Tag Archives: Guarding

Lessons from the shelter

The first four months of my live I lived in a shelter in Athens, Greece. Me and my brothers and sisters were brought there by a caring human, she had found us newborn and left alone. We struggled to survive and my brother and I succeeded – we were the thoughest of our litter. After four months my brother and I went to Holland, where we both got adopted.

In the shelter I lived in the puppy quarters. A fun place, you can imagine that! We played together for hours. We also played with the grown up dogs, I had some great friends there too. A lot of these older dogs had been stray dogs. They thought me some valuable lessons about living on the streets. When you live on the streets there is only one thing on your mind: survival. In orde to survive you need food and a safe place to sleep. Some of the former strays I met were masters in getting plenty of food. They taught me how it works. There are two rules: 1 – be polite, always and  2 – chase away any canine that comes close to you and your potential source of food.

Both lessons I incorporated, so they come natural to me now. I thought they might be handy, even though I never became a stray dog. I enhanced the first lesson: I am polite, which means I look eager but not too pushy and I keep my distance. It is important to find the right distance: not too close, but not too far away either. You need to be able to catch the food that is thrown to you:

20150621_104255

I made some subtle improvements to the second lesson, too. I chase away competitors and I am very good at that:

IMG-20160515-WA0004

Over time I developed new ways of getting yummy food. Like this:

Method 1

Can you see my tactics? I studied a long time on this one, to get it just right. I look longingly at the human, although what I really want lies in front of me. By not looking at this delicious piece of meat I tell the human: “You are the best human in the world! Do you love me as much as I love you? Please give me the meat!” It takes a lot of self control to do this, I can tell you. But it always works, the human I look so lovingly at will give me the delicious food as a reward.
Mind you: one can only use this specific method with humans one knows very well. Otherwise it will be counter productive, because it is a little bit intrusive.

 

 

Camping

We went camping this weekend! On the campsite where we were before, the one with all the rabbits. This time there were even more rabbits, but they stayed well away from our campervan. I had mixed feelings about this: I would have liked to catch one of them to present it to M for sharing (I hear that rabbits taste delicious when humans have removed all the furry stuff). But I also like them to be Respectful and stay clear of the campervan.

Anyway, we had a nice spot:

IMG_20160529_084700591

‘We’ in this case was me and M and a friend of M, who’s name is also M. That is a bit confusing, for humans. Not to me of course, because like all dogs I do not care much about names. It is the amount of cookies they give me that counts. And that was all right with this friend: she gave me lots. So I decided to allow her in my campervan.

We made long walks in the pretty woods surrounding the campsite:

IMG_20160529_133638380

It was good to go camping again. I wish we will do it more!

IMG_20160529_093756586

Audience

Sorry you haven’t heard from me for a while. I have been very busy, there are so many things asking for my attention that I sometimes just forget to blog.

One of those things is that all of a sudden there are loads of new dogs trespassing my territory. I don’t know where they come from and I find it very disturbing. They do not come in groups, but walk one at a time with humans that are unknown to me too. Of course I growl at them, from my guarding point. That usually helps: they leave soon. Good. I am very capable to fight, I am a ferocious guarding dog. But as I explained earlier we dogs prefer not to fight, because the risks are very high. One could get hurt.

Guarding

Anyway it is a mystery to me where all these dogs come from, so suddenly. Is it the nice spring air that makes humans adopt dogs? Has there been a baby boom? In that case one would see a lot of similar dogs of the same age and that is not true. Could it be that all these dogs and their humans read my blog and want to see for themselves where I live? Now that is a thought.

How flattering. But I really would prefer them to just read my blog and keep out of my territory, out of my street. Thank you.

Tough weekend

I had a really tough weekend. There is a new and big responsibility pressing on my slender shoulders, as we say in Holland. M and P bought a new camper and this one is even nicer than the old one. It is my job to guard it, of course. I chase away every human, canine and squirrel that dares to come near our new van. This is it:

IMG_20160226_153426614

We just returned from a three day trip, our first in this new van. It was quite exciting. We made long walks through the woods and over dunes-without-sea (they puzzle me – where did all the water go?).

