|This Affenpinscher picture most resembles a slide in
college we used to learn dog breeds. My friends said
the dog resembled my hair in the morning so we used
that hint to identify the slide!
The recent news that Banana Joe, an Affenpinscher, won the 2013 Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show led me to thinking about dogs and the relationships we have with them.
I have owned many dogs in my life. When I was a child I would pester my parents until they would hopefully cave and let me have a puppy. I didn’t know then that my job was to be the pack leader, not a buddy. A few years ago I started watching Cesar Milan and realized there was much more to owning a dog than just feeding and petting them.
Over the past 31 years we have had several dogs. I learned early on that living by a highway led to higher death loss for pets. My first dog on the farm was found by me shortly after getting hit on the highway. She had been missing for a few days. On my way to work at a vet clinic after four days of searching for her I saw something lying on the side of the road. It was raining and the shoulder was muddy but something told me to pull over. Sure enough it was my dog. She was still alive so I picked her up, put her in my car and sped to town. I called the vets as soon as I arrived and told them there was an emergency and to get to the clinic asap. As I waited for the vet I just stroked the hair of my dog and cried because I knew her struggle to breathe was not a good sign. When the vet arrived he confirmed it didn’t look good and within a few minutes she was gone. That was the first of a few dogs that would meet their demise from the highway. Although it was hard for me to lose a dog, it was much harder to watch the kids lose a pet.
After a few years without a dog our youngest child, Kim, started asking for one. I said the only way we could have a dog was if it could live in the house to which Kim heartily agreed. Now we had to work on Steve. The four older children had lived by the “no dogs in the house” rule. Would Steve cave for the youngest child? Kim and I started doing our research to find the best house dog.
|Kim and Zoe taking a nap.|
We knew someone that had a Bichon Frise so we read more about the breed and learned that they don’t shed and they make great house pets. That became our breed of choice so Kim went to work to win Steve over. First, Kim put up signs all over the house of Bichon puppies. My favorite picture was on our bathroom mirror where she put a Bichon with dots leading to a dream cloud of our family. It took about a month and Steve gave us the go ahead to start looking for a Bichon puppy.
When we brought Zoe home she was to be Kim’s dog. It didn’t take long to realize that this little pup was going to spend more time with me than anyone else. I took her to the feedlot office with me during the day, which allowed her to go on walks and trips to town in the pickup. Zoe quickly claimed a chair by a big window that allows her to see everyone who comes and goes at the feedlot. If anyone sits in “her” chair she will sit and stare at them as if that might make them want to move!
|Zoe and I walking along Pen 6.|
Many people ask me how we keep her so white on a farm. Zoe has had her share of baths because she is a wanna-be cattle dog. She knows that the cattle won’t bother her as long as there is a wire fence between them. When I walk pens in the morning she likes to walk along the bunk line and keep track of me.
|One of Zoe’s favorite things to do is to pop her head up
to see where I am in the pen of cattle.
I am still working on my pack leader skills. I don’t know why but I seem to have the most difficulty in mastering that skill. Everyone else seems to be able to ignore her little pleas for food from the table or her nuzzles for little puffs of popcorn. I do know that I enjoy her as a companion animal. She is not my child nor is she an animal I am raising to eat. My emotions might lead me to treat her like a child but my head reminds me that God gave us pets to get a glimpse of the unconditional love He has for us.