15 February 2011

Re-Purposed Dog

Dear Readers,

Remember how I wrote about Surge and his many antics (well, death traps really) with the chickens, goats, sheep, and kittens?  Well I took him off of working duty around the end of October and pulled him from the pasture after his last encounter with Anica.  (At that point in time he had learned to climb the fence and was chasing and killing our would-have-been-stewed-roos daily.  It still frustrates me to think about it, but alas....)   

Being at my wits end of what to do with a highly energetic, huge puppy, I just started walking him.  On those walks I thought back through my childhood.  I grew up with any number of dogs at our suburban house.  From the time I was born we had German Shepherd Dogs, Labrador Retrievers, or some mix of one or the other.  My parents tell my first word was the name of our German Shep, Wolfgang.  I still hold a little suspicion to that.  Never the less, it seems I was born with an in born passion for dogs.

There are two that really stick out in my mind.  Rambo, the GSD and Chase, the black lab.  (I was born on my grandfather's birthday and his name was Jennings.  I was named after him.)  This dog, Chase was the pick of the litter from the last litter of AKC pups my grandfather bred and reared before he passed.  Naturally, Chase was very dear to me.  His AKC name, given by my mother, was Chase the Happy Dog.

I spent many many hours out of doors with Chase.  He and I had a very tight, very special bond that I have not experienced with any other dog.  He was by all accounts MY dog; I would have given my life for him and he for me.  We were inseparable.  He was of an easy and willing temperament and learned quickly. I taught him to sit, lie down, roll over, and shake - all to the delights of my family.  I also taught him to stay at a distance, jump, and to pull.  (Looking back, he and I could have competed in any number of sport: agility, obedience, field work, or cart pulling.)  He was really an all around great dog and boy, would I love to have him here now!

It was the pulling that got my attention.  I bought a little harness for him and had him pull cinder blocks around our yard.  I dreamed that one day Chase would have a proper harness and I would have a proper wagon.

But it was not so.  Chase was struck down with heart worms (preventative medicine was not in the budget) at the age of 5.  I found him coughing up blood.  He was in such misery, but I helped my Dad load him in a trailer and take him to the vet, where his prognosis was given.  He was put down and buried nearby.

I have never forgotten him or the love we shared.  I never met another dog quite like him, until the tan wild eyed dog came along. 

My heart is damaged, you see, of getting attached to another big love.  But, this is the way love is, risky, yes?

So, on these walks, I thought of Chase and this big LGD that had in every sense failed me.  I began to wonder...could he like Chase, who was far less intelligent, be taught to pull?

This is Surge's new re-purposed training, to pull a farm cart; to contribute not only as a formidable guardian but as a draft animal.  I plan to order a nylon harness and adjust it as he grows and once he is close to being done, order him a beautiful black leather harness.

Initially, he will help pull hay, groceries, debris...whatever I can find...we could have used him yesterday as we were hauling barn muck to the garden.  After he has mastered this and I have learned more, I will begin to teach him to drive.  My goal is to make him road worthy enough and have enough stamina that he can take me to our local greenhouse to pick up a few plants and back, which would be wonderful to make a regular deal. 

Team of Anatolians?
This would be awesome by the way,
But Wolf and I would be racing the two teams!