Pack Matters: Good Dogs! (#2 in a series)

See the little line in the title, through the “s”, above? It is there on purpose. Maggie is a big girl, at 100 pounds. She gave John a whipping the other night. She was only slightly abashed about it. There was an angry ten inch welt from his shoulder down the right side of his chest, where the chain collar, as it snapped, flew back and flayed him. Now he has a multi-coloured bruise the size of a lunch plate. The reason we even keep her miserable flea bitten carcass around the place given this sort of thing, is that, mid lunge, she thought better of it and guiltily, (or so it appeared) changed her mind. Billy, meanwhile, also a big dog, at 88 pounds, who spent several neglected years half starved on a farm fending largely for himself, (when dumped at the shelter he weighed a skeletal 57 pounds), stood placidly by, in his buckled cloth collar. He waited patiently as John sorted himself and Maggie out, then heeled politely home with them. It did not occur to him to do otherwise.

Maggie, on the Pack’s regular pre-bed walk around the block, was after a rabbit. Our modest 1960’s house has a nice size lot and backs on to a medium-sized, bucolic city park. One end of the park is open grass, with swings, and a climbing structure with a slide (a basic kids’ playground), and a baseball diamond. The other end which is “our” end has a grassed area scattered with quite a lot of very tall, old trees and with a densely treed little copse in the middle. We are in an quiet, older subdivision in a very urban area, 2.3 km from the QEW, which is the “busiest highway in Canada” according to Google, which I just consulted. How we ended up in this particular neighbourhood in this particular town is a story for another post.

You would not expect to find much in the way of wildlife here, but you would be wrong. There are bird species by the dozen. A pair of red-tail hawks nests in the oak tree just outside our backyard gate into the park. There is an entire neighbourhood of skunk families on our block, one in each of the culverts running under every driveway to control rain runoff. At any given moment, should you glance out the window, there are at least five or six squirrels racing around. And the rabbits-well, we all know about the profligate mating habits of rabbits. Rabbits are everywhere. Mighty Fang and I barely notice the bunny or two grazing on our front lawn nearly every evening. But, the big dogs do! And Billy, well, let us say that he has demonstrated to us firsthand how he must have kept from starving in his old life. Three separate times, in fact, and right in our own backyard, too…

So it is all the more remarkable that he does not take off after wildlife if he is on lead. Which dog thinks, “Oh, this is a civilized walk, not a hunting free for all”? The coddled Maggie who has nearly four years of daily training under her belt, or formerly neglected Billy , who, a scant year ago, had never lived in a house, did not respond to his own name, and was not socialized well to either dogs or people?

Last night Billy completed a Whistle Recall course in dog school! He has a fancy certificate, too, and had there been an award for most congenial dog, Billy would have won it, hands down. I leave you with a thrilling and suspenseful video, part of his graduation test. Mighty Fang is blowing the whistle and is lying hidden in the long grass. Be sure to watch until the end!

Thanks for reading!


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