Posts Tagged ‘english setter’

I am writing this to remind myself that God does, sometimes, work miracles for our fur friends/babies/whatever you want to call our pets and farm animals. I’ve seen it. I’ve experienced it. I am hoping and praying for it tonight as my dog, Harvey, is very, very, lethargic and ill.

I saw God work a miracle when my little Arab/Appy horse, Whisper, inhaled a blackberry vine. The piece of vine was embedded so deep inside her nostril that the vet could not reach it and remove it. He gave me two options: we could send her to OSU Vet college, have them put her under, and cut open her face to remove the bramble. Or, we could leave it in place and worry that it would work its way further up her nostril, eventually killing her. Whisper somehow managed to sneeze the offending briar out in the next few days.

The biggest miracle that I have personally seen was the llama that died. My friend lived around the corner on a rural road. She called me in a panic: Joey, the llama, had tangled in his lead rope and managed to strangle himself. Would I come over, lay hands on him, and believe with her that Joey would live? Her kids were hysterical and the vet was forty minutes out.

I don’t even particularly like llamas. But I loaded up my kids and hurried over to my friend’s house, where I found an impossible scene: Joey’s neck was twisted in the wrong direction and he was definitely VERY still. I won’t swear that he was dead, but if he wasn’t, he was damn close. And his neck was – well, necks shouldn’t turn like that, even on a llama. He wasn’t breathing, and his eyes were glassy.

But we laid hands on him and prayed. And prayed. And suddenly, Joey inhaled. And his eyes opened up. And he turned his neck around, and we were able to get the lead off of his trachea. He was standing by the time the vet arrived, but his tongue was still quite blue. The vet didn’t quite believe he’d been out as long as my friend said he’d been out, but I don’t doubt her word: it took her time to call me, the vet, and for me to get there. Joey wasn’t breathing when I got there. The vet arrived twenty minutes after I did.

Sadly, a few weeks later, fueled by this coup, the same friend called me to come pray for a Freisian horse that was in distress at a vet clinic in Estacada. The owner had poured thousands of dollars into this horse and just couldn’t have it die. It died. I accepted that. I figured we were over-confident in OUR ability to pray things back into life, and maybe my heart wasn’t as much into the praying the horse back (because I didn’t know the owner, its history, or its intended future, but I did know that Joey was loved by four small children).

Heck, it’s the same with praying for human friends or acquaintances. Sometimes, you just *know* the prayer will be answered, and the person dies. Sometimes, you doubt the very prayer you just said, and a year later, the woman comes to find you to tell you she gave birth to a healthy baby, and thank you for praying she could conceive. It’s a mystery.

I don’t know why God chose to give Joey the llama a second chance. Or why God chose me to pray for the woman who wanted to get pregnant, but couldn’t. I only know God chose to answer those prayers.

I’m hoping God chooses to grant Harvey a longer life, and not at a huge financial expense for us. You can hate me, but there’s a limit to how much I will spend on a pet. I have ten grandchildren – finances are directed toward them, first. But – Harvey is my heart and soul tonight. I hope my readers understand. And pray/send positive thoughts for him. I need my Harvemeister.


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I work my way through difficult times by writing. I work my way through good times by writing. What the heck: I work my way through life by writing. I find it much easier to write about things than to talk about them (a trait which nonplusses my extrovert coworker who wants me to dish the details verbally).

That said, here’s the story:

