Dogs Know

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Written By Barbara O’Brien
Dogs know more than we think.
Kylie is a good dog. She is a tri-colored Australian Shepherd and is owned by my good friend Kathy. Kylie is an obedience and breed champion with a room full of ribbons and trophies to show for it. This is a dog that would never dream of being naughty and not doing what is asked of her.
I have had the honor of hiring her many times for print ads and commercials. Kylie always did a great job for me. She followed my commands and was always cheerful with a joyful expression on her face. She loved to work and she loved being the center of attention. In the show ring and on the set Kylie was a star.
Then Kathy was diagnosed with breast cancer. I remember crying with her when she told me and I hoped and prayed for a quick recovery. Kathy is a fighter and underwent aggressive chemo treatments and then surgery to fight her disease.
Months passed as Kathy went through her treatment, fighting fatigue nausea and tolerating the loss of her hair as her body struggled to beat the cancer that had taken hold. Her friends continue to pray and care for her. Kylie the Aussie never left her side.
We were all overjoyed when Kathy eventually was declared cancer free. I knew Kathy enjoyed having Kylie perform for the camera so I waited for her to tell me when she was well enough to begin bringing Kylie the Aussie to photo shoots again.
After I was sure that Kathy felt well enough to give it a try I booked Kylie for a shoot for a major retailer. Kylie was to pose with a human model who would brush her with a special grooming tool to remove fur.
When Kathy came in with Kylie, I hugged Kathy and asked how she was feeling. Kylie the Aussie had always pulled on her leash when she saw me and wriggled her whole body in anticipation. This time when I greeted her and her owner, Kylie the Aussie was oddly restrained in her manner towards me.
It is my usual practice to leave the owner in the waiting room and take the dog from the owner to work them on the set myself as most dogs work better when not distracted by their owner. Kylie was no exception to that rule. Although Kathy is an excellent trainer, in the past Kylie seemed to focus better when I worked her on the set without her owner in the room.
I started to escort Kylie away from her owner and towards the set but she sat down and refused to leave Kathy’s side. “Come on, girl,” I said, slightly surprised. This was not normal behavior for Kylie the Aussie at all. Where was the dog that practically dragged me to the set and was so happy to show off her skills and tricks?
“Go on,” said Kathy to her dog. “Go with Barbara. You’ll be fine,” she said.
Kylie the Aussie was obviously reluctant to obey. She slowly got up and went with me, but looked over her shoulder at her owner.
“Come on, girl,” I said in my cheeriest voice. “I’ve got cheese,” I said. Usually, the word cheese is the magic word to focus Kylie’s razor sharp attention. This time I said the magic word, she glanced my way for a moment, then looked back to the door of the room in which Kathy her owner was waiting.
Why was Kylie the Aussie acting so strangely? This was not like her at all. This dog loved me and usually pranced and danced on camera happily sitting and cocking her head for the camera.
The human model came in and I put Kylie the Aussie in position. I stepped back and began to cue her, looking for the sweet expression and happy ears that she always offered me.
