I OPENED THE DOOR FROM THE KITCHEN TO THE GARAGE, intending to
take my darling little dogs on a stroll around the ranch. I'd
only had them a little while; we were still getting to know
each other. So far, they were angels.
Sunlight poured in from the open garage doorwe use
the garage to enter and leave the house. It's not very elegant,
but it's efficient. I left my little dogs off their leashes;
I'd taken them around the place on leashes several times with
no problem. They were such sweet little darlings. Such a beautiful
day to let them really run. They'd be fine . . .
little dogs burst out of my arms and straight into the path
Who do you
think runs this ranch?
no!" I leapt after them, terrified. They'd encountered
Panda while on leashes, but never when they were loose. What
would she do?
is an Australian Shepherd. If you are not familiar with the
herding breeds, Panda will teach you about them.
found out what herding dogs were about one winter morning years
ago. We woke up to find ten steers wandering around in our front
yard. The Homeowners' Association of our subdivision runs cattle
the roadways so they'll eat the prolific grass that grows in
the winter, thus decreasing the fire hazard in the dry season.
Each year brings a different batch of cows, with varying degrees
of athleticism. That year, the cattle were akin to Oympic jumping
horses, soaring over the cattle guard at our front gate like
it wasn't there.
didn't want ten cows in our front yard: You wouldn't believe
what they do to the landscaping. Not to mention what they leave
I waved my arms at them, still in my bathrobe. "Shoo! Get!"
They looked at me, chewing their cuds. Cuds made from my lawn.
My husband waved a broom, with similar effect. Unless we were
on horses, we didn't count to the cows. Inspiration struck,
I turned to Panda, a mere pup at the time, but possessing the
right stuff, I hoped.
'em, Panda! Go, get the cows!"
was off like a rocket. In minutes, with no training or practice,
she had herded all ten cows out the gate. She even knew to head
for the gate my husband opened.
We were impressed; she had a job for life.
she matured, Panda became more serious about her job. Herding
dogs like to know where everything in their territory is: Cattle,
horses, people. Children. Other dogs.
could imagine Panda at a children's party, in the middle of
a crowd of tots: "Okay,
you, the little girl with the pink bow, I want you over here."
she'd put her there, using nips and rushes and snaps. "You,
the boy with the suspenders, I want you by the tree. Faster!"
"And you, with the high heels, the mother. Stop sniveling.
I want you by that bush. Good. Now all of you, stay where you
would patrol fiendishly, having done her job, again.
of the time, she's nice to adults. We don't have any little
kids around so they're safe from her compulsion to arrange the
world. She's the top dog here, running any other dogs with steely
control. She's capable of displays of aggression that completely
cowed two ferocious Great Danes we once owned. This dog would
be top dog anywhere.
little Sammy and Raj, as we had named the Cocker mix and his
Dachshund-Cocker sidekick, ran out into the sunshine, tails
wiggling, bounding with love and happiness, straight into the
jaws of . . .
BEEN PUTTING LARGER ANIMALS IN THEIR PLACES SINCE SHE WAS A
she's playing with a Authentico BSN, a young Peruvian Paso colt
wiggled by her. He probably should be a diplomat; he can get
through any horrendous situation peacefully. He wiggled on to
the front lawn, where he stayed. (He's also smart.)
rammed herself into Raj, and kept bouncing toward him stiff
legged and growling like a creature Stephen King might write.
She was ready to grab him by the neck, pitting her seventy plus
pounds against the underweight Cocker's twenty four. One last
lunge and she'd . .
happened before I could say, "Oh, no! My poor little dog,"
Raj leapt at Panda, attacking with no holds barred. His initial
assault flipped her on her back. There, he worried her, biting
wherever he could. The Cocker swarmed all over her belly, biting,
growling, screaming, trying to tear her to shreds. Panda resisted
for seconds, and then began whimpering pitifully, trying to
flip over so she could run away.
Then she was crying, real doggy sobs of terror. The Cocker
kept at her, savaging her, snarling ferociously. He was a killer,
clear and simple.
ran for a broom, to try and separate them.
didn't get a chance to wield it. In a frenzy of rage, Raj jumped
off of Panda and ran helter skelter, making a wide circle around
the front lawn. We ran to help Panda.
the commotion, Sumo, our seventy-five pound plus, German Shepherd
mix, came running up the driveway. He barreled across the lawn,
straight into Raj's orbit. Raj launched into Sumo with the same
homicidal ferocity with which he'd decimated Panda. (Who hid
behind me as I watched the new conflagration.)
dogs fought, rolling, growling, snapping, tumbling. They fought
all over the front lawn, across the driveway, and into the garage.