Harvey has always had a funny habit of wanting his back massaged. He’ll be snoozing on the floor in front of you, and you press your toes into his lumbar region and – whoa! The dog pushes back and writhes in ecstasy as you massage his lower back with your toes! He has also always walked and run a bit funny, leaving us to theorize that he was hit by a car early in his life, long before I came to own him. His back legs always seem to give him a bit of trouble, and even strangers to him have commented that he appears to be in pain, if only fleetingly.Last week, my husband took off on his first ever camping trip in the VW Van. He took his dog and left Harvey behind. Harvey moped. He didn’t want to do anything. So, the second day of his confinement to his kennel while I worked, I came home and took him on a long walk to the park. I put him on a lunge line (yes, a horse’s lung line – it’s long and you still have control of the dog) and let him explore the park. It’s a leash park, so he can’t go off-leash and he runs away when he’s off-leash. Or he used to: I haven’t tried since he truly bonded with me. We took a long walk the next night, too. And the next two days were shorter walks, but anything to get him from moping.Sunday, I realized he was not just moping: he was hurting. He didn’t want to get up and walk anywhere. He was as stiff as our old dog, Sadie, was right before she succumbed to old age and cancer. He was eating, but only when I hand fed him. He was drinking water. Mostly, he just wanted to mope.My husband came home Sunday afternoon, and I thought Harvey would immediately improve. Nope. He wagged his tail and barked a welcome, but he laid back down and moped the rest of the evening. He limped a little when he walked. I decided that I would see how he was in the morning & I would weigh calling in sick to take care of him.This is how my marriage works: we’re joint owners of nearly everything, but vet visits tend to be my domain. His dog is his dog, and my dog is my dog. The dogs even understand this dynamic.I called in sick. I felt guilty. I called in later and confessed it was my dog that was sick. I got Harvey a 3:00 appointment with our vet. I admit that I was nervous: last time I weighed Harvey at the vet’s, he was 90#. But he looks thinner and I can feel his ribs, so I hoped he had lost enough weight that I wouldn’t be in for a lecture on over-feeding my dog. He was 80# today, right in the perfect weight for a 27″ English Setter. <whew> The vet did ask if the weight loss was accidental or intentional and I was able to assure him that it was intentional. I went in thinking that Harvey had the first signs of hip dysplasia. I was scared. He was in pain. He didn’t even try to sniff noses with any of the multitude of other dogs in the reception area (and there were a lot of them, because our vet is a busy vet). Thankfully, there were no cats today.The vet pulled at his hips and legs, turned his head and neck both directions to test his flexibility, and lifted his hind quarters off the ground. “Well, he’s certainly not telling us where it hurts, is he?” He could see Harvey hurt, but there wasn’t even a whimper. He checked Harvey’s bowels (no obstruction). Finally, he lifted Harvey’s back end off the ground and applied forward pressure onto his shoulders. Just the slightest growl of pain emanated from the dog. We looked at each other: “Well, he finally had something to say!”I could have had x-rays done, but it wasn’t in my budget (and my recent research has shown it wouldn’t prove anything anyway). The vet has been our vet for over 20 years and I know he has an instinct about animals: I trust him. He said he thought it was – and it is most likely by the symptoms – a degenerative disease of the lower lumbar. He even gave it a name:”Lumbrosacral stenosis“We were given antiflammatory meds and pain killers, plus a print-out on the disease (also known as cauda equine syndrome).Harvey is on strict doggie bed rest (a short step from cage arrest). No walks, short or long. Outside only to pee & poop. Meds until they are exhausted. He should be happy by Wednesday – if not… Harvey could hardly climb into the car to come home. I know we disturbed his back a lot during the exam. He’s been resting quietly in front of the TV all evening. The pain meds (I hope) have kicked in a little. We have lots of massage and heat therapy ahead.I’m happy that it isn’t hip dysplasia, but the more I read about it, the less happy I am. I have to share this photo with you. It is of Ch Mallwyd Sirdar, one of the leading sires of the English Setter lineage. Harvey looks just like him!English_setter_-_Laverack_bloodlineHarvey is resting tonight. I am praying for the best outcome.  He’s the sweetest dog possible.

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Harvey Albert got a hair cut this weekend. He looks so handsome. This handsome fellow caused me to reflect on the dogs in my life, starting with the very first dogs.

I don’t have a photograph of my mother’s dog, Squeaky. I remember the dog, in that corner of my memory that is more sensory than pictures: he was a nippy little dog and I didn’t like him very much. I vaguely remember being awakened by him nipping on my fingers and toes. He didn’t try to hurt us and our parents thought he was amusing, but i didn’t like him. I think he was a Chihuahua-terrier mix of some sort.