Kylie did her best to be obedient. She is a good dog and knows that Stay means Stay, but there’s a big difference between a dog who is focused on the work and a dog who is just going through the motions. Kylie was just not with me. I told her Stay and she would Stay but only for a moment or two and then she would break her Stay. This is unusual for such a well-trained dog and experienced animal model.
“Oh, no! What did you do?” I said (my traditional speech when a dog breaks a Stay). I tried again. I gave her the hand signal and said “Kylie, Stay!” She paused for only a moment this time before breaking her Stay again. I was shocked. This is an obedient dog. She always listened to my commands and performed them cheerfully and happily for the cheese reward. What could possibly be wrong? I watched Kylie the Aussie as her gaze continued to go to the door. And then I understood. Kylie the Aussie’s mind was with her owner Kathy in the waiting room. I apologized to the photographer for the delay and took Kylie off the set. “Okay!” I said to Kylie. She bolted out the door and down towards the hall to be with Kathy. I could hear Kathy laughing as I headed towards them. “What is it, girl?” Kathy asked as Kylie stood on her hind legs and washed Kathy’s face with her tongue.
“She can’t leave your side right now,” I said. She knows that you haven’t been well and that her place is with you.”
Kathy held Kylie’s head in her hands. “Is that true, Kylie?” She said “Don’t you know that I am okay now?” Kylie looked back at her with the intelligent brown eyes of an Australian Shepherd, one of the smartest of all dog breeds. I think Kylie the Aussie felt the need to protect her owner Kathy and be with her. Kathy had beaten the breast cancer, but perhaps her dog still thought she still needed special care and attention. Although Kylie the Aussie shows every sign of enjoying being an acting dog, perhaps she thought she had a more important job right then: Being with Kathy.
“Please come to the set with us?” said Kathy to me, and we went back. I said to Kathy: “You work with her. She usually works better with me, but she needs you this time.” Kathy put Kylie in position, thehuman model readied the grooming tool, and the photographer began to shoot. It was like a different dog was there. Kylie posed and perked her ears. She put her paw up and then down on command and she spun around in a circle when asked. She even kissed the model’s face on cue. Here was the Kylie I knew.
The rest of the shoot went perfectly and the client was happy with the results.
Another six months went by before I needed to use Kylie on a shoot. I had been in touch with Kathy and knew that she was getting stronger and feeling better every day. This time when she came to the studio Kylie was overjoyed to see me, almost leaping into my arms as I said hello. And when I took her leash to lead her to the set she went with me without a backward glance.
On set she was once again a pro, offering all of her endearing behaviors like tilting her head and grinning for the camera. When we finished and I returned her to Kathy in the waiting room, I marveled at how different Kylie the Aussie was from the last time I worked her.
It’s amazing to me how dogs sometimes just know. Apparently, even though Kathy thought she was back to her old self, Kylie the dog did not agree and thought she needed to stay by Kathy’s side. Now that Kathy was fully recovered and cancer free, Kylie the Aussie also was back to her old self and ready to perform.
©2011 Barbara O’Brien -White Robin Farm -N616 130th Street -Stockholm WI 54769 -(612) 812-8788

