I've mentioned previously (stated the obvious, I suppose) that having a pack of seven dogs, some with special needs and all of them in the house, is interesting. Every so often, I am asked specific questions about them, their behaviors towards each other and how we make it work on a daily basis. So, I decided to take this opportunity to share with you some of the questions and answers.
Q: Are they all in the house?
Yes, all the dogs are house dogs.
Q: Okay....but...where? Are they crated?
The only time the dogs are crated is when there is no one home. Two are currently not crated, Hiker who has never been crated and Callie who recently developed some issues about her crate.
Q: Do they all get along with each other?
As with any pack or even a group of people, there are different personalities but all the dogs get along very well with each other. Callie is known for not playing nicely with others and so she is not put in that situation where she will fail and likely cause harm to another.
It's been very interesting to watch the interactions of the pack and see the changes over the years as foster dogs have come and gone and new pack members have been added.
When blind puppy Breeze arrived last summer, she was very pushy, nipping at everyone and had no manners. There were some small fights between her and deaf Azule. Neither of them were picking up on the cues from each other. Azule has now chosen to let Breeze have her own way and there hasn't been a confrontation between them in months. Shortly after they settled down, Forest and Breeze began having similar type tussles. None of these have ever escalated to a dangerous level, it is just them working things out.
Q: How does it work when you're trying to do things in the house with all those dogs, things like cooking. Aren't they underfoot and bothering you?
The dogs are curious about things going on in the house and of course are interested in potential sources of food! In the kitchen, they usually lay quietly, more wanting to be close than anything else. They very rarely are given things from the counter so don't beg. Brook and Forest are the two that like to lay with touching and they will often lay across my foot/feet if I stand still long enough. It's common for there to be four or five dogs laying on the floor as I am cooking.
Q: When you walk the blind ones, do you keep the leash really short so they are close to you?
If we are walking on a trail, which is what we prefer, all the dogs are off leash if it's a known safe area. The blind ones will take the path of least resistance which is the path! On leashed trail walks I use leads that are 15 feet long so they can wander where they want to but still be safe. They have amazing navigational skills and don't often bump into things. I use the word "watch" if they are about to walk into something and they will stop and lean forward to check out what the obstacle is and decide if going over, under or around is the best option.
Q: So you only take them on paved trails, right?
Oh no, we're wilderness lovers! We camp and backpack too! Hiker's first backpacking trip was when she had just turned one year old. She loved it! Various members of the pack have been to the Blue Ridge Mountains camping, Pennsylvania hiking and backpacking and Prince Edward Island where they loved running on the beaches.
Q: Are you going to add to the pack?
At this time, I have no intention of adding more but if I came across a dog or any animal that was in need, I wouldn't turn away. That being said, yes there are thousands and thousands that are in need but I can't go looking for more. I've been very fortunate in that my lifestyle, career and current situation is such that I can do this. When we move further into the country and have more space...well, we'll see.
If you have any questions, just ask!
If you have any questions, just ask!
I've worked with a deaf dog before, it was so incredibly different and I found it really hard to not talk at the dog. Still, she was exceptionally trainable and it was pretty fun to try something new. I would imagine that with a blind and deaf dog, tactile stimulation would be pretty important as an information gathering sense.ReplyDelete
Also, I have a question: Why Cattle Dogs? :)
Why wouldn't you talk to a deaf dog? I do it all the time!Delete
Brook, who is blind and partly deaf responds well inside to noise but in open areas such as the yard she can't determine where the sound is coming from.
Why Australian Cattle Dogs? Well, I first learned of the breed when someone I knew had a purebred puppy being raised for show. I loved the personality and read everything I could find on the breed. Years later, I was fortunate enough to adopt one of her pups who was 1 1/2 years old and had been shown a few times. That was Cairo who died of cancer. After that, it was rescued ACDs. I love the stubborn yet goofy personalities and the tough stamina to get out there and keep going! And they are so darn beautiful too!
The context I was referring to was one of formal training. No information can be gained from a human's verbal instruction or praise, so it's something a dog has to filter out. I'd rather have all the dog's brainpower devoted to something that can be understood (emotions and body language). Outside of training is different. Humans are excessively verbal creatures, of course I'd talk to a deaf dog in an informal environment. Can't quit the influence of my own nature.Delete
Oh, okay - sorry, I misunderstood!Delete
I found it difficult to focus on the non-verbal when I first adopted Azule and found myself using hand signals as well as verbal and still do that. (Maybe I just talk too much?!)