Squeaky died some time after Butchy adopted us.


Butch looked a little like the dog in the old photo above, except 1) Butch was not all Cocker Spaniel and 2) he was a lot like Farley Mowat’s “Dog Who Wouldn’t Be” than an actual dog. Butchy wandered into our lives when we lived in Elko, Nevada, before I was even in Kindergarten. He brought a lot of bad habits into our lives, but he also brought a larger-than-life personality.

He could not be restrained. We had an 8′ tall chain-link around our back yard. Butch climbed it.

Butchy, along with a handful of other dogs, was “grandfathered” in when they finally passed a leash law in Winnemucca. I could name them all: old dogs that had never been restrained, had never threatened anyone outside of their own yard, and were known to always be at the heels of children. All of them were the dogs that made growing up a treasure: dogs that were bigger than life.

Butch, for instance, chased rocks. You could throw a rock into the muddy Humboldt River and he would dive until he found the same rock to return to you. Sometimes, he would be underwater so long, you thought surely he would drown. But then he would be dog-paddling with his short Spaniel legs back to short and he’d drag his impossibly long Labrador body out of the water. Between his teeth would be a rock so similar to the one tossed that we were certain he’d sniffed out the original.

Butchy was good with cats, kids, horses, and grocery store owners. He was not so good with garbage collectors, uninvited salesmen, and other Alpha dogs. My mother once used him to chase off the Hoover Vacuum Cleaner Salesman, who, as he kicked and scrambled out of our driveway, yelled back that he would “sue” my mother for turning the dog loose on him. Butch didn’t follow him beyond our driveway, and didn’t do too much damage to him: Butchy was not much more than an ankle biter.

He chased cars. I was ten years old when he died of a “high iron diet” and our father took him off to bury him privately. Each one of us kids mourned him privately and publicly, and we all swore there would never be a dog as wonderful as Butchy.

My best friend’s family had a Norwegian Elk Hound they called “Nipper” because he nipped. I knew Nippy for years, and never saw him nip anyone, so I always figured it was a puppy misnomer. Nipper was fun because you could point at a hole in the desert sand and say, “Get him!” Nipper would dig to China as long as you kept telling him there was something to dig for. The story behind Nipper was that someone turned loose a bunch of puppies at the city park and told the kids standing around that “if you catch one, you can have it.” Of course, Nipper’s parents could not refuse the triumphant boy who lugged his (nipping) prize home.

After Butchy died, my dad was content to just have the cat. My mom, however, could not live without a dog and mourned the loss. Someone dumped a purebred Miniature Schnauzer in the almost-ghost town of Paradise Valley. The folks living there – ranchers, for the most part – told my dad that they were considering shooting the dog as it was a pestilence, running loose and chasing stock.

He brought the dog home. Mr. Tack stayed with us for a couple of weeks, but it didn’t seem like he was happy or my mom was any happier. The dog moped. Reluctantly, my mother allowed my dad to return the dog to the wilds of Paradise Valley. She regretted the decision almost instantly, and soon the registered (but now paperless), abandoned, and moody Mr. Tack came to live with us.

We knew he was our dog when he first howled in the back yard and then began barking at people passing on the streets.

Tacky, as he came to be called, was obnoxious. I took him to 4-H to learn obedience training and to learn how to train a dog. Tacky defied every rule and even laid down in the show ring and went to sleep! Worse, when my mother was mad at one of us, she no longer yelled, “Terryjackiedenny!”, she now yelled, “Terrytacky-jackiedenny!” My name was continually mixed with Mr. Tack’s name.


Mr. Tack’s only redeeming feature was his connection to my mom. He talked to her; she replied. He bit every family member, but he never nipped her. He attacked the garbage man. He ran away. He nipped the dog groomer. But he was devoted to my mom. She loved that dog.