Braveheart Rescue, Inc. One Simple Mission: Where Dogs Come First

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Written By Jenny Pavlovic

 

My experience Braveheart Rescue Robin's adopted dog, Apachewith 8 State Hurricane Kate, a rescued Katrina dog, taught me a lot about rehabilitating dogs and giving them a safe environment to just learn to be dogs. Kate traveled with me from Louisiana to Minnesota, where everything was different. She’d suffered significant physical and emotional trauma during and after Hurricane Katrina. Not knowing her history before I met her in Louisiana, I was challenged to understand her and help her become comfortable in this new environment. When I realized that Kate wasn’t socialized to other dogs, I knew we had a long road ahead of us. After a couple of months though, Kate picked up a ball to play, perhaps for the first time in her life. She kicked up her heels and cavorted with joy. I finally felt like we were on the right path.

Kate’s story is included not only in her own book, 8 State Hurricane Kate, but also in the new book Dogs & the Women Who Love Them: Extraordinary True Stories of Loyalty, Healing and Inspiration, by Allen and Linda Anderson. This book is a wonderful collection of stories about women and the dogs who have changed their lives. I had the privilege of joining the Andersons to share Kate’s story at book signings in Minnesota. That’s where I first crossed paths with the people from Braveheart Rescue, Inc. in Hastings, Minnesota. When I learned about this rescue organization, I could tell that they truly understand dogs.
Braveheart Rescue is a unique, non-breed specific 501(c)(3) non-profit dog rescue organization. With one simple mission: “Dogs Come First”, they’re committed to saving dogs’ lives, helping them become physically and psychologically healthy, and finding them homes where the people and dogs fit together well. At Braveheart Rescue, dogs are given needed veterinary care and each have their own kennel space with a raised bed. They go outside a few times every day, and when healthy and ready for socialization, they’re exercised with other dogs in a fenced area.
Brandi Tracy is truly a dog whisperer who moves among the dogs and keeps order with a simple touch or a word. It’s amazing to watch her interact with the dogs. Robin Romano adopted her dog Apache from Braveheart in 2009. She was so impressed with the organization that she became deeply involved in its continued success, caring for dogs, scooping poop, doing laundry, organizing fundraisers, attending dog adoptions, and pitching in where needed to help Brandi run the rescue smoothly.
Braveheart Rescue, Inc. was inspired by a dog who changed Brandi’s life, leading her into full-time dog rescue. Brandi ran a boarding kennel for years on acreage outside of Hastings, Minnesota, occasionally helping rescue dogs. One day she learned of Braveheart, a husky mix who had been hit by a car. Enter Brandi, who tried to save Braveheart’s right rear leg. After three surgeries and many rehabilitation sessions, amputation was determined to be the best course. But Braveheart didn’t give up, and neither did Brandi.
In addition to his injured leg, Braveheart was in critical condition. After the accident, he “died” on the table at the vet clinic. Both sides of his pelvis were broken. His ribs were extremely bruised, and he had a severe concussion. The vet pumped fluids into Braveheart until he could absorb no more. People sat with the injured dog for several hours, almost certain he wouldn’t make it through the night. Everyone except Brandi thought Braveheart’s story had ended. But Brandi waited.
Suddenly Braveheart raised his head, his eyes partially swollen shut, and sat up looking dazed and confused. Everyone, including the vet, was amazed.
Brandi made it her mission to give Braveheart a wonderful life. Today, hears after the accident, he’s a happy and healthy dog, and they’re the best of friends. Nothing daunts Braveheart. He runs like the wind on his three legs, to the dismay of squirrels and rabbits. He loves to go for rides, and goes everywhere with Brandi. There is no question about his excellent quality of life.
Brandi was so inspired by Braveheart’s heart and will to live that she decided to help other dogs who might not otherwise get a second chance. Since formally becoming a rescue organization in 2008, Braveheart Rescue has taken in dogs in need from New Mexico, Louisiana, Alabama, Indiana, and many other states in addition to Minnesota.
Ralf was rescued from a local humane society. He’d been labeled dangerous because he was food aggressive, usually an automatic death sentence. But Ralf gobbled up anything in his sight because he was starving. Once his hunger was sated and Brandi and Robin worked with him, he ate very gently from their hands with a grateful look in his eyes. He soon learned to sit on command when offered his food, and gave a quick kiss before he started eating. Ralf now lives in Stillwater, Minnesota with a wonderful family. He campaigned door-to-door with his human owner who ran for office.
Roo, a puppy mill dog who had never enjoyed human interaction or the medical attention he deserved, came to Braveheart from Georgia. He arrived with the worst case of heartworms the vet had ever seen. At seven years old, Roo never complained once as he fought for life with every ounce of his little black Chow-Chow body. Four treatments, two surgeries and eight months later, Roo walked out the door and into his new home. Brandi said, “To watch him waddle out the door with his new family was nothing less than divine”.

Coy, a smaller than average Siberian Husky, was found chained to a rusted out truck in South Dakota, where she was sometimes locked inside for days. In her short two year life she’d been beaten, verbally abused and had whelped four litters of puppies. Coy was finally rescued by a loving young woman and transported to Braveheart. She was vetted and on the road to recovery from her spay surgery when she was diagnosed with cancer. Coy endured two more surgeries and never looked back. She continued to maintain her sweet, affectionate personality and was adopted by a kind young couple.

Journey, an Australian Cattle Dog, was running out of time in a Kentucky animal control facility. Her owner had gone to prison and nobody came to claim her. She was middle aged, overweight, and had cloudy eyes. Lost and alone, she was running out of options when Brandi offered to take her in. At Braveheart, Journey has received needed veterinary care, is losing weight and enjoys playing in the snow. She’s starting to feel like she owns the place! Soon she’ll be ready to find a new home.

Bernie, a sweet blue heeler, was on death row in a kill shelter in Louisiana. His chances of survival became even slimmer when he tested positive for heartworm. Brandi took him in and he has responded well to treatment. Once his series of heartworm treatments are completed, he’ll be socialized with the other dogs and will be evaluated for adoption.

