chasing Owl away from his bowl. When I set Storm’s bowl down, he just looked at it like, “Crappy kibble again!” He picked up one piece stepped away from the bowl and chewed as if it were painful. At first glance, I wondered if his mouth was sore.

Blondie is really maturing; she chose to stay with her food instead getting involved. As I race around the house to separate the boys, I am so proud of her.

Stormy has Owl pinned. When I step into Stormy’s personal space, he looks at me. I give him a hard look, he dismounts Owl. I say nothing, but point to his bowl. Stormy trots back to it. A couple of low grumbles over kibble tell me this isn’t over yet. As soon as I walk away, Storm is back over there, making his point. This time I give him my, “I’m really mad look.” It works!

Peace is restored before Blondie finishes her breakfast. To my delight she comes over for a pet rather than compete for resources.

Blondie and Owl mouth dual on the grass, while Stormy head back to his sentry post in the road.

It is so common to hear Border Collie people say that this dog needs a job, but Stormy is the first Border Collie of my acquaintance to assign one for himself. He’s slowed down over the years, but dedicated as ever.

About five years ago I came here to recover after surgery. I could hardly move. Watching him chase cars in the road in the rain would break my heart, but I admired his dedication. Sometimes I thought it was out of control herding behavior, but through the lens of time I see a Border Collie doing his job. How do I tell him about social security and his pension?

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