Sometime in my childhood, I encountered dogs that were not good with children. there was Princess, the German Shorthair Pointer. She was kenneled most of the time with her dam, Queenie. They were used strictly for bird hunting. Princess would occasionally escape and when she did, she would attack children and other pedestrians. She was not a well-socialized dog.

There was Kelly, the Black Lab. Kelly took it in his mind to bark and attempt to chase children. The thing with Kelly was this: if you bent over as if to fetch a rock to throw at him, Kelly was back on his own front porch in no time. His bark was worse than his bite.

Then there was the Gordon Setter that belonged to the woman who had the <shudder> pet <shudder> monkey. Her name was Jackie. The monkey was evil, vicious, and, well, evil. I’m not very fond of monkeys, either (especially Spider Monkeys). This Gordon Setter nearly bit me in the face. I’m not going to lay the burden of guilt on the dog: we were telling ghost stories and he was the dog in the room (Jackie was the aunt of a friend). The Setter smelled fear. It growled a warning. I stood up, real fear settling in. Dogs will attack the scent of fear: the dog leaped at me and I jerked back. I felt his teeth slide across my face harmlessly.

The damage was done: if the dog was not a family member, I was afraid of it.

In my early twenties, I attempted to adopt a dog of my own.


I found this sweet Dalmatian at the city pound. Mandy. She was a nervous, purebred wreck of a dog. But she came to love me unconditionally. Unfortunately for her, I met a man, fell in love, and when he discovered she was gun shy, it was only a matter of time before she had to be re-homed. I have always regretted losing Mandy.


Then came this dog. Dogs like Butchy don’t happen twice in a lifetime, do they? I found her in a newspaper ad: part English Pointer, Brittany Spaniel, and English Setter. She was three months old when I stole her home to surprise my husband for his birthday.


We named her Rosie. People mistook her for a Beagle. She had a heart as big as the ocean, and she was a darn fine bird dog.


Rosie was good with children and cats. She was great with male dogs, for the most part. She was never good with other female dogs.

We moved into a trailer park in Rose’s twilight years. Everyone warned us to watch our dog around the Chow-Chow at the top of the hill, Bear. Bear didn’t like other dogs, we were told. We laughed: Bear hadn’t met Rosie.

Bear did come down to meet Rosie, his hackles high and a growl in his throat. Rose saw him coming. She balled all of her energy up and ran at him, hitting him square in the shoulder and rolling him. Bear ran all the way back up the hill, completely cowed. Rose was the new Big Dog in the neighborhood.


If those jammies look like the same jammies in the other pic, they probably were. My son wore the same jammies his sister outgrew. He can be happy this isn’t a photo of him in the pink ones.

Rose, like Butchy, died of a high iron diet. We buried her under a little Douglas fir.


Then came the first dog we paid for. Rejoys Hannah’s Promise. That was her registered name. We called her “Sadie”. She wasn’t much of a bird dog, despite being a pure bred English Pointer. But she was a great family dog.


She was awkward and ungainly, always too skinny, and ever so loyal. Cancer took her, and we sat in the vet’s office, crying as she drew her last breath.


Nearly a year later, Murphy came into our lives. Entirely my husband’s dog, a bull-headed, and way-too-smart Wirehaired Pointing Griffon. He is our second papered dog, purchased – as Sadie was – from a reputable breeder. The difference between Sadie and Murphy (aside from brains) is that Sadie came from show stock. Murphy came from hunting stock.

If I was of a mind to give him credit, he’s a better bird dog than Rosie. He’s a little too stubborn, too strong-willed, and too big for me to completely credit him. He greets me at the end of the day as if I was the only person in his world. He will be seven this May. It is hard to believe we have had this dog for almost seven years!


And then, there is Harvey.


Sometimes, I think Harvey is Mandy reincarnated. I always wanted a Dalmatian; she was my Dalmatian. I love English Setters; he is my Setter. The similarities between the two dogs are amazing (except Harvey is not gun-shy). Harvey will be five this year. That is hard to believe.


