Dog Behaviour Advice - Dog Advice Articles
The move from Spain to France with Rio, Part 7.
Our big, fluffy Basque sheepdog aged 18 months. (©) Sue Dayman, Mauroux, France
“Bonjour, Rio here. “ (This is Rio talking. He’s clever like that. He can type as well).
“This is a picture of me in front of our new house in France. We’re surrounded by lots of countryside for me to run away in and not come home until I'm completely covered in mud. I have a little friend I go and see every day: a young hunting dog called Lucky, and we bolt across the fields and hide so no one knows where we are! We can hear our owners calling our names so it’s really great fun! I can hear Lucky barking for me in our garden when it‘s dark, but mum doesn’t open the door as it’s bedtime and I have to go to sleep. I have another friend next door, a Rottweiler called Oggar who I like to growl at so he thinks I'm in charge. I don’t like him getting too close to my mum as I think she might cuddle him more than me. I don’t mind if he does a piddle on our shrubs though, although my dad’s not keen. When we first moved here, I picked up a tick that gave me a nasty infection so I had to take some horrid medicine. My mum was worried, as I didn’t eat my yummy dinners, just slept all the time. I'm better now. We saw a big green snake one day on our walk. It jumped up to look at me, but my mum wouldn’t let me play with it. I’m fond of the ducks and sheep at the nearby farms but my mum doesn’t let me play with them, for some reason, either. We have little frogs outside our door every evening and I like to copy the way they hop about on the terrace. I'm still good at catching flies, too. I have to have a nap now. Say woof to all your doggies for me please. Luv Rio x”
Something has spooked Rio. We heard him barking and then suddenly a very large farm vehicle went tearing at full speed down the lane. I ran outside, fearing the worst, as Rio‘s got form for jumping madly in front of passing trucks. He jumps out and jitterbugs around them, resembling Mohamed Ali in his heyday. Fortunately, we don’t get many cars going by, being quite rural, but the ones that do, usually stop and we hold him back while they pass. This time I couldn’t see Rio anywhere so I called and I called. He’s quite good at coming back now when commanded, so I was worried. I looked down the road expecting to see something awful but saw no sign of him or the farm truck. I went off down the lane and up the lane, still no sign of him. I walked down to the farm but he wasn’t there. I looked into the neighbour’s garden, he wasn’t there either. I came back and sat outside, wondering what to do. He wears a tag with our telephone number on and is micro chipped, so hopefully, would be returned if he got accidentally transported. After a while he appeared. He came from inside the house, panting but looking quite sleepy. I don’t know how we didn’t see him return. He stuck to us like glue for the rest of the day, not letting us out of his sight for a second. I checked him over for signs of injury but found nothing. He was jittery and not his usual self.
I've therefore been researching the internet to find a solution to Rio chasing farm vehicles, joggers or the post van down the lane. One day a cyclist got pretty upset as Rio got in his way, although, actually, Rio was barking at him running alongside him in the field, not actually in his path, but I could tell the man was a bit agitated by the speed of language that I couldn‘t follow or understand. There was a slight clue in the way he kept waving his arms and hollering at me, too. However, I could understand his concern that an accident was possibly waiting to happen. Like the crash recently on the Tour de France where a gorgeous golden Labrador walked calmly across the cyclist’s pathway until one bumped into him and the rider flew over the handlebars, the wheel completely crumpled. Rio is such a fast runner; he's even chased a car going at a high speed and caught them up. Perhaps I should put him to run with the greyhounds at Catford racetrack. If I'm around he will sometimes obey the stay command, but I'm not always there, just spot it happening from a window and hear him barking and tearing down the path to catch up with whatever vehicle it happens to be. His favourite is anything with a trailer. Especially a tractor as they make lots of noise, and at the moment farmers are collecting huge mounds of hay from the fields, so Rio’s having the time of his life.
I think I may have the solution: I have to attach Rio to a long, sturdy secured rope and as a vehicle goes by halt him with the rope at the same time as the STOP command and then praise him for stopping. I think that’s it. I’ll let you know how I get on. I’ll need a few friends to drive cars back and forth….and maybe a few bicycles too.
While I’m telling you this, he’s just spotted two youngsters out on a bike ride….will he chase…or won’t he? We watched to see what he would do. He followed interestedly, they laughed at him and screamed a bit, he then looked back at us to see if we were watching. It was only when Phil called out to Rio that he actually barked and chased them! He stopped as they rode beyond our boundary and looked back to see if we were still watching….hmm…does that mean it’s all for our attention? Or does he think he’s doing a good job of chasing bikes away? You have to be a bit of a psychologist to be a responsible dog owner. To think how a dog thinks, that seems to be the key.
Rio loves the warm weather here, as it’s not as hot as the south of Spain. Weekends are spent walking through untouched woodlands searching for wild mushrooms with Rio, followed by Gin and Tonics at the bar with our new doggy-loving friends. At this moment, we are sitting in the garden overlooking acres and acres of farmland and fields. The sun is shining across clear blue skies, the fields are brimming over with enormous bobbing yellow sunflowers and multitudes of corn on the cobs are beginning to spring up and show themselves, too. Heady, scented lavender covers some of the terrain with blankets of glorious purple. Markets are filled with stallholders selling every kind of herb, fruit or vegetable in season. The delicious aroma of meat on the grill comes wafting across village streets as the day turns to dusk. And Rio sitting on my feet keeping them excessively warm. Heavenly bliss.
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Or even if you haven’t, I would love to hear about you and your canine friends.
More next week. (©) Sue Dayman, Mauroux, Lot.