 These are just a few of the dogs who’ve been given love and a second chance at Braveheart Rescue. Brandi founded the organization at great personal risk and depends on the generosity of others to keep the rescue running smoothly. If you would like to provide financial support, volunteer to help care for the dogs on a regular basis, organize a fundraising event in your community, or provide computer, accounting or other support, please contact Brandi through www.BraveheartRescueInc.com.

 

Learn more about Braveheart Rescue, Inc. at the Twin Cities Pet Expo on March12th-13th at the Minneapolis Convention Center. Meet author Jenny Pavlovic at the Braveheart Rescue booth, pick up free samples of Omega Nuggets and register to win Canine Shine for your dog. A portion of 8 State Hurricane Kate and Not Without My Dog Book sales at the Pet Expo will be donated to Braveheart Rescue, Inc. Find more information at www.BraveheartRescueInc.com, www.8StateKate.net and http://www.twincitiespetexpo.com/about.htm.
What dog has changed your life?

What Dogs Have Taught Me about Life, Love, and Myself

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Written By Jenny Pavlovic

One of the best ways to get to know me is through the dogs in my life, so I decided to introduce myself through my relationships with them.
Katrina rescue dog Kate taught me that an old, lost, beaten down girl who survived a Louisiana hurricane and flood and was displaced halfway across the country could adapt. It wasn’t easy–everything was different–but she carried on. She taught me that starting over when you’re perhaps past the prime of your life isn’t easy, but you can do it, and you can do it with dignity and heart. She reminded me how important it is to socialize puppies and expose them to all kinds of different experiences when they’re young. A dog who hasn’t had those experiences has a much harder time with new things as an adult.
KateAfter Hurricane Katrina, I had to ask Kate for help and she led me to many new friends. She showed me that friends from all over the country and even the world will come forward to help when I need them. She also took me to new intuitive and spiritual depths and introduced me to animal communication in a way that I hadn’t known before.
The only red heeler puppy for miles, Australian Cattle Dog Bandit, found me at the vet clinic, just minutes after my old red heeler mix Rusty had passed on. Bandit taught me that sometimes the best friends will find you when you least expect them to, and that paying attention to them is important. Jump on a good opportunity when you see it because life is too short and you may not get another chance. A 55 pound dog who can move a herd of cattle, Bandit showed me that attitude is everything. He also taught me to be a leader, because (bred to herd cattle) he is a ‘lead or get out of the way’ kind of guy. I had to step up to maintain order in our household!
As a puppy, Bandit came with his own rubber chicken. I used to think that he waved the rubber chicken at me when I was trying to work because he wanted to play. But then I realized that he did it because he knew that I needed to play. He knows me so well. I call him my recreation director!
Chase taught me that another man’s trash could be my treasure. My friend Sarah of Lost Fantasy Animal Rescue in Virginia (who I met in Louisiana caring for rescued animals after Hurricane Katrina) rescued Chase from a man who was going to shoot him for chasing sheep. Chase is the sweetest, handsomest, most sensitive dog who is so worried about making a mistake, because he knows that a mistake could have cost him his life. Chase 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 you can recover from abuse and violence to be who you were meant to be. Chase is a very loving dog who loves to meet people at book events and would probably like to be a greeter at Wal-Mart!
Cayenne taught me that a dog who’s afraid of her own

Jenny, Chase, Cayenne, and Bandit

shadow can eventually bond to a person. Abandoned in the Tennessee wilderness with her very sick young littermates,Cay lost her mother too soon and struggled to survive puppyhood. She and her littermates were rescued by caring people who nursed them back to health, but she was afraid and had never bonded to a per

son. With time and patience and love, this dog who once cowered in the back of her travel crate – needing two people to pull her out – learned to smile and be happy and run up to a person to be petted. She’s wiggly and joyful now, and seeks attention from my friends. Cayenne taught me to be patient and that the waiting is worthwhile. She loves me now and fully participates in life. Cayenne’s rehabilitation is one of my greatest accomplishments.

