Ohiofarmgirl's Adventures in The Good Land is largely a fish out of water tale about how I eventually found my footing on a small farm in an Amish town. We are a mostly organic, somewhat self sufficient, sustainable farm in Ohio. There's action and adventure and I'll always tell you the truth about farming.

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Misters Good Dog

Yesterday I had another opportunity to brag on my extra good dogs. I went with my neighbor to take her goofy golden retriever to a vet for a second opinion before a mistake was made. Her goofy golden had a head injury that wasn't healing and the original vet didn't have a great solution. So we packed up the goofy golden in the family truckster and drove into The Big City.

Within a few minutes The Very Good Vet had the problem solved. Of course she did... I had no doubts.  Because, you see, a couple years ago she changed my life.

A few years ago I took Titan to see this Very Good Vet because he had worn down his canines from obsessively chewing on toys. Fortunately he did not need the expensive titanium "grill" that some police get after breaking their teeth. But, she told me that all dogs, especially MY dog, need a job. She gave me some resources, told me that since Ti was showing signs of boredom to challenge him with other training, and sent us on our way ("No more toys! Let him entertain himself - let him chew on a stick.").

This completely changed how I viewed the Ti. I realized I had been wasting him - I didn't really know what he was capable of... so I got some working dog books and we moved from just verbal commands to hand signals. They were the same commands but now I tell him what to do in a different way. I also started teaching him new commands, and started stacking them, and I couldn't believe what he could figure out. And I realized he didn't have a limit to what he could learn. So we learn something new every couple of weeks. Right now he's learning to go and find Shady, as she can't hear me calling her. Ti goes to her, circles around behind, and brings her back to the house so she can come inside with us.

Lucky doesn't have the same focus as Ti, but he does his part and is great at helping me with the chickens. He helps me find them when they are far-a-field, rounds them up at night, and herds them back to the hen house. He has a great nose. How do you find a black hen on a dark and stormy night? A big white dog with a really big nose. Lucky really saved the day when we were having The Big Cold. One of the little red hens would have been left out in the bitter cold one night - but Lucky found her huddling near the hen house. She was covered with snow - I never saw her. But he did. I scooped her up, brushed her off and put her inside. Good dog.

Titan had the hand signals figured out pretty fast so now I'm teaching him to follow me more closely. He watches the small 'intentions movements' in my body language before I actually gesture a command. He's learning to watch my eyes to see what we are doing next.

Titan is a happy dog and I couldn't run this farm without him.

Lucky is learning. Mostly he follows that Ti does which was probably my mistake. So we are learning that the dogs sometimes work independently. "Ti - you come here, Lucky - you stay there. Ti - go this way and find Shady. Lucky - go this way and go up on the deck. Good work, men. Good work."

But seriously - how cute is Lucky? Besides, he hates that gander too....and he's learning. One day this summer we had a clutch of baby chicks that were in the flippy-flier stage. The chicks figure out those flappy things on their sides make them fly so they pip and pop and kinda zoom around at low altitudes like Woodstock from Peanuts. One of the chicks flipped and flopped and flew right past Lucky - he could have grabbed her right out of the air and eaten her in one gulp. But instead he just gave that upside down, flying chick a funny look. He didn't know I was watching him. Good dog.

This one is for The Very Good Vet - see that Titan knocked one of his little front teeth right out of his head. He and Lucky collided while chasing a ball. Bad mommy. Good dogs. We are more careful now.  Thanks for everything, Dr. P.


basicliving@backtobasicliving.com said...

What beautiful pups! Are they siblings? What breeds are they? We have two rescue pups that are siblings - they are mixed breeds. Diesel looks similar to your pups - brown eyes and nose and he's mostly white. They told us the mother of our two is a white German Shepherd mix.

Ohiofarmgirl said...

Yep! They are brothers.. white German Shepherds. For the full scoop check out: http://adventuresinthegoodland.blogspot.com/2010/01/its-all-about-d-o-g-hardworkin-farm.html

I couldn't work this farm without these two - its like having an extra pair of hands.

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