Tuesday 15 January 2013

Two Labradors

There are suddenly two new dogs in our lives, both Golden Labradors, both very sweet and well behaved, one extremely welcome, the other not so welcome.

First up, 12 week old pup Tess, now owned by our mentors Anne and Simon, replacing a lovely but ancient black collie cross named Shannon whom they recently had to have put to sleep. Tess is just plain GORGEOUS, soft, sweet and gentle and apparently devoid of any bad traits. She likes and gets on well with all (9?) cats that live on that small holding, gets on well with the other older dog and shows no inclination to chase or harass the chickens, ducks and rabbits.

Anne and Simon brought her up here yesterday to meet our lot and she was the perfect guest. She got on immediately with our pups, Towser and Poppy and was great with the 'kittens' as well as with the humans. Regular readers will not be surprised to know that we had a minor issue with our occasionally grumpy-git Deefer but that was honestly all Deefer, none of Tess herself. Deefer sometimes reacts to visiting dogs by trying to get on my lap and then getting 'green-eye' jealousy if the dog comes near.

When down on the ground she is lovely with the other dog and will even join in the games that started between the three pups but she needs to 'own' the immediate airspace round her Dad. We have never been able to cure her of it. It is worse with Diamond's Patterdale cross 'Rags', much to Liz's, my and Diamond's frustration; Deefer has never learned to love the completely harmless playful, trying to be sociable, advances of Rags 6 years on.

So, we had a lovely visit and the dogs played and we chatted.

Labrador No 2 is a huge, handsome, beautiful boy who we are calling, for the moment, Mutley. He first appeared about a week ago, frightening Liz half to death by arriving while she was cooking late one dark evening  with the lights on in the kitchen and the yard light on. Facing the cooker she noticed movement in her peripheral vision and jumped 6 feet in the air. "There's a bloody great dog in the yard!" she yelled, and so there was. Mutley had arrived!

He was very friendly and seemed to be courting us, even rearing up on his hind legs to get a better view of Liz. We wondered if he was a lost stray and were even thinking of trying to collar him, get the phone number off his dog tag (ha!) and phoning his owners.

It slowly dawned on us that he wasn't an innocent stray seeking human company, he was a randy suitor with the scent of Poppy on heat in his nostrils. She's been on heat a couple of weeks now and I have been naively walking her up and down the lane outside laying trails of pheromones which lead straight back to this house, in a land where we KNOW most dogs are allowed free roam, off the lead and rarely with name-tag IDs on them, especially 'in the country'. Yes I should have known better. I feel very stupid, and it's a lesson learned.

This all sunk in today when I went my usual walk down to Feigh bridge and on the way back, while we were still 20 minutes from home, we suddenly had Mutley with us. He must live down that way and had seen or smelt us go by. He closed in on us and suddenly I had three dogs all excited and barking, trying to pull backwards to 'engage' with Mutley. Towser, bless him, was doing his level best to defend 'his sister's virtue' (loudly), Poppy just wanted to say 'Hello' and Deefer was trying to walk alongside me, to heel, on her best behaviour but was going to have a go if Mutley started anything.

In this noisy procession we made our way home and Mutley came all the way with us, past all the neighbours who were, mercifully, out or at least not looking. Mutley is big enough that he can just jump the front wall, so he came all across the lawn and I shuffled my dogs indoors. Liz and I have then spent the rest of the afternoon variously out there with him trying to persuade him to leave, or indoors trying to ignore him while he patrols outside and stalks us at each exit. He is, unfortunately not quite so good with cats as Tess and had a bit of a chase at one stage with a very surprised and upset Rolo, who escaped, hissing, up a tree, but to our immense relief Mutley does not seem to have any bad feelings towards our free range chickens or to the rabbits. The rabbits are in a run which is Westie proof, but I would not like to put it to the test with a Labrador nearly as big as Liz. As I type this at ten past 6, it is dark outside and the hens are, at least shut up safe. Mutley is taking it in turns to admire Liz through the 3 kitchen windows and just occasionally the Westies become aware of him and set off barking (again). We don't know whether he will be there all night, lying in wait, but he has no name tag, so we can't even contact his owners, who might be worried for him.

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