 Jenny, Chase, Cayenne, and Bandit
(photo by L.S. Originals of Fridley, Minnesota)
Kate, Bandit, Chase, and Cayenne taught me to live more in the moment and appreciate our time together each day, for our time together is much too short.
Jenny Pavlovic is the author of 8 State Hurricane Kate: The Journey and Legacy of a Katrina Cattle Dog and the Not Without My Dog Resource & Record Book, and a contributing author of Dogs & the Women Who Love Them: Extraordinary True Stories of Loyalty, Healing and Inspiration. She founded the 8 State Kate Press, LLC and donates a portion of book proceeds through the 8 State Kate Fund to help animals in need (more info at www.8statekate.net). Jenny is working on her third book, for kids from 1 to 100. It includes cartoon cattle dogs and rubber chickens, and reminds us to tune in to nature and the animals in our lives.

 

Emergency Preparedness for Your Pet: 8 Things I Learned from 8 State Hurricane Kate

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Written By Jenny Pavlovic
8 State Hurricane Kate, an old Australian Cattle Dog, was rescued from a rooftop in Louisiana nine days after Hurricane Katrina. I met her in September 2005 in Gonzales, Louisiana, where rescued animals were taken for care and shelter. With no known address or ID, she was running out of options. When Hurricane Rita forced our evacuation, I drove home to Minnesota, through eight states, with Kate in a kennel in the back seat. While fostering Kate, I listed her on Petfinder and searched for her original family, even posting a “Do You Know This Dog?” video on YouTube.com. Yet five years after Hurricane Katrina, I still don’t know what her life was like before August 29th, 2005.
Kate’s story holds valuable lessons for all animals. My journey with Kate inspired me to write the Not Without My Dog Resource & Record Book, to organize my dogs’ information in one place, for daily use, travel, and emergencies. This book includes important information from Noah’s Wish(www.NoahsWish.info), a group dedicated to caring for animals in disasters. The following tips will help keep you and your pets safer and happier.
8 Things I Learned from 8 State Kate
1. Microchip your pet. Katrina showed us how easily pets can lose their collars and IDs. A microchip implanted under the pet’s skin is the best permanent identification. I recommend a microchip even if your pet never leaves the house. A flood, tornado, hurricane, or even a surprise bolt out the door can separate you. A microchip is a small electronic chip with a unique ID number, in a capsule the size of a grain of rice. When a pet is found, the ID number is read by a hand-held scanner and the microchip company is notified. The company looks up the ID number in their database to find the owner. A microchip will only reunite you with your pet if you’ve registered your current contact information.
2. Keep good pet records, including a current photo of you with your pet (to verify ownership) and photos of your pet’s unique identifying characteristics. Store your pet’s vet, food and medication records in one place (like the Not Without My Dogbook). Include information on the pet’s daily routine, words the pet knows, and other useful tips for anyone taking care of your pet in an emergency situation. Make sure a designated person knows where your pet’s information is stored, in case something happens to you.
3. Make a disaster plan for your family and pets. Know the most likely natural disasters in your area. If you must stay home, be prepared to survive without assistance. Assemble a kit to meet your family’s basic needs for at least three days. Store it in easily accessible waterproof containers. If you must evacuate, do not leave your pets behind. Have carriers, leashes, and harnesses for your pets. Know the local evacuation routes, how you’ll transport your pets, and where you’ll take them. Plan alternate destinations because emergency shelters for people often don’t allow pets, and pet-friendly hotels fill quickly.
4. Make a family communication plan in case a disaster occurs while you’re separated. Know where your family will meet if you can’t reach each other by phone. Identify a neighbor or petsitter who will get to your pets quickly when they need help and your family is away from home.
5. Make sure your pets are properly vaccinated, treated for fleas and ticks, and on heartworm preventative. Healthy pets are better prepared to survive anything, including displacement and housing with other animals. Accepted vaccination protocols are changing, and some flea and tick treatments are not approved by veterinarians. Do your research and decide what’s best for your pet. 
6. Socialize and train your pets. Socialize pets to be confident in different situations. Positively trained pets are less likely to get lost. Make sure they know how to walk on a leash/harness and are comfortable riding in their carriers in the car. Teach them to wait before exiting the car by pausing, then giving them a reward.
7. Tune in to your pets. They’re tuned in to you. Give them opportunities to do what they were bred to do. Help them relax and be confident. Appreciate them for who they are. The more connected you are to your pets, the better you will weather anything together.
8. Be resilient. An old girl who has lost everything can recover with dignity and grace, and be happy. Kate taught me this too.
(Photo credit:  LS Originals of Fridley, Minnesota)
Jenny Pavlovic is the author of the award-winning 8 State Hurricane Kate: The Journey and Legacy of a Katrina Cattle Dog and the Not Without My Dog Resource & Record Book (made in Minnesota). Learn more at www.8StateKate.net and http://www.facebook.com/8StateKate. Find out about Jenny’s events in Wisconsin and Minnesota at http://www.8statekate.net/wordpress/?page_id=186.

