Tuesday, July 7, 2009
Billy's Cocker Spaniel Arthur herds chicken at a friend's farm in Indiana.
You know what they say, you can take the dog out of the country, but you can't take the country out of the dog.
Arthur, a normally mellow, urbane and beautifully- coiffed Cocker Spaniel typically spends his day greeting clients at Billy's salon, strolling the Chicago sidewalks and romping with his brother Zeke in a high-rise apartment. Yet, this weekend Arthur's ancestral yearnings took over and Arthur went from city dog to Barnyard Dawg faster than you can say "Foghorn Leghorn."
Why did this happen?
Through the magic of genetics, Arthur found his inner gun dog. Despite his years in the city, Arthur's innate urge to flush game and retrieve never left him. Arthur chased, herded and retrieved chickens to his hearts content. His tail never stopped wagging.
No matter how citified Fido may be, his breed (or breeds) often reveal a new way to exercise, play and relieve boredom. Historically, breeds had speciﬁc jobs. For example, Portuguese Water dogs worked in the water with fishermen, herding fish into nets, moving nets in the water and delivering messages between ships. Basset Hounds, with their long ears and highly developed sense of smell and slow pace, assisted hunters in tracking prey. Border Collies herded and protected flocks of sheep.
Dogs require mental and physical stimulation to prevent boredom and destructive behavior. Today, most dogs are unemployed and spend their days in backyards, parks and living rooms. Discovering your dog's hereditary job offers a new way to keep Fido mentally and physically fit--it also decrease the chances that Fido will chew your furniture to release energy or stress.
So, do some research and learn about your furry friend's history. Then, find an activity that emphasizes the job your dog was meant to perform. If your pooch is a genetic mix, try out jobs from all his breeds.
Hide snacks in your yard and set your Beagle loose to uncover the treasure. Join a hunting club for your pointer, spaniel, terrier or hound, but dress her in orange to keep her safe from other hunters. Or buy a stuffed squirrel and play fetch. A farmer may require help herding his sheep (or chickens) or a golf course may need a dog to keep birds off the grass. Here in Chicago, the Park District occasionally uses Border Collies to chase seagulls and geese away from beaches and parks. The possibilities are limitless. An uber-yuppie friend of Happy Dog Land now spends his weekends in the brush instead of in the artisanal cheese shoppe so his German Short-haired Pointer can hunt with other members of a hunting club. Who knows, you may even find your inner-Homo Erectus.
Before we go, we state for the record, that no chickens were harmed in the making of this blog entry.