Monday, January 12, 2009

Paw Prints of a Noisy Kind

The little brown hound dog, who chose us last year after being dumped near our house on our quiet country road, has probably given me the most aggravation of any of the dogs we've had in quite some time. She is exasperating at times, but from what I can tell, she means well in her hound way.

Lucy is a hound through and through. She's medium size (50 lbs+/-). The vet estimated her age to be around 1-2 years, which is what I thought too. Her coat is all brown, I'd call it fawn brown. She has floppy hound ears with a beagle-type face, white hairs around her mouth that make her appear older than she is, and perky copper brown eyes. Her nose follows whatever "game" peaks her interest be it squirrels or deer. She also barks. She barks and barks.

Lucy barks at squirrels. She barks at the ATV's screaming up the road with their loud engines. She barks at other dogs barking from far away. Lucy also barks at the horses, who simply stare at her these days unless they're feeling ornery, then they'll run around in their field, jumping, bucking and kicking out with Lucy at their heels. I really never know who instigates the play time (no one looks like they're scared), but the noise of Lucy's barking is not something I can ignore.

So, the routine begins, I call for Lucy to come to me. She glances at me, then keeps barking. The horses look over at me, then take off running with Lucy in hot pursuit. Maggie, the Blue Heeler, believe it or not, sits quietly behind the fence. She looks at me as if telling me "I wasn't in on it, HONEST, I wasn't!". Somehow, I tend to believe her. Finally, the horses decide they've had enough, they come sloshing (mud is really bad right now) into the corral area none the worse for wear and probably benefiting from the exercise. I finally get Lucy to come to me. I hook her up to her leash and walk her to her area for a little time-out. Yeah, I know, she has no idea it's time-out, but I like to think that way. The latent teacher coming out I guess. I really think the horses enjoy getting Lucy into trouble. They're not as innocent as they like me to believe!

Yesterday both dogs were barking up on the hill across the road from our house. It was continuous barking. Hubby was irritated they had gone off our property. We could hear Lucy and her annoying bark. It's not so much the bark itself as the way she just keeps barking. She'll stop to take a breath or two, but then she'll continue on hardly missing a beat. So Hubby tells me he's going to hike up the hill to get them. My response was I wouldn't waste my energy climbing up the hill but if he wanted to, have at it.

About five minutes later he came back having found both dogs. Hubby informed me they'd had a deer occupied. He said not really cornered, it could leave at any time, it was just standing still, staring at them while Lucy barked at it. Maggie was sitting off to the side. I was surprised the deer hadn't run and asked Hubby if he thought something was wrong with it. He said as far as he could see, it looked like it was ok. The dogs walked to him, he put them on leashes, and as he started walking back down the hill, the deer continued on its way.

I have a sneaky suspicion Maggie and Lucy have met this deer before. Last week Lucy was carrying on back over on the other hill, on our property. I went out to check a few times, but she was so far up there I didn't want to make the effort. Since my surgery, I'm still taking it easy in the exertion department. The horses had their ears pricked in that direction. I never did see what Lucy was barking at that day but I wouldn't be surprised if it was the deer from yesterday. It's probably so used to the two of them and figures stare downs are better options than wasting precious winter energies trying to run from them. The deer probably learned, eventually, they go away, or does make a calculated getaway and outruns them.

These two girls, try as they might, they're not really aggressive for which I'm thankful. They are however, chasers.

The other sort of interesting thing about Lucy is that she finds carcass leftovers. We live in an area where there are abundant deer and and it's a prime area for hunters. Last month finished with both bow season and gun season. Sometimes, the hunters don't pick up the deer they've taken out, or they simply don't care, I'm not sure. Sometimes, the hunters don't follow up on what they've shot, or I'll give benefit of doubt, don't realize they hit the deer. So, the deer die somewhere up in the woods. At any rate, the deer carcass are sometimes left to rot and our dogs find the carcasses. They bring home parts. Not a pleasant sight but I have to chuckle at Lucy. Just the other day she found a leg and was prancing around the yard with it. I can't be mad at her, she is just doing what comes naturally for her. Maggie doesn't really care about this kind of thing except for the fact Lucy has something and she wants it, the way dogs do. Well, the job for parts disposal I leave up to Hubby and #2 Son, if the parts can be located. Lucy likes to hide her parts then bring them back out for all to see. We've yet to find her hiding places.

Life with a hound. I'd forgotten what it was like. We had a hound once before, many years ago. We'd adopted Brandie from the Humane Society. Hubby and I had both forgotten how hounds act. Lucy is reminding us all the time!

I'm working on the barking. One rule around here is NO harassing the horses, though I know, at least pretty sure, the horses like to get things started with Lucy sometimes. Lucy can be a trial of patience but I'm not one to give up easily. I believe in working with behaviors in our animals, and that's what I've been doing with her. The barking, I realize is a combination her own fear of things, her way of coping with something she's not sure of and the hound part who likes to tell everyone she's got 'em cornered. She's learning (after a year) her boundaries and what we expect of her. She's getting better when we call her, but sometimes still uses her ignore button, depending on the situation.

Lucy was abused or at least roughly handled by a male, it was easy to see when she first came to us. She ran away from Hubby and my sons the first few months. She would only make up to me, follow me and listen to me. After a year, she wags her tail and is just as happy to have Hubby pay attention to her as Maggie is. That's progress. Some of her fears have eased.

The abandoned little brown hound dog I named Lucy, has left paw prints of a noisy kind on our hearts.


Grey Horse Matters said...

Glad to hear Lucy found such a good and loving home. Continuous barking drives me nuts too. We have a dog named Maggie too. She's an Aussie and a little hyper but we love her. Hang in there with the bark training, hope it works for you.

LJS82 said...

That is so cool you have an Aussie Maggie too! Our Maggie has shown us how wonderful the breed is. Maggie was also abandoned. My son found her at the park where he worked and brought her home. She was a handful at first but she's a gem now! She is very intuitive and learns quickly. Lucy, well, she seems to take a little longer at learning things, but she's coming along.