Love this Q & A! It's great that you let your "special needs" dogs explore and live pretty much like any other dog. I think some people might tend to be overprotective with a deaf or blind dog. These pups (and your kitties, too, of course) are so lucky to have ended up with you. I agree with your reply to Ximena--we've had two deaf dogs over the years and always spoke to them. Even if they can't hear us, they can certainly read our facial expressions. (Canine equivalent of lip reading?) :-)ReplyDelete
Susan and Wrigs
My approach is "rub dirt on it and walk it off, the car is three hours away". Yes, it would be very easy to coddle and protect but I always remember the best advice I got. When I adopted Hiker, our vet said, "Laugh at her otherwise you'll feel sorry for her and she won't do anything." Then she asked how soon I was taking Hiker camping.Delete
When I first adopted Azule I tried to focus on the hand signals and not talking but that didn't seem natural to me. So, sure I tell her to sit. Then remember that she can't hear. Oops. : )
I use hand signals (along with voice) with Wrigs all the time, even though he can hear just fine. :-)Delete
It's great how you let them just be dogs! I know that some people are hesitant to adopt dogs with issues, so glad you're out there showing how fun they can be. :)ReplyDelete
That was the main reason why I decided to start the blog - to show how normal special needs dogs can be and maybe it might save a life. And fun? Oh ya, we have lots of fun!!Delete
Enjoyed hearing about how the pack works. We can all see and hear, but she uses hand signals as well sometimes.ReplyDelete
All dogs should be indoor dogs....just our opinion.
XXXOOO Daisy, Bella & Roxy
I often think of how it would look to an observer as I am letting the pack outside, me standing there using voice commands, hand signal and touch to ensure everyone sits and stays before I open the door! It's quite the little routine but those that can see and hear do respond well to hand signals!Delete
We (obviously) agree - all dogs should be indoor dogs and of course, spoiled rotten too!!
Love the Q and A. But I gotta say all those dogs in the kitchen would drive me insane. I can hardly stand it when Ray and Moonie are in the kitchen at the same time. Mainly because Moonie is yelling at me for food (at least i think that's why she's howling) and Ray has his nose pressed up against me so that I know he's there, just in case I want to give him something. Drives me CRAZY.ReplyDelete
I suppose I'm just used to stepping over them as they're laying on the floor. There are times though when they get a bit rambunctious and do the full speed run through the kitchen. After a couple of times, I open the kitchen door and it's "everybody out!"Delete
Ray sounds like such a character. My blind ones are like that sometimes, a paw to the leg or Brook's favorite attention getter, the long drawn out whine both of which seem to mean - "what have you got for the neglected blind dog?" Usually nothing.
Brook and Ray must be related. That whine thing sure sounds familiar.Delete
Wow, I love reading of how you make it all work, esp. the special needs dogs. It sounds like pure heaven to me, living with 7 ACDs!ReplyDelete
That is interesting to hear about how the relationships have evolved...it sounds like even Azule and Breeze, with their physical differences, learned to pick up cues. That's good news for those of us with dogs who are obtuse in this manner...though mine doesn't have the excuse of blindness or deafness!
It IS wonderful having the pack! For the most part, I let them figure things out on their own even though it is very tempting to interfere. As long as nobody is in danger of getting physically hurt, they can work it out. Yes, I am sure that there has been some hurt feelings along the way.Delete
Love this Q&A! It's interesting how the pack has evolved and obviously all of you function very well together. :)ReplyDelete
i think we do well together, still keeping the "fun" in dysfunctional.Delete
Hey! We've nominated you and the pack for two awards. Come check it out on our blog @usoncloud9.blogspot.com :)ReplyDelete
Bless you, I can't imagine handling more than the two I have! There is special place in heaven for people such as you!ReplyDelete
BTW, I also use a 15 foot leash on Delilah as she doesn't always return when I call her. I think they're wonderful, it gives the guys a little freedom but keeps them from being underfoot.
Thanks for your kind words! The thing to remember is that I didn't start with seven, they just came long over the years so it was (somewhat!) easy to get used to having a pack.Delete
The extra long long leads are great, aren't they? Peace of mind and freedom at the same time.
I love reading up on your pack! They truly intrigue me. You really need a 24 hour live pup cam that I can watch. Haha...okay not quite, the blog will suffice. :)ReplyDelete