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Friday, March 6, 2015

Think you'd be a good person for a cattle dog?

Think you'd be a good person for a cattle dog? Please put yourself in the cattle dog's place and consider ... March 6, 2015 By Julie Kay Smithson, cattle dog lover and mommy to Wiggles Blue Heeler, Good Boy, Rocco, and now Sweet Prince (and 6-day foster to Max). Perhaps my inspiration -- condensed into the above seven brief paragraphs -- will be utilized to save more wonderful cattle dog lives! Would you be content to spend hours on end separated from your person, with nothing to do but languish in boredom and/or anxiety? So many of us are consigned to that existence, unfortunately, by good people that don't understand our inherent needs. If you are not able to provide me with daily physical & emotional attention, please reconsider me. I know you love me, but please love me with your head as well as your heart. Just as I have special needs, so do you, and we must be able to meet on common ground. Unless I'm that rare cattle dog that chooses to be a "couch potato," please don't expect such a sedentary lifestyle to agree with me. I am intelligent and able to make decisions in my type of dog breed -- HERDING -- that may make me too much of a challenge for you. Please think this fact through before you commit to opening your home to me. I may herd my toys, or I may seek to herd your children! It is vitally important to me that you understand the gravity of this, because many times, such a mismatch may cost me my life. I know you don't want that for me. Please consider learning new activities with me like herding sheep, goats or cattle, running agility courses, and nosework and tracking activities -- there are many opportunities for people and their dogs to learn these activities together. We’ll both have fun, make new friends, and enjoy mental and physical challenges as a team! Should you get overweight and out of shape, all because your human family -- though they mean well -- just can't budget the time and energy it takes to keep you active and engaged, both physically and emotionally? Ideally, my exercise should be at least a couple of hours each day, moderate at least, and preferably with you! Also, my overall health means I need RGNF (really great, nutritious food) regular veterinary care, dental care, toenail trimming, etc., so I may be in the best possible shape. Just as "we are what we eat," so, too, I will receive the greatest benefits from the top-quality food. Your human must make sure you are properly socialized, taking care to take your feelings about herding into consideration? It's preprogrammed into your DNA to want your world "grouped" and "gathered," and you have a strong protective instinct toward your flock (your people). It requires patience and firmness -- but not cruelty -- on the part of your person to teach you to be social and well-behaved in the company of others. Teaching me with positive reinforcement is vital, because cattle dogs give their whole hearts to their people and would give their lives, too. That glint in your eye, when someone comes into your space, can be a real asset, but it can also mean the possibility exists that someone may innocently get bitten. Your people need to respect you as a cattle dog, and also appreciate what a nice dog you are to others, given the proper introductions! Do your people understand that you may enjoy a long life, and that someday (like them) you will grow older and less able to fit into their picture of a "perfect pet"? They need to take you into their hearts and homes for all your life, because you can live fifteen years, and the changes in their lives shouldn't compromise your need for a great family to love. The ages and activity levels of all members of your new family should be a good fit with yours. It isn't realistic to expect more of you than you are capable of. Patience, love, patience, firmness, patience, rules, patience, and plenty of activity, all go to making a happy and tired cattle dog at the end of each day!

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