Tag Archives: collie

  • Reading Books, Touching Hearts

    Written By Jenny Pavlovic

    Last month I wrote about Godwinks, and I’ve written about my dog Chase many times. You may have read the story of how Chase and I came together in the book 8 State Hurricane Kate: The Journey and Legacy of a Katrina Cattle Dog. The short version is that I met Sarah while caring for rescued animals in Louisiana after Hurricane Katrina. We stayed in contact after we returned home to Virginia and Minnesota. God winked one day when “Fred” caught my eye as I viewed Sarah’s rescue website, www.lostfantasystables.com. Despite his unhappy expression, the little guy was cute. He had the sable coloring and white ruff of a collie, with red and white speckles on his chest and legs. I felt an immediate connection.

    Sarah rescued “Fred” from a man who was going to shoot him for chasing sheep. Fred had a strong herding instinct and was probably just trying to keep the place organized. But the man, in a rage, stuffed him into a tiny chicken crate and threatened to shoot him. When Sarah intervened and saved the terrified little guy, she held him on her lap for a long time before he stopped shaking. He knew the fate he had just escaped.

    Seeing that Fred was described as a “red heeler mix” and wanting to support Sarah’s rescue efforts in an impoverished area of rural Virginia, I followed up. My Australian Cattle Dog Bandit, who had recently lost his best dog pal and playmate, needed a new friend. Sarah and I determined that Chase would likely be a good fit for my family. With much planning and the help of many volunteers who transported him, Fred made the long journey from Virginia to Minnesota over Memorial weekend in 2006. He enjoyed the adventure and his series of chauffeurs commented on what a handsome and loving dog he was. He arrived with a beautiful greeting card chronicling his journey and wishing him a happy new life, signed by Sarah and everyone who had met him along the way.

    I called him Fred for a while. I could say fun things like, “It’s time for bed Fred!” But eventually he became “Chase”, claiming the name. After living with and observing him for a while, I decided that he’s most likely a Smooth Coated Collie - Australian Cattle Dog mix. He is long in body with the thick undercoat, narrow ears and muzzle, and beautiful coloring of a smooth coated collie. He has a collie’s shrieky bark and likes to patrol perimeters like a collie. But he is stockier and lower to the ground like a cattle dog. He has a dose of cattle dog chutzpah and cattle dog speckles on his legs, belly, and running down his chin like spilled milk.

    Chase settled in pretty well here, becoming fast friends with Bandit. One morning, I was puzzled when Chase wouldn’t go into the garage with me. I later learned that the violent man used to throw him in the garage by himself for hours. Chase apparently didn’t want to go in with me because he thought I was going to leave him there… alone… for hours, the worst kind of punishment for him.

    Bandit and Chase enjoyed playing ball, running in the woods and fields, and bobbing for fallen apples in the kiddie pool. Chase and I went to obedience and agility classes, learned to track together, and enjoyed herding sheep and ducks. No matter what, Chase always gave love.

    Early on, Chase appeared to have some flashbacks to the violence he’d been subjected to before being rescued, but he knows he’s safe now and seems to have fully recovered. By the end of the day, his back is usually sore and stiff, probably from being stuffed into that tiny chicken crate back in Virginia.

    Chase taught me that another man’s trash could be my treasure. He is the sweetest, handsomest, most sensitive dog who used to worry about making a mistake, because he knew that the “mistake” of acting on his herding instinct could have cost him his life. He trusts me now and we have learned to work together to herd sheep and ducks so he can express this wonderful talent without fearing for his life. He taught me that you can start over again and recover from abuse and violence to be who you were meant to be.

    Chase has created some interesting jobs for himself. Herding dogs are especially alert to anything that’s out of order because they’re used to watching over their flock. Chase likes to notify me when anything is different. He lets me know when the garbage truck and snowplow are coming long before I hear them. He lets out a special bark when the feral cat is around. When we go outside, Chase patrols the perimeter as a collie will. He follows his nose, which tells him what other creatures have passed through. He spots birds way up in the sky and has alerted me to a bald eagle soaring high above.

    In spite of his past, Chase is very loving and friendly. He loves to meet people and wants to connect with everyone. If we’re in a room full of people, like at a book signing, he’s bothered if he doesn’t get to greet each person individually. He’d probably make a fantastic greeter at Wal-Mart! After his difficult beginning in life, he may be trying to make up for lost time on the love front.

    Chase intuitively picks up on any unrest among animals or people. He reads people’s moods and seems to know just what they need. At home, he goes into the bathroom and puts his front feet up on the stool, waiting for a hug. I used to think he did this because he wanted attention. I slowly came to realize that he does this when he senses that I need a hug. He’s thinking about me and is much wiser than most people realize.

    I’ve felt for a long time that part of Chase’s calling in life is to be a therapy dog. Last spring we completed Delta Pet Partners training (Chase: Why Dog is Love, http://www.omegafields.com/blog/chase-why-dog-is-love/). I looked into starting a reading dog program at our local library, which has suffered from budget cuts, but I got sidetracked.

    God winked again when I received an e-mail message from a local librarian who was determined to start a “Dog Gone Reading” program. Now Chase and I volunteer at our small local library for two hours per month. Kids read to Chase, developing their reading abilities in a supportive environment. Chase listens intently while each child reads him a story. He enjoys any story, is great company and isn’t judgmental. While reading out loud to Chase, kids build confidence and gain a friend. Kids who don’t have pets at home get to connect with a dog. Chase, who doesn’t have a kid at home, gets to bond with kids and fulfill his purpose to give love. The kids get to know the local library and all that it offers. Chase and I teach them how to approach a dog, to pet him gently, and to be kind and respectful to animals. Chase is a natural! He knows how important it is to be kind.

