Sanders: Lucky dogs
August 24, 2018
What is a home without a dog? In a word, quiet.
My dogs have always been collies. My favorite dog was a standard rough collie. He was mostly black, not blonde like Lassie. When we got him, he was named sight unseen by our young, impressionable sons. This was at a time when a commercial for a brand of dog food showed a slobbering dog repeating the mantra, "I'm a lucky dog, lucky dog."
We had Lucky Dog for 14 years and he rarely barked during that time. Foxes and other animals came into our yard. The foxes would get close enough that the dog could spit on them, but Lucky Dog did not bark. He seemed a benevolent type that would share his neighborhood. He was a Lucky Dog. As many large dogs do, he developed hip dysplasia. An aspirin a day kept the pain at bay — for a while. On our last walk, which covers two miles, about 300 yards into it, he laid down and couldn't get up. That was the end for him
I have been looking for another standard collie but haven't had much luck. A rescue outfit in Colorado Springs, Colo., wanted to make a house call to check me out; it's just 400 miles to do that. Then they said they would not give me a dog if it was going to be an outside farm dog. They want their big collies to be treated like teacup poodles. We didn't see eye to eye so that didn't work out.
“I have been looking for another standard collie but haven’t had much luck. A rescue outfit in Colorado Springs, Colo., wanted to make a house call to check me out; it’s just 400 miles to do that.”
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I found a gal in Scottsbluff, Neb., through Craig's list. Though I couldn't take the collie right at that time, I asked her to let me know when she had more pups. She likely lost my number as I haven't heard from her. She was eager to have her collies raised outside and in fact she offered a discounted price for people who would raise their dog on a farm. Perhaps this column will find its way to her and she will get in touch with me. Or another reader will have a lead for me.
We tried a border collie but she barked at everything that just might be a menace to her family. That included her shadow on a moonlit night. She warned us about skunks, coyotes and upside down lawn chairs — all of which put her family in dire danger. She let us know.
I came upon a plan. She liked doggie bone treats so I started giving her one of those when I called her down for barking in the night. If you remember anything about science, you remember Pavlov's teachings on conditioned reflex, and you know he taught dogs to associate food with the sound of a bell. Apparently Dixie became conditioned to receiving a treat when she barked at night. Although it was backwards conditioning because I didn't want her to bark, it still worked and bought her silence.
Pavlov would be proud of how my dog trained me. ❖