I think, more than anything, I am so blessed that Harvey and Murphy think they are litter mates. There have been some cross words between them, but not very many. The one and only fight they have had was over gravy (Harvey won – he actually hurt Murphy). Murphy is the Alpha dog, regardless of the one fight he lost with Harvey.

They are such good dogs. And I have come a long, long way in recovering from my fear of dogs.

(But I still want a cat. Of course, I still want a horse, too.)


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No, not food. Just a miscellany of things for the weekend.


This is my new water cup. My beautiful daughter in-law bought it for me for Mother’s Day. I think it is supposed to be a coffee travel mug, but it doesn’t fit under the Keurig (!) and it doesn’t have a hole in the “lens cap” for sipping – you have to take the cap off to drink. But it works wonderfully as a water travel mug, and I desperately need water more than I need coffee. I love the zoom-lens look.


This is what I am driving for the next few days. It’s a Hyundai Santa Fe. It’s gotten great reviews on the Interwebs, but I think it handles sloppy and it has a terrible blind spot on the passenger rear side. I put the seats down and that helps a little bit. It’s also built for a tall person, so the seatbelt at it’s lowest still cuts into my neck and the head rest is at an awkward place. It has more clearance than my KIA, but I can’t back away from the driver side air-bag: it’s about 10 inches from my chest and even with the steering wheel tilted down, it is aimed upward at my head and the awkward head rest.


This is my hot, fat English Setter last week. He’s begging for belly rubs. I had just finished brushing him.


This is my cool English Setter as of yesterday. He went to Melissa’s Furry Friends in Beavercreek, Oregon (don’t blink, you’ll miss it) and came home all clean, shaved, and toenails trimmed.


He now looks like a fat Dalmatian.


A fat Dalmatian with a feathered tail, that is.


“Hey! Don’t be making fun of my new look! You know you think I’m handsome with short hair!”


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It has been nearly two years since I decided a cat was not in my near future (Murphy being what he is) and that perhaps I would be better off getting a dog. It was not an easy decision, because while I like dogs, I do not really have the energy to be a dog person and, well, frankly, I am afraid of dogs.

Not little dogs. I merely dislike little dogs. There are exceptions to that rule: Dachshunds are allowed and my ex-neighbor had a Yorkie terrier and a terrier mix that adored me. But on the grand scale of things, if a dog isn’t going to weigh 30 pounds, I really don’t care for it. Oh – also exceptions: my friend’s (Kelly’s) adorable “Little” Murphy and my mother-in-law’s love-starved Jack Russell, Maggie. OK – I could probably make exceptions all day long because, let’s face it, I love animals.

There are just a few dogs I do not like. Standard Schnauzers are not high on my list after years of being tolerated by my mother’s “Mr. Tack”. It didn’t help that she called him “Tacky” and sometimes she got our names mixed up and she called me “Tacky”. I don’t think she ever called him “Jackie”. Oh, and after a year of intense 4-H dog training, Mr. Tack took a nap in the show ring at the tri-county fair and we walked away with a white ribbon which is 4-H’s nice way of saying, “Sorry, Loser”. I never forgave Mr. Tack.

I prefer cats. They don’t need a lot of attention. They sleep on your head. They purr.

There are negatives to a cat, too. Hair balls. That odd green mouse organ they won’t eat, but they will leave on the doorstep for you. Mouse heads. Shrew tails. Dead birds. Claws.

But dogs. Dogs have always eluded me. We had a dog when I was a kid: a funny-looking dog like Farley Mowat’s Dog-Who-Wouldn’t-Be. His name was Butchey, he chased rocks and cars, and he climbed chain-link fences. That was before Mr. Tack. And after my mother’s miserable little toy dog, Squeaky, that used to chew on us kids to wake us up. I think Squeaky was a Chihuahua, but I don’t really remember the monster. Only that he nibbled on children.

Obviously, my mother liked little dogs.