Telling the Story

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Three dogs on truck hood

Written By Barbara O’Brien

I had the privilege of photographing some old dogs yesterday.  My friend, Deb, made the long drive from the Twin Cities in Minnesota to our farm in western Wisconsin with her three dogs in tow.  She wanted me to do a photo session for her before she lost one of them to old age or disease.  She was especially concerned for her almost 15 year old Australian Shepherd, Brady. His condition was progressively getting worse. Day by day, she could see his once sharp mind slipping away.

She arrived and her dogs leaped from the back of her SUV, heads high and eyes bright.  It was if they were saying, “Where are we? What are we going to do? What a cool place, Mom!”  They spotted the cats first and Dilly, her six year old Mini Aussie, pulled hard on the leash as he tried to say hello to the closet one. Brady sniffed the air and her 12 year old Sheltie, Murphy, stepped forward as if he owned the place. After a few minutes of initial excitement the dogs began to settle down, or at least Brady and Murphy did. It is not in Dilly’s nature (not unlike my own) to be still for very long. There was so much to see and do.

I had my camera in hand so we headed down to the big barn door where a long hallway frames a dog’s head nicely with the landscape beyond and tried to get the three dogs into a sit-stay. Being well trained obedience dogs, Dilly and Murphy sat quietly, but Brady couldn’t bear to have Deb out of range for more than a moment and kept breaking his stays to follow her.

Another photographer may have been upset by this, as it was in effect, ruining the shot, but to me it was just another part of telling the story. Brady was losing his vision and hearing and to an intelligent, active dog like him if must have been a new and perhaps frightening experience. No wonder he would get up and try to follow Deb when she left him. The good obedient dog in him wanted to comply, but his confidence had been eroded by his illness and he knew he needed to be by her side.

I told Deb not to worry and had her sit down with all three dogs. She gathered them to her chest and they all grew still, comforted by her presence. Even little Dilly stopped moving for a moment or two. I managed to get several shots of them all together before Dilly broke off to chase the chickens.

He took off after one of my hens. The hen ran as fast as she could, bee lining it towards the safety of the henhouse. Dilly was right behind her, even grabbing a mouthful of feathers as they went behind the barn. We ran after them, positively sure that we were going find a dead hen in Dilly’s mouth. To our surprise, Dilly had chased the hen to the woven wire fence of the goat pen and was making sure the terrified hen did not try to escape as he gently herded her into the corner. Thankful that his herding instinct was stronger than his predator instinct, I rescued the hen and brought a very proud Dilly back to Deb.

Our next shot was in the hay fields where the dogs ran and played, joyful in their newfound freedom as Deb unleashed them and let them run. Dilly zoomed back and forth through the alfalfa and Murphy, ever the gentleman, stayed right at Deb’s side. Brady, grinning his doggie grin, ran from new scent to new scent, just happy to be alive. I could see that Brady was slowly leaving us, and that it would only be a matter of time before Deb would lose him forever. He seemed to have moments of clarity and then  not be with us at all. I couldn’t help remembering that all animals live in the here and now and don’t know tomorrow. As much as it pained Deb to see him deteriorate all that mattered to Brady at that moment was that he was with his beloved owner and doggie companions. He was running free in green fields, smelling new smells and feeling the warmth of the late afternoon sun upon his head and back.

