Canine Crisis and Foot Injury Update

Today I took both dogs on a fool’s errand. Teddy hasn’t been on a walk in two months; Bear got a little something Wednesday. I didn’t want to take them both, but they were so EXCITED this afternoon. I think Bear told Teddy, “She took me. I’m sure she’ll take us both next time.” When I brought Bear home Wednesday, it was clear she’d missed Teddy. I felt kind of bad.

So, today, hoping to find a solitary trail somewhere, I put both dogs in Bella. I thought first of the golf course. Because I still can’t walk far, Wednesday I drove to the club house (yeah, I know it’s a block and a half away) from which Bear and I could go straight out to the good stuff, the Big Empty beyond the driving range.

If you’re not familiar with this blog, you might have a different picture of my golf course than the reality. One of the rules of the course is “Don’t let your livestock loose on the greens.” It opens onto a small slough and miles of fields and emptiness, cattle, foxes, deer, elk, moose and an elusive (thank goodness) black bear (who’s brown…) Bobcats and mountain lions also appear from time to time on the cameras people have in their back yards that face the golf course. Late fall is the transition time when the animals and I reclaim the golf course, though, in fact, the golfers don’t mind me at all. We’ve been sharing those acres for five years now. I just make it my rule not to take my dogs if it will interfere with their fun. They’ve been known to let us “play through” so to speak, on our way out to the fields.

But, I could see there were several guys playing golf today (58 F/13 C). No one cares about winter grass and autumn leaves. They’ll play in an inch or two of snow (I love them for that). I drove out of town to the wildlife areas and found fishermen and hunters at Shriver/Wright. It’s hunting season. Bear will wear her hunting vest out there anyway. A dad and his son waved and said “Hi!’ to me. I’ve really missed the little neighborhood of people who hang around out there. Across the street, there were cattle all over Rio Grande Wildlife area which meant Teddy (Australian Shepherd) was NOT going there. Bear is calm and we walk past the herds in vigilant tranquility. The Park and Rec guys put electric fences where they DON’T want the cattle to be, so people have the trails, for the most part. But Teddy has a very powerful herding instinct, so all that remained was the lake and YAY! NO ONE WAS THERE!!! I parked where I would get a mile RT. That’s my walking limit right now.

Cattle trimming the grass in the Rio Grande Wildlife Area. Sandhill cranes calling out from the sky. BEAUTIFUL afternoon.

We walked, slowly, and I used my cane. Teddy was attached to the waist belt by his bungee leash. Bear was on her usual leash and head harness. All went well until, as we were returning to Bella (my Jeep), a lady with a little terrier approached from the rear. Teddy barked at the terrier, the terrier barked back. All hell broke loose. I tried to hold onto Bear but she’s 75 pounds of livestock guardian dog, and I ended up being pulled down and dragged across the dirt road until I let go. Bear, of course, went for the terrier who was barking menacingly (naturally). For Bear, it was only three long steps. She didn’t even hurry. The owner was yelling “No! No!” terrified for her dog whom, it looked like, Bear was trying to kill. I was glad Teddy was fastened to me. I apologized and apologized from my position on the ground and wondered how I could get up.

But I did.

When Bear was finished disciplining the terrier, she wanted to meet the lady and be nice to the dog (who was in the lady’s arms). There were no injuries, of course. But the lady wasn’t having it (nor would I). Bear just stood calmly, smelling the ground by the lake, and, to my immense relief, she waited for me to come and get her. I was — and am — so sorry. I’m sure the lady was terrified.

I need a sign on Bear that says, “If your dog barks, Bear will attack your dog.” I just try to avoid people. I don’t think Bear would hurt any dog unless the dog hurt me (or her), but I can’t say that to anyone because I don’t really know. I certainly can’t answer for anyone else’s dog. The times Bear was attacked really changed her attitude about dogs when she’s leashed and with me. 

Finally the lady said, “I’ll go the other way.” I would have, but it would have meant another mile around the lake on uneven ground. I would never have made it.

BUT the foot wasn’t re-injured, though it is a little more sore than it has been, and all seems to be well.

I just have two dogs who are instinct driven. When Teddy caught sight (or whiff?) of the cattle, he was all about it, standing on two legs to see them over the weeds and the irrigation canal. Then a car went by way too fast and Teddy was ready to chase it. No one ever said an Australian shepherd, like Teddy, is an easy dog to live with especially in the first two years of their lives.

Teddy sees cattle…

Bear is a livestock guardian dog. Normally, they’re not house dogs or pets at all. They’re out there in the back of beyond working in complete independence caring for numerous goats or sheep, sometimes cattle, as have their forefathers and mothers for millennia. She might sit, stay, down, come under normal circumstances, but not when she believes she’s working.

How could this angelic beast do ANYTHING wrong???