    Chase, now about 7 ½ years old, has been waiting for years for me to give him this opportunity to reach his potential. I’m so excited that he’s fulfilling his purpose of sharing love, helping kids develop their reading abilities, and supporting our local library. As an author who loves to read, I don’t want the joy of reading real books to be lost. I want kids to know the pleasure of reading from a printed book held in their hands.

     

    I’m very grateful to Sarah for saving Chase’s life and for the long journey that brought him home to Minnesota. I’m also grateful to Omega Fields for providing the Canine Shine and Omega Nuggets that boost Chase’s good health and make his coat so soft, shiny and wonderful to snuggle up to.

    Chase already knows the important stuff. He knows how to forgive and how to give love. His heart is wide open; he is an open book.

    Learn more about:

    Delta Pet Partners: http://www.petpartners.org/

    The National Reading Education Assistance Dogs (R.E.A.D.) Program: http://www.therapyanimals.org/R.E.A.D.html

    R.E.A.D. Dogs Minnesota: http://www.readdogsmn.org/

    The Washington County (Minnesota) Dog Gone Reading Program: http://www.co.washington.mn.us/DocumentCenter/View/2711

  • Meaningful Work

    Written By Jenny Pavlovic

    We all want to belong and feel useful. Most of us are happiest when we have meaningful work. Our dogs are descended from long lines of herders, retrievers, hunters, guard dogs, and other dogs who became companions to people because they did useful work. Nowadays, sleeping at home all day while the family is at school and work can leave a dog restless and bored. A dog needs plenty of exercise and a purpose in life. Of course our dogs are great companions, but when they don’t have the opportunity to do the jobs they were bred for, they can get into trouble, or even invent their own jobs.
    Take Bandit, for instance. He comes from a long line of Australian Cattle Dogs, hard headed, smart, intense dogs who are used to taking charge and are not intimidated by a herd of cows. Bandit has had opportunities to herd cows, but we don’t have our own herd, so those opportunities don’t come often enough for him. Thus, Bandit carries one jolly ball while herding another one around the yard. He tries to herd me to the door when he wants me to go outside. He sometimes herds the other dogs, especially if he thinks they’re in my way and wants to clear the way for me. He barks at the deer that come to the bird feeder, wanting to control those hoofed animals. When I’ve been sitting at the computer for too long, he whacks me on the leg with the rubber chicken or drops a tennis ball in my lap. It’s time to take a break and play ball! I call Bandit my recreation director.
    Chase has created some interesting jobs for himself. I think Chase is a mix of collie and cattle dog, two herding breeds. He has had the opportunity to work sheep and ducks, but not often enough. Herding dogs are especially alert to anything that is out of order because they’re used to watching over their flock. Chase likes to notify me when anything is different. He hears the garbage truck and snowplow coming long before I do and lets me know. He barks in a unique way when the feral cat is around. When we go outside, Chase patrols the perimeter as a collie will. He follows his nose, which tells him what other creatures have passed through. He spots birds way up in the sky and has alerted me to a bald eagle soaring high above. Chase is currently in training to become a therapy dog. I’ve felt for a long time that this is a calling for him and I’m finally giving him the chance to do it. We plan to volunteer at the library where kids can read to Chase, and we may also visit an eldercare home.
    One job that Chase takes very seriously is one that I cannot figure out. He goes bonkers when I crack a hardboiled egg. I can crack a dozen raw eggs with no response, but when I get ready to crack a hardboiled egg, Chase springs up and barks like it’s the end of the world. He has even learned what it sounds like when I take a hardboiled egg out of the refrigerator. When I flip the lid of the fridge compartment he comes running, anticipating that I’ll soon crack a hardboiled egg, and prepares to go bonkers. The only reason for this that I can think of is that this cracking sound reminds Chase of something from his early life in an abusive home. But I just don’t know. He is very sensitive to different sounds.
    Cay is more into play than work, but she has created a couple of jobs for herself. She loves to steal Chase’s favorite ball and scamper around the yard holding it just out of his reach. Since we only have one of these balls and Chase is quite serious about it, Cay enjoys the role of “bratty little sister”. The more Chase gets upset, the more she prances around with his ball, just out of reach. Having played the role of bratty little sister myself once, I tell Chase to pretend like he doesn’t care and the fun of the game will go away for Cay. But he goes into fits knowing that she has ‘his’ ball.
    When we go up to play in the pen on the hill, the dogs often take balls with them. The result is that our backyard would be empty of balls to play with if we didn’t bring some back down the hill every day. Cay has figured this out. Each day when we turn to head back to the house, she runs around searching for a ball to bring back. She never comes back empty handed (or should I say empty mouthed?). I can’t remember when or how Cay chose this job for herself, but she takes it very seriously every day.
    In the winter, at least one of the dogs jumps up on my bed before bedtime, warming it up for me. Sure, this is a perk for them, but it’s also a perk for me. I never have to feel cold sheets on a cold winter night. And I’m ready for a three dog night too.
    Sometimes my dogs work as a team. When I offer a large yogurt carton to be licked out, Chase licks the inside rim around the top, Bandit licks around the middle, and Cay, with the longest, narrowest muzzle, licks out the bottom. When I think about it, I notice more and more jobs that my dogs have created for themselves. What jobs do your dogs help you with?
    Of course, my dogs are great companions. Besides being my friends, one of the best jobs they have is leading me to new friends—through dog activities like obedience, agility, tracking and herding, and through their stories. Now that’s what I call meaningful work!
    We recently reconnected with Cay’s brother Zander’s family when they read an Omega Fields article about her. I’m happy to hear that Cays’ brother is also getting the great nutrition provided by Omega Canine Shine® ground flaxseed supplement and Omega Nuggets™ flaxseed treats.
    Wishing you and yours the benefits of great nutrition and a Happy Spring!

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