When I was a girl, I had several scary encounters with large dogs, one of which was a brush of teeth against my face. It never was the dog’s fault: dogs act on instinct. Children who run are prey. Fear emits a smell or an aura that dogs can sense and they prey on it. Ghost stories around strange dogs is not advisable.

Most of the dog encounters in my life could be handled: Kelly, the Black Lab that chased kids could be thwarted by the simple act of pretending to pick up a rock and aiming it at him. Kelly was a coward. Princess, the German Shorthair, was dangerous, but it was my girlfriend, not me, who got cornered by Princess. And my girlfriend knew what to do (but she still cried when it was over and Princess was once again cloistered in her kennel until hunting season).

The two big dogs that charged over our under-ground garage roof at us were tamed by my sister (who never knew a dog she didn’t like). Soon even I was able to play with Spooky & Bandit.

And, of course, we had dogs as we raised our children. Good dogs. Rosie, the mutt, who was like Butchey: Dog Extraordinare. Sadie, the purebred show-quality English Pointer who had the brains of a peanut but loved loyally. Murphy, the aggressive-dominant puppy that was beginning to mellow with age (and castration) into a large, goofy, but kind, monster (and master thief).

I searched websites. I had certain breeds I preferred over others: Dalmatians, Australian Shepherd, run-of-the-mill cow dog, another Brittany Spaniel mutt like Rosie. I once owned a Dalmatian. She and Don hated each other. Mandy. I had to give her back. It’s one of my regrets.

If I had to say it, Mandy influenced a lot of what I was searching for: I wanted another Mandy. She was a loving, good dog. She loved ME.

The short story is that I finally decided I really could not afford to pay the fees required by local rescue groups and I was unwilling to jump through the hoops some of them require of a “foster” home for a dog. Most of the dogs profiled didn’t meet my standards: good with children and other pets.

I finally decided to try the local Kill Shelter: Clackamas County Dog Control. At the time, I did not know that the pound goes to great lengths to find homes for the dogs they catch or rescue. They do not want to be in the business of putting stray dogs down. They periodically offer dogs at reduced fees. They spay and neuter all the dogs they give away. They even offer obedience classes.

Best of all, their dogs really need a home. Right now.

I went and walked through the aisles. Some dogs just plain hated me. Maybe they sensed that fear I have of dogs and they charged the chain link. Some just barked. Some looked sad. But only two met my criteria: a hound named “Fiona” and an English Setter. Fiona was tiny, but she was a hound. And hounds bay. And hounds run.

And the English Setter. He had peed all over himself. He obviously hated being where he was, but he crowded up to the chain link and made himself look tiny as he wagged his entire body in excitement. He had peed all over his bedding, his enclosure, himself. Did I mention that? He was yellow.

I met him. They called him “Ollie” which was a terrible name. He had one black ear like Mandy of so many years ago. He was a purebred. He was a breed of dog I was interested in. He was sweet.

When I filled out the paperwork, I was so nervous, I transposed my phone number. As a result, I never got a phone call that he was ready for me. I finally called the pound and asked, only to be informed that they could not reach me, so someone else was taking him home.

I was crushed.

Then, two days later, I got a surprise phone call: was I the woman who *really* wanted the English Setter? Because TWO different people had backed out of adopting him at the last minute, and he was slated to be put down.

That was almost two years ago.

Here he is. My buddy. I am not the greatest Dog Mom. I don’t have the energy required to take him on walks every single night. He is over-weight. He wags his tail with his whole body. He barks when he is excited or he wants to “tell” us something. He doesn’t bark at strangers or when the doorbell rings (that’s Murphy’s job). He’s not good with cats. He hates to ride in cars. He’s not the brightest bulb on the Christmas tree. He dances in circles when he thinks he is going to get to go on a walk. He knows how to “heel” but sometimes I have to remind him.

He lets me pull at his fur, cut his fur, clean his ears, and tend his wounds. He rubs his head on me and soils my dress slacks. He does not drool (that’s Murphy’s job). He runs away when he gets the chance and he does not look back. He loves wearing the shock collar and getting a gentle reminder that he is supposed to come back when I call him. He is collar-smart and knows when he does not have the collar on. He tries to dig his way out or climb over fences.