They rolled and snapped. The noise terrified me. And then they
were under the hind end of my carthey couldn't get
all the way under, but they were trying, fighting to the death
by the rear wheel.
participant emerged. At the time the fight broke out, our cat
happened to be under the car. This is a big cat, a mighty cat.
He joined in the fray like it was made for him. Cat hisses and
screams joined the dog sounds. A blur of black and white fur,
legs, claws whirled from under the car.
stood by watching helplessly. They looked like they were going
to kill each other.
abruptly as it started, the fight ended. Sumo clawed his way
free and stood, trembling, behind my husband. The cat escaped
to the rafters of the garage and wasn't seen for days.
we could move, we examined all the aminals. Amazingly, no physical
damage had been done. The dogs had very heavy coats, as did
the cat, and Cockers have small mouths, relatively speaking.
Raj hadn't been able to penetrate their fur, for all his trying.
They hadn't been able to touch him.
stood speechless and traumatized.
had I brought home from the pound?
JUST A PRETTY FACE
many people have been surprised when the beautiful creature
they love turns out to be different than he or she appears?
I'm not just talking about dogs, either.
got worse. When Raj realized he could whip the other dogs any
time he wanted, he became a monster. Whenever he got out of
the back yard, he was on patrol. He picked fights, attacking
before the older, larger dogs even thought of it. These were
peaceful dogs. Neither of them had ever been in a serious fight
in his or her life. Panda's dominance displays were just that:
for show. And yeah, they'd worked, but not in the face of a
didn't know what to do. Every time Raj won, the big dogs tucked
tail and ran. Soon, they slunk around, running at the mere whiff
of him. Raj got bigger. You know how schoollyard bullies
get puffed up and walk around several times larger than the
other kids? That was Raj. And the other two shrunk.
he was about thirty feet high, swaggering around the ranch looking
pleased with himself. The two older dogs were down to the size
of gophers, slipping around however they could.
SUMO WAS SO SCARED HE HID IN THE CART
FIND HIM AND COMFORT HIM.
SUMO, WHAT A TERRIBLE THING TO HAPPEN!
MADE ME SICK. I wanted to see that little creep get his comeuppance
so badly. That little punk chasing good, and very big, dogs
around like that. Dogs that had been with us for years. Disgusting.
Raj never went after a person, but other animals were all fair
was very scary. Was this the dreaded Cocker Rage Syndrome I'd
heard about? We'll talk about that in a moment.
wasn't all. My wonderful, bliss-filled and seemingly miraculous
finding of my dogs and bringing them home had turned my peaceful,
balanced life into a COMPLETE SHAMBLES IN WEEKS! In weeks, we
had to sneak in and out of our house, making sure Raj didn't
get out and attack the other animals. (One cat took up residence
in the garage's attic; the other cat disappeared.)
more . . .
going to have to leave you hanging. I'm so sorry . . . I've
put up this portion of the Problem Dog article because it was
already written. The rest is about what happened next and how
we solved our problem. (Life often gets worse before better.)
Alas, writing the ending is going to have to wait. My book is
out and requires my attention for marketing. I'm doing the last
bit of rewriting on my novel, Numenon,
which will hopefully come outlate this year. We've got web
site redos, photo shoots . . . This ol' gal is trotting pretty
will get back and finish this doggie tale as soon as I can.
Please know that your readership on this web site has prompted
me to begin work on a "Dog Book". It features the
dogs above in their adventures, and my adventures in expanding
the love I feel for my doggie friends. That's coming up in the
future. We'll go into operant conditioningpositive
dog trainingand meet some fascinating and very nice
If you'd like to read more of my writing, Stepping
Off the Edge is available. In Stepping, I use
mostly horsey stories as examples. In all my work my life with
animals figures prominently.
STEPPING OFF THE EDGE: LEARNING & LIVING SPIRITUAL PRACTICE
A MODERN SPIRITUAL COMPANION
A TALE OF MYSTICIAM & MONEY MENON
"BILL GATES MEETS DON JUAN."
TECOLOTE: THE LITTLE HORSE THAT COULD
BORN PREMATURELY ON A FREEZING NIGHT, THE COLT HAD TO FIGHT FOR HIS LIFE.
THE ANGEL & THE BROWN-EYED BOY
A FUTURE WORLD ONLY HEARTBEATS FROM OUR OWN
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AUTHOR SANDY NATHAN IS THE WINNER OF SEVENTEEN NATIONAL AWARDS!
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