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Thursday, January 22, 2009

Wisconsin Death Trip

I'd like to hear more about your animals and how they earn their keep. Like your dogs? Do you have them working at herding or protecting livestock/people or what? And more about your horse: caring for, feeding, etc? Gemini

Well, Gemini, most my animals do very well at earning their own keep, chickens and cows do what chicken and cows do (anyone else have Cow and Chicken's theme song running through their heads now? Momma had a Chicken, momma had a Cow.)

The cats help with the field mice population.

Dogs and horses are different. With them you have to work hard on training.

We have 3 dogs. Our oldest is Link
He is a Collie and Husky mix. Once upon a time he was a city dog. I worked with the owner and he was going to take him to the pound because he was moving out of state. I offered to take him. Link is older than we were told, he's about 10 years old now. And he is our official grumpy old man. Link is a great alarm system. We weren't sure what to do with him when we first got him, he has been with us since we moved out here. It was Link that decided his role would be the one of something is in the driveway alarm. He isn't the greatest about running off other dogs however. He would rather play, unless it's a puppy. He hates puppies.

Buckets is a newer member of the family. She is about 3 years old and came to us via my big brother. She was an apartment dog, and looked like a tightly stuffed sausage when she arrived. She has lost about 30 lbs since she got here. Buckets is an American Stafford shire Bull Terrier, yes a member of the bully breeds (pit bull). This breed however prefers to knock you down and sit on you rather than biting. She is stubborn and suffers from a major case of OCD that takes the form of playing fetch. She will drag 20 lb sledge hammers over to you, wanting you to throw it for her. We are working on training with her. And are currently waiting for a leather harness that one of my husband's motorcycle clients is making for her. Buckets is a pulling dog. Bully breeds love to pull. When there is snow on the ground, my boys attach a lead to her and she will whip them around the yard on a sled. This summer, she will be pulling the wagon of garden veggies for us, I mean me. She tends to break the plastic buckles on regular dog harnesses, we are hopeful that the one that is being made for her will work out better. And we have not had a single chicken stolen since she arrived. She is also Small's body guard. They are together all the time, and he uses her as a body pillow, or rides her like a calf. Those two will be trouble, I just know it.

Sprocket is our puppy. A little ghetto dog that I thought wasn't going to make it. She is 6 months old, German Shepard and blue tick mix, and smart as a whip. She learned hand signals quickly. She is being trained to be my cow dog. The blue tick in her has her laying down to bark, while the German Shepard has her wanting to nip and chase. She learned not to do that around Sunny, as the horse kicked her straight between the eyes. She's fine, once the headache went away.

Now for that old horse of mine. Sunny is also a grumpy old man,

but something happened the other day, and he has decided to take a liking to me. This makes life together a whole lot easier. Sunny earns his keep by teaching me. He isn't a kids horse like, I was told. He is too stubborn and intent on running for a child to be on. But he seems to be the perfect horse for me to learn on. He already knows how things work, and has informed me in his horse way when I have done something wrong. I don't know all of Sunny's past, but he seems to have worked cattle before. Without him, I don't think we would have ever caught the neighbors escaped sheep. Caring for Sunny is simple. He gets grained twice a day, and has access to the same hay that the cows eat. He talks to me over the gate while I am milking and tries to get me to play tag with him when I am working in the field. We work together every day. A few easy work outs that the horse neighbor showed me, lunges and a little roundy round. Nothing too fancy as he was trained very well. He mainly needs reminders and a little extra affection due to the previous neglect he suffered.

ha! ok, so the title of today's post has nothing to do with the post it self. I am listening to some Static X. And I thought I would mess with you guys that have the blog reader list on your side bar. oh feeling ornery. And as usual, questions are always welcome.


Gail said...

Great story! I am ready for more Q/A.

Celeste said...

I laughed at the dogs and Sunny. Hubby enjoyed it also as I read it out loud to him. Interesting that you have all aspecs covered that dogs need to do, guard, play and work, Just not all rolled up in the same dog.

Phelan said...

Gail, better ask some questions then. I have one more and then am out.

Celeste, it's funny how that worked out. It makes training easier to have one dog for each purpose.

HermitJim said...

Thanks for a glimpse at your animal family members. Great post! Good looking pis as well!

Thanks for sharing!

Annette said...

Love your stories! I have a 6 yr old manx cat, Mason, who thinks he is a dog - he plays fetch, comes when you call and runs to the door to greet when you get home. He was a stray kittie that found his way to our door and never left! He is a fantastic mouser and bug eater however he would much rather play with the mice than eat them. Mice usually die of a heart attack. =/
Now Odi, my 8 month old jack russell/pointer puppy is another story! He knows he is a dog and is so active that he sometimes gets into trouble - like running into stationary trailer hitches and playing catch with lumber! Anyway, he helps to earn his keep by catching Mason if/when he gets out - the main road (55mph) is in the front yard. Mason is not an outdoor kitty - and barking at any and everything. Sometimes it is the neighbor coming home and other times an unheard noise. I am hoping that when we have chickens, he will be the protector and not the chaser; we shall see!

Stephanie in AR said...

Songs - a homemade one for chickens "picken chickens bock, bock,bock, picken chickens bockity bock". First song the sil (then kinda boyfriend) heard me sing & still stayed around.

Everwild said...

An inverted halter will stand in as a harness for Buckets until hers is finished and it won't break. We tilled my step mom's garden with a halter, two lead ropes, a tennis ball, and a very enthusiastic Rottweiler-Black Lab mix. Of course, the rows were never very straight, but she managed the hand plow a heck of a lot better than I could. :P

Phelan said...

Everwild, we did try a halter the other day. Unfortunately it would have had her pulling from the neck and not the chest.

Gemini said...

Thanks for sharing, Phelan! I love hearing about your animals.

Everwild said...


If the halter is big enough, it should rest on her shoulders and there shouldn't be any pressure on her neck at all. We used the front rings to stabilize with a v-shaped strap secured between her legs (mimicking a competitive weight-pulling harness) and used the back rings for actual weight-bearing which distributed the weight evenly across her back and shoulders.

It's muchmuchMUCH easier to obtain proper sledding/weight pull harnesses for dogs these days than it was 25 years ago!

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