IMG_20160227_104843250

IMG_20160227_111922459

We even did a walk which apparently is especially for dogs. M pointed out to me that the signs are made for us:

IMG_20160228_110709279

I think this is very funny. We dogs do not need signs, we find our way through the woods easily! Ha, silly humans.

In the nights it became very cold, so I made sure I was warm enough. My coat is pretty and sleek, made for the heat of Greece (where I come from), not the coldness of the north. So I took the right measures to stay warm during the night.

IMG_20160227_202053091-02

I did not mind sharing my bed with M and P, I am a social dog.

It was a nice trip, but I am very tired now because I hardly slept. I had to guard the van, right? Although the campsite seemed deserted, this was not so. There were squirrels laughing in the trees, rabbits running about and even some chicken prying at our nice new camper. I gave them my special look, so they did not dare to come close.

Lazy

All right, so I finally got the holiday feeling. I gave up on the guarding, at least: I don’t guard the path that is between the stony beach and our camper van anymore. It is way too busy to guard. I decided to guard our spot and that’s it. When someone enters our spot, I will chase him away. Maybe they think they can enter our camper van because I am sleeping, but they are dead wrong on that. I can go from totally relaxed to utterly mean in a split second. Every dog can. I guess most burglars know that, so they will not enter a camper van with a dog sleeping in front of it.

Lazy

Anyway, it is okay like this. I can do some napping, preferably in the sun. It is hot here. Nice!

Guarding

We are on a pretty campsite near the sea and our spot is, how shall I call it… challenging. From a guarding perspective, that is. This is what it looks like where we are now, this is the view from our camper van:

Guarding1

You can see the sea, some islands in the distance, a few boats. Between the stony beach and our camping spot there is a path. It usually is a very busy path, with lots of humans walking and cycling by. Some have dogs. There even is a bad mannered black cat lurking around here. You can imagine I am very busy because M and P chose this spot. I have to guard all day. It is tiring. I mean: I am on holiday too! I would like to rest! Jeez. I hope they will pick a more quiet spot on our next campsite.

Guarding2

Note to burglar

We are not on holiday yet, but M told me we will leave soon. I am thrilled! I was a bit worried, however, too. Because when I am gone, who will guard our house? M told me they rented the place, so other humans will stay in our house. They have no dog, she assured me, but I buried my bone in the garden when M wasn’t looking. Just to be sure.

There are humans staying in our house, but will they be capable of guarding the house in a way that is sufficient? I doubt it. So I found a solution to that problem: I asked my good friend Boss to keep an eye on it in my absence. He said he would be delighted to do so. He truly is a great friend.

So when you are a burglar and you are reading this: please feel free to try breaking into our house. You will give Boss a good time. By the way, this is what he looks like:

Boss

Imagine that piece of wood in his mouth being your arm or leg? Right. Happy guarding, Boss!

 

Schutzhund

I just read a very interesting article about how to become a Schutzhund. That is a dog for policework, like chasing criminals! I think it is pretty cool if a dog does things like that, so I read the article carefully. It turns out you have to be very good at tracking, obedience and protection. That sounds promising! I am learning to become a tracker, I am already a very obedient dog and I am extremely good in protecting M and P. I might look sweet and skinny, but I can be very intimidating when I want to.

But, and this is the difficult part, I do not quite understand how these things relate to each other. I mean: when does one have to be obedient and when protective? I have some trouble with this, to be honest. I protect our house and M likes me doing this, she tells me that is what a dog should do. When there are friends visiting the house, M is relaxed and so am I, I do not have to protect her then. That I understand and find easy. But last week we had this situation: a man came into our house and M was friendly to him, but I sensed danger. So I growled at him , ready to chase him away. He got the point and backed off, but M told me to shut up and invited him in!

