Sunday, August 21, 2016

Working dogs and pet dogs: Where do you draw the line?

I read an entry on another blog today that reminded me about the different ways that people approach their farms.  Michelle Canfield writes a blog in which she talks about her sheep and sometimes her dogs, and generally speaking, she's on the high-end of what I'd like to call the "non-profit" farmers.
RIP Monster

I don't personally know if she makes a profit or not, but having done the math a few times on her sheep operation, I can't figure out how you could make a profit given the stuff that she does; the description of hiring a vet to do surgery on an old ewe was one that made me shake my head, but that's what she chooses to do with her livestock, and more power to her.

The entry that I read today talked about her livestock guardian dog bronte getting diagnosed with bone cancer, and in that post she talks about all sorts of heroic measures that she could use to save the dog.  Radiation, medication, amputation, and this for a dog that she says in the entry she's not going to miss very much, at least compared with the house dogs.

On some level I guess it's laudable to spend any amount of money and time trying to save every single animal you own, but it's not very common among livestock farmers that operate their business with the goal of making money.

I too have stock dogs, and they do indeed get the standard range of injuries and illnesses that stock dogs do, and we do patch them up and send them back out pretty regularly, but with a terminal illness diagnosed, I'd be hard-pressed to spend much money at all.

I'd watch the dog carefully to make sure that it's still having a good time, able to get around, enjoying its time on this planet, but at the point at which it was clear that it wasn't, well, I'd shed some tears and put it down.

This is true of all of the livestock that I keep; if a cow has difficulty calving I'll look carefully at culling it; if a pig isn't a good mother, well, there's a reason you're here.  It's a hard line to keep sometimes; particularly with animals that I've had to bottle feed because of some issue and knows and likes me.  It's nothing personal, and it's tough.

I have to say that it has gotten easier over the years, but there are times when I read something like this and I wonder if there's ever the realization that there is another way to handle this.

Folks who don't do livestock tend to cheer people who do heroic measures.  But I really question sometimes whether the heroics are for the animal, or the owner.


Steve said...

I've always tried to find a logically sound decision. Cancer? The money will add up, even if you can afford the treatment. But will the dog be better in the end?

We had a shepherd for 12+ years. grew up with our children, but he got to the point that he couldn't get up to go to the bathroom. Diagnosed with Low Gehrig's disease. Could have treated the symptoms, but in the end no guarantees. We decided to euthanize. It's a sad day when you walk out of a vet's office with an empty collar and leash.

Still the right decision for us and the dog.

Sharee said...

I was wondering if you are still raising turkeys and chickens? Have not seen a lot posted about your animals. Even your pigs :) Just wondering how all that is going.

As for animals the only dogs we have are pets. We don't have the need for herd/farm dogs yet.

Love reading your blog!

Chris B said...

We have a $1000 limit on dog repairs. Most kids in the world don't have access to $1000 in health care so exceeding that is really a moral issue. Plus the expensive procedures are going to be needlessly painful for the animal. We haven't had to put anyone down yet but I think the dogs may have heard about the limit since our last vet ER visit it totaled $988. A close call for Rocky.

Unknown said...

Do you have a post on livestock and house dogs? We are wondering how to maneuver the dog thing and just don't know where to start. Thanks!