Monday, April 23, 2007

What's the temperament of that dog?

That was the question I was asked last week when Katy came face to face with a pet macaw.

The macaw stood perched on the iron fence enclosing the outdoor seating area of a popular Big Brand coffee shop. It had been squacking its fool head off and upsetting Katy while we were waiting outside the local coffee shop around the corner. We walked up the other coffee place to see what was making all the noise. It took Katy a while to spot the bird. She wanted to run away from the frightening phoenix. I have been trying to acclimate her to things that scare her by immersion therapy so we stayed a while, about four feet from the bird. She wanted to leave.

The guy who ostensibly belonged to the bird asked about Katy's temperament and I replied she's a Newfoundland and most are very friendly but this one is skiddish. Sleyed appeared with coffee from around the corner and we left. Later I saw the dude walking down the street with the bird on his shoulder.

Those who know me well know how I feel about people owning non-domesticated species as pets.

Anyhow, Katy is not what I would call a "bird dog" in spite of the common breeding heritage of Newfs and retrievers. She thinks the ducks on campus are interesting and I haven't seen a great deal of evidence that she would try to kill a bird. If I allowed her to chase ducks, I think she'd be more likely to chase them into the water in oder to swim around with them, maybe mouth one a little if she caught one, but then who knows what - lick it to death? Max is th eone with the kill instinct. He is a bird dog, and if he had received proper training, he would be the classic, hard-working spaniel who runs out ahead to flush the pheasants for Katy to retrieve and deliver gently back to us. She might have been a good bird dog. She follows direction well, is eager to please, and learns from mistakes if she is corrected in time. BUT she hates loud noises, so someone would have to hunt with a silent rifle or shot gun in order for her to try her paws at bird dogging. I think pulling is her true forte, and that really is what her breed was created to do. Eventually we'll get her hooked up with a cart she can pull.

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