In our house this is a rare situation, because most of the time only friendly humans visit us.  But outside it gets more difficult. Especially when we sit somewhere to have a drink. M and P like doing this, so it happens often. I am sure it is my duty to protect them when we do this. These are high risk environments, with unknown humans and canines getting too close to us. I want to make all of them very clear they have to back off and if M let me, I would do exactly that. But, and this is the difficult part: most of the time M won’t allow me to.

I guess this is the obedience part in the Schutzhund training and I am sure it is the hardest part. I lie next to M or P on the floor, trying to suppress the urge to attack humans and dogs coming too close. It is very hard, I have to keep in control of my natural instincts all the time. Maybe I could handle it easily when we only sat down for a short while, just for M and P to have their coffee. But no, they do not only have coffee, but food too and then another drink. It takes them ages and all the time I am lying down, trying to be obedient.

I’d almost say it is not fair, but that is not true. Last weekend we went on a long walk and then they had a long lunch. I managed to stay calm and obedient during the entire lunch and as a reward I got this, when we were outside again:

2015-02-14 15.12.12

It is a Dutch herring. It is de-li-ci-ous. Salty and very juicy. P bought it for me in a special shop. I waited outside, still being very obedient, as you can see (that is not very hard, when you have the promise of the reward right in front of your nose):

2015-02-14 15.10.46

M wanted to make a picture of me eating this herring, but – as usual – I was a bit too quick. In this picture you only see its tail, well, a small part of it. Of course, I ate it all. Yummy.

2015-02-14 15.12.43

I do wonder what a Schutzhund eats. Will he get herring every day? Maybe I should make some inquiries into their diet, before I enlist. When you are a Schutzhund reading this, could you tell me more about your work and the food they give you?

On the lookout

I am a guarding dog. Actually, I am a hunting dog, my ancestors were hunting dogs to the ancient Greek nobility. But I can guard too. It is absolutely necessary for any dog to do some guarding, you know. Even Bichons guard when the stakes are high. There are three subjects a dog has to guard: food, home and its human(s). This sounds easy, but it is not. Because, you see, all three of them come in different situations.

Food can be anywhere (luckily!): in your house, the car, the forest, the beach, you name it. Your human moves all the time, so you have to protect her in very different circumstances: at home, on the road, in a shop.  It takes a lot of skill to do this correctly. It can be a bit confusing, too. I for instance always protect M. When we go out, I am on the lookout for her, to see whether there is some danger about. If there is, I have to take measures, like leading her on another, safer path:

On the lookout

She appreciates me doing this. But sometimes she does not and that is the confusing part. When we go on a long walk M takes some food with her and we picnic along the road. This means double guarding duty for me: I have to protect food and my human. When a nasty man approaches us, I show my teeth and he backs off. This happened more than once and M was proud of me. But, and this is the confusing part, she was angry with me when we were in what she calls a bar and I did exactly the same thing to a guy approaching us. I still don’t get it. But maybe I will understand when I am a bit older. I could ask my friend Boet, she told me she has some bar experience.

The third very important subject to guard is home. This is not easy either, because a home can move. Like our home in the holidays. We are in a new spot almost every day and I have to work really hard, protecting it in new surroundings all the time:

Bubbles and bus

It can be very tiring. That is why I prefer guarding our house. It doesn’t move and I have an excellent spot for guarding: my favorite chair on the second floor. From there I have a good view of the front of the house, where most of the action is and where I suspect possible danger will come from (at the back of the house is our garden, only cats and pigeons there – very important, too, don’t get me wrong. But not concerning guarding):

On the lookout 2

I am very successful in guarding our house. Humans walk to our house, they see me and walk on. Easy! Occasionally someone walks to our door and rings the bell. Then M and I go downstairs, she opens the door and I stand right behind her, ready to attack in case the person calling is not friendly. I show my white, sheeny teeth, just to make sure. When required I add a firm, menacing growl (I learned a really convincing one from my German Shepherd friends).

Until now I did not have to bite anyone. Which frankly is a disappointment, because I wonder what nasty people taste like. Pigeon? Sausages? Socks? What do you think?