I still wanted to get a shot of the three dogs together so I took advantage of my son’s rusty old pickup truck that was parked at the edge of the field. We placed all three dogs on the hood and were able to get the group shot we wanted.

We did a few more shots of Deb walking with the dogs down my long winding driveway and then by the wooden fence of the arena. After that, we loaded up the three tired, but happy, dogs into her SUV and Deb headed off for home.

That evening as I was editing the images, I was overwhelmed by the depth of the loyalty, devotion and undying love that shown through each dog’s face when they looked at Deb. I felt blessed that I was able to be a part of their story, even if only for a short while. And in time, when her old dogs leave her, I hope that she will find some consolation in the images and the story her dogs told us on that glorious fall day at the farm.

How A Big German Shepherd, An Anxious Siberian Husky And A Rogue Collie Helped Me Get My First Dog

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Written By Barbara O’Brien
 
 
Now I am only going to tell you once. If you happen to be the parent to a horse crazy, dog crazy or cat crazy kid and you try to keep them from having a pet they will do everything their power to find animals on their own. Once they leave you and start their own lives, they may end up with a houseful of stray cats and dogs a barn full of horses and chickens and sheep and an always empty pocket just make up for lost time.Or at least that was the way it was with me. If you remember from my last column, my parents were not keen on the idea of letting me have a pet so it became my mission to be around animals no matter what.I remember being only about eight or nine when I began searching the neighborhood for houses that had dogs. There was a dog a block or so away that I could only catch glimpses of between the boards of their 6 foot privacy fence. From the pieces of it I did see, I could tell it was big and yellow.It would run to the fence and try to press his nose through the boards while I lay on the ground and reached under the fence to touch him. He would comply by lying on his back so I stroke his soft belly fur. I could only reach with the tips of my fingers. It was awful to be so close yet not be able to really see or play with him.When I was a little older I began to approach people out walking their dogs and beg to pet them. Pretty soon I became known as that kid who was crazy about dogs and that I would be happy to take them for walks when their owners didn’t have time. 

By the age of 12 I had a pretty tidy little business going. I would take a dog for a walk for the princely sum of 50 cents. Word spread and soon I had up to 6 clients a week. Everything from a nosy Beagle to a high strung Siberian Huskie that could pull me on my bike like the wind. One of my favorite dogs was a big male German Shepherd that acted like he owned the world but would never hurt anyone. Because of him, I have always tried to have a German Shepherd in my life.

 
About this same time I joined 4H. I was to participate in the horse project and the dog project. I had the horse thing figured out, I had begun to lease a horse from a local barn but the dog project required I find a suitable dog to train. I signed up for the free dog obedience classes offered by the county extension office on the hope my parents would see that I just had to have a dog of my own.Again I pleaded with my parents to let me get a dog but again I was told, NO PETS.It was clear that my parents were not going to give in. No matter how many tears and promise of extra chores it just wasn’t going to happen. Family allergies and a hectic lifestyle made that perfectly clear.So I had to settle for the next best thing, one of my dog walking customers had a beautiful sable collie and they agreed that I could take the dog to classes and show him at the county fair. His name was Cheetah and he was to become my partner for the summer.And so began my first taste of real dog training. Every Tuesday night for the next eight weeks our 4H leader would load us up with our dogs and haul us to a school grounds in a nearby town where we fell under the watchful eye of the 4H Dog Obedience Instructor. She dutifully taught us how to work with our dogs and make it fun for them while they learned to sit and stay and prepare for the big show at the county fair. 

Cheetah was a quick learner and worked hard at understanding what I wanted from him. He seemed to know when I was down and would rest his head on my lap while I petted him. He was a good dog and I loved him but it always made me sad when I gave him back to his real family he seemed to forget me the minute I let go of the leash.

We went to the fair and we did well at the show. Cheetah and I earned a blue ribbon. My parents were pleased that I seemed to filling my dog needs and I was happy to have at least one dog to love, even if he wasn’t mine.

