Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Dogs with Jobs

Sheri says:

Abby and I are both dog lovers. In the 20+ years of our friendship, we’ve celebrated new puppies and grieved the loss of a beloved pet. Abby held my hand and scraped me off the floor when my previous Lab had to be put to sleep.

I’m partial to Labs; she’s partial to Boxers. One of her first Boxers ate a bathroom and most of the living room. She also heaved herself on my husband’s head during a puppy frolic. I can’t tease her too much. I’ve had Labs destroy their fair share of my material things.

Not all dogs are destructive. When the horrific events of 9/11 were unfolding, Abby and I watched in stunned shock. When we weren’t together, I kept the phones near my ear in case I accidentally dozed off. This went on for days. In the midst of the ruins, they brought in the dogs. My husband refers to these as, “Dogs with jobs.”

If a child goes missing, there’s a dog with a job on the case. Chances are your local fire station has a Dalmation – it’s a job. Walk around the airport and those bomb-sniffing dogs take their job seriously. The physically impaired and the blind rely on service dogs. Your police department probably has a K-9 patrol. Mine does.

My dog does not have a job except to bark at air. I remind her occasionally that she’s a slug. She gives me a look that lets me know I am one also.

Abby says:
Yes, and how about the dog who “knew” his owner was terribly ill – prompting a medical exam that led to a cancer diagnosis? And, the dog who pulled a family safely from a house fire? My, Maggie (a Boxer/Shepherd mix rescue) has a job: eat, sleep, play and protect me. It’s totally a dog’s world.

What prompted this post is that one of my clients living on a farm in Kentucky got to talking about his dogs. He mentioned that one of them – a Great Pyrenees “guards the goats”. I had no idea what he meant. I even had to Google the breed name. What a great job – to guard the farm goats from foxes, coyotes and other wild scavenging animals. He also has other breeds of dogs whose job it is to guard certain areas on his farm. I might also add his Great Dane recently had 14 pups. Yes, I said 14 – pups – that will soon turn into small ponies.

I am always amazed at the smarts our dogs exhibit – even those who are not formally trained outside of being a house pet. When my former Boxer, Sadie, was dying of heart disease (after years of thousand dollar vet bills and multiple medications to sustain her life) she often stood in one corner of my living room facing the wall. It sort of became “her final resting place”.

When I first brought Maggie home from the Humane Society, she went right to that corner – and sat facing the wall. For many months thereafter, she would sit and stare quietly, as though she and Sadie were corresponding and in cahoots. Whenever she sat there, she did not wish to be bothered, petted or spoken to. It was a little unnerving. She still occasionally hangs out in “the corner”. Dogs must know things we don’t.

Sheri says:

Of course they know things. That’s why we love to hang out with them.

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