11 July 2012

Mad Dogs & Englishmen.

This is why I love my dog. He is handsome, full of character but as soft as butter. I've recently got in to the habit of having both him and my rabbit in the garden together and I think they have a little love affair going on :-D. The rabbit grooms his feathers for him and my dog licks her ears and nose for her :-D.

Some photos taken a few days ago and posted just because they make me smile :-).

No other dog I know or have known would be as soft as he is with a prey animal such as a rabbit. I love him for his character and personality (he answers me back when I tell him off!), his loyalty (he sleeps outside my bedroom door and will stay within my sight on walks) his soft character (the only thing he does with my rabbit is lick her nose) and his sheer loveliness with children, adults and other animals :-). He's a special dog :-).


JR said...

What a beautiful dog. He sounds lovely. I'm very jealous, I would love a dog especially a big, soppy, soft, affectionate gundog.

Is he the one that alerted a couple of coppers to your presence a while back?


Girl*Next*Door said...

JR, he really is a beautiful boy, in looks and nature. He is my shadow at home, I get up so he gets up, I sit down, he will come and sit between my knees for fuss. When I got to bed he sleeps outside my bedroom door and will stay there until morning so he is extremely loyal. Surprisingly, for such a gentle boy he is very protective of me as well and there have been two occasions where he has refused to let a man near me so I assume he sensed something off that I didn't.

Mmmm, yessssss, he is the one who decided to make a show of himself in front of two policemen! He picks his moments, that's for sure!

I love gundogs but would recommend a Red Setter to anyone although they are not dogs that can be left alone (no dog should be really but a Setter will pine for their owner) and they are not a dog for the faint hearted! They need boundaries in much the same way as a cheeky child or you will end up with a disobedient, hairbrained monster. I have learned to give Harley no leeway at all, that sound harsh but if I give him an inch, he will take ten miles and it is much fairer on him for him to have clear, consistent and firm boundaries. He knows where the line lays and is a happier and more obedient dog for it but I have seen some Setters who have been allowed to get away with blue murder and to be honest, it doesn't make for a happy dog. Most gundogs, despite being gentle and soppy, do need firm training as Spaniels, Setters etc do have that cheeky streak and also a lot of energy so certainly not a house dog :-).

Having said all that, he is a lovely dog and I wouldn't change him for the world! :-).

JR said...

GND, he sounds like a model dog (and friend generally). Glad to hear he fights of unsuitable men!

I have heard from several sources (yourself included in previous posts) that Setters are a bit of a handful. A former colleague described them as perpetual puppies in terms of needing strong boundaries. Although they sound lovely,I would be wary about getting one in the near future mainly because - although I have grown up with dogs in my life - I have never owned or trained a dog. From everything I have read and heard; dogs like setters and spaniels respond best to more experienced handlers.

For my part, I would love a labrador. According to a friend of my girlfriend's family, they are ideally suited to training by novices like me (he trains gun dogs for local estates and several police forces rather than just spouting opinions in the pub). They are also the breed of dog I am most familiar with and I absolutely adore them.

Hopefully circumstances will permit me to get one soon.


ps, more photos of Harley always welcome. He looks magnificent.

Girl*Next*Door said...

Hmmm, model dog in looks, not always in behaviour ;-).

To be fair, they are a handful. They will rule you without a second's thought if you let them. I'm the only one who can walk Harley and him behave. With everyone else he rears up, charges forward and generally winds himself up. In fact it's a lot like handling a horse!

They're not hard to train but they test you to your limit. A couple of times I've almost screamed in utter frustration at Harley, especially when I was attempting to train him to come to call, his idea of me calling him was to bugger off to the other end of the park as fast as possible and moments like that I wondered if I'd ever have a nice dog and I think that is why a lot of Setters end up in rescue or advertised free to good homes at the 8 month - 18 month mark because they mature much slower than other dogs.

Labs are lovely, a friend of mine has one who was trained to be a gundog. She's 14 now so retired but she is still a huge character. If she consideres she hasn't been out long enough then she refuses to turn for home and will sit down and be a dead weight to move. Crafty! :-D.

Also try a rescue centre, we got our Field Spaniel from a rescue as a 8 month old pup and he has been lovely from day one. It is surprising how many pedigree dogs end up in rescue, sad as well but surprising. Given the choice I'd rescue a dog over buy any day. The only reason Harley was bought is because he is a particular breed and the Setters in rescue didn't suit us at the time :-).
Good luck with the search though, I think once you've had a dog in your life, it's something that you can't give up on. They are lovely animals in the main :-).

cogidubnus said...

I've had three Labs in my time, and provided you're the first owner from puppyhood and can be reasonably firm and (more importantly consistent) then they're great family pets...they seem to be very patient with kids too...however:

Beware the Lab who's been badly mishandled by a previous owner though...they may be more suitable for a single owner...I had a "rescue dog" who eventually bit one of my kids for no particular reason...poor bugger...it almost certainly wasn't his fault (it's nearly always something deep seated in the past), but he clearly had to go...

At the present I've a Jack Russell - it's a breed I wouldn't generally recommend as a family pet, because they're essentially ratters...this one though seems exceptional...no known vices and gentle with even the eight cats he shares the house with...most of them are bigger than him though!

Moral...don't take on any dog unless:- (a) either you know where it comes from or (b) are knowledgeable enough to watch for signs of previous mistreatment, and (c) are prepared to invest time, attention and love (in that order) consistently, 24/7 from day one until the very end

Girl*Next*Door said...

Cogi, agree about some Labs. I've known of one who has savaged a cat. Having said that, I think it goes for any dog who's ended up in a rescue centre, our Spaniel is fantastic but he is food possesive to the point of turning on you if you aren't careful. For that reason it's only adults who are allowed to feed him and he is not allowed bones or anything like that as you only need to walk past him and he'll snarl :-(.

Harley however, you can take the bone from his mouth and he'll accept that you are the 'pack leader'.
As for point C, I believe that should go for any animal, from a hamster to a horse :-). Too many people take on pets as a 'fad' :-(.

JR said...

Interesting the conversation has taken a turn towards rescue centres. The mrs and I have started volunteering at one essentially to get to play with dogs while we are living in a pet-free house.

It really cheers me to see how well looked after and loved the dogs are. Not only that, but despite the fact that many of them have some horrendous biographies so far, they mostly seem really friendly and affectionate. When in the centre, some get a bit wound up but as soon as they get out, they all seem to chill out.

That said, there have been a few tear-jerking moments. Even the thought that they dogs are well looked after and are likely to be re-homed in a few months isn't quite enough to offset them.

So far, my experiences there have made me much much more open to the idea of rescuing dogs. Before I was slightly wary since most of the rescue dogs I knew seemed to be bona fide mental cases however I've met some absolute stars in the past wee while and am looking forward to meeting more.


cogidubnus said...

Hi JR...sounds like you'd easily qualify under my A, B & C above...you can still make mistakes, but they're far less likely...and volunteering's a really good idea if you can't own an animal just now!

All our cats are, to some extent or another, rescue animals...some from a rescue centre some informally rescued from dodgy situations, and some from neighbours who were emigrating and proposing to have theirs put down...

Someone asked me the other day "why on earth have you got 8 cats?" I replied straight-faced "because we don't have ten any more"...there's no answer to that!

All the best!