Friday, January 30, 2009
When things aren't what they appear.
There is an Emerging Kids tie-in here.
Professionals say blood tests are more reliable. They may be more expensive, I don't know. Then there's the needles . . . If we can trust the cheek swab results of the new wave of dog dna testing available to the public we're told that these two mutts are mostly rot (40%+, the shelter told us that) , German Shepherd Dog (20%+, the shelter told us that), German Short-haired pointer (20%+) and Australian Sheepdog (10%+). People just look at me. The world assumed that after rot/shepherd they were black lab. But their behavior was more of an anomaly than that.
My favorite trainer noticed all the herding dogs (even rots can be herders) but the pointer thrown in made him alittle thoughtful. My favorite dog day care person said, "that would explain their wierd nerve, it's an Aussie thing" not as in Australian - the breed didn't originate in Australia. Being around a group of other dogs with the opportunity to play wasn't fun for them even with mom out of the picture, even for Ellie the one who (I thought) liked playing with other dogs. Actually it was Nyah who's most apt to go off on other dogs who made a four-legged friend. But I'm told herding dogs aren't always the best candidates for playgroups. We didn't last very long.
They definitely herd. Ellie likes to wait in ambush for Nyah lying flat on the ground. They definately point when the spirit moves them - at least with their front paw cocked. Nyah downed for a small flock of pigeons under my feeder once. I asked someone who knows such things what kind of dogs down for birds. He said pointers hold a position but he didn't know of a frozen down. So herding might explain it. Herding might explain very socialized puppies playing and downing around a big Newfie puppy in a pen, too. Maybe it was fear or submission. Maybe it was a herding thing. We don't know. They love to swim. They like to chew - selectively- but they aren't exhuberantly friendly or food-aholic like labs. They're generally friendly but we have to be very careful with other dogs and strangers. They're really good when people come to the house but we start them behind the baby gate. They have to warm up on their own terms.
I've watched people work with full-blooded Rotties, GSD's, GSP's, and Australian Shepherds. Considering their particular mix and what we could be working with, we got a good deal but I have to stay watchful and keep working with them all the time! They're challenging. Still working on my courage. I can never let my guard down. We may never get off leash . . . did I say that? But they're the best dogs ever and such good teachers. Wouldn't trade 'um for the world!
I had to think of some direct Emerging Kids-related reason to tell you all this. Scientists say, assume horse, not zebra but sometimes the things that people think of as obvious may not be what they appear. Their appearance said one thing, some of their behaviors said something else. Sometimes words say one thing and behavior says something different. But actions speak louder than words and appearances. They may not speak louder but when they speak we'd do well to pay attention. How's that?