Tuesday, February 24, 2009

He who rules this roost

Lest anyone be left with the mistaken impression that big dogs rule the household here (simply because they’ve taught the humans to sit elsewhere so the big dogs can nap on the comfy couches), I need to clarify something. It’s actually the little dog that rules this roost. His name is Abe.

These three big dogs all have Abe outweighed by at least 3 to 1, but Abe arrives in a no-nonsense flurry. He’s a mighty 30 pounds wet. Attitude, attitude, attitude – man, he’s got it.

Abe’s a bearded collie, about 10 years old now. Bearded collies are less obsessive than border collies, which suits me. Abe is good with sheep because he has a gentle mouth. He refuses to even try to herd bum lambs at all (smart dog, since it never works) and only bites adult sheep when they make him mad (even then, it's specific sheep). Most of the time, he runs up and jabs sheep in the ribs with his nose, mouth closed. It works.

Bearded collies apparently came from the Scottish Highlands. Despite kennel club recognition and too much “show” interest nearly driving the working dog to extinction, working beardies can still be found on farms and ranches around the world.


Chas S. Clifton said...

The leaning dog is priceless.

Anonymous said...

For many years I had a 32 lb Aussie bitch who ruled over our Leonbergers. Nobody messed with Roo (aka Queen LaTeetha), at least not more than once...

Here: http://smartdogs.files.wordpress.com/2008/01/bugoff.jpg

Is a photo of her taking on two Leos and Newf mix who *thought* they could steal her ball.

(and this is too perfect - my verification word is "munch"!)

Gregg Barrow said...


I love Abe (and his attitude). From your description, he would make a nice foundation sire for some half crosses (lurchers)
Is that true submission in the bottom photo (the white dog) or just the way the camera caught it?

Cat Urbigkit said...

Thanks for the comments. Rena, the white Akbash, is only two years old and that was a true submission. It's funny, but all the big dogs treat Abe like he is king. He's old, and he's the only one who sleeps in the house all night, etc. He pretends that all dogs are lower than he is, so they apparently buy into it.
Every day when Jim's truck arrives home, Rena runs out excitedly to greet him, but Abe rushes out in a flurry of furball and runs her down, making her submit and let Abe greet Jim first. It's hysterical, since she could take him out with one crunch.

Reid Farmer said...

A wonderful capture of dog body language!!

Abe - "Woof!"

Big Pups - "We're not worthy!!!"

Cat - I'm sure I must have seen some of your dogs last summer with a flock at Emigrant Spring down near Kemmerer. Could that be?

Cat Urbigkit said...

I raised pups and sold them to three different producers in the Kemmerer area, so yes, you certainly could have seen dogs I raised. We'll call them our cousins!

Gregg Barrow said...

Thank you Cat,

It’s nice to see true strength.
I work with several police service animals and deal with a lot of aggression issues from the private sector. Even though my clients, and many of the K9 handlers, would like to believe that their dogs are truly dominant (must be a testosterone thing :-) ), those dogs are few and far between. Much of what I see is aggression stemming from weak nerves.

And true dominance is found in dogs of all sizes……..Abe is a nice example.

Personally, I wouldn’t want to pi** off the big guys! :-)

Cat Urbigkit said...

But what's funny is that when there is actual danger, Abe will bark hysterically and go charging off with the big guys, careful to always be just a little behind. He knows where the actual strength is, and it's not in his quick little body!
I've looked at your website - pretty dang impressive stuff you do. My work with livestock guard dogs is easy. These are gentle big beasts, with warm hearts. They are only fierce when they determine there is a threat, and I trust their judgement completely.

Gregg Barrow said...

“careful to always be just a little behind.”

Ahhhh, the substance for a new scientific study....to find the genetic link between true dominance and superior intelligence :-)

Thank you for the nice compliment. As any good decoy will tell you, we are the ultimate prey animal and know how to loose in a loud and grotesque manner. My vet (she has four VPG III”s to her credit) just called and said she was getting a new puppy. A nice dark sable out of East German lines with prelim’d hips and elbows. She started the conversation by saying “how do feel about playing rabbit for another six months; her way of preparing me for lots of puppy work. :-)
She pays me in vet work and a six pack of Guinness for every title. Matt enjoyed some of those fruits last weekend.

I’ve only handled a few LGD’s and found them to be very clear headed and capable of relaxing. I’m sure there are some bad ones out there, but they are not a hot item in our area.
My take on a strong dog, of any breed, is one that doesn’t perceive threat where there is none, and while totally aware of his/her surroundings, is capable of relaxing.
We have too many edgy Mal’s in the club that desperately need to get on the decaf. :-)