For new pet owners, its a dog&s life

Jim Lee

Well, Saundra and I finally did it. We got ourselves a dog.
The back yard was too empty and the house too peaceful, I suppose. When the kids are grown and off on their own, things are entirely too serene, right? Everything was just too nice and quiet. I had no decent excuse to stall off my domestic projects or to catch up on my reading, so we got ourselves a dog.
It all started at Wal-Mart. As we were leaving after spending two months’ pay on a week’s worth of goodies, we noticed a pickup truck with a sign on it at the far end of the parking lot.
The sign read, “Free Puppies.”
We decided to take a look — just out of curiosity, of course. We weren’t going to actually take one of those critters home. Naw, we couldn’t do that. It would give the two cats a complex and not do the carpet a whole heck of a lot of good.
I picked up the male and held it up for Saundra to look at. “This the one you want?” I asked. That was the one she wanted, and that was that.
The fella with the dusty old pickup and bib overalls said the litter was not quite 8 weeks old. He hadn’t figured out what brand they were, but he thought the mother was mostly blue heeler.
Everybody in this neck of the woods is familiar with blue heelers, but I was curious how close the breed was to red heelers. So I did a little research.
It turns out blue and red heelers are just color variations of the same breed, and the actual name is Australian cattle dog, which was originally bred from wild dingoes and various working dog breeds. Well, that only made me more confused.
When I took Leo (named after Tolstoy for no particular reason) to the vet for his shots, I was told he had a very good disposition and was most likely 50 percent or more blue heeler. The other half was probably chow or husky or something else. Now that was informative. For all I knew, he was half Iraqi oil hound.
Then came the late-night yipping and howling concert. If I left him outside he’d keep the neighbors awake all night. If I put him in a box inside, he’d keep Saundra and I awake. If I gave him the run of the house, he’d ruin the carpet and eat the couch.
So I talked to my friend Bob Scott. Bob knows a lot about dogs, certainly more than I do.
I also got some good advice from Don Criss and Duane Ryan. Thanks to the information, we got Leo over the all-night canine Pavarotti gig.
Now we have to teach him that shoes are not chew sticks, and Saundra’s blouse is not intended for tug of war while she’s in it.
Are electric cattle prods useful in training half-breed Australian cattle dogs? I’ll have to ask Bob about that.
Jim Lee is news director for KENW-FM radio. He also is an English instructor. He can be contacted at 359-2204. His e-mail:
dr_james_lee@hotmail.com