Saturday, April 4, 2009

Life & death of a farm dog

I was reading another farmers blog, where they related a story about some anonymous signs they found on their pasture fence about their livestock guardian dog. There's a link to that post at the bottom of this one.

I keep dogs as an aide to keeping livestock. Don't get me wrong; I do love the dogs and take pains to take care of them, but my dogs, as with this other farmers' dogs, are tools, and even the best tools break sometimes.

This is tiny, who was born last year, a part of the 9 pups that Kat, my Airedale bitch had. We sold 7 of them, and kept 2, that we named Tiny and Red-dog. Tiny is the dog in the picture. He was the runt of the litter.

Here tiny is chewing on the face of red, and blue, who we later sold, is in the blue collar. Yes, we named the dogs after the color of the collars. You try coming up with 9 puppy names.

All of our dogs are the constant companions on the farm. They're terriers, so spend most of their time looking for things to hunt. Each dog has a slightly different take on life. Kat is turning out to be a herding dog; that's her just above the calf. Monster is mostly a hunting dog; he's prey-driven, but eager to please. I wasn't sure where red and tiny would end up, but that's what I do with puppies. I wait until I start seeing what the dog is interested in, and work with that.
Tiny is the second from the left in this picture.

Tiny died in an accident on the farm. It was quick, and he didn't suffer, and both Andrea and I cried a bunch about it, but that's why I have a pack of dogs, not a single dog. The dogs are out doing a job every day, and for a dog, it's dangerous work. They enjoy it, and if they don't get to run on the farm with the animals they whine and complain about it. Airedales, like many medium and large breeds, are working dogs, and some of the jobs are risky.

I was a bit torn about whether to write about this, and finally decided that to be completely honest about the farm was my goal, and this was an emotional part of it for me, so should be part of the story, too.

We buried tiny in the pet graveyard on the farm. Thanks for your time with us, Tiny.

The post that inspired this one can be found here


Anonymous said...

Thanks for sharing Bruce. As much as they are tools, they become like family too. For what it's worth, I know lots of people who will fight for their hand tools (physically), I think a lot of people who see folks working, working dogs (cause' that's what why we have them) don't understand that we will fight for them as well, and they don't get tossed into a box at the end of the day with the rest of the hammers & such.

Thanks for being transparent, It makes sense to me raising animals to eat, and the rational behind that (quality of life, quick passing) and how that carries into the tool/pet category as well.


Anonymous said...

Yeah, well, I reserve the right to cry over any dog of mine that dies. And yes, in my opinion, each dog has a purpose and they love to work. Was there a lesson in the accident that your audience can learn from? Or was it pointless?
Well, I am sorry that it happened.

I never have a problem coming up with names for my critters, well, actually I do, my kids don't. We get some really interesting names sometimes. Am enjoying your blog, thankyou.

Anonymous said...

I've got three dogs buried in my yard; each have their own 'garden' spot. Actually, I lie, I have two dogs buried and one I cremated and her remains are in a jar in the house beside her picture. I feel for you, it is always tough losing a part of the family and team member.



Anonymous said...

PS. Any chance you could allow the search function. I wanted to look for your post on the meat birds. I've just taken delivery of my first batch of Cornish Crosses and would like to read about your experiences again.

If not, then would you mind reminding me which post it was?