So, will have to walk them one at a time for a while unless we’re alone at the golf course, I guess. I was stupid to take them both out.

28 thoughts on “Canine Crisis and Foot Injury Update

  1. I’m glad you did’t re-injure your foot — how’s the rest of you? Your two dogs are such good friends — it’s too bad their instincts are so opposite; it’s a shame you can’t walk them both at the same time. Can you work out a routine that they both get a chance each day so neither becomes jealous?

    • Normally they do fine together but I’m just not up to any challenge right now because of my foot 😕 Luckily the aren’t jealous of each other. I think Bear regards Teddy as her puppy! Anyhow I’m fine and I hope that other lady is too. She must have been terrified. At least her dog was small enough for her to pick up.

  2. What an eventful walk! Sorry you had such a nasty fall but it’s good to know your foot has survived the trauma. Love the halo picture!

  3. From the start of paragraph two I couldn’t help but recall that famous Fenton video from London and imagine you fast walking in the wake of one of your dogs overcome by instinct. Glad to hear no one was injured.

  4. Oh, my…what a situation! I used to have one of those small, barky dogs who went nuts when there were other dogs around, so I certainly understand how all this went (except you being pulled onto the ground, of course!). I’m glad you’re okay and not re-injured. I guess that individual, very controlled walks are necessary for now, as you said. Take care, Martha!

    • Thank you. You just never know the chemistry between two dogs. But I am always pretty sure that Bear is going to protect me which isn’t always such a good thing. Teddy, of course, being an Aussie and a puppy is a little “out there.” So, yeah, definitely one dog at a time for a while.

  5. It’s almost impossible to ignore the pleading eyes and happily wiggling butt of an Aussie eager to go for a walk! I know; I have one and as he ages I’m leaving him behind more frequently when doing longer runs. It breaks my heart every time. Glad you’re all okay, what a horrifying cluster of circs all at once!

    • I know how hard it is to leave an Aussie behind. Mindy (RIP) was already 10 when she finally got to be my dog. A couple years after that we moved back to Colorado. She LOVED it. I took her out and let her walk at her own pace with us, but there came a day when, though she wanted to go (and I leashed her) she was finished — and let me know — by the time we got to the end of the alley. She never asked again to go on a walk. BUT she got to hang out in the front yard by herself and she had a “boyfriend,” a mentally challenged guy who loved her to pieces would come over, open the gate, carefully close it, and play with her. She knew when he was near by. She died at 15. Wonderful dog and wonderful friend. They are great dogs. ❤

      Here’s her fairy tale.

  6. We’ve had 2 Aussies and they are the best dogs! My husband wants to get another one but I’m holding off until we finish our traveling. Ranger would have dragged me from the waist and I’d have been killed… but he was terrified of sheep and cows and nearly every other animal the exception being squirrels, chipmunks and birds. He patrolled the yard and none dared enter!

  7. I am permanently grateful my dogs have a big yard get to do a LOT of running around in it. I’m in no shape to take any dog anywhere. Right now, the Duke is insane about birds and squirrels and the occasional chipmunk. He stood in the middle of the living room barking at Bonnie (sound asleep and too deaf to hear him), Gibbs (not interested … Gibbs has his own running schedule, me (you’re kidding, right?) and Garry who was writing something and has past the point of wanting to run with the hounds. He couldn’t get ANYONE interested and was going bonkers. Poor young dog. He’s not ready for our retirement home.

    I’m sure our dogs would behave better if they were walked. They aren’t vicious or anything Just hard to control. People like us (me and Garry) do NOT have well-behaved dogs. We do not have the right attitude. Take care of the FOOT. It will never heal if you keep hurting it.

  8. Oh, Martha–I am so sorry. You are OK–maybe a little shaken? Poor Bear. She really is an angel, just doing what she does. In spite of all this, she is a wonderful protection dog, though, isn’t she?

    • Bear is the greatest dog. After she’d taught that little terrier what she had to, she wanted to make friends. I wish I could build a sign for Bear, “Hi, I’m a livestock guardian dog. I love people. I might not trust your dog, though. Please keep your dog away from me or, if it’s small, pick it up and come over to meet my human and me. I will be very happy to meet you and your dog that way.” I’m fine — more bruised up than I knew immediately but nothing major. I’m just going to have to walk them one at a time for a while.

  9. Live and learn!

    Guardian dogs are big and powerful. Our Rex could drog you at full tilt across the ground until you snagged on a tree or a rock. Trying to take him on a walk with our other dog just meant arms pulled out of sockets and permanently tangled leads. And both dogs always want to be in front.

    Stopped walking two dogs 10 years ago.

    • It would have been fine if 1) I didn’t still have a fucked up foot and am still using a cane, 2) that lady’s dog hadn’t barked, but the big lesson here is I can walk both my dogs in a perfect world. But I live in this one. 😀

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