But he is ♥mine♥ and I am his.

“Oh, Mom, you are embarrassing me…”

Did I mention he *sighs* deeply when we are eating? It’s almost whining. And it is obnoxious. And I have to comb poop out of his fur? Or that his fur mats and I have to cut mats out of it weekly?

I was combing mats (and poop) out of his fur tonight when I decided to write about him. Despite the grooming, he’s brought me a lot of joy, my dog.

Harvey may like food more than he loves me. But he’s still my Pooka.

Oh – and to whoever dumped a purebred English Setter on the side of the road or lost one and didn’t go looking for him… He’s an awesome dog and you will never know what you missed out on. Your loss, my gain.

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If you follow my blog at all, you know we have two dogs: Don’s Very Expensive Bird Dog that I once considered the bane of my existence and Jaci’s Pound Puppy.

It’s been quite the ride and I am still learning how to be a good Dog Mommy. It’s quite a change for a dyed-in-the-wool Cat Person. I like cats specifically because they don’t really NEED me but they don’t mind any attention I might give them. And sometimes cats think they are dogs, but they remain aloof like cats.

Anyway, I am now a Dog Mommy.

When we got Murphy, the Dark Dog, I thought Hell had opened up and swallowed me. He was a dominant/aggressive puppy. He was hell-bent on ruling the house, including me. I was hell-bent on learning to speak dog-ese and thwart Murphy’s domination plans. I blogged a lot of not-so-nice things about Murphy, but in the end (with the help of dog experts like Cesar Millan’s website), I won. Murphy now defers to me in most things.

But Murphy is not compatible with a cat and I was left pet-less, a totally unacceptable state. So I decided I needed to adopt a dog of my own. I did not set out to get another bird-dog, but when everything finally came together for me to adopt, I adopted an English Setter that was a year younger than Murphy. Harvey had his own dominant issues, but he was not dominant-aggressive. He’s dominant-passive. That’s good, on the people end of things.

It means, in short, that Harvey will never challenge a human being for the dominant place. He recognizes that he is a dog and the low member of the dog/human pack class structure.

Neither dog has a mean streak.

Neither dog seeks to set up doggie dominance with violence against other dogs. They do it all through posturing.

This is good: they don’t know how to fight and aren’t out to start a dog fight. We’ve owned a dog that was out to fight. She was not funny (but in all actuality, the most she ever did was shoulder-roll another dog to prove who was the Big Dog. And the dog she rolled was a Chow-Chow with a bad rep. Chow-Chow never challenged our little bitch again. Hmmm. Maybe that’s proof that – nevermind. I’ll let your corporate mind go there, lol.

Back to our dogs. When I adopted Harvey, the people at Clackamas County Dog Control insisted we bring the dogs together on neutral ground to make sure they would “like” each other. I understand their premise. And we did that. And the dogs were fine.

At home, the dogs are… funny. Murphy is the prevailing dominant dog and he maintains his status by a lot of barking. Harvey remains a dominant male, but he acquiesces to Murphy’s place in the pack. They determined their place without a single fight. Yes, there is a little growling and snapping over shared food, but it is really very minor stuff. More noise than anything.

They take turns chewing on each other. Sometimes Murphy is down and Harvey chews on his throat; sometimes Harvey is down and Murphy chews on him. there’s always a lot of noise, posturing, and faux growling. There’s a lot of stealing, too.

Murphy has a growl language that sounds like a Wookiie. We hear a lot of that. Harvey just barks. We hear a lot more of that than we care to.

But when they are exhausted, they sack out together. Really sack out together.

You would never know they did not grow up together. They are bonded.

They are funny.

They will teach me to love dogs as much as I love… hmmm. OK, they will teach me to love dogs after horses and cats. And birds. I still like horses, cats and birds best.

Just kidding – They are very much loved by me. Even Murphy, the former dog from hell.

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