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Entries: 1 - 2 of 2

Walking a pack

by michdwy on 5/13/2010 at 5:21 AM in Dog Walking

I recently wrote a blog entitled "The Joys of walking a Pack, and then I thought about an incident which occurred some time ago, which was perhaps more amusing at least to me, rather than joyful.

I frequently walk several other dogs with my own, they are usually as someone once called out to me "an eclectic pack". On this particular day, I had my two greyhound mixes (as the site calls them, but in England we call them lurchers), my pug-zu, a labrador (my granddaughter's) and a weimaraner (a neighbour's dog, that I walk daily. If he escapes from his own garden, he comes to my house and seems to ask "are you coming out to play?)

All the dogs enjoy as I do our trips into the hills on the wild moorland of Yorkshire, and despite the differences of their breeds get on fine with each other, and any other dog that they meet. Dogs love being with others of their kind if they have been treated naturally.

As we were climbing a hill following a path in the bracken, all the dogs off leash, happily running around, some chasing each other, others sniffing around, I saw a lady coming down on the same path. She had a young cocker spaniel with her. Although my dogs were clearly just enjoying themselves and showing no sign whatsoever of causing trouble, she did to my mind the worst possible thing that she could do. She picked up her dog. I have worked with malinois, police attack dogs and know that any dominant dog would immediately interpret this as a threat.They do not take into consideration that the weaker dog is being lifted by the owner into this direspectful position. Taking up a higher position than a dominant dog is failing to show the more powerful dog due repect. The cocker spaniel left to its own devices would simply have shown by body language, perhaps cowering or rolling on to its back that it offered no threat. This weimaraner is the largest of its kind I have ever seen and a male, but I know he is also the most gentle, not typical of his breed. The lady, who obviously had no idea of dog behaviour, and of the possible danger she had placed her dog and possibly herself, said to my amazement "It's disgusting!". I asked what. She replied "Having so many dogs - it's like a pack!". To which I said with a laugh "Well it is a pack. Don't you know that dogs are pack animals. They should be in a pack. Depriving dogs of the company of other dogs is cruel. Naturally they should be with others. They are happier that way." I suppose she thought I was some sort of nutter.
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The Joy of Walking a Pack

by michdwy on 5/2/2010 at 6:09 AM in Dog Walking

I am particularly fortunate in living in an excellent place for walking dogs. I just have to go out of the gate at the rear of my property and I am on open common land, the moors, with the right to roam for everybody over a large area, provided they are on foot or horseback. In other words all vehicles are forbidden. Although the riding of bikes is officially included in this ban, the countryside wardens close their eyes to mountain bikes, or any cycles without engines, but not motor bikes.

Where we are in Yorkshire, is on the backbone of hills, the Pennines, which run up the north of England like a backbone. These moors, covered in bracken and heather are near and the same as those depicted by Emily Bronte in "Wuthering Heights".

This morning, calm with a lovely sunrise, was glorious, although there was still a lingering touch of frost at 6am, when I took my pack of five dogs for our usual hour and a half morning walk. The pack was composed of my two dogs - Millie a 6 year old(greyhound/border collie) lurcher, Boo a 2 year old Pug-Zu, two family dogs who are staying with me over the holiday weekend, Tess a year old black Labrador, Mollie a 5 month old Beagle and last but not least, the largest one of his kind I have ever seen, Dylan a 5 year old Weimaraner who belongs to a neighbour, but who comes with me frequently. As the only male he takes his role as alpha 1 seriously and protects his girlfriends. However recently two greyhounds, who have the occasional territorial disagreement with him, tried to attack him, although both were on the leash. He would have responded but he refrained when I called him to heel. However, Boo the Pug-Zu objected to her pack leader being attacked and rushed at the greyhounds growling. For her pains, she was picked up by the ear by one of them and soundly shaken. Fortunately I could free her quickly and she was not seriously hurt, just her pride. Despite being an unsuitable shape for warfare, she has the watchdog spirit no doubt inherited from her Llasa Apso ancestors, bred to protect the Dalai Lamas. She is a most remarkable little dog, who never fails to surprise and amuse me.

Being a Sunday, we had the moors to ourselves at this early hour. On a weekday at this time there are many dogs being walked by their owners before they have to leave for work.

We set off to walk across the moorland, four of the dogs running free, just the Beagle, the baby of the pack on an extended leash. Although the lurcher, an inveterate hunter was shackled too, when we reached the most likely area for hares (jack rabbits). All the dogs enjoyed themselves jostling and wrestling, chasing each other as best they could, given the disparity of the pack members. From the nearby reservoirs, mallards and Canada geese were grazing on the grass, until the dogs approached, then took to the wing, vocally objecting to the intrusion. Apart from their calls and those of other birds there was silence. When we reached the flat summit of the hill, the labrador and of course, not to be left out,the Pug-Zu went for a swim, the others just paddling in the ponds, dug out in the search for coal by my great-grandfather and grandfather long ago, and now just the home for other ducks.

To reach this point had been the hardest part for the octogenarian human, no trouble at all to the four-legged walkers, except perhaps the odd wheeze from the one with a pug father. Then by a circuitous route back home for breakfast.
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