Just before Christmas my shop dog Max (above) passed away. I’d had him 12½ years and he was 2-3 years old when I got him. It was a sad day and he was buried under the big oak tree out front with a small, tearful service and a few roses scattered. Even regular customers paid respects with hugs and one dropped off a poinsettia for the grave. Former employees and ex-boyfriends left facebook condolences.
I am not a callous person but practicality called for his immediate replacement. Now I’m used to hiring but replacing a guard dog was a new to me.
My first choice was a beautiful mixed breed Carolina Dog. Unfortunately, the shelter would not adopt out unless the dog was guaranteed to be kept inside. I wasted no time in telling them that would limit their ability to place dogs. If they were a “kill shelter” surely this could condemn a dog to death. Thankfully, they weren’t and disappointed I moved on.
I won’t move on just yet here, though, until I tell you what a Carolina Dog is. And OF COURSE I wanted one being obsessed with all things Carolina. A Carolina Dog is a wild dog that was only first identified in the 1970s at the South Carolina-Georgia border along the Savannah River. They have been found to prey on small mammals and snakes and have been seen digging dens to give birth. In rural communities many folks domesticated these dogs and kept them for protection and companionship. Carolina Dogs are recognized by the American Rare Breed Association and the United Kennel Club.
My second applicant (above) was a beautiful pit bull mix I named Tempe after the brilliant doctor on my favorite show “Bones”. You could see her intelligence immediately. However, unlike her namesake, this dog was such a people person she hated being alone. And being alone at night is part of the job. The first night she ate her way out of my office.
The second night I tied her to a picnic bench inside the shop. She pulled out of her collar and immediately set off the motion detector. By the time I got there (less than 10 minutes) she had eaten her way through drywall and was pushing open the metal building’s side. She had bloodied her nose and mouth and out of frustration I left her unchained in the fenced yard. She retaliated by getting out and visiting the bar a mile up the street.
The third night she visited the same bar and ended up going home with one of the male patrons. Now most guys won’t admit to taking home a dog at closing time but he called me and it turned out he was an old customer. He loved Tempe and I couldn’t help but agree to let him have her. She was let go.
And so, enter Dren – my third and hopefully last applicant. I put out a dog wanted ad on Craig’s List since shelters really do frown on you adopting for guard dog purposes. I was frank in what I was looking for and promised the dog would receive affection and veterinary care. I got a response from a wonderful rescue lady, Anna, who came and checked the setting and was open to me returning the dog if it didn’t work out.
Dren is an Australian Blue Heeler and has settled in wonderfully. She is playful, affectionate and growls and barks at the appropriate times. It seems like she knows just what is expected of her! We have taken her to the dog park and she is social with other dogs. We are looking forward to a long, happy working (and loving) relationship!
Carolina Dog picture from Wikipedia