THE EMPATHIC CANINE

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MAGIC with tri-pawed, BEAR.  Good friends from their first meeting.  MAGIC is extremely patient with BEAR who is “Mr. ME-FIRST!!!”

I believe that the majority of dog owners would agree that their canine companions have canine friends – dogs they look forward to interacting with, playing with, sparring with.  With Magic, I am familiar with the sounds of whimpering, high-pitched growls, high-pitched yips, when he recognizes one of his dog friends from our patio slider.  Their initial meet and greet includes facial licks, touching of noses, faces rubbed against each other, perhaps some pre-sparring moves like a paw on the back or neck.  Some chase-me, chase-you pursuit games followed by some bitey-face sparring or wrestling, all with good intentions.  No pain inflicted, rapid apologies if there is a yelp or an action that is upsetting.  I often describe Magic as a “subtle” Alpha-male, in spite of being neutered.  During the first meeting with any dog that is comparable in size, Magic stands perfectly still and allows the new dog to check him out, sort of like saying, “I am cool and polite and I expect the same from you.”  For us humans who understand canine behavior and their need for play, sparring, and wrestling, also agree that this activity is important for a dogs physical, mental, and emotional health.  One of Magic’s new neighbors, a 10 month old German Shepherd dog, Astro, is taken to school by Magic each time they play these games.  Astro makes numerous attempts at dominating Magic with moves from the back or from the back of the neck, and Magic is just not tolerating it.  A show of teeth, a quick growl, says,

“Be polite, remember that I am the Alpha, mind your manners!”

And within a few seconds, order has been restored and the pursuit games continue.  Astro licks Magic’s mouth, they drink from the same water bowl, and all is right in the canine world.

One of Magic’s long-time friends had been a talkative Golden Retriever, Hershey.  Recently, Hershey had developed cancer in his front left leg which greatly limited his mobility, although not his talkative personality.  Several weeks ago, Magic and I were out for a walk and saw Hershey laying outside on a blanket.  With Hershey on the blanket were his owner and another woman I did not recognize.  The context of this setting told me that Hershey was probably going to “The Bridge” within a short time.  This was confirmed several seconds later by another neighbor who game out with her dog, and Magic’s very good dog-friend, Kaya.  I unhooked Magic’s leash, and he slowly strolled directly to the reclined Hershey.  On his own, Magic gave Hershey a lick on his face, examined him with his nose, and then, very deliberately, slowly, and respectfully, approached Hershey’s owner and the other woman and gave them each a careful lick on their cheek.  I’m watching this “wow” moment asking myself, “How does this Border collie know what to do?”  He read the situation perfectly and his behavior was better than most humans.

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MAGIC with his very good friend and playmate, CASH, an ACD mix.  Bitey-face games are respectful and caring.  Sometimes you hear teeth clicking against each other, but no pain inflicted.  True respect and caring for each other.

 

 

 

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Further Commentary from the Cleric of Canines

Going bye-bye in the car is one of my favorite…

“Hey, Magic, get to the point!  You told me you were going to write about your experiences with puppies and young dogs…or, are you too tired from running around with Sadie?”

What’s the rush?  You haven’t shaved yet today, why don’t you take care of that, now?

My blog, my blog, my blog.  You have your blog (www.betterinstructors-betterrefs.com) and I have my blog…relax.

Yes.  I am the mentor, the trainer, the wise man, the adviser, the guru, the cleric of canines.  Let us get to know each other at your pace; some chase me-chase you games, some wrestling and play fighting.  I may correct your behavior with a low growl, I may grip your haunches.  When I roll onto my back and show you my speckled tummy, I am anointing you as my friend forever.  So sniff me, approach from the rear, take your time.  I want you to feel comfortable with me.  I will ignore you, pretend you are not there.  I am confident in my Border collie-ness,  I am confident in my abilities inherited over the centuries from the Border collies who came before me.  And when you are ready for me to work my “magic,” we will be best friends.

CASE STUDY:  SASHA – AUSTRALIAN CATTLE DOG (PUPPY)

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Photo Courtesy of http://www.nibblin cattle dogs.au

Sasha was fearful of me at the initial consult.  I was aware of our size difference and our ages.  Just a puppy, given up by her owners because they had to move out of the continental United States. The excuses humans come up with…sigh.  My “I AM IGNORING YOU” approach worked the best with Sasha.  But Sasha was VERY wary – took a whole 45 minutes to take her from great wariness to pursuit games.  She is still a little dorky puppy, but very cute…wouldn’t you agree?

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“I know you are there, Sasha”

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“Take your time, Sasha.  There is no rush, no schedule.”

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“We are both herding  dogs, although I am a bit more intelligent.  Closer, closer, relax…”

CASE STUDY:  SADIE – BORDER COLLIE (PUPPY)

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No fearfulness here, that is for sure.  Pursuit games, play-fighting, a quick learner.  However, Sadie will give a whimper during pursuit games if she anticipates a “gripping” maneuver coming close to her hindquarter (official Border collie terminology).  And if a gripping is going to be applied by the “chaser/herder,” Sadie will “crash + burn,”  a deliberate rolling onto the turf to avoid the gripping.  But then she is right back up and ready for more games, either as the sheep or the chaser/herder.  She already knows how to cut the angles, and I have been required to “butt-tuck,” too.  She has very good instincts.

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Sadie has been fearless from the start.  I believe my good-looks are partly responsible for her bravery and stoutness.

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“Nice ears, you BABY!”

Now, about to go bye-bye in the car…  Don’t forget to check out THE BORDER COLLIE MUSEUM.  www.bordercolliemuseum.org