Things probably could’ve gone on for some time like this. My parents were happy, Cheetah and his owners were happy, and I was as happy as I could be with a borrowed dog.

The fair was over and we were still meeting on Tuesday nights preparing for the state 4H Dog Show when Cheetah and the dog next to him decided to get into a fight. It was a good sized shepherd mix and I grabbed at Cheetah’s collar to separate them. Cheetah reared back still fighting and bit me in the face. I fell back, pulling Cheetah away as the dogs owner, a teenage boy got control of his dog.

Blood begin to drip from the puncture wound on my cheek as I fought back tears.How could Cheetah bite me? The Instructor came to me and handed Cheetah to my friend to hold while she gently took me inside and washed my face. The bite didn’t hurt so much as the fact that Cheetah had turned on me. I was devastated. The dog leader tried to explain to me dogs act out of instinct and Cheetah’s aggression wasn’t directed at me.We went outside and I took Cheetah back. He wagged his tail and licked my hand as if nothing had happened. I petted his head and tried to forgive him, but I was still hurt.When we dropped him off and the owners saw what had happened they told me that perhaps it was better I didn’t walk Cheetah anymore. And although they weren’t blaming me for the incident, they didn’t want to see me get hurt again.Not only had I been bitten by a dog I loved, but now he was being taken away from me. 

I held back my pain the rest of the way home, but when I opened the door and found my parents watching TV in the living room I burst into tears. They held me close as I told them what had happened and how not only did I get bit, but also that they (Cheetah’s owners) had told me I couldn’t see Cheetah anymore. It just wasn’t fair!

And then it happened. Something changed and my Dad looked at my Mom and said that enough was enough. They couldn’t have me getting bit like this. I had to have my own dog. My mother began to object but one look at my anguished face convinced her that maybe the time had come after all.

 
I could not believe my ears. Did my dad say I could get a dog? A real dog! Visions of collies and shepherds and goldens and mutts began to dance in my head. A dog! A dog! My own dog!I began to jump up and down wanting to shout this to the world when my mother suddenly laid out her conditions. It would have to be a Wire Haired Fox Terrier and nothing else. Her sister in Idaho had one and they didn’t shed. It had to be a male and to top it off it had to be $50.00 or less.My heart sank. She may as well have told me to find a needle in a haystack and I would have better luck. Fox Terriers were a rare bred in our area and even common breeds of purebred dogs didn’t go for less $200.Even though it was fairly late, I found the paper and quickly scanned the want ads, Beagles, Cockers, English Setters, Lab puppies and then I saw it, an ad for Fox Terriers. In all my years of scanning the ads for dogs I wished I could have, I had never seen an ad Wire Haired Fox Terriers. I joyfully showed the ad to my parents. They were surprised that I had found some so quickly and my dad said, call them up. I picked up the phone and a man answered. Breathless, I asked if he still had any puppies. I have one left, the man said. It’s a little male with a black patch on his eye. My heart leapt in my throat. What does he cost? I asked. Waiting for bad news, I said a prayer under my breath, please please, please…Well, he is the last one, the man said. You can have him for 50 bucks. Miracle of miracles! I turned to my parents and said, 50 bucks, he wants 50 bucks! My dad seeing how close he was to having a dog said, tell him you only have $40. I only have $40, I said and he said ok, you can have him. 

I was stunned. It was really happening! I handed the phone to my dad and he got the address and arranged to get the puppy the next day. I hugged my parents and jumped around and danced around the room, it was finally happening!

My mom began to cry when she saw how happy I was. Maybe she never realized how important to me having a dog was. She smiled and told me I better go clean my room if I ever to hope the find the puppy again in all that mess once I brought him home.

Thank you! Thank you! Thank you, God! I was happy as a child could be.

The next morning my dad and I drove to St. Paul and picked up the eight week old Fox Terrier puppy from the breeder. We didn’t have a crate so I held him in my arms all the way home.

He licked my face and I knew that even though he wasn’t a shepherd or a collie or a lab at least he was mine.

That was many years ago and much to my chagrin my parents have always had a dog ever since.

Don’t